Time for a Nap

by Crystal Bowman

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NIV

My two-year-old granddaughter was beyond tired and in desperate need of a nap—but she didn’t want to take a nap. I knew it was exactly what she needed and that nothing else was going to help her cranky disposition. As I carried her upstairs to her bedroom, she kicked and screamed, “No Gigi! No nap!”

Once inside her bedroom, my granddaughter refused to lie down in her toddler bed. She sat on the floor in bold defiance, with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face. There was no way she was going to lie down! I took her Minnie Mouse pillow from her bed and put it on the plush rug where she was sitting. I laid down on the rug and tried to coax her into my open arms. She refused to comply. As she sat next to me with her arms still crossed, I began stroking her hair and gently singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Her stiff body finally relaxed, and she fell asleep sitting up! Then she toppled into my open arms and settled in for a much-needed nap.

Two hours later, my granddaughter woke up with a smile on her face. She was sweet, calm, happy, refreshed, and ready to play. My precious angel was back.

We never outgrow our need for rest, but we often push ourselves to keep going because we have things to accomplish. If we look at the Scriptures, we can find many references to rest. The Bible begins with the story of creation, which God accomplished in six days. On the seventh day, God rested. In Exodus 20, God gives the Ten Commandments to Moses. The fourth commandment says to work for six days and then refrain from work on the Sabbath day to rest and worship.

The Gospels give an account of Jesus’ life on earth. He kept a busy schedule traveling with His disciples through towns and villages. They had little time to rest since crowds followed them around seeking physical and spiritual healing. In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV).

Resting not only allows us to recharge our bodies, but it’s also refreshing for our souls. When we take time to rest, we can commune with God without all the distractions and chaos that surround us. God knows we need rest, and He offers to carry our burdens so that we can rest both physically and emotionally.

When I am stressed, weary, tired, and overwhelmed—like my two-year-old granddaughter—God is beside me. He speaks softly and gently, calling me to rest in his open arms. When I surrender to Him and give Him my cares and concerns, I find refreshment and peace for my body and soul.

Are you weary today? Maybe it’s time for a nap!

This article is brought to you by the Advance 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. Do you make rest a priority? Why or why not?

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Advent Expectant

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

Part of the definition of the word advent is “expecting.”

As that word rolled around in my head this season, I thought of the anticipation and wonder Mary and Joseph must have felt as they waited for the Christ Child’s arrival. Probably as expectant parents do in the here and now: a mix of joy, hope, and even fear occupying their heads for nine months.

There were others that were expecting at that time. Everyone in Israel was anticipating the arrival of a Savior. Some were looking for the signs in the sky as the Magi were, some were rearranging their lives like Zechariah and Elizabeth, and some were living their lives of humility and love like Mary and Joseph. All with expectant hearts.

How did they know He was coming? The prophet Isaiah had written the following words over 700 years before the birth of the Messiah:

 “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever…”  Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV

They had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years when He finally came that first Christmas. God chose human beings to bring Him into the world.

God has chosen us to carry the Christ child to the rest of the world. “Wait,” I say, “I am not a worthy vessel.”

And God answers back, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God…For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:30 NKJV). Not because we are worthy, but because He is.

May the atmosphere in our lives and the attitudes we carry in our hearts be made worthy of that most precious of gifts during this Advent season.

…The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV).

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

About the author: As an author and sidewalk theologian, Cheri Cowell writes and speaks from a refreshing vulnerability about her own struggles with the deep questions of faith. A graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, she shares her passion to help others apply biblical principles to the sidewalk issues of life.

Cheri is also a publisher (owner of EABooks) and writing coach. She is passionate about helping others see God’s Word come alive, and she is excited to expand that mission by helping fellow authors take advantage of the new publishing trends. For a list of where you can meet or hear Cheri, or to learn about publishing your own books visit http://www.eabookspublishing.com/

Join the conversation: How are you preparing your heart for Advent season?

Cold Feet?

by Terri Gillespie

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces shalom [peace], who brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 TLV

Are you gifted in sharing the gospel? Not me. I’m a seed spreader that occasional comes across a ripe harvest. I mean there needs to be a neon sign pointing to the “plant” saying, “Ready for Picking!”

So, imagine my surprise one blustery evening when I found myself serving as a tour guide for my church’s Christmas event. This included presenting the gospel at the end, in front of the living nativity—baby, camels, goats, donkeys, and more.

The unique display consisted of a series of fifteen, twenty-foot-high murals depicting Biblical scenes. It began with Genesis—Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, their expulsion, Noah, and Abraham. Then on to the Gospels—Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Since I was one of the volunteers who helped paint each mural, the powers-to-be felt I should be one of the guides. Being intimately tied to the murals, I knew the story. At least that was the theory.

With over ten thousand white twinkle lights and spotlights pointing up to each mural surrounding the church, we weren’t difficult to spot from the highway. Maybe even outer space. It wasn’t long before the parking lot filled, with a line of cars waiting.

My first group consisted of several families. (As I recall, the families didn’t know one another.) Holding the script in my shaky gloved hand, we stood in front of the Garden of Eden mural. Before I began, a child asked, “Mommy, where are their clothes?” 

Uh oh. While each picture was indeed worth a thousand words, there wasn’t time to explain all the nuances of holiness vs. sin to children. Great. Our beautifully scripted message was too complicated. I shoved it into my coat pocket and spoke from my heart, and then I answered their questions as best I could.

By the time we reached the crucifixion scene, there was a quiet reverence. I tried not to be nervous, knowing the big spiel was approaching after the resurrection and ascension murals. My nervousness wasn’t due to talking about salvation but related to making the message clear to the group—simple enough for the children to understand.

As we arrived at the nativity scene, the holy peace grew. We stood in silence at the sight before us—as lifelike as that night in Bethlehem. When I asked who would like to pray, they all raised their hands or murmured, “Yes.”

Don’t ask me what I said afterward because I didn’t follow the script. Words came from the Holy Spirit’s move on my heart, and from my own wonder at what our Heavenly Father’s Son did for us poor naked sinners—for me.

Some of us cried—me included. From there, another guide shared about the church and asked if the families had a church home. So, I went back to the beginning—literally, you know, the Genesis mural—to another group awaiting the journey.

As an author and artist, I could see and understand the story and was so grateful that Abba had given me a platform to share His Good News.

As redeemed children of the Creator of the Universe, we are called to be ready when the time comes to share this Good News. Are we ready for the journey? It may be easier than we think.

Get those beautiful feet moving!

Father, I want to share the Good News of Your Son’s redemption for us, but sometimes my feet are anything but beautiful. They’re stuck in my own fears and self-consciousness. I don’t want to have cold feet when the time comes. Holy Spirit, please hose off that muck and help me get moving. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, because of His Son Jesus. Her book, Really Bad Hair Day won the 2022 Golden Scroll for Contemporary Novel of the Year.

Really Bad Hair Day (Book 3 of The Hair Mavens series) The Mavens bring their sense of style of really good hair out into the community and to the homeless. But as much as the ladies want to help others, they discover they need help, too or they may lose a maven. And, yes, the final book answers whether or not Shira and Jesse get married.

Join the conversation: Have you encountered an unexpected opportunity to share the gospel? Please share!

Straight Ahead in the Wrong Direction

by Patti Richter

Arise, go to Nineveh… But Jonah ran away… to flee from the Lord. Jonah 1:2 – 3 ESV

Our small church on the edge of the desert held a prayer meeting on Wednesday nights, and I coordinated the pre-school room. But when our daughter felt sick one Wednesday, I arranged for someone else to supervise—until the Lord provided a different plan.

After dinner that evening, while my husband, Jim, prepared to go to church alone, I went outside to tend the garden. As I knelt down with my spade, I heard the Lord speak in silent yet crystal-clear words:  Go to church tonight. I want you to tell someone about Me.

Amazed at hearing this message, I went to tell Jim what had happened. He agreed to stay home with our daughter while I went to church.

After checking on the children’s class, I took a seat in the back of the sanctuary, where I could see those arriving. But halfway through the service, I’d seen no one that I felt led to speak to.

I slipped out of the service to check on the kids’ room but found it empty; the teenage workers had taken them outside to the playground. As I crossed the courtyard to remind the group to come inside before dark, I asked the Lord about the message I’d heard.

That’s when I noticed some movement on another playground next to the church. I saw two children swinging and someone sitting on a bench. But I continued straight ahead, despite the clear direction that came to me immediately: That’s who I want you to talk to.

In my church pew again, I silently argued with God: I thought you would bring someone into the service, Lord. I don’t know what to say to someone who’s not here to seek you.

I knew well enough Jesus’ commission to his disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15 ESV). Yet, here I sat, not wanting to go 100 steps.

Years earlier, as a new believer reading through the Old Testament for the first time, I’d been disappointed in the prophet Jonah. I loved the miraculous part of the story, the man-gets-swallowed-by-fish part. But the prophet’s stubborn attitude bothered me; I couldn’t relate to his outright disobedience to God—until now, as I found myself in his sandals.

When God’s silence grew too loud for me to bear, I rose up with Jonah-like enthusiasm, went outside to the small playground, and sat down beside that young woman. Startled to see me, she asked if it was okay for them to use the playground.

“Sure,” I answered. But then, in the gap of silence, I realized she reminded me of my sixteen-year-old self. So, I plunged into an awkward testimony: “When I was your age, I prayed and read the Bible sometimes.”

The girl’s eyes grew round, but not with alarm; so, I continued.

“I knew that Jesus died on the cross, but I never took it personally—that he died for me. Some friends helped me to see that I needed to confess my sins and ask Jesus to be my Savior. This changed my life in an amazing way, and I think God wanted me to tell you this.”

I saw a single teardrop slide down the girl’s cheek, as she smiled and said thank you. Then, hearing the pre-school kids racing back to the church, I rose to follow them inside; and the final rays of light drained over the horizon.

Do not be anxious … for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:19 – 20 ESV

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Has God shown you something to do in a very clear way? How did you respond?

Finding Light for Your Path

by Debbie Wilson

One night, my tender-hearted husband let our two standard poodles into our bedroom to sleep. All 87 pounds of Max stretched out on the floor beside me. His younger and smaller brother settled close beside him. Afraid I’d trip over them if I got up in the night, I decided to move them to their usual sleeping spots.

I trudged upstairs with Strider, my smaller boy, in tow and headed back for stubborn Max. Climbing the steps, Max met me. Good, I didn’t have to drag him to his bed.

Finally, I could settle down. I strode the few feet to my bed in the dark and tripped over a wadded rug—Max’s final protest at being moved. My fall meant multiple visits to the chiropractor and an aching shoulder.

Why did I fall on the familiar jaunt to my bed? The darkness hid the unexpected snare that lay between me and my bed.

We need light. We live in a dark world. To complicate matters, Satan and his emissaries masquerade as angels of light. Wolves dress as sheep—sometimes as shepherds. How do we safely navigate life?

We walk in the light. Even a few steps over familiar territory can prove dangerous in the dark. “Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105 NASB1995).

The Psalmist describes God’s word as a lamp. Imagine walking on a dark night with a lantern. How far ahead would you be able to see? A lantern would light only the next step or two, not the whole path.

Sometimes we want God to light the whole road before we take the first step. But to walk in the light means to walk by faith and take the step lit before us.

God’s word is not a GPS that shows every turn along the path. When we’re yoked to Him, He shows the next step. He walks with us and helps us with the snags we face along the way. “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165 NASB1995).

The turmoil in our world can cause us to fret. Should we buy farmland, retire, buy or sell a business or a home, or stay put?

Trust God to Lead You. Years ago, my husband and I wrestled over whether to buy a lot for a house we wanted to build. As we sought the Lord, my daily Bible reading presented verses saying, “Wait on the Lord, and He’ll give you the land.” I told Larry, I’m not sure what this means, but wait and land” keep showing up. We decided to wait.

A year later, the Scriptures of notice changed to “When you go into the land and build your fine houses…”

Larry said he’d been sensing it was time to act, too. During our wait we found a better house plan for our sloping lot and fine-tuned what we needed. Twenty-five years later, we’re in the same house and are thankful we listened to God and waited.

When we walk with the Lord, step by step He lights the way to the right place at the right time.

Oh, the joys of those who … delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:2-3 NLT

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 debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Has God directed you very clearly in the past? Please share!

Giving Thanks for Adversity

by Sandra Kay Chambers

Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day. Joshua 4:9 NASB

At Thanksgiving, we gave thanks to God for the blessings of the past year—our daily provision of food, our jobs and homes, our family, our friends and our freedom as a nation. But how many of us ever thank God for the trials and difficulties of the past year?

Why would we do that? Author and speaker, John Bevere says in his book, Killing Kryptonite, that “Adversity locates the strength of our faith.” In other words, life’s difficulties are a kind spiritual thermometer that reveals whether we are trusting in our own ability to get through our trials, or whether we are really putting our faith in God.

In the book of James, we read: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).

We should be thankful for trials and difficulties, because they work in us a spiritual endurance and maturity.

What has helped me thank God even in trying times is collecting specific memories of God’s intervention. In the Old Testament, memorial stones were erected to remember God’s faithfulness to His people and His covenant. They also marked a special encounter with God, a victory of God’s people, or a reminder to teach their children and future generations about God’s faithfulness. Jacob, Joshua and Samuel all erected memorial stones to remember God’s intervention and deliverance in their situation. (See: Genesis 28:10-22; Joshua 4:1-8; 1 Samuel 7:7-12). I write down my “memorial stones” (memories of God’s faithfulness to me) in my journal to look back on when I face difficulties and trials.

The New Testament also speaks of a “memorial stone” that proclaims God’s faithfulness to all generations. It is the Stone which the builders rejected that has become the Chief Cornerstone of our faith. The Stone is Jesus Himself—our Savior, our deliver, our helper in times of need, our advocate, and much more (Acts 4:11 NIV).

Facing the difficulties and trials that come our way will be easier if we can look back on the “memorial stones” along the way. Remembering God’s faithfulness and His promise to never leave or forsake us will allow thanksgiving to spring up in our hearts. We can thank God for all His blessings as well as the trials and difficulties that have worked endurance and maturity in our lives.

About the author: Sandra Kay Chambers’ personal goal is to “Pray Often! Inspire Others! Create Beauty!” From this foundation, she pens articles, blogs and books to encourage Christians in their personal walk with God. She has a passion to help kids understand how uniquely created and loved by God they are. Through picture books and her kid’s devotional, Fingerprint Devotions, (coming out in 2023). Sandra encourages them to discover their God-given purpose in life. Her award-winning

adult study, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet: How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life, was birthed from her personal practice as a prayer warrior and prayer encourager. Discover more about Sandra at https://www.sandrakaychambers.com.

Join the conversation: Do you have memorial stones to look back on when God intervened or provided? Please share!

It Isn’t Over Yet

by Delores Liesner

I probably should have just admitted defeat, but now I am glad I didn’t.

I made a promise to fill a need for someone based on anticipated help from others. Then one by one, the others faded into the woodwork. I confided to hubby that I was losing confidence that God was going to bring all the pieces together and work it out.  But really, God hadn’t refused to show up – just some people did.

So now there was a choice – give up and hope another time, another place, and yep, another person would be called, or step into the “Red Sea circumstance” and see what God would do.

It wasn’t over yet. It reminded me of Habakkuk, whose situation was far more dire than ours when he wrote: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17 ESV).

So we started rejoicing over what God was going to do with this project.

Yet it seemed the harder we tried, the more obstacles popped up, and the smaller our team became. God, we wondered, are you trying to tell us something?

God’s soldier Gideon was feeling pretty inferior in his situation too. God reduced his team until they were greatly outnumbered. Then God told Gideon to leave his provisions and only take what God provided.

Similarly, God allowed our team, our provisions, our resources, and our confidence in ourselves and our original plan to shrink until HE was our team. Then He multiplied our resources and provision, once again increasing our confidence…IN HIM.

Is God teaching you a similar lesson? Has your team or your provision or your confidence been reduced? Yet, when you consider what God has done for you in the past, have you found something for which you can rejoice?

Lord, may I recognize, like Habakkuk and Gideon did, that whatever my circumstances may be there is always something for which to rejoice and give thanks. Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see you in my circumstance.

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

About the author: Delores Liesner loves to reveal the dynamic hope and confidence found in the heritage of our personal God. She writes from Racine, WI., is a CLASS graduate, 21st Century Grandma and Life Tales columnist. She has published hundreds of stories and articles. Check out her Amazon Author page!

Delores’ book, Be the Miracle, will deepen your walk with God, help you to notice others’ needs, and give you practice hearing and answering His call.

Join the conversation: How has God overcome a challenging situation for you?

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

by Cynthia Cavanaugh

The past several months I’ve been working to cultivate gratitude in my life. There were too many negative thoughts swirling around from situations I couldn’t control. And certainly, I wasn’t the designated fixer! Life can be overwhelming, and sometimes my heart just hurts from all the sadness and brokenness on our planet. I realized that I could turn into a Negative Nelly if I wasn’t careful. Ouch! This is who I really don’t want to be AT ALL!

Months ago, cultivating gratitude turned into a nightly ritual.  Being a visual person, I like creative ways to be intentional especially when God has gently prodded me about something I need to change. As I slip under my feather comforter each night, I posture myself to touch each of my five fingers. Moving over each finger on my hand, I name what I am grateful for that day.

As days have turned into weeks and weeks into months a subtle, slow transformation has taken place in a crevice of my soul. Negative Nelly and her thoughts have been shoved out and replaced by a new resident, bringing thoughts of thankfulness rather than despair. I find myself looking at the world differently. Even on a hard day, windows of opportunity to be thankful present themselves and gratitude seeps through.

My new ritual is so ingrained, I can’t go to sleep without naming at least one or two things for which to be grateful. It is like taking vitamins for the soul. It keeps us healthy and changes our perspective.

I’ve read about the effects of gratitude, both in physical and emotional health. A grateful perspective has the potential to transform how we approach life. I’ve personally seen it to be a sweet balm to my broken heart. Embracing gratitude to the fullest is the best pathway to wholeness. There was a time several years back that I believed my heart could never be whole again.  It was too bruised, too wounded, too betrayed, and too weary. As I slowly surrendered, Jesus changed my heart, and I looked to Him to be my teaching healer on the journey. His ways are perfect, and his timing is impeccable.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, my heart is bursting with gratitude. It is surprising how many times it trickles out into the moments of my day. My ritual of gratitude has transformed me. My heart is healing.

I don’t know what circumstances you might be facing right now. Maybe the thought of being thankful is the farthest from your mind. I’ve been there. I pray that there will be a moment this week in between family gatherings or chaotic Black Friday shopping where thankfulness catches and inspires you to want more gratitude in your life. I challenge you: give it a try for 30 days every night. I guarantee that your tired heart will be different at the end of 30 days. Here is some inspiration to get you started:

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 NIV

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 NIV

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

About the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books and a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation. Has gratitude transformed you?

When You Don’t Feel Thankful

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  Colossians 4:2 NASB

As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us excitedly anticipate the day, rejoicing in thoughts of reuniting with family, feasting on turkey, and remembering the blessings of the past year. But others may feel empty; their problems seem to envelop them and their circumstances look bleak. With the holiday approaching, they may wonder if they have anything for which to be thankful.

I remember such a time, when my marriage was on the point of collapse. My husband and I were separated. Confusion and fear gripped my heart, and I had no idea what the future held. It was hard to be thankful that year.

During this difficult time, however, I discovered an amazing irony. While I struggled with painful circumstances, I found that when I raised my eyes toward heaven and simply thanked God for being my Lord and Father, my heart grew lighter, and I felt at peace.

As I praised Him, the clutter of doubt and fear cleared from my mind, and my perspective changed. God appeared larger, and I became more aware of His awesome power and majesty. As a result, my painful circumstances seemed less weighty and prominent. I saw only God, only His love, only His comforting presence. Thanking and praising God was a salve to my aching heart. In the midst of praise, I knew I would be alright.

The irony I discovered is that thanking God—even when it seemed I had nothing to be thankful for—actually gave me something for which to be thankful.

Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, and praise His name” (NIV).

It is when we are thankful–when we praise His name—that we can enter into the very presence of God. And when we do, we find that His majesty and power is greater than any problem we encounter. In the light of His almighty presence and power, the darkness in our life pales. God’s glory washes away the dross of the world around us.

Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (KJV).

If you are struggling to feel thankful, when you wake up on Thanksgiving Day, begin by praising God. Thank Him for His love, which never ceases. Thank Him for being a big God that nothing can defeat. Thank Him that you have the incredible privilege of coming before the God of the universe and offering up your heart. 

When you do, He will pour His strength into your weakness. He will fill your heart with Himself and the forever love He has for you. And with the tenderness of God’s presence so near, you might find this to be the most meaningful Thanksgiving of all.

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

TWEETABLE
God will fill up your heart when you don’t feel thankful – @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Having traveled a difficult three-year journey from separation to reconciliation in her own marriage, Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation, brings strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital breakdown. Her book, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated, takes the next step by offering practical guidance for those who desire reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida where their ministry to marriages in crisis has helped many couples reconcile their relationships.

Join the conversation: Our God never changes, no matter what our circumstances might  at times tempt us to believe. What things about God can you praise Him today?

Peaceful Chaos

by Tama Fortner

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28 NIV

Peaceful and chaos? Now, there are two words that don’t go together! Or do they? Rather than a contradiction in terms, is it possible that peaceful chaos could be a lovely—even worshipful—way to live?

Because let’s face it: life is filled with varying levels of chaos. No matter how organized, color-coded and coordinated, or perfectly planned we may try to be, the unexpected happens. And the holiday season—with all its trappings—just adds to the craziness, filling up our to-do lists and cramming our calendars with commitments. In other words, chaos.

Where can we find peace in the chaos?

Let’s begin by taking a moment to note where peace is not found. Peace is not found in the perfectly curated tablescape, the perfectly posed family portrait, or the perfectly planned dinner party. (Trust me—I’ve tried. It isn’t there.) That kind of worldly peace is an illusion, as fleeting as the homemade fudge pie on the kids’ table at Thanksgiving.

Here’s what I’m learning (the hard way, of course): Peace isn’t found in perfection; it’s found in presence. His presence. Real and lasting peace is waiting for us when we step over, through, and around the chaos and into the presence of God.

How do we do that? By leaning more and more into the truth of Acts 17:28—“In him we live and move and have our being.”

In Him. Every breath, every step, every moment of our lives can be lived in the presence of God. Yes, even the most chaotic of moments. When little angels act more like little turkeys, when glitter covers every square inch of you and your house and the dog, and when your patience is kaput, God is there. Take a deep breath and step into His presence . . . with a little practical CHAOS.

  • Call out His name. Whether it’s a whisper from your heart or a full-out shout for Jesus to come and come quickly, calling out His name reminds us that He is in control, and He’s made provisions for every chaos-filled moment we encounter (Hebrews 13:21; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • Hope for the best and trust God to make a way through whatever wilderness you are facing (Isaiah 43:19). The end result might not look quite like what you’d planned, but with a healthy dose of grace and love, it will look like His plan.
  • Ask for help. From God and from friends and family. Life is should be an all-hands-on-deck adventure, especially during the holidays (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12).
  • Open your eyes to what really matters: gathering with those you love, sharing the wonder of God’s endless gifts, and taking time to intentionally and specifically thank Him (Ephesians 5:20).
  • Seek opportunities to slip away with God. Even if only for a second or two. Close your eyes and breathe deeply of the holy presence of the One who never leaves you (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20).

It might not be possible to eliminate all the craziness and chaos from our lives, but we can invite His Peace into it. With a little CHAOS of our own.

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

About the author: Tama Fortner is an ECPA award-winning author with more than fifty titles to her credit, including her latest Simply Christmas: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Reclaiming the Peace of the Holidays and My Advent Nativity for children. To learn more, visit http://www.TamaFortner.com.

Join the conversation: How do you invite peace into the craziness of the holidays?