The Touch that Changed My World

by Carla Wicks

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:17-18 NASB

I’ve learned in life to give thanks in the good and the bad times. One is easier and full of joy, the other is a sacrifice we offer through pain.

My first-born son, Paul, was twenty-one and in the US Navy at the time of his death. I flew to Reno, Nevada and the accident site, to see him before they proceeded with organ donation surgery.

The walk down the hallway of the Medical Center to his ICU room was one I will never forget. Nothing prepared me for standing at his bedside, as he lay there strapped to more tubes and mechanical devices than I thought possible. The sounds amplified in my head. I stroked his arm and face and longed for his eyes to open; for this to be a horrible bad dream. As I stood there saying my goodbyes, I didn’t see any way this could ever work for my good or how I could thank the Lord. My son, so full of promise, was gone. I kissed his face as my tears wet his pillow. I left that room with a huge hole in my heart.

Fast-forward twelve years. One morning as I sat alone in my kitchen, my mind drifted to Paul and how much I still missed him. I got defiant with the Lord and demanded to know what possible good I would see from this huge void in my life. While I was grateful for my other children, I was missing him terribly. I begged the Lord to hear Paul’s voice one more time, see his smile, know he was doing fine. I closed my eyes and all I felt was darkness. I struggled to find the light anywhere. I was about to open my eyes when I got this sensation on my cheek, just a hint of a touch. Then a few words in my heart, a whispering, “I am here, this close, and have every tear you have shed.” And the darkness vanished.

I cried. The whole experience left me in awe and in peace. I’ve had many a conversation with God and know without a doubt this one special moment was for me. I got to experience his presence. I demanded He meet me, and he was faithful. While I never condone demanding of the Lord there are times when we want a taste of his glory so bad, we get bold.

Since then I have been even more grateful than before. I live with an attitude of gratitude because I know it pleases Him. Every time I read the account of Moses and his experience seeing the backside of the Lord from the cleft of the rock, I remember that touch on my cheek. To this day I can’t adequately describe it to anyone. I knew in that moment I had God’s assurance that he knew the depth of my pain. It was all I needed to carry on, blessing others and telling them the most important truth they will ever hear this side of heaven. God is closer to you than you think, and he walks with you every day.

I have been given wonderful gifts as we read about in James 1:17-18. God is consistent. Our job: Live by His message of truth to show the world His goodness and love. When I look at the world and the hardships many endure, I am so blessed.

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

About the author: Carla is a USAF Veteran, retired Dental Hygienist, Gold Star Mother and homeschool parent. Her new book, That Still, Small Whisper, teaches others how to identify “whisperings” from the Lord. She wants to grow a world-wide community of Whisperers. Her most recent works include a self-published novel, “Summer at Eagle Crest Drive”, and she co-authored “The Potluck Club-the play”.

Join the conversation: Have you had an experience with God’s presence? Please share!

So Much to Live For

by Christina Rose

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV

When we have faith in Christ, we become a new creation, with hearts so filled with love that we feel called to share our blessings. We become a reflection of Christ who brings his Good News to the poor in spirit. Our desires begin to mirror his desires to spread His love throughout the world. Our deeds become a reflection of our hearts that are continually being transformed and renewed by God.

When my daughters left for college, life felt lonely, so I busied myself with finding a better job.  I prayed for a job close to home yet after months of searching, the only job offered to me was in San Francisco. This meant a three-hour round trip each day, which was challenging, but it was a beautiful office, and I enjoyed the daily ferry ride across the bay.

A few weeks after I accepted this first offer, I received a second offer just minutes from my home. I felt this was an answer to my prayers. I quit the first job and took the second offer. Within weeks, I knew I had made a serious mistake. The second offer close to home was a grueling sweatshop with constant overtime and explosive tempers.

One day, an attorney I worked for called me into his office.  He said, “I’ve just been fired, and I’ve been thinking about killing myself for a long time. When I do, I may as well take a lot of people out with me.”  I froze, yet had to think fast.  I knew I was on assignment and silently called for God’s help. I then stood up and commanded, “You’ll do no such thing! You’re going to dinner with me right now, and we’re going to talk you out of this nonsense. You have so much to live for.” 

This man had a 21-year-old daughter.  My father had taken his life when I was 21 over a despondent situation at work which devastated our family. I knew God was calling me to give this man the real deal of how hard his daughter’s life would be if he took his life and how much he would miss out on – weddings, grandkids, holidays. We sat at a restaurant talking for hours and I could sense he was starting to soften. He then lifted up his sleeve and showed me a tattoo, “Micah”, a prophet of the Old Testament whose name means “who is like God”.  I said, “You believed once, you can believe again – have faith.” He then made plans to move near his daughter and look for work there.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” ( Galatians 6:10 NIV).

The next day my daughters came home from college for the holidays.  I regretfully left for work, wishing I could stay home and spend time with them. When I arrived at work, I was given notice that I was being laid off with a full month of severance pay!  My co-workers were dumbfounded as I burst out laughing, “Wow, that’s awesome – Merry Christmas!”.  I had just been handed a month’s paid vacation with my daughters after completing God’s assignment.  Not only that, but the first job offered me my job back with a big raise which I gratefully accepted.

When God calls us to serve the task may not be easy, but he always equips us through the process and then shines his grace on us in gratitude. I went back to work in San Francisco. One evening we had a live hula show on the ferry while commuting home. A glorious sunset filled the sky as the sun set over the Golden Gate bridge. I watched the hula dancers gracefully swaying to the Hawaiian music and I then heard a whisper, “There is so much to live for.”

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV)


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

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 and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

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 and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God given you a hard assignment lately?

What Do You Say?

by Nan Corbitt Allen

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. Psalm 9:1 NASB

I went out to eat this week. As the waiter handed me a menu, I thanked him. When he brought me my food, I thanked him. When he handed me the bill, I thanked him. And when I paid him, he thanked me.

This exchange brought back the words of my parents. When I was a child and someone gave me something (whether I liked it or not), my mother would ask me, “What do you say?” The answer was always “thank you.” Later in my teens, my mother had me write “thank you” notes for every gift. By this time, saying thank you was becoming not an option, not an obligation, but a habit.

At every meal, Daddy would say the blessing…or grace…or give thanks. “Lord, make us thankful for these and all the many blessings we have received,” was his usual prayer. Occasionally, an addendum was added for healing, or safety, or peace, before the “amen” was said. Then we ate. So the act of giving thanks was engrained in me as far back as I can remember.

When I became a mom, I followed that path and asked my boys, each time they received a compliment or a gift, “What do you say?” They, sometimes robotically, said “thank you.”

I believe that giving thanks became a habit, but as with any habit, it loses its power and effectiveness when it is done subconsciously (without thought). So, I’m trying to be intentional with my thankfulness. With each new day, I try to remember to tell God “thank you.” With each answered prayer, I tell Him “thank you.” However, when the day is dreary or the news is bad or the answers are elusive, I have to make myself give Him thanks. Is that a bad thing?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

This letter to the believers at Thessalonica was among the first of Paul’s epistles that became part of our present version of the Bible. At the time of his writing this letter, Paul had been through some trials and tribulations, but the worst of his persecution was yet to come. It would get worse, much worse.

A few years ago, we visited the Mamertine Prison in Rome, Italy. It is the place where Paul and Peter (not at the same time) were imprisoned before their deaths. Although it’s now a shrine that tourists can visit, the original was just a hole in the ground, a dungeon that was dark and damp and horrifying. This was not the first time Paul had been imprisoned, but it was the last time. This prison was a holding cell for people who were to be executed soon. So if you found yourself in Mamertine, you weren’t long for this world. However, Paul wrote this, his last letter, to Timothy from Mamertine, “I thank God, whom I serve…with a clear conscience…” (2 Timothy 1:3 NIV).

Remembering to be thankful, no matter the circumstances, is hard. But if I force myself to say thanks, I believe it is a good thing. I just ask myself that old question, “What do you say?”

I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. Philippians 4:12 NASB


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: When do you struggle to give thanks? What helps you the most to respond to the hard?

Nine Things to Do While Waiting

by Janet Holm McHenry

You’ve heard of The Dating Game, right? How about The Waiting Game?

I’m terrible at waiting. Just one example comes from my early teaching days when I chaired our school’s accreditation review committee. If I delegated various writing sections of the report to certain teachers, I knew I’d have to wait until the last minute to put it together. Instead, I wrote those sections myself. Not good, because the report was probably not representative of our whole school.

Another example was from my role as senior class advisor. Many year-end activities fell on my shoulders–senior project presentations, senior trip, senior banquet, baccalaureate, and even the commencement ceremony program, practice, and its decor. Many details had to fall into place within a two-week time period at the time of the year when, as an English teacher, I was also grading final exams, essays, journals, and tons of makeup work.

Nonetheless, despite telling myself that I needed to let the senior class leaders take responsibility for making their activities come together, I often jumped in and put details into place. That meant for a frazzled me.

Unfortunately, I can do the same with God’s plans for my life too. Instead of waiting for Him to work or direct my steps, I jump in and manipulate a situation. Saul, the first king of Israel, did this too. Instead of waiting for the priest to offer the sacrifice, he decided to do it himself. He wanted victory against the Philistines right then and knew that giving the sacrifice was critical to having the Lord on his side. However, he had forgotten his role, which did not include taking over the priest’s duties. He wasn’t fully trusting God for the results but taking matters into his own hands (see 1 Samuel 13:1-14).

Waiting is not easy–whether it be for a phone call or while in a line at the grocery store or for news about a medical test. However, waiting teaches us to rely on God and his sovereign plan, which is always best.

There are ways to occupy our restless minds and fingers while we wait for an answer or for direction:

  • Research an idea for a project.
  • Start a much-procrastinated project. While I was waiting to hear back on a bunch of proposals, I decided to get certified as a life coach and am now finding great fulfillment in helping others move forward with their lives.  I also created an online masterclass.  
  • Clean. Do your spring cleaning.
  • Organize your desk, your filing system, your taxes, your closets, your cupboards, your drawers. Glean out things you do not need, and give them to charity.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member. Write a letter or give them a call or even visit. They actually might be waiting to know someone loves and cares about them.
  • Get some exercise. Get out of the house and go for a walk or hike.
  • Work on a craft project. I took up sourdough breadmaking this past winter, and it’s been a very therapeutic hands-on project that others are enjoying as well.
  • Text several friends and tell them you’re thinking of and praying for them.
  • Get some rest. Perhaps a daylong sabbatical is needed. Read a book. Play the piano. Take a drive to see something beautiful.

God’s answer may be just around the corner. As we wait for him, we are developing discipline, patience, and perspective in a looking up posture.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 ESV

PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is a multi-tasking maniac who is gradually learning that waiting can be a good thing indeed. A national speaker, she is the author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength and Discipline (WaterBrook/RandomHouse). She would love to connect with you on social media or through her website, janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you are waiting?

How Do I Know Jesus Loves Me?


by Debbie Wilson

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 1 John. 3:16 NIV

Jacob lifted Anna, spun her around, and lightly set her down. “Oh Jacob,” his wife smiled and gently stroked his ear. “How I love you.”

The touch on his ear took Jacob back to the day the awl pierced it. Six years of serving his master and five years of loving his wife had made the decision between freedom and Anna easy. He wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his days serving his master and loving his bride.

Your Husband Loves You: Look at His Ear
Under Old Testament law, a Hebrew could sell himself into slavery to pay his debts. The Mosaic Law limited his service to six years. If his master provided a wife while he was a slave, then his wife and any children born during his servitude belonged to the master. The day he gained his freedom would be the day he said good-bye to his family.
“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life” (Exodus 2:5-6 NIV).

A slave’s pierced ear showed he’d chosen slavery with his wife over freedom without her.
The Psalmist used this custom to describe devotion to the Lord. “Opened” can be translated pierced as it is in Psalm 22:16: “They pierced my hands and my feet.”
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened [pierced with an awl]’” (Ps. 40:6, 8 NIV).

Jesus Loves Me: Look at His Scars
Christ changed one line when He quoted this verse. The late Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee explained that Jesus was showing that His body, not His ear, was pierced for us (Isaiah 53:5 NIV).

“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;…’ “Then I said, ‘Here I am— …I have come to do your will, my God’… And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:5-7, 10 NIV; the phrase Jesus changed is italicized).

If a slave’s pierced ear showed his devotion to his wife and master, how much more does Jesus’ pierced body show His love for His Father and for us, His bride. When the wife of a slave who’d sacrificed his freedom for her questioned her husband’s love, she had only to look at his pierced ear. If we ever feel unloved, we need only look at Christ’s pierced body.

Jesus’ scars say, “I love you!”

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’” (John 20:27 NIV).

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

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: How do you know Jesus loves you?

Giving God My Anxiety

by Cindi McMenamin

There was much on my mind and I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing through all that had happened that day, all that I needed to do the next day, and all the possibilities of what might happen if I couldn’t get it all done.

I got out of bed, grabbed my Bible off of my nightstand, and went into the other room, where I turned on the light, so I wouldn’t disturb my sleeping husband.

I turned to the Psalms because I remembered they were songs of human emotions written by songwriters who felt many of the same things I do. Did they ever worry? Did they experience sleepless nights? Did they understand worry and even bouts of anxiety?

As I searched through the songs in Scripture that night, I learned that those songwriters indeed experienced anxiety and worries. But instead of lying awake at night, trying to work through their concerns, they recounted Who God is and applied it to their situations. I learned from them that:

  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation” and the “stronghold of my life.” Therefore, whom or what should I fear? (Psalm 27:1 CSB).
  • “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them” (Psalm 34:7 CSB), so I can sleep, knowing I’m in His protection.
  • As I “take delight in the Lord,” He will give me my heart’s desires. As I commit my way to Him and trust in Him, He will act (Psalm 37:4-5 CSB).
  • Although there are uncertainties in this world and everything is constantly changing, He is my “rock of refuge…where I can always go” (Psalm 71:3 CSB).
  • I can rest and trust that the Lord will accomplish what concerns me (Psalm 138:8 CSB).
  • In vain I rise up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food and work everything out because He gives such things to His beloved in their sleep (Psalm 127:1-2 CSB).

With those comforting truths, I was able to return to bed and sleep soundly, knowing my Heavenly Father is the One who “gives sleep to the one he loves” (Psalm 127:2 CSB). God already knows what’s on my mind, but as I give it to Him each night before laying my head on my pillow, I can be certain His peace will not only guard my heart and mind, it will help me sleep better, too.

What tends to keep you awake at night? Is it something God can take care of? Give it to Him daily so you aren’t carrying the burden yourself. Psalm 4:8 CSB assures us: “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety.”  

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

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and the author of 17 books. For more on sensing God’s presence and listening for His voice, see her books: God’s Whispers to a Woman’s HeartLetting God Meet Your Emotional Needsand When Women Long for Rest. You can find out more about Cindi’s speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and resources to help you grow in your walk with God, your marriage, and your parenting at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What keeps you up at night?

The Day is Coming!

by Sheri Schofield

I live on a mountain pass high in the Montana Rocky Mountains. Along with the wildlife and gorgeous views, we have some ferocious storms up here. The winds whistle down the pass, wreaking havoc. The wind this past week has been particularly fierce. It ripped branches four inches thick off the fir and pine trees surrounding our home, tossing them to the ground like discarded toys.

The squirrels are sharpening and shortening their ever-growing teeth on the trees as well. They chew off the ends of branches, the handiest sharpeners around. The forest is littered with branches, both large and small.

One of our beautiful pine trees had four big branches broken this past winter when we had twenty-four inches of snow, followed by rain that froze. The weight was too much. Those branches are broken, dying, and must be trimmed. The tree will look weird, but it will still stand.

Sometimes the fierce winds of a fallen world rip off our spiritual branches and many small attacks sever the newest growth on them. Heavy burdens fall on us unexpectedly, leaving us feeling mutilated inwardly, our hearts torn and shredded by the enemy of our souls. The enemies of Jesus increasingly attack those of us who belong to him.

But this buffeting and tearing will not last forever.  A new day is coming—a day when our hearts will be restored. The grief caused by sin will cease. This is what Malachi wrote about that day—

The LORD of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all. But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.  Malachi 4:1-3 NLT

Have you been wounded by life? If you have made Jesus your Lord, the day is coming when the Sun of Righteousness will heal you! Your pain will not last forever. Have you been persecuted for your faith? The day is coming when you will be vindicated! Are you burdened down with grief? The day is coming when you will go free, leaping with joy!

Jesus said he will return for us. He gave us some very specific prophecies about when. Two major ones have been fulfilled during the past century—The first is the prophecy that Israel would be gathered again from where the Lord had scattered them, to become a nation once again. The second prophecy Jesus gave is that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations before he returns. There are only a few places remaining where the good news of salvation has not yet reached. Any day now, the last person to be born again into God’s family will step into the light. Our pain and burdens will suddenly cease as Jesus returns in victory!

We are getting close to that great day of freedom and joy. Hear the words of Jesus—“So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” Luke 21:28 (NLT)

Hold on, dear friend—Jesus, our Sun of Righteousness, is returning. He will heal all your sorrows and fill you with joy!

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me… When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1,3 NLT

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: To what do you look forward to the most when Jesus returns?

Sweet Words to a Stressed-Out World

by Karen Wingate

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”  Proverbs 12:25 NIV

I feel rather s­orry for Amazon workers.

Recently, my husband and I moved from an isolated rural setting to a big city with an Amazon distribution center three miles from our home. Within 24 hours after placing our first order, an Amazon delivery truck stopped at our driveway. Ah! That’s how Amazon could boast, “25,000 items delivered to your doorstep in two hours.” I could get used to this, I thought.

That’s the problem. I hope I don’t get used to it.

Our hurry-up society likes to push us to new records and accomplishments. Lunch at the speed of a microwave. Athletic record setting for faster times and higher scores. High tech music performances that make a performer wannabe feel inadequate because it’s not perfect enough.

For years we’ve been told to reach higher, try harder, and run faster.  Is faster really better? Is better and more any more perfect?  And what if, at our accelerated pace, we’re running in the wrong direction? Attaining what was never meant to be ours?

In the case of speedy delivery Amazon service, what’s the tradeoff? Stressed out workers who are asked to do the impossible. A society who learns they don’t have to wait for anything and who forgets the impact our convenience has on others.

Our world’s incessant demand for more, better, and faster is not the lifestyle God intended us to have. The Bible tells me to trust God for my needs (Proverbs 3:5), wait on Him (Psalm 27:14), and put the needs of others before myself (Romans 12:10).

As a Christian, how then should you live? It might feel like you are swimming upstream, but determine in your own life to view time, perfection, and accomplishment from God’s view. You also have a fabulous opportunity to minister to the people around you who are worn out from their high demand world. A few words of kindness will be enough to show them not everyone expects them to kick up their performance by a notch or more.

Words like:

  • “Take your time.”
  • “That’s okay. You did your best.”
  • “You go ahead. I can wait.”
  • “How can I help you?”
  • “Thanks for going the extra mile for me.”
  • “You did a great job.”

Will our reassuring words do any good toward relieving stress? Yes. They will. A lot. Your kindness and concern have the potential to reverberate for perhaps the span of a lifetime.

I was a young, anxious teenager when I went shopping one day with my sweet Aunt Charlotte. I freaked at the line of people behind me in the checkout line, and in grabbing my change, I fumbled coins and became even more distressed.

Aunt Charlotte’s voice murmured in my ear. “Stand where you are. Put your money in your wallet now. Take your time. They’ll wait for you.” Her kind words taught me that haste really does make waste, doing a job well is more important than doing it fast, and to resist assuming that other people won’t wait for me.

Gracious words that allow time, space, and room for mistakes may not sound like much, but they will stand out in stark contrast to the constant barrage of a do-better, move-faster world. Your sweet words will make your listener feel like someone has lifted weights from their shoulders; they’ll feel reenergized to keep moving forward.

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

About the author: Karen Wingate is learning to take life at a slower pace after her husband retired from 33 years of located church ministry. She is author of the soon to be released book, “With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind,” published by Kregel.

Join the conversation: What gracious words and acts can you express to diffuse the stress in those around you?

Life’s Muddles and Puddles

by Shirley Brosius

When there are many words, wrongdoing is unavoidable, but one who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19 NASB

I had no idea which button I accidentally pressed when a snowstorm blew across my television screen. Input, perhaps? Nope. Clicking on it changed nothing. After 15 minutes of trying to restore the picture, I called technical support. A very nice man assured me he would help. He even asked how my day was going up until I found myself in this predicament. I assured him it had been going just fine. Until. Now.

The man suggested I try this/try that. Turn off/turn on. Disconnect this/reconnect that. Nothing worked. I shed the robe I wore over my pajamas. We continued to work on the problem—him, giving directions in a soothing, patient voice. Me, following his prompts, more agitated by the moment and finally calling my husband to connect/disconnect, do this/do that.

Back and forth. We chatted for 15 minutes or so. I then did something that lighted the modem box, and I knew we were onto something good. This kind, gentle man finally led me through steps that restored my television picture—just in time for a movie I wanted to watch.

Isn’t that how it is with life? One split-second misstep may take ages to correct. One misspoken word may take long conversations to undo. A spouse irritates you, so you snap back. A child tries your patience, so you yell. A coworker offends you or you offend a coworker. And like my television experience, sometimes we’re not even sure what caused the storm.

Just as I need to be mindful of the buttons I press on the remote, I need to be mindful of what I say. It’s easy to spill words all over myself and others. But the cost of cleanup in time and hurt feelings can be as costly as the cleanup following Hurricane Laura. Better to proceed with caution.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3 NIV). David wrote these words in his desire to do right. He knew his words could encourage or poison. After describing what he hoped to avoid, David continued: “For my eyes are toward You, O God, the Lord; in You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless” (Psalm 141:8 NASB ). David knew his only hope of guarding his tongue was in keeping his sights on God, who is totally good.

Here’s my advice du jour:

Approach life with prayer: Prepare yourself for the day by praying for God’s direction and His Hand on your life. If an awkward situation looms, ask for wisdom. If you expect challenges from children, spouses or coworkers, ask for a heart filled with love and discernment. Call for God’s help on the spot as needed.

Accept responsibility: Develop a mindset that refuses to allow irritation to rob you of kind responses. If you’ve already said or done the wrong thing, ‘fess up. You meant well, but it didn’t turn out that way. Apologize. Say you’re sorry. Push comes to shove when we fail to accept responsibility for our words and actions. If you meant well, let your good intentions be known and they will be appreciated.

Apply loving concern: Keep your cool. Calmly express concern. Harsh language only muddies the waters. Like the soothing, friendly technical support guy, offer assistance and suggest ways issues might be resolved. While you may not see eye to eye, the other may hear your heart and accept your basic motivation as sincere. If customer service people can be trained to respond to all voices with patience, so can we as moms and dads, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues.

Life’s muddles and puddles will do us and others good if we use them as invitations to draw closer to God and to each other.

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

About the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events throughout the East as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she appreciates the help of two married sons and five grandchildren when she calls them for help in a muddle. You can find out more about Shirley at www.shirleybrosius.com or www.shirleybrosius.blogspot.com.

Join the conversation: Have you created a mess with your words? How did you resolve the problem?

Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference by [Shirley Brosius]

Is Our Strength Too Small?

by Terri Gillespie

If you falter in a day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10 TLV

What was I thinking?

An amusement park ride that included the words “drop” or “doom” probably wasn’t the best choice for me—even twenty-five years ago. But the hopeful look on my then teenaged daughter’s face trumped my fear—and good sense. I couldn’t disappoint her again.

I suppose working fifty-hour weeks had built a sizeable reserve of guilt for her to draw from.

The ride advertised itself as the tallest in the park. “Breathtaking views,” it promoted. Unfortunately, as we sat in the gondola on the precipice of insanity, those views were only for a few seconds. And with the gondolas being completely exposed to the elements, I felt like I was about to freefall—without a parachute—over four hundred feet. Pure, unadulterated terror.

Sitting out there those seconds, I remember questioning how the ride worked. I may even have said—screamed—that out loud. In the state of pure fear, I had forgotten how the monstrosity worked.

Mind you, for the hour we stood in line, I had watched how it worked—over and over again. Listened to the teenaged attendant give the safety briefing, as he strapped us in.

Yet, once we perched over nothingness hundreds of feet in the air, everything I had seen or heard was forgotten.

You know what it reminded me of? Receiving a potential death sentence. Except I had absurdly spent good money to willingly receive that verdict.

The true test of wisdom’s strength in our life is when trials and tribulations befall us. When we’re strapped in and riding life’s “drop of doom.”

I can spout wise words with the best of them, but when challenges arise, especially ones that push those weak areas of my heart, I can still falter. That what-do-I-do panic moment before His truth kicks in. The standing on a precipice with a stampede behind me. My first thoughts are “Yikes! Help!” or a sense of hopelessness. Or, “How does this faith-thing work again?”

But the sooner I pause and look up, out of my physical situation—or down at the drop—my Heavenly Father can guide me and show me how to proceed. He can give me that peace, that perfect shalom.

And the shalom [peace] of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua [Jesus]. Philippians 4:7 TLV

I fully own to being weak. Still, if faltering points me to my true strength, my Abba, then that’s not too bad. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 TLV).

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge my weakness. I would rather be wise and completely dependent upon our True Strength right away when adversity comes, but I know that You will walk me through the minute I come to You. Thanks for Your patience. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption 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 novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

Join the conversation: What do you do when you panic?