Dealing with the Skeleton in My Closet

by Sheri Schofield

Tim and I had just arrived in Oklahoma with all our possessions in the back of our small pickup truck, and our toddler, Drew, squeezed into the front seat with us. While Tim headed off to his first classes in medical school, I stayed home and arranged our tiny apartment.

That evening, I heard a shuffling noise outside the door, then Tim walked in carrying a long, thin box. “What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s my skeleton,” Tim said, grinning. He laid it down on the couch and opened the box. Drew dashed over to see what Daddy had brought home. Tim scooped him up and started explaining the contents of the box. Drew was intrigued!

My only question was, “Where are we going to put it?

We searched the apartment for a place where we could put it. “It fits under the bed,” Tim suggested.

“Not under my side!” I shuddered. Tim laughed. We slid the box with its long-expired contents under Tim’s side of the bed.

Later that week when I was vacuuming, I found Drew in the bedroom with the skeleton box pulled out. He was playing with the skeleton’s jaw. We couldn’t risk having the skeleton broken by our toddler, so we moved it to our walk-in closet. There it stayed for one full semester. Tim and Drew had great times studying it together. It made a wonderful father-son activity. I am sure that this early introduction to medicine influenced Drew as he grew older, as he became a registered nurse.

Each of us has secret things in our lives – skeletons in our closets – that we must examine. Secret hurts or actions from the past affect our outward behavior. When we bring them out into the open and talk about these things with Jesus, we change the impact those things have in our lives. If they are problems we can discuss with our children, the skeletons can become learning tools to give our children a better understanding of how to cope with difficult things.

King David had a skeleton in his closet. He wanted Bathsheba, the wife of one of his warriors. He sent for her in secret and became her lover. When she became pregnant, David had her husband sent to the front lines of battle, where he was killed. Then David sent for Bathsheba and officially married her. He thought all was hidden and that he had gotten away with it.

But God told Nathan the prophet, who confronted David. The king’s response was instant repentance. “I have sinned against the LORD,” he confessed (2 Samuel 12:13, NIV). God forgave David, but the baby died as punishment for the sin. Yet from that union with Bathsheba, God brought another baby, Solomon, into the world, the eventual great king of Israel. Judgment for David was tempered with mercy and grace, because of his sensitivity to God. Acts 13:22 (NIV) remarks: “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. ‘ ”

None of us are going to get through this life without secret skeletons in our closets. But when we follow David’s example and deal with those sins openly before God, we begin the healing process. For Jesus took on himself the judgment of God for all sins, and he gives life and healing to all who trust him. He replaces sorrow with joy! He turns us into people after his own heart.

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts… Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:7, 10, 12, NIV

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sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the Conversation: What skeletons do you have in your closet?

 

All is Well

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The world can be a frightening place for a child. My husband and I both remember the days of atomic bomb drills at school, cowering under desks with hands over our heads. (I’m still not sure how effective that would have been in the event of an actual nuclear attack.) We lecture our children on the dangers of strangers. We brief them on escape plans for our homes should fire break out. Even the environment is a threat, as children are being taught climate catastrophe is just around the corner. Despite this all being preparation for what may never happen, it can give a child the impression that things are spinning out of control.

Sometimes reading biblical prophecy can be just as scary. There is much in the future still to be played out, according to Scripture. And much of that future reads more like an R-rated movie than a happily-ever-after fairy tale. The judgment of God will come someday on a world which has turned its back on its Creator.

Why does God spend so much time warning about His coming judgment? Why all the chapters and chapters about things we may never experience in our lifetimes?

Foremost, of course, God is concerned for our salvation. He does not want any to perish (1 Peter 3:9). Knowing what eventually lies ahead for this world is excellent motivation for us to reach out to Him.

There is a second purpose served by prophecy. When we read the plans of God, we are left with a lasting conviction: God controls the destiny of the world. Everything is going according to plan (and it all works out in the end). We also see so much prophecy already fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus Christ. What is still in our future will be just as painstakingly orchestrated. We can live our lives in hope, because we live for a powerful God who holds the future in His hands.

So, on days when I am discouraged, hopeless, or wondering if the news could get any worse, I count on God’s promise: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NASB).

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a story of a ship and its occupants moving perilously close to the rocks in a violent storm. The ship’s passengers huddled on the deck below, terrified that their lives were about to end. One brave man volunteered to go above deck to seek out the captain and ascertain the situation. With great difficulty, he made his way to the pilot house. There he found the captain, chained to his post, hands confidently on the wheel. Seeing the passenger’s terror, the captain gave him a reassuring smile.

Upon his return below, the man gave his fellow passengers his hopeful news. “All is well. All is well. I saw the pilot’s face and he smiled.”

I had a similar experience on a bumpy flight to Hartford. I was seated in the same row as a uniformed pilot who had caught our flight to get to his next assignment. While turbulence usually makes me nervous, this time I watched him. If he suddenly hunched over into a crash position, I would know it was time to panic. However, while he calmly sipped his coffee and read his magazine, even while the plane bumped along, I knew all was well.

I believe that this is the reason we are allowed to glimpse the future of the world in prophecy. In the midst of seeming uncertainty and conflict, we as people of God can rest secure in the knowledge that He has it all in hand. Nothing happens that surprises God. Beyond the conflict and agony of this life, we have the hope of certain victory in Christ.

The story is already written. All is well.

The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.”  Isaiah 14:24 NASB

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Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: How has God revealed His faithfulness to you?

 

When It’s One of Those Days

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

My friend, Holly, knows what it’s like to have one of those days you wish you could do over.

It started at 4:30 a.m., when she opened the door of her house to pick up the newspaper she thought was on the mat and…thunk! The newspaper delivery boy, unknowingly, chucked that newspaper through the early morning still-dark air and it pelted her right in the chest.

Nice aim, she thought, sarcastically. And she went inside and closed the door.

The rest of the day didn’t get much better. Fortunately for Holly, she kept her sense of humor and laughed about it with several women in her exercise class at the end of the day.

We all have days when we get pelted with something right in the chest. A stinging insult. An action by a co-worker or friend that leaves us shocked. Some news that causes us to stumble or double-over.  Sometimes it’s from someone, unknowingly, chucking something through the air that happens to hit us. And other times it’s a direct hit from someone with a pretty good aim!

Whether it’s one incident after another that seems to be giving you a bad day or circumstances in which you are the one who is clearly messing up, there is a way to get through it.

God’s Word gives us simple instructions on how to handle the “bad days.” Psalm 118:24 says: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (CSB).

Interesting that God’s Word doesn’t say: “This is the day the Lord accidentally let slip through the heavens; let us tolerate it and be done with it.” Rather, God’s Word specifically states that this day – even the one in which you get plunked right in the chest – is a day that He has made and therefore it is one worth rejoicing in.

I suppose God wants us to realize that even when uncomfortable or hurtful or downright disastrous things happen, it is still a day in which we live, breathe and exist.  It’s still a day in which we can, like Holly, keep a sense of humor and laugh at the day’s events by sundown.

This is the day the Lord has made – for you to live it with Him and become the kind of woman He desires you to be. Rejoice in it, my friend. And see if it doesn’t change your outlook – and your day.

 Thank You, Lord, for this day – regardless of what it brings or has already brought my way. I choose to celebrate it with a song in my heart simply because it is a gift from You.

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 View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Ever had a truly bad day? Share it with us!

How to Make a Lot Out of Little

By Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

My friend retired from work at the same time the prices of her two insulins shot up. One jumped to an over $900 copay for a three-month supply and the other to over $1000. This leap in prices and dip in income tempted her to fret.

But Sandi chose to embrace this as a faith challenge. God knew her needs. How would He supply? Should she lower her monthly missionary support?

We all face problems that overwhelm our resources. John 6:1-14 shows how God uses such times to wow us.

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (John 6:5-6 NIV).

Jesus asked this only to test Philip. I wonder how Jesus hoped Philip would respond.

When I imagined how faith might reply I pictured Philip turning a puzzled face to Jesus. As understanding dawned, with a twinkle, he’d say, “What do You have in mind, Lord? Do I detect a miracle?” But the real Philip looked at the crowd and said, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:7 NIV).

Even if they had been able to buy that much food, how would they transport it? The situation was impossible in every way. Andrew showed a spark of faith. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish…” then looked at the other disciples and realized how ridiculous he sounded, “but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9 NIV).

The disciples couldn’t feed the crowd so, except for Andrew, they didn’t even look for options. When have you held back what you have because it wasn’t enough?

Jesus didn’t find Andrew silly. He took the boy’s lunch and told the disciples to have the people sit on the grass. He then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (Jn. 6:11-13)

It’s natural to evaluate a need in light of our resources. But God wants us to evaluate needs in light of His resources.

Sandi mentioned her retirement to her doctor who supplied her with free insulin for two years. When the doctor was unable to continue, Sandi asked us to pray with her about this.

In the meantime, Sandi added two more missionaries to her charitable giving. She texted me Sunday. The pharmacy charged her $5.00 for one of the insulins! “I can pay for that!” she said. “I will get a prescription for the more expensive one when I see the doctor. So, what else will God do?”

What problem dwarfs your human resources? Let’s bring Jesus what we have, thank Him for it, and trust Him to supply our needs. Lord Jesus, help us live with the joyful anticipation that comes from abiding in You. 

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                   Philippians 4:19 NASB 

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debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women 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 her blog.

Join the conversation: How has God met a need you couldn’t supply?

Up in the Air About Who I Am

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

I like your top,” the silver-haired flight attendant commented as I boarded the Denver-bound flight, “So sparkly.”

“It set off the metal detector in security,” I complained.

“So does my hip,” her snappy reply.

We exchanged glances with a nod and a laugh.

Seated at the front, I watched as she welcomed each passenger with a personal comment or smile—almost like she was welcoming us into her home, greeting us as she would a group of friends. She’s been at this a long time, I thought to myself. She’s good.

We laughed during her safety briefing, breaking from the traditional stuffy announcement. People chuckled – and they listenedYep. She’s good.

Because I had the prized front row single seat in this smaller regional aircraft, she sat opposite me during takeoff, our knees nearly touching. I could see the nameplate pinned to her uniform. Elizabeth.

“How long have you been flying?” I asked.

“Seventeen years. It’s changed so much over time. It’s not what it used to be.” She detailed some of the changes she’d experienced. Her biggest complaint was the decline of civility from passengers. “Demanding. Loud. Impatient. Rude. Just plain rude, ” she said, shaking her head.

“So, why are you still flying?” Clearly, she was old enough to retire.

“Several reasons. My husband is retired and not well. We need the benefits. And if I quit working, what would I do with myself every day? I’d be old before my time.”

I smiled. For most of us, we’d have said her time had come a long time ago. But that’s not how she saw it. That’s not how she saw herself. And because of her self-image, she was still here – going and doing and living at 30,000 feet—rudeness and all.

I was curious. “Do you still enjoy it?”

“Most days, I love it. For every cranky flyer I encounter, there are two or three who are lovely. Like you.” She smiled. The girl’s got skills.

As I thought about her later, it occurred to me—she’s good, because she has decided to be good. She’s also decided to stay young and to show up each day with that mindset.

Life is a daily decision. What’s my plan for living today? What’s my purpose at this point in my life? How will I show up? We’ve all heard the saying, “You’re as young as you feel.” I’d suggest an alternative, because I decided long ago not to be led by my feelings. I’d propose: “You are as young as you choose to be.” I’m not talking numbers here.  I’m talking mindset.

The story of Joshua and Caleb is inspiring. Both men were around 40 when Moses sent them as part of the twelve to explore the land. And because of their decision to see the promise of God instead of their circumstances, they were the only two God allowed into the promised land.

Many years later, as Joshua is dividing the land among those entering, Caleb comes to Joshua with a request:

“Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So, give me the hill country that the LORD promised me” Joshua 14:10-12a  NLT.

Caleb chose to see himself as God did: able, strong and prepared to enter into God’s promise.

My flight ended uneventfully – my favorite kind. But I had been reminded by my new friend that I can’t afford to be “up in the air” about how I show up each day. I will choose to be as young as I need to be – He may have important things for me to do!

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.                                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 40:31 NASB

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DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

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Join the Conversation: How do you choose to see yourself today? Have you decided to be able and ready when He calls on you?

How to Successfully Partner with God

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

I’d stayed home from church because I wasn’t feeling well. Instead of a relaxing morning, an inexplicable urgency burdened my heart for someone I’d never met. Months earlier a friend had confidentially asked me to pray for this woman, but what did this mean? Was she in trouble? Why was I feeling this now? What was I to do?

“Should I ask for her number and call her?” I asked my husband when he returned home.

“I think you should pray. When you need to do more God will show you.”

Monday morning Larry called from work. Sunday afternoon the woman had left a message on our ministry phone line. She wanted to meet with me.

Another time God burdened me to pray for a neighborhood teen that I learned had gotten involved with drugs. I yearned to talk to her. I reached out, but her mother wasn’t receptive. One day as I drove home and spotted her house, concern for her crushed me. I poured out my distress to God.

Within days of that experience the doorbell rang. The teen I’d prayed for stood at my door, locked out of her house. I invited her in, and God gave us a wonderful connection. I offered her something to take and read. She seemed genuinely grateful.

None of these burdens came at my bidding. But when they landed I had to pray. The urgency was all consuming.

You might think that after God brought each of them to me, it wasn’t long until I saw lasting transformation in each of them. I did not.

Deeper hardening followed temporary repentance in one. But since God loved these women enough to burden one of His children to pray for them and orchestrated opportunities for them to receive spiritual healing I can’t believe either of their stories with Him is over.

When we do our part we’ve successfully partnered with God, whether we see the results or not. Our part is to respond to His leading in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to Him. We don’t know if our role falls in the beginning, middle, or end of someone’s story. It may be someone else’s role to gather the fruit of many people’s labor.

It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 NLT

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debbie wilsonBio: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women 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 her blog. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: Has God ever burdened you to pray for someone?

When God “Showed Up”

by Sheri Schofield

It was rodeo week in our Montana town during that a hot, dusty July. By the time Sunday rolled around, the children were exhausted by late nights of watching bull and bronco riders. I was teaching children’s church that day. The classroom was hot, so I took the children outside to the lawn, where I spread quilts on the ground under the towering shade trees. It was cooler, but not a breath of wind came to cool us. Within a minute, every child was laying down instead of sitting, and I could see their eyes drooping.

The story for the day was about Pentecost. “Lord,” I silently prayed, “these children need to understand your power! They need to know that the Holy Spirit can do great things through them! The children are sleepy. I need your help here!”

“Jesus had left earth and had returned to heaven,” I began. “He told those who followed him to go back into Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come. They did. They met together and prayed for days.” I looked around at the children. Ah! One child was almost asleep! Lord, help!

“Suddenly, the Holy Spirit came. He rushed in with the sound of a mighty wind!” I looked up into the trees and stopped talking. Are you there Lord? I asked. A quick wind stirred in the tree tops.

The children looked up, startled.

“Hm.” I said. “No, it wasn’t a gentle wind. It was stronger.” I kept looking up. Suddenly, a great burst of wind hit the trees, and the sound filled the air!

The children’s eyes popped wide open! They were all sitting up now, mouths open, staring up into the trees!

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “It was like that!”

I jumped up, “They each began speaking in a different language! Over here, someone may have said, ‘Buenos dias!’ That’s Spanish. Over there, someone said, ‘Guten morgan, kinder!’ That’s German.”

Moving around the quilts to different locations, I greeted the children in seven languages, each one different than the other, to give them a taste of Pentecost. I had their full attention now, for God had “shown up”! Not a child there doubted it.

How many times in our lives do we feel that God is not with us in our times of trouble? Do we pray without ceasing, hoping he will show up? Do we anxiously cry out, “Help! Help! Help!” and keep on worrying? Or do we cry out to God and then fall silent, looking up, expecting our heavenly Father to “show up”, to speak to our hearts?

Our Father has a hard time answering us if we’re busy talking! It is when we fall silent before him that we can hear his voice. When we are silent, the Holy Spirit rushes in like a mighty wind and declares, “I am with you! Don’t be afraid! Don’t be anxious!”

When I am anxious, I often reach for my Bible. In God’s love letter, I find peace. Sometimes, I go for a walk in the forest and breathe in the fresh air while I wait for his answer to my problem. I’ve told him plenty about it! Now I need to listen. In my expectant silence, as I wait on God, he fills me with joy and comfort. He puts new thoughts in my mind, a better way of dealing with the problems. I am not alone in my struggle. God always shows up! He will always be there for each and every one of his children.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14, NIV

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sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the Conversation: When has God “showed up” for you?

Baaa!!! Baaa!!! I’m So Like a Sheep!

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I noticed a note in my Bible beside Psalm 23 pointing to verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures…” A familiar refrain to us, right? But why does God have to make us lie down, and why wouldn’t we easily?

The note I’d written who-knows-when says, “Sheep will not lie down unless things are perfect–no fear, friction, hunger, pain or disease.” Can’t you just picture a sheep pacing back and forth, wringing his paws (do sheep have paws?), muttering, “Oh, I just can’t lie down. I have this tick on my back which is irritating my skin. That other sheep I have to lie down by is so irritating. And aren’t those dark clouds gathering over us? Oh no, rain!”

I’ve been meditating on that. How like sheep I am–I hesitate and yes, even refuse at times, to lie down to rest in complete trust in God’s provision for me. I want things to be perfect before I surrender and allow Him to provide. I think I need to come through for myself rather than rest.

Of course, we’ll still be active in doing what God wants us to do, but in our heart we can be “lying down” in rest and trust the whole time.

I didn’t “lie down” some time ago. My daughter and grandson were scheduled to come visit, and the day before they arrived, my husband Larry mentioned he was finally ready to trade in both our cars and buy a new one. He wanted to do it the next day. Thinking it didn’t involve me, I said “great!”

But I did need to go, and when that became clear, I had a hissy-fit. I didn’t want to miss those first hours of my family being with us–even though they would be with us for two weeks. I didn’t want to lie down in surrender and trust God’s timing. I felt like I would be missing out on something too valuable.

But God said “lie down!” and I went. At first not happily but eventually as we went through the hours-long process, I was at peace. And almost at the end of the process, Larry mentioned to the salesperson about the kind of second car we wanted to find–of which we had seen nothing on the lot. The salesman’s eyes widened (seeing more dollar signs), and told us they had just taken in trade the day before a car that fit our description, but they hadn’t been able to put it out on the lot yet. We ended up buying that one too. Just what we wanted.

I became a thankful sheep, because if we hadn’t gone when I didn’t want to go, we wouldn’t have found the second car we wanted. God had provided, but it required my surrender.

And our visit with our daughter and grandson was wonderful. God provided everything we needed. I just needed to lie down in the green pasture. And not wring my paws because everything wasn’t going the way I thought it should.

Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.                                                                                                                                                  Psalm 116:7 NASB

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Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books that include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, and Bible commentaries. One of her most recent books is 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 almost 50 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.

Join the conversation: When has God called you to rest?

Overcoming Fear of Rejection

by Jennifer Slattery @Jenslattery

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me.”   John 16:32 NIV

There’s one fear that can keep me paralyzed, that can dramatically hinder my obedience. Oh I’ll push through the hard, jump out into the unknown, and persevere through difficult and discouraging circumstances, so long as relational risk isn’t involved. But if I think there’s even a chance I might experience rejection, especially from someone I care about, I grow anxious and weak-kneed, and frankly, disobedient.

As a result, I’m tempted to skirt around tough conversations and pursue my comfort instead of obedience.

Unchecked, our fear of man—what they might or might not think of us, how they might or might not react—can hinder our obedience to Christ. And while our heart’s desire is to please our Savior in all things, trying harder leads to short-lived behavior modification at best.

Jesus demonstrates a better, deeper, and longer lasting way.

Throughout His ministry, He initiated tough conversations. He consistently had the courage to choose the unpopular route, to remain silent when ridiculed, and to give Himself completely to those He knew would abandon Him in His darkest hour. In John 16:32 we learn how. All will abandon Me, He said. But that’s okay, because I’ll have the love of the Father.

Jesus’ security came from His Father’s enduring love. That’s where ours will come from as well. When we’re filled with the love of the lover, our hunger for man’s approval subsides.

When you feel the sting of rejection weighing you down, may it serve as a reminder to draw close to the One who knows you fully, loves you deeply, and will never leave.

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Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels 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. Connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte) or Instagram.

Join the conversation: How has a fear of rejection impacted your life?

Living as a Genuine Article or Cheap Knock-Off

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

I’ve just returned from a fabulous conference. It was a week filled with new ideas, new resources, great speakers, and a fresh infusion of “I can do this!” I brought home a long list of goals requiring my immediate attention.

That’s a lot of pressure. I do believe career boosting greatness and incredible results are possible—if I can just find the time and energy.

“Someone busier than you is making it happen!” This quote is a frantic reminder I’m falling behind on my to-do list; someone is beating me to it! As though it (whatever it may be) is in limited supply and only the first 25 on-the-ball doers can snatch the prize. But that’s just not true.

That pressure is magnified by Facebook. You’ve seen the posts: “I signed up for three online courses guaranteed to advance my career. That promotion is locked in!” Or “I did XXX at the gym today. Totally pumped!” I’m so far out of the gym loop, I don’t even know what the XXX would be.

Please don’t misunderstand. I believe progress toward goals is worth the time, and when you move forward, you deserve to celebrate. I’m a to-do list girl. I love checking off the boxes. But are they the right boxes?

Interestingly, I discovered earlier this year there’s “National Be on Purpose Month.” I don’t think there’s a parade or a pageant, but it’s a thing. Please note the wording in the official title: “be” not “do.”

Why is that significant? Because as His children, who God called us to be is more important than anything we could ever do without clarity on that single point.

Who has He called you to be? It’s about identity. We hear a lot about it these days, but what is it? A definition from Merriam Webster is helpful: “The qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group differ from others.”

Identity theft is common these days, and I’m not talking about someone hijacking your debit card PIN. The Fallen One is all about stealing what the Lord has given us. (John 10:10) If he can talk us out of who God designed us to be, we may adopt an identity and work to reinvent ourselves. And often, we do it in imitation of someone we admire. So instead of living as the genuine article— the one and only you—we become a cheap knock off of someone else.

Author Ken Boa is on target: “Scripture clearly teaches that we were never meant to be autonomous individuals who make our own way in this world apart from God. We cannot even know ourselves without knowing the One through whom and for whom we were created.”

God’s imprint for us is unique. He knew us before He formed us in our mother’s womb and set us apart (Jeremiah 1:5). And trying to reinvent ourselves outside of what He has designed us to be can be markedly dissatisfying. Even when we have achieved the success and accolades we’ve worked so hard for, we’re often left feeling surprised at the emptiness we experience at the finish line. Authentic identity is powerful, releasing freedom that can’t be duplicated.

We need to protect ourselves against identity theft. God created, designed, and fashioned each of us, calling us on purpose for a (particular) purpose. I struggle less with this now than ever before, but it’s still a daily vigil. And Holy Spirit is invited to tap on my heart when I stray. I keep Him busy some days.

Are you becoming His genuine article? Or are you busy doing good things?

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), created in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

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DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: Have you strayed from the you God created you to be?