Expectations vs. Expectancy

by Ava Pennington

Have you recently experienced frustration? Something or someone irritated you?  Plans didn’t go your way?

That seems to be happening to me more as of late. I get annoyed at the increased seasonal traffic in south Florida. I’m frustrated by people who don’t follow through on what they said they would do. I’m irritated by circumstances that cause me to make two separate trips to purchase the same item.

But what if the cause of the irritation is not external at all? What if I’m the cause of my own frustration? Someone once said “the level of your frustration is directly related to the level of your expectations.”

Ouch.

So the real cause of my own grief is most likely…me.

Knowing we live in a broken world, why do I go through life expecting people to respond perfectly? Especially when I know I don’t!

Understanding that our little town experiences a population surge during the winter season, why do I get annoyed at the increased traffic?

Failing to take the time to plan properly, why am I surprised that one task requires multiple trips to the store?

Unrealistic expectations. Expectations grounded in reality as I want it to be, rather than the way it is.

Ancient Israel had a similar problem. Their expectations of the coming Messiah were based on cherry-picked prophecies. The sad result was that they didn’t recognize Him when He did come. They were so busy looking for a victorious military leader that they missed the Suffering Servant who came to redeem humanity.

So what’s the answer?

I believe the answer for a Christian is to live expectantly.

To live expectantly is to live in without setting specific expectations or demands on what that will look like. Living expectantly allows us to recognize where the Holy Spirit might be moving in areas we would not normally look for Him. And it communicates that we are satisfied with whatever the Lord does, allows, or gives—without comparing it to our own agenda or shopping list.

Those who live expectantly have the privilege of living out a truth understood by martyred missionary Jim Elliot: “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.”

Will you join me? Together, let’s put aside our expectations and live in daily expectancy for how God will show Himself active in our life. And as He does, share your experiences with others to increase their own sense of expectancy.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3 ESV).

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What expectations do you need to give up in order to live expectantly?

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Formulaic God? NOT!

by Kathy Collard Miller

At a women’s retreat, a woman named Allison asked me, “What should I do when my husband says …?”

I gently responded, “If I gave you a formula to follow, how would that leave out God?”

At first, she was startled. “I just want to know how to head off a fight. What’s so bad about that?”

“I understand that, but how would that leave out God?”

After a few moments, she replied, “Well, I guess I could just depend upon the formula rather than looking to God.”

“That’s right. You would miss an opportunity to abide. Jesus said he only did what the Father told him to do. Do you think Jesus followed a formula? Was he always predictable?”

These thoughts were almost shocking to Allison. Since then I’ve begun making a list of the different ways Jesus responded as he abided in the Holy Spirit’s power. Wanting to do what his Father wanted him to do brought glory to God. Jesus’ varied responses reveal his care, love, and attention to the details of each person’s life. He knows them and is inviting them to know him.

Here are examples from the book of Mark. Jesus:

  • invited fishermen to become fishers of men (1:17)
  • rebuked demons (1:25)
  • took a sick woman’s hand (1:31)
  • healed the paralytic with a word of forgiveness (2:5)
  • reasoned with scribes who were reasoning … within themselves (Mark 2:8)
  • called Matthew with words “Follow me”! (2:14)
  • used parables to touch any receptive hearts (4:9)
  • hushed a storm (4:39)
  • allowed healing by a woman touching his hem (5:30)
  • invited disciples to participate in the provision of food (6:37)
  • walked on the sea to give peace and courage (6:50)
  • seemed like he was rejecting a Gentile woman before healing her daughter (7:27)

Additionally, in Luke 5:15-16, he left needy people behind to have a private time with the Father.

But my favorite example is Jesus’ sensitive response to the needs of a deaf and dumb man through sign language (Mark 7:31-37). Initially, the way Jesus responds to this man seems weird, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Theologian Sinclair Ferguson comments:

“The man could not hear Jesus and he was also incapable of verbal communication. So Jesus “spoke” to him in the language he could understand—sign language. The fingers placed in his ears and then removed meant, ‘I am going to remove the blockage in your hearing.’ The spitting and the touching of the man’s tongue meant, ‘I am going to remove the blockage in your mouth.’ The glance up to heaven meant, ‘It is God alone who is able to do this for you.’ Jesus wanted the man to understand that it was not magic but God’s grace that healed him.”

Jesus doesn’t respond with “one size fits all” actions. He chooses what’s best for each individual.

I would challenge you to make your own study of the different and unique ways God responds throughout the Bible. You’ll see his heart of love, grace, and other beautiful attributes. Remember, when you “see” Jesus in the New Testament, you are “seeing” God the Father.

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! Isaiah 43:1 NASB

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books; this devotional is excerpted from Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory . She is a speaker who has shared in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US states. Kathy and Larry have been married for 48 years and are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California and often write and speak together. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com. She would love to hear from you.

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How to Stop Regret

by Debbie W. Wilson

Sometimes I’ve treated errors as catastrophes. I’ve felt worse over a mistake than over sin. Jesus paid for my sin, but I felt I had to pay for my mistakes. Maybe you can relate.

I bought a neutral colored jacket I thought would go with everything. But after I brought it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear with it. The time to return it ran out before I realized my purchase wasn’t as smart as I’d thought.

“If only I’d known,” I moaned.

That’s when I remembered Eve. The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree of knowledge, she would be like God (Genesis 3:5).

Was my “If only I’d known,” an echo of Eve’s obsession with the tree of knowledge? Was I trying to be like God—all-knowing? Was the desire “to know” a way to replace my need for God?

Too many times I’ve let decisions I’d like to do over (with the knowledge I’ve gained from time and experience) steal my peace. God’s Word and Spirit guide us, but in many non-essential areas we learn as we go. Even the boy Jesus “grew in knowledge.”

Here are some practices that have helped me avoid or handle regret.

Before a decision, ask God to lead.
That may mean asking Him to help me want His will. God’s will is always perfect. Mine is shortsighted and inconsistent.

I practiced this during a visit to Chicago. A pair of boots captivated me. They were a timeless style, fit like a glove, and gorgeous. It was snowing outside (I needed them). I peeked at the price. Gasp!

The next morning, I asked God to guide me as the desire for the boots still toyed with my mind. I opened my Bible and read out loud. “Spare no expense!” (Isaiah 54:2 NLT).

My daughter and I laughed. “Mom, you turned there on purpose.” I hadn’t, but it assured me God would lead me. When I tried the boots again, they rubbed my heels. I walked away without feeling deprived.

Before and after a decision, give thanks.
Even when a decision doesn’t turn out like we’d hoped, we thank God that He will use it for our good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28 NASB).

Maybe my jacket is meant for someone else or for another season. Perhaps it’s a reminder that God is bigger than my shortcomings.

After, let it go.
God created us to need Him. Joy comes from experiencing Jesus, not from avoiding mistakes.

There were two trees in the center of Eden. Satan diverted Eve away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus is “the life” (Jn:14:6). Let’s not let a decision draw us away from Him.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”      John 10:10 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What pending or past decision wants to steal your peace?

Hope for When We Need to Refocus

by Kristine Brown

 I wrote it in my new 2018 day-planner, the one with all the space for goals, plans, and action steps. I jotted it down on my desk calendar at work.  I even scribbled it next to a little circle on my to-do list notepad. Yet I still forgot to bring the ‘thank you’ card to work for my co-worker this week.

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. Friday evening as I set my belongings on the kitchen table, I found it tucked in the side of my bag. The card did make it to work, I just never took it out of my bag to give it to her. The task didn’t get done. How could I be so forgetful? So much for the satisfaction of checking off that item on my to-do list!

We’ve been in a busier-than-usual season at our house. The list of things that must get finished keeps growing, and I find myself putting off everything until the weekend. There’s just one problem with waiting until Saturday to complete it all. The weekend arrives, and I’m too tired to tackle the list.

So another week passes, and next Saturday’s list is even longer, and so on, and so on. As a result, frustration comes in like an overpowering wave.

In those times, I feel like chaos has taken over. My mind struggles to focus on just one thing, much less a never-ending list of things that have to be done right now. It’s hard to refocus when our schedules get overwhelming, but 1 Chronicles 28:9 reassures us that God knows our hearts, plans, and thoughts.

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought.” 1 Chronicles 28:9 NLT

King David desired to build a temple to hold the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. When the Lord chose Solomon to complete the project, David shared these words of encouragement with his son as he commissioned him to begin the work God called him to do.

As God’s children, we are commissioned and called to worship and serve Him. In this verse, we discover a valuable truth concerning these things. We are called to serve him “with our whole heart and a willing mind.” When we keep a whole heart and a willing mind set on God, the chaos of life will not distract us.

After my hectic week at work, I noticed something. In all the rushing around to get things done, I’d put off my time with God. I forged my own plans. I let my to-do list turn my heart away from Him. But David’s inspiring speech to Solomon gives us hope today. Putting God first in our hearts and minds will help us refocus on things that matter.

Speaking of focus, will you excuse me for a moment? I have a thank you card to drop in the mail.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NASB

kristine brownMeet the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing biblical insight with readers and audiences in a relatable way. Her life experiences blend together to create an eclectic backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: Are you struggling with an over-the-top to-do list? What is most helpful to you in keeping your life in order?

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Your Work Matters to God

by Michelle Lazurek

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”  Genesis 2:15 NIV

Knee deep in diapers a few years ago, I thought my life would never change. The repeating cycles of never-ending laundry and endless loads of dishes seemed to stretch on forever into the foreseeable future. I loved being mom to two children seventeen months apart in age. But I had to wonder: was this all there would be to my significance? Would my dreams for accomplishment outside of motherhood ever come to pass?

I’m sure at one time or another we all have felt like our work is meaningless. Wiping food off a baby’s chin or caring for a sick loved one can seem tedious and fruitless, simply because we don’t see any reward for our labor at the moment. Yet God views our work as a part of the natural order of things.

Our work matters to God. We can view it as something we have to do, or something we get to do. There is no distinction in the Bible between ministry and other kinds of work. Whatever we do, we can do for His glory.

Our labors are a part of our worship to Him. Whether we treat an ornery coworker with kindness, or throw ourselves into a task at hand, we honor God by being a good steward in what He has entrusted to us.

 In fact, God considered work so important to our well-being, He included it as a part of paradise.

Work allows us to express the image of God- “[The Lord] brought [every beast of field and bird of the sky] to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:19b NASB). As a writer, one of the best parts of my job is taking a topic or Bible verse and giving it a fresh spin from research or personal experience. Just as God created something from nothing when He created the heavens and earth, He allowed Adam to create something out of nothing by generating names for the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). We reflect our Maker when we engage in the creative process.

Work gives us meaning- Accomplishment is very satisfying and brings a sense of purpose to our existence. After creating male and female, God told them, “. . .Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” (Genesis 1:28a NASB). From the very beginning, God-given work was a significant responsibility.

Work affords an opportunity to operate in community- “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18 NASB). We were not meant to work alone. We were created with individual abilities and are meant to function in the Church as many members of one body. We need each other to get the job done. When we feel like our work doesn’t matter, talking with a co- worker can provide a different perspective and encourage us on in our work.

Your work matters to God. Even if sometimes you don’t see purpose or rewards as you labor, know that your work has more significance than you can imagine: an eternal one.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   Colossians 3:17 NIV

michelle lazurekAbout the author: About the author: Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, national speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she loves to help people encounter God and engage with the world around them. When not writing, you can find her enjoying a Starbucks latte and collecting vintage records. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com.

Join the conversation: What work brings you the most joy or satisfaction?

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Sometimes We Need a Reboot

by Edie Melson

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

A few years ago, I came to the point of a computer crisis. My current computer became a serious source of irritation in my life. Not just the ordinary, I-hate-technology moments we all have, but the big I’m-going-to-have-to-wipe-the-hard-drive-and-start-over sort of situation.

To be fair, it wasn’t even a real computer, it was a netbook. I’d had it for just over two years and I had used that little machine hard. It logged as many travel miles as I had and, for a PC, had been a truly trouble-free machine. And up until the past few months, I’d been thrilled with its performance. It had always booted up quickly and gone from application to application with lightning speed. Even now it ranks as one of the favorite computers I’ve ever had.

But then that all began to change. At first I thought it probably had something to do with a virus or spyware or even cookies. So I ran every diagnostic tool I could find and discovered it was free from any digital disease.

One thing all my diagnostic digging did reveal was a very full machine. Its open memory space was rapidly disappearing. Where once it had room to perform, now its life was cramped and overloaded. Its performance had dramatically decreased, and if it were a person, I’d even go so far as to say it had become chronically cranky. Its bad-tempered disposition was due to the fact that I expected it to do things it was never designed to do.

Because it was originally so efficient, I kept piling more and more on it. I moved all my work life to its hard drive because it performed so well. And, until it became overloaded, it just quietly processed my requests. Now, my only option was to wipe its hard drive and start over. And, to be totally honest, I really didn’t have the time to spare.

Why didn’t I have the time?

Well, it turned out I was suffering from the same sort of malady as my darling digital offspring. While I considered what to do with this machine, God began to draw some obvious parallels within my own life. That had been a banner year for me, but with my successes came with a dump truck full of opportunities.

For some, that would be a good thing. For me, the queen of I-can’t-say-no, it developed into a nightmare. My own life had become overloaded, and my performance had begun to suffer. Where once I finished projects early, now I struggled to complete them on time. I was suddenly driven by deadlines and distracted by details. And the only answer was take a little time do a serious reboot to my life.

I took the time I needed to plug back in to my Creator and let Him remind me of the special things He designed me to do. I wiped my life free of everything I wasn’t suited for and it made all the difference. Just like my computer, I was once again able to work with plenty of room to breathe.

King David wrote: “…when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). I encourage you to spend time in God’s presence asking for discernment in prioritizing commitments. Use this summer to readjust your life back in line with what God designed you to do and watch the difference it will make in your life.

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: With what ways do you discern whether or not to commit to something? Have you ever found yourself overcommitted?

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One Of The Least

by Sheri Schofield

Marta was only ten years old when her father took her away from her mother, who had divorced him. He took Marta on a boat from Columbia and took her to Panama. There he left her with a friend, where Marta was forced to work to pay for her food and shelter. She never saw her mother again.

Years later, Marta applied as a maid to help us in our home in Panama, where my husband, Tim, was stationed. By then, she had a one-year-old baby and no husband. I welcomed Marta into our home and told her that she and I would keep house together. She would help me, but she would also belong to our family. So would her baby, Julisa.

That first evening when we had placed the food on the table, our family joined hands and included Marta and Julisa in the circle. Tim prayed in English then I said a brief prayer in Spanish for Marta to hear. Marta and Julisa became very dear to us during the year we were in Panama. We shared the love of Jesus with the immigrant mother and her little girl.

Within three months, Marta wanted to become a Christian, too. She and our daughter, Christy, were baptized the same day. Marta gave her testimony, telling how she had thought we were crazy at first! We loved her! She had not known love since she was a little girl. Our love had convinced her of God’s love for her.

More than twenty years later, our family still keeps in touch with Marta, though we are in the States and Marta remains in Panama. She is my sister in Jesus, and very dear to me.

Today we are seeing many people of troubled nations fleeing toward the safety of America. There are girls like Marta and Julisa fleeing for their lives. There are families fleeing war-torn countries where their lives are in danger. What does God say about how we should treat them?

King David wrote in Psalm 149:9(NIV), “God watches over the foreigner . . .” (Think immigrant, refugee.)

Job defended himself by saying, “…no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler.” Job 31:32 (NIV)

Jesus told his disciples that on the day he returns to earth, “Then the King will say, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“The righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink . . . ?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:34-37, 40 (NIV)

May we always see our world and its people the way Jesus does!

 “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19 (NIV)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, was launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: What opportunities have you had to share the love of Christ?

What Do You Want?

by Peggy Cunningham

Early morning, while still in my jammies, I snuggled in my comfy chair with my Bible in hand and opened to the first chapter in John. Jesus had turned around and asked this question to the two disciples who followed behind Him. “What do you want?” That question jumped out at me from the page as I felt the vibration of God’s voice speaking to me through His Word. “What do you want?”

A few weeks ago, I had walked outside to check on things before bed. The quietness of rural Bolivian, South America eased my soul as stars twinkled overhead as if dancing to music. The wind rustled the bushes, and nearby barking dogs aroused my curiosity. Unafraid of the darkness, I opened our gate and checked around. Looking back, I wonder what I was thinking. If there had been a danger, I would have found myself smack in it–– unprotected and alone.

Nevertheless, I stepped out on the road and was relieved to find nothing out of the ordinary. But as I turned to back inside, a sudden gust of wind blew our gate shut with a bang. Alone, unafraid but frustrated, I jumped up and down, yelling for help from outside the gate until my voice became hoarse. My husband was fast asleep upstairs, and even if he’d been awake, he would not have heard my voice from that distance. Finally, I decided to walk the dirt road to our classrooms and attempt entry from there.

The darkness hugged me, and brisk air chilled my bones. Garbed in only my PJs, I walked the lonely road. Suddenly, I became aware of footsteps behind me. Who walked behind me? What did they want? A moonless night with no flashlight made it impossible to see.

Then out of the darkness came a voice (in Spanish), “Dona Margarita, what are you doing out here in the dark all alone?” To my relief, it was a familiar voice: Hernan, a teenage boy who attended our classes, was walking home as he did each night after special courses at the school near us.

As we neared the classrooms together, his robust voice awoke our ministry helpers who lived nearby. They opened the gate, and I entered the safety and comfort of home.

At first, I’d thought about shouting to the follower behind me, “What do you want?” But, I hesitated. Jesus didn’t hesitate to ask His followers what they wanted. We shouldn’t hesitate to tell Him what we want. That dark and cold night, I had asked God for an open door and now thanked Him for how it opened.

Two disciples were following Jesus when he turned and asked the question. “Turning around, Jesus saw them and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38 NIV).

Were they following Him out of curiosity, or maybe hopes for personal gain, or because they saw something greater in Him than in themselves? Yes, He already knew the answer, but did they?

We can ask the same question of ourselves. God is calling us to join Him and to be a part of building His Kingdom. Following Him is not about us at all. It is giving ourselves to a cause that will accomplish the purposes and will of the God of the universe. Ponder Jesus’ words today for yourself: “What do you want?”

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”                                                                                                                                                       Mark 8:34 NASB

Peggy CunninghamAbout the author: Peggy Cunningham and her husband have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Rumi Rancho is their ministry base and home outside the city of Cochabamba where they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author. Her children’s books and devotionals are available on Amazon.com, including her latest book Shape Your Soul, 31 Exercises of Faith that Move Mountains, a women’s devotional.

Join the conversation: Why did you decide to follow Jesus?

 

 

Peeling Off the Apathy Suit

by Debora M. Coty

I answered the maddeningly persistent phone with a poopy-diapered toddler shimmying up my leg (you don’t even want to know about the trail she was leaving), a preschooler wailing about his lost Legos (which I – ouch – found), a pot overflowing on the stove, and a dog howling to visit his fave tree.

I could barely hear the bill collector on the other end of the line.

Okay, I’d had it! Done. Epic fail. I was mom-mom-mom-mom’ed out. I felt myself tumbling face first into the joy-sucking dully-funks.

You know the dully-funk pit all too well, girlfriend – it’s that black hole, when our minds fog, emotions go numb, eyes glaze over, and we move like autotrons in a perpetual state of spiritual and emotional dullness.

A mom-ed out woman can spend days, weeks, even years in the joy-sucking dully-funks, functioning, going through the motions of taking care of her family, but not really living. She’s barely eking by, not experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised to believers in John 10:10 (NKJV): “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

The way I see it, the abundant life is like a Snickers bar – rich and satisfying. Is that how you’d describe your everyday life? If you’re like me, you probably have an occasional rapturously abundant moment, but that feeling is hard to sustain. Why?

Because chronic fatigue tries to encase us in a rubber suit of apathy, whispering, “This will keep you safe. You can’t be hurt if you don’t care.” So in self-protection mode, we muffle the barrage of emotions. We don’t allow ourselves to feel.

 But beware, my friend! That rubber suit will block Jesus-joy too. And happiness. And the exhilaration of feeling Papa God’s pleasure in you – His beloved daughter.

Apathy is a Son-block that numbs you to the wonder, excitement, and joy of living … the abundant life Jesus offers. And that’s a cocoon none of us wants to inhabit.

So how do we peel away the rubber suit of apathy?

I call it the Bread Dough Rule. In the same way dough rises to fill whatever size bowl it’s placed in, we fill our daily to-do bowl up to the brim, whether it’s salad bowl size or a mega mixing bowl.

So start with a pudding cup. Limit your must-dos today to three major items. You know good and well that the Bread Dough Rule will swell your list and overflow that tiny cup as the day progresses, but by starting small, you can afford unforeseen expansion, hair-ripping interruptions, and even a Lego or two embedded in your heel.

Hey, when your cup runneth over, sip from the saucer!

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9, NLT

(Excerpt was taken from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty with permission from Barbour Publishing.)

debora-coty-250x250About the Author: Debora M. Coty lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband Chuck. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Her newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms, hits booksellers September 1. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Join the conversation: How do you move yourself out of the joy-sucking dully-funks?

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Erecting Altars

by Jennifer Slatery

My life has been punctuated by a series of, “Are you serious, God?” moments—times when I want to pretend I didn’t hear Him, when I’m convinced He couldn’t possibly have uttered the command I’ve sensed. And there have been way too many times when I’ve been tempted to cloak a disobedient heart in excuses and rationalization.

That burning I felt within while reading that passage—that must have been heartburn. That jolt I felt in my spirit when my pastor gave that sermon—the stage lights must have hit me wrong.

But in this instance, God left no room for doubt, confirming His message numerous times through numerous sources, all in the span of a week. So, with a few reluctant tears, I obeyed. For just over a week, anyway. . .then I started praying for guidance again on the same issue God had so recently given me guidance, as if His instructions came with an expiration date.

They hadn’t. Obedience meant remaining engaged in what He’d already made clear, until He told me otherwise. Trusting, regardless of the delay, that He would be faithful in the wait.

I thought of my reluctant obedience dance with Christ as I was reading about Sarah and Abraham’s journey in Genesis 12. They left their home in response to a dramatic command to leave their country and most of their relatives to go to an undisclosed land.

Abraham obeyed: he, his wife, and their entourage made the long, arduous trek to foreign soil.  The 400-mile journey wasn’t quick or easy. When he arrived in Shechem, where God promised to give that land to his future descendants, Abram built an altar to the Lord.

The thought of descendants must have been astonishing to a 75 year-old childless man. Though He didn’t know it, 25 years would pass before God fulfilled that promise. I imagine the altar that marked the place where he met with God must have reassured Abraham in the wait. And if his experience was anything like mine, remembering would have provided peace and strength for his weary soul.

I’ve learned, if I want to stay strong in Christ and obedient to Him, it helps to fashion my own altars—like notes tucked in my Bible or journal entries stored in my bookshelves. Concrete and irrefutable reminders of those times when God spoke directly to my heart.

Like with the situation I spoke of earlier in this article. If I hadn’t recorded God’s clear commands provided the week before, I could have rationalized them away. Or forgotten them entirely. But regardless of what my temperamental heart longed to believe, I knew God had spoken, and I had determined to obey.

Can you relate to my temptation to discount or rationalize away God’s guidance?

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NASB

Jennifer Slattery Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Join the conversation: How do you reinforce your determination to obey God’s guidance while you wait?

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