Holding onto Hope When Winter Lingers

by Grace Fox

Winters are long, gray, and soggy where I live in southwestern British Columbia. Lack of sunshine for extended times can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) characterized by depression, lethargy, and irritability. Those who struggle with it find October through April particularly difficult.

I haven’t experienced SAD, but winter brings challenges of a different sort my way, because I live on a sailboat. For instance, condensation is a problem despite our running a dehumidifier around-the-clock. As a result, I’m constantly on a seek-and-destroy mission against mildew inside cupboards and around our mattresses. Doing the laundry means backpacking our dirty wash to the marina facilities a city block away—in the rain. And walking on slippery docks and steep ramps requires extra caution. Twisting my ankle and doing a face plant taught me that lesson.

This year, amidst damp cold and increasingly tight pandemic restrictions, I began feeling as though winter came with no expiration date. Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered pink blossoms on a leafless tree in early February. The sight lifted my spirits. I stood and stared at the flowers in awe and wonder. I couldn’t resist posting a picture on Facebook. “This is not fake news,” I wrote. “Spring is on the way. There is hope after all!”

Sadly, an Arctic blast swept through our province a couple weeks later. Temperatures plunged and the flowers froze. But despite their sad demise, my anticipation of spring lingered. Their presence had reminded me of warmer, sunnier, longer days ahead. They’d given me hope, and an Arctic freeze could not take that from me.

Life occasionally hands us seasons that resemble long, dreary winters. We begin to wonder whether our circumstances will ever improve. We spend our energy trying to persevere and praying for what feels like forever without seeing progress or change, and we begin to lose heart.

Sometimes we experience an Arctic blast. Winds of sudden change blow, bad news chills us to the bone, and we wonder whether we’ll survive to see warmer days ahead.

No matter how difficult our situation, the truth remains: God’s presence and promises bring hope.  

The apostle Paul knew what it meant to suffer. As a minister of the Gospel of Christ, he’d experienced slander, criticism, beatings, and imprisonment. He’d learned how to thrive despite the storms, and he shared his insights with the Corinthian believers so they might learn to do the same.

Paul encouraged them to not lose heart, and then wrote, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).

Paul’s words still apply to us today. Our difficulties—our winter of the soul—might linger longer than we wish, but the Holy Spirit’s presence within us renews us and gives us strength to persevere. Our troubles might appear to have no expiration date, but rest assured, they will eventually pass. The purposes that Christ is achieving through them, however, will last forever. Therein lies hope.

Like the pink blossoms in mid-winter lifted my spirits, so God’s truth brings hope in seasons of hardship. Hold on, my friend. An eternal glory that exceeds imagination lies ahead.

Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her new devotional Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos is available wherever Christian books are sold. Connect with Grace on her website, blog, or on Facebook.

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

About the author: Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the First 5 writing team (P31 Ministries). Her new devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos is available wherever Christian books are sold. Connect with Grace on her website, blog, or on Facebook.

Join the conversation: Have you seen God at work within you during these difficult times?

Holding God’s Hand

by Crystal Bowman

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

After 63 years of being married to her soulmate, my mother went into a deep depression when my father died. She was 84 years old and didn’t want to live anymore. But eventually, with the help of a caring doctor, close friends and family, she gradually emerged from her depression, ready to live again.

My mother was “young” for her age and sill had many years to enjoy life. She volunteered to chauffeur her widow friends to doctors’ appointments and grocery stores. She entertained nursing home residents by playing the piano during their lunch hour. She referred to the facility as “the old folks’ home” when in fact, many of the residents were younger than she was. I told her often that Dad would be proud of the way she found purpose and meaning in her years of widowhood.

In her early 90s she began falling, even with the help of a walker. We moved her into a beautiful, assisted living home where she was the most popular resident because of her kindness. In the dining hall, she would look for someone sitting alone and join them. In the fitness room she assisted a blind woman on the exercise bike. And she always thanked every staff member for caring for her.

My mom loved the Lord and spent hours every morning reading Scripture and talking with God. She knew it wouldn’t be much longer before she would be going to her forever home and grew closer to God every day. One day, as she was writing in her journal, her pen ran out of ink. She got up and walked to her desk to get another pen. As she was about to walk back to her chair, she froze in place, realizing she had forgotten to use her walker. She reached her hand toward the ceiling and said, “Dear God, please walk with me.” Then she felt the strength of His steady hand in hers, as God walked her back to her chair. 

In Isaiah 41, God reminds the children of Israel that they are His chosen people, and that He cares for them and fights for them. In verse 10 (NIV) He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Anyone who has received Jesus as their Savior is part of God’s family. When we belong to Him, there is no need to fear for we are never alone. Life can be full of sadness and grief. We lose spouses, siblings, children, and best friends. It’s easy to let the troubles of this world bring us down. But when that happens, we need to look up, reach out our hand and say, “God, walk with me.”

My mom lived to be 97 years old and passed away on Mother’s Day 2019. She left a legacy of faith to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She didn’t just speak about her faith, she lived it every day. Her faith continues to bless me as I read the pages in her journal.  I’m so happy she was able to get another pen. 


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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced God in a tangible way? Encourage us with your story!

The Real Thing

by Nan Corbitt Allen

“… Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved you and gave himself for us…” Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB

I have several trinkets in my jewelry box. Most of them I hardly ever wear. I’ve never been much for baubles and dangly things anyway. But last Sunday, while I was getting ready for church, I had a few minutes to browse through my collection and find some “adornments” for the day. I had a lot of choices.

There are many pieces that my husband has given me over the years. Necklaces, bracelets, and rings that are of the highest quality – purest gold and high-clarity diamonds. They aren’t showy, but they are beautiful. I have some inherited pieces that have sentimental value mostly, but are still solid and lovely. I also have some pieces that I’ve gotten as souvenirs: jade from Guatemala, turquoise from New Mexico, and hand painted lockets from Germany.

And then I have the cheap stuff—large earrings that sparkle, bracelets that practically light up, necklaces that’ll knock your socks off! Ironically, when I’m choosing something for a dress-up affair, I’ll choose these over the high-quality things. Why? They sparkle. They show off.

Sunday morning, I decided to go not with the sparkly things, not the nostalgic things, but the real, authentic gold and diamonds. Since I was going to corporate worship, I thought that I’d go with the real stuff. Of course, only I would realize the value of my adornments, but I felt better knowing that what I had on was genuine—pure—hopefully like my presentation of myself to the Lord.

Authenticity is something that’s hard to identify these days. There’s so much CGI (computer-generated imagery) in movies, TV shows, and even commercials that give us the illusion of reality, that our brains struggle to weed out those things that aren’t real at all.  Coca-Cola used to have a commercial with a jingle that says that Coke is the real thing. Ironically, that drink is all artificial flavors and colors.

Sincerity is another word that is used to describe the authentic Christian (as opposed to one who is all “show”). Our word “sincerity” is from a Latin word that calls out the practices of dishonest sculptors who would fill in and cover their chiseling mistakes with wax to deceive the viewer. The compound word literally means “without wax.” This concept not only applies to our lives, but to our personal worship.

But is just being sincere enough to make us pleasing to God? Here’s a story I once heard that explains why this concept could be lacking:

The three-alarm fire started in an upstairs bedroom. By the time the first responders arrived, the building was in full blaze. A young couple and their three-year-old son stood outside huddled together, all sharing a blanket.

“My baby, my baby is still in there!” the mother shouted. “She’s still in her crib.”

The brave fire fighter rushed into the burning building, battling the smoke and flames. Finally, he saw the infant’s crib. Quickly, the man grabbed the child, wrapped it in a blanket, and prayed that he’d make it out of the house alive with the baby.

Outside, the mother rushed to the fire fighter, grabbed her baby, and began to thank the man for the rescue. But then, her relief turned to horror. As she peeled back the layers of the tiny blanket, she saw only the artificial features of a life-like doll that had been lying next to the infant. The fire fighter truly believed that he had picked up the child, but he had been mistaken. A classic case of being sincere, but being sincerely wrong. How do you know you’re being authentic and sincere?

For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. (Psalm 33:4 NKJ)

You can’t go wrong if you are authentic, sincere, but also grounded in truth.

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

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

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Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been sincerely wrong?

Is it Wrong to Call Jesus “Clever”?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

The story of Jesus responding to the Pharisees’ demands that He condemn a woman caught in adultery offers many lessons for us. I’m curious whether you would say one of them is that Jesus is clever. “Clever” is a tricky word because we might think of “deceitful.” But synonyms actually include intelligent, brilliant, skillful, astute, and quick. Those words do describe the way Jesus handles being “trapped”—at least the Jewish leaders thought they had Him trapped.

Jesus’s question, “Woman, where are they?” (John 8:10 ESV) comes at the very end of the story yet there’s so much vital background. The Jews, who are hypocritical about their own sins, drag this guilty woman, caught in the very act of adultery, to stand naked before Jesus. Leviticus 20:10 says both the sinning man and woman should be stoned. So where is the man? We can easily wonder if the whole incident is a set up. Regardless, she has no defense. She is guilty and deserves to be stoned.

But the religious leaders don’t care about her. Jesus is their target. Their motive is to trap Jesus and destroy his growing reputation. The Pharisees craft this trick believing Jesus only has two options. If he says stone her, then the main theme of his ministry of love and forgiveness is repudiated. If he says to let her go, Jesus is a lawbreaker, dismissing sin. Either way He might answer, their goal is reached: the common people will be convinced Jesus can’t be the Messiah. Plus, the respect the leaders are losing because of Jesus will be restored.

Even if Jesus says to stone her, the Jews are powerless to follow through. At that time, only the Romans were allowed to carry out capital punishment. This is an empty threat. But the Jews are desperate, trying to gain back the respect of the people.

In the meantime, this naked woman is convinced that within moments, the people will start throwing stones at her.

In the midst of the woman’s shame, the Jews’ gloating, and the onlookers’ gawking, Jesus stands confidently. He is clever, brilliant, sharp, and quick. He doesn’t feel trapped by those two choices. He thinks outside the limited human box of cleverness.

He writes on the ground. Oh yes, we want to know the words. Or are they scribbles? We will never know. But his action has the desired effect. The accusers slink away, most likely feeling and knowing they are as guilty as this woman.

Jesus then asks the shocked adulterer, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

His questions are not intended to excuse her sin. But in this particular case, the time isn’t right for him to act as judge. After she answers “no one,” he says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11 ESV).

His brilliant intellect calmly dissolves the “trap,” convicts the hypocrites, and invites the sinner to repentance and godly living—without a single moment of concern or confusion. Only by writing in the dust. How many of us would have thought of that?

When you are feeling perplexed, remember that the Holy Spirit wants to help you think wisely and possibly “cleverly” like Jesus. Call upon Him who resides in you to help you see beyond the “seen” circumstance. And be open to His leading which may be “outside the box.”

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is an international speaker and the author of 58 non-fiction books including devotionals, Bible studies, commentaries, and over 1,000 blog posts and articles. She has spoken in 35 US states and 9 foreign countries. Her latest book is co-written with her husband, Larry, titled God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. This post is an excerpt from that book. Visit her at https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller.

Join the conversation: Can you share a time when the Holy Spirit gave you a “clever” solution to a difficult problem?

God Sees You

by Dena Dyer

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13 NIV

Do you ever feel invisible–like no one notices or appreciates you? Are you walking through a dry or difficult wilderness season? If so, let the story of Hagar encourage you.

I had heard of Hagar, the slave of Sarah and Abraham who became the mother of Abraham’s son, Ishmael, when Sarah “gave” her to Abraham, but I never dug into her story until a few years ago, when I was writing a book about wounded women of the Bible.

Hagar was property, a person whose job was to serve Abraham and Sarah. This slave woman had no rights or freedom of her own.

And yet God saw Hagar. Her whole story is in Genesis 16 and 21, but I want to focus on a couple of verses. Hagar got pregnant by Abraham and mocked Sarah (presumably for her barrenness), so Hagar ran away towards her home in Egypt, into the desert.

In Genesis 16, we are told, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And He said, ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’

“‘I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered.

“Then the angel of the Lord told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.’

…“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered” (Genesis 16:7-10, 13-14 NIV).

God gave Hagar a magnificent promise, especially for a slave woman (the lowest of the low in that society). And Hagar’s response wasn’t, “Why are you asking me to go back?” or “I won’t do it!”

Instead, she praised the One who met her in the desert–and she ended up being the only woman in Scripture to give God a name. How awesome is that?!

The name she gave God is “El Roi,” or “The God who sees me.”

Hagar went back and submitted to Sarah, though that must have been difficult. God blessed her for her obedience, though, because a few years later, Sarah and Abraham sent her packing, back to her people. Once again, she went through the desert, carrying her child with her. Only this time, she ran out of water, and believed she and her son were going to die. But once again, God met her in the wilderness. He showed her where a well was and saved their lives. Not only that, but the second time Hagar went through the wilderness, she was free. No longer would she be a slave!

Friends, you are freed by the blood of Jesus when you call on His name. You are seen just as Hagar was, no matter how invisible or overlooked you feel. You are loved by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful God.  No matter what your past, your status, your circumstances, or how dry and lonely the wilderness is, God is with you and for you. He loves you more than you can even comprehend.

Let that truth sink deep into your soul…and be encouraged.

Prayer: Thank you, most Holy God, that you see me and love me. Help me to see You more clearly and love you more fervently. Amen.

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

About the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Book Cover

You’re invited to download a free copy of Dena’s devotional book, Grace for the Race, which uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled moms. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help women realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: Do you relate to Hagar’s story?

Faith to Soar By

by Christina Rose

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

This morning, as I walked about the nearby lakes, I noticed a group of people looking to the sky and taking pictures with their phones.  As I followed their gaze, I saw the source of their interest, two large, majestic eagles perched high on a lofty treetop. The eagles’ piercing blue eyes were focused intently on the lake, searching the water for prey. One could sense their impressive power as they perched on alert for the sign of fish, gripping the branches with huge talons.

Eagles have long been considered a symbol of freedom and strength. Rather than retreat from a storm, the eagle uses the adversity to its advantage. When a storm hits, the eagle positions its wings above the wind so that it will lift it up to soar above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle soars above it. 

Last year the Pandemic unleashed storms throughout the world with loss of life and income, closures and cancellations, sending waves of anxiety and fear around the globe. At times, it feels like we are all in some weird Twilight Zone movie that can’t be real. My church of several thousand attendees endured closures for months and services were streamed online.  Shortly after reopening, the lead pastor announced that he and his wife would be leaving to start another church. We were unsure if they truly wanted to leave or were asked to leave, but for many of us it was just another loss during this time of great change.

Our pastor and his wife had relocated from another state to serve at this church for almost 10 years. They have three small sons, one of whom has special needs. Since they both worked for the church, leaving meant that both would lose their salaries which required big faith. There was no guarantee that this new venture would succeed, and they risked losing everything.  As the pastor addressed the congregation on his last sermon, he expressed his gratitude and then broke down. He started sobbing while his wife tried to comfort him and after some time, he looked up with tears streaming down his face. We could feel his love for the church and how sorry he was to leave, along with concern for what the future would hold. He was just a young dad trying his best to trust that God would provide for him and his family to move forward. He exemplified the emotions that many of us feel during this time of great uncertainty.

One month later, the new church opened its doors to fully packed Christmas services. Many members of the former church had chosen to follow the pastor, and they donated time and money to convert an abandoned restaurant into a welcoming church, beautifully decorated for Christmas. That first weekend as we sang Christmas hymns, familiar faces smiled at one another as the room was filled with joy that our pastor had succeeded in making his dream happen. He stood in front of the congregation, radiantly beaming and announced that they had received enough donations to build a larger church that would accommodate the 2,000 people who had chosen to follow him. 

There have been many storms in the past year as our lives have dramatically changed by the Pandemic. We have been required more than ever to have faith and trust God for all our cares.  Just as the eagle positions its wings to fly above the storm, if we position ourselves to trust God for every need, he will carry us safely above the storm as he delivers us to our divine destiny.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  (Matthew 6:25-27 NIV)

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

christina rose

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

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Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Are you soaring on wings like an eagle’s in this time of uncertainty?

Holding Onto Hope

by Dena Dyer

[Anna] never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38 NIV

Waiting is hard. Can I get an amen? Whether we’re waiting for a job, mate, child, cure, or answered prayer, I think all of us find it difficult to be patient. That’s why I appreciate the story of Anna, the prophetess, and what it says to us about waiting. Her story is told in Luke 2:36-38. This is right after Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple for Jewish purification rites, when Simeon the priest blessed them:

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38 NIV).

Anna’s name means “favor” or “grace.” She was married but widowed after a short seven years with her husband. Her position of prophetess was one of honor, and she took it seriously. She had found in her singleness a singleness of purpose–praising and praying to the Lord.

Her story challenges me.

First, because she didn’t let her loss of a husband take her focus from God. It’s so easy to let our grief turn us away from the One who made us and can help us the most. Anna kept her eyes on the Lord and made the temple Her place of worship and even residence. You and I can do the same thing: praising God in the midst of our waiting. It’s not easy, but for believers, the Holy Spirit is our promised, indwelling helper, and He will come alongside us and give us the faith we need.

Second, because although the angels announced Jesus’ birth to Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, and the shepherds, “Anna made the proclamation of who Jesus was to the pious of the Holy City” according to the IVP Women’s Commentary. She didn’t think she was too old to tell people about Jesus or to fulfill the calling He had given her. She didn’t believe she was “washed up” or that God wasn’t going to come through for her. She not only kept the faith; she also boldly shared her faith.

Anna exemplifies what Paul wrote: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And weboast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

Anna didn’t boast about her longevity as a prophetess. Instead, she boasted about God. She didn’t let suffering take her away from God but allowed the Heavenly Father to work in her life and give her perseverance, character, and hope.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if when people talked about us, they said: “She’s always worshipping God” or “He’s always praising God.” That would be an incredible legacy.

Let’s emulate Anna’s life and hold onto hope together.

Prayer: Father, thank you for always coming through for me. Forgive me for my impatience when answered prayers don’t come quickly. Help me to hold onto You and the hope You give me in Christ Jesus. Amen.


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

About the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Book Cover

You’re invited to download a free copy of Dena’s devotional book, Grace for the Race, which uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled moms. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help women realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

The Root that Pushed Through

by Terri Gillespie

When the wicked thrive, wrongdoing increases, but the righteous will see their downfall. Proverbs 29:16 TLV

Have you ever seen a thin blade of grass find its way through concrete? It seems impossible, but as a homeowner, I can tell you it’s not only possible, it happens frequently. How about a mystery plant or those tiny seedlings from the maple tree breaking through the sidewalk? How is that possible?

Concrete contains microscopic cracks invisible to the naked eye. Plants have new cell growth at the tips of their roots. As the plant grows, so does the root system. God gave these roots sensitive tips that have the power to seek the path of least resistance for growth. Those microscopic cracks become the open door for plants growing beneath your sidewalk, patio, or driveway.

Once a plant’s roots discover a minuscule crack in the concrete, they force their way into the slab. Even small weeds and seedlings have the power to displace concrete using potential energy from root growth. Over time, the plant’s continued growth can crack, break, or buckle the surrounding concrete—at which point you may see the plant break through the surface.

God’s truth is like that little plant and the hard concrete is like those in the world who have turned their back on that truth. Nothing can keep His truth from springing forth. So, if the Creator of the Universe can create a tiny seed with enough power to push through concrete, then how much more, can we His children be a voice in this world?

These days we see a lot of “concrete” that scoffs at our little seedlings of truth. At times it may feel like they have buried us alive in hardness. The world may think themselves clever and firmly in control with what they think is a solid barrier against God’s truth, but a single little seedling of His truth can break up the hardness.

Therefore he told me, “This is the Lord’s message to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6 NET

What is your blade of truth? What is the seedling of truth that you are passionate about—that He has planted in your heart? God’s love? His redemption? His reconciliation? His forgiveness?

This isn’t about religion, or doctrine, or the finer points of our faith journey. This is about the core foundational truth that changed us. That which caused our hardness to break, so that life could spring forth. The root that pushed through and turned us to Jesus, who brought us to His Father.

Is that truth evident in our writing, our social media, and our conversations?

Sometimes, we might surrender and think there’s no way to break through. We mustn’t give up because the victory may already be growing and ready to push through. When that crack presents itself, our little root will find the doorway to get through. Are we ready to speak in love and wisdom?

So brace your minds for action. Keep your balance. And set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah. 1 Peter 1:13 TLV

May we watch for the seedling that springs forth and be prepared to share the truth that set us free.

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest book, Sweet Rivalry, releases in late 2021. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Join the conversation: Have you seen truth break through the hardness? Please share!

Everything to Lose/Everything to Gain

by Rhonda Rhea

Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 10:39 CSB

I’m always so sincere when I say I’m only going to eat one of your fries. Like, I really do believe it. I think I believe it right up until I grab that next fry.

Most of the time, I don’t blame myself. Is it okay if I blame the fries? French fries are almost obnoxiously good. Cupcakes? Same thing. So it’s not my fault.

Saying no to fries and cupcakes is not my best thing. But yesterday I stepped on the scale and the scale hurt my feelings really badly. So I’m pondering the need to get better at it. At least a little more balanced. Or perhaps I should just cut off any dealings with the scales. Those mean, mean scales.

It’s probably not helping that my favorite diet routine is the one where I pin a couple of salads on Pinterest and then eat half a chocolate ice cream pie.

I don’t blame the chocolate ice cream pie either. I can’t think of any time it’s ever been anything but sweet.

As followers of Christ, we have the sweet life available to us. Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. Real life. We can grab it all. Life abundant, full, and satisfying. Ironically, we get in on that life as we willingly give up…everything. It’s the strangest balance. Or is it the absence of balance? I’m not sure. Because in giving up that…everything, we gain more than everything. We gain joy, purpose, hope, direction, peace, satisfaction, and love. More! There’s freedom. Freedom from emptiness, guilt, unrest, and discontentment.

As He was commissioning His disciples to proclaim the message of this abundant life, Jesus said to them, “Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 10:39 CSB).

Six chapters later, Jesus told His disciples again, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25 CSB).

Want to find life? Lose it. Want to have it? Give it away.

Real life is not found in possessions or fame or feelings or the most obnoxiously good earthly treat you can think of. We find spiritual life that transcends all that as we give all to Christ.

Give Him everything—when circumstances are great and you’re on top of the world, and give Him everything when it’s a mess and life is hard.

Those messy circumstances will not be able to touch the joy and satisfaction you’ll find in that place of surrender. And frankly, the glory you might experience when you’re on top of the world is not glory at all—not without The Glorious One.

So give it. All. You can do it as He empowers it. Sometimes surrender is about saying no to self. I don’t just mean the fries. I’m talking about saying no to anything in this life I might be tempted to hold onto tighter than I hold onto Jesus. Belongings, esteem, relationships, habits—He gives grace to let go of those things that hold us back and that keep us from experiencing the sweet, abundant life He has for each of us.

By the way, I’m still working on balancing the sweets on the physical side. Well, sort of working on it. I recently set a goal to lose 10 pounds in 60 days, and guess what! I only have 12 more pounds to go.


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

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What does the word surrender mean to you?

He Hears Every Prayer

by Monica Schmelter

He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. Luke 22:41-44 NLT

When I became a Christian, I listened to every word the pastor said. I was especially interested in learning more about prayer.

The whole idea of prayer made me nervous. What to pray? How to pray? So I started studying some of the prayers of Jesus. When I got to what He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, I was struck by the simplicity and substance of His Words.

Jesus was in such extreme agony, his sweat was falling like blood droplets. He prayed that His suffering be removed if possible. But then, He concluded with “Your Will Be Done.” These words teach us that we can come before our Heavenly Father with complete honesty. He will not reject our tears or fears; no apology or explanation for how we are feeling is required. As we lay our pain and concerns before Him, we can ask for relief. At the same time, we should also ultimately surrender the matter to His Lordship and pray Your Will Be Done.

This concept was especially hard for me to understand as a 13-year-old new Christian. My family was dysfunctional with a capital D. I prayed for them to be saved and to attend church with me. One Sunday, the pastor encouraged the congregation to pray BIG. With that I started to write out my prayers, again asking for my entire family’s salvation. I also asked for my then-atheist father to become so committed to Jesus that he would join the church praise team.

It would be 25 years before my parents gave their hearts to Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom told me that my dad 81 year old dad had just done something surprising. He had joined the church orchestra! Since he is so advanced in age and suffers such poor health, my mom was questioning his decision.

I reminded my mom that this was an answer to one of my earliest prayers.

Forty-five years ago, I earnestly prayed for that. Of course, I was crying out for God to answer that request immediately. I wanted relief from the pain of living in a dysfunctional family. I wanted them all to change right that second. However, I eventually saw that while I could pour my heart out to God and ask for a suddenly, that I must also yield to His Lordship with nevertheless Your Will Be Done.

I never imagined that 45 years later I would sit in a sanctuary and watch my dad play the trumpet in his church orchestra! God heard the pleas of a 14-year-old girl, and He hears your cries as well. We can come to Him without fear of condemnation and lay out all our requests. When His timing or life’s curve balls make us question or doubt, we can trust His good will. We can rest in knowing He’s working everything out for our good.

God hears every prayer. You can pray BIG and trust Him, because His will is far better than we could pray or imagine.

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

About the author: Monica Schmelter is the General Manager of WHTN, Christian Television Network and host of daily television show Bridges. When people ask her why she smiles and nods so much while she’s interviewing guests she replies, “Oh that’s simple I am trying to think of what to say next”.

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You can watch Bridges on demand at monicaschmelter.com. Monica’s latest book Messy to Meaningful – My Purse Runneth Over is coming soon!

Join the conversation: Has God answered a long-time prayer of yours? Please share!