My Brave

by Kaley Rhea @KaleyFaithRhea

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.                                                                                                                                                          2 Timothy 1:5-7 ESV

The other day I witnessed bare, undiluted bravery. And it was wearing the face of a ballerina-obsessed two-year-old.

I was with my sister and her little girl, Emerson, visiting my brother at his house. He has a 90-pound, exuberant, sweet, clumsy, in-your-face black lab called Ellie Jo, and Emerson found herself overwhelmed. Insistently overwhelmed. “Ellie scare me,” she explained. Her protests were well-pronounced and accompanied by fat tears.

It went on for thirty minutes. Emerson did not want Ellie anywhere near her.

So, because I’m the kind of aunt who likes to experiment on her niece, I asked her, “Emerson. How can you be brave?” Curious about her answer, curious about whether she’d give one, curious about whether she even knew the word “brave.” I didn’t expect much, but she’s a very talky kid, and I love to hear the wild things she comes up with.

But Emerson didn’t say anything at all. She looked at me. And immediately she walked away from her mother. She walked up to Ellie Jo, who stood taller than she did, and stopped beside her. She reached out, and with her tiny, chubby hand, she pet Ellie’s side. She loved on her.

And I just…couldn’t even…

You ever been taught a thing by a baby? I was blown away.

Somehow in Emerson’s child mind there was an understanding that right then, bravery was not to fight the source of her fear. Bravery was not to avoid it or scold it or make it submit to her. Perfect bravery in that moment was to abandon her security and show love. And she understood it well enough to do it. All in. Not gingerly. But gently.

Later, in the car on the way home, my sister Allie told Emerson, “When we get home, tell Grandpa and Day-Day the story of how you were brave.”

I carried her in. And the moment we were through the door to her grandparents’ house, Emerson shouted in triumph, “My brave!” I love the way she tells a story. Succinct.

The more I think about that afternoon, the more the Lord, as is His way, turns my heart-eyes toward Jesus. And I’m reminded how, while every physical and supernatural fiber of His being cried out in revulsion at the terrifying physical and supernatural torment He would endure at the cross, He, even having the full power and authority of God, went quietly, obediently, and with amazing, undeserved compassion. That is bravery. And that is our Source of bravery.

The name Emerson literally means “strong and brave,” and I know her parents’ prayer for her from the beginning has been that she would be exactly that in Jesus. So I want to ask you, too, if you’ll end our time today by joining me in praying for the kids. All you Loises and Eunices with your children and grands of however-old. And all you who, like me, that have no children of your own but know some young people you have a million feelings for. Let’s lay our hands on ‘em today. Pray with me for the kids, that they would know the true Christ—the compassionate and powerful Jesus—and that He will make them brave.

Sweet Jesus, You ignited my faith. Make it roar. Through Your spirit, supply me with the courage to be obedient. To love as You love. To fight the battles against the darkness of this world through the mighty strength that only comes from You. With compassion for the people You died to save. And when I am afraid, remind me again how You’ve already defeated death. Remind me again how my true security is with You, unshakable, eternal. Remind me that You are my brave. Amen. 

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Witnessing perfect bravery & living in our own “My Brave” attitude – @KaleyFaithRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kaley RheaAbout the author: Kaley Rhea is a St. Louis-area author and one half of the mother/daughter writing team behind Christy Award finalist novel Turtles in the Road (with the hilarious Rhonda Rhea). She also makes up one third of the writing team for the new, non-fiction book Messy to Meaningful: Lessons From the Junk Drawer (co-written with Rhonda Rhea and the fabulous Monica Schmelter). She’s unclear on how fractions work, but if Rhonda Rhea is the common denominator, Kaley is pretty sure that makes her like five-sixths of Monica Schmelter. Or something like that.

Join the conversation: How has Jesus become your brave?

Left Hanging—Learning to Wait in Faith

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

The day was clear and crisp, just perfect for spring skiing. When we arrived at the slope, we purchased our lift tickets, quickly donned our skis, and got in line for the lift. So excited to have a full day of skiing ahead of us.

Four of our group sat together on the quad chair – me, Wayne, our oldest daughter, Kelley, and our friend Connie. About a quarter of the way up the hill the chair lift came to an abrupt halt. That happens fairly often – usually to wait for someone who has fallen getting on or off – so we weren’t concerned. But then minutes ticked by and we remained stopped.

For the next two hours we alternated between long stretches of stillness and brief forward movement. The first time the chair began to move we cheered, but after just a few feet we stopped again. After that, each time we moved we held our collective breaths. But alas, we only moved a short distance.

It was a warm day for April in the Canadian Rockies, but when you’re hanging off the ground in the wind with the weight of your skis and boots pulling on your dangling legs, a chill can set in quickly. The four of us huddled close for warmth and told stories to pass the time.

After about two hours I started eyeing the ground. If I dropped my skis would it be close enough to jump? Then I checked to see how far it was to the closest support tower. Is it possible to shimmy across the cable?

 But just before I made rash decision to act dangerously, someone shouted at us over a bullhorn. “We’ve been working to get the motor going, but it won’t stay running. We’ll try one more time. If that doesn’t work we will get you down another way.”

Another way? Seriously?! What does that mean? Fork lift? Helicopter? Giant eagle?

 Just as I was taking another look at the ground, we started moving. All four of us were praying. Fifty feet to the end. Forty. Thirty. Twenty. Ten. Now, stand up and put your skis on the ground!

After more than two hours, no feeling remained in our legs but we managed to get out of the chair and move away from the lift.  The resort paid for our lunch and refunded our lift passes. After eating and warming up in the lodge, we spent the afternoon skiing for free.

For the majority of those two hours we felt like the ski resort had simply left us hanging. We didn’t see any activity on our behalf. We saw very little forward progress. But as we learned later, an entire team of mechanics was working frantically to get us down to safety.

Sometimes life feels like that. Sometimes we may feel like God has “left us hanging.” Sometimes we might think He’s not doing anything while we struggle. But Scripture teaches us the truth:

  • God is always working (John 5:17).
  • God cares about every aspect of our lives (Matthew 6:25-34).
  • God is all-powerful and always in control (Jeremiah 32:17).
  • God is with us in our trials (Isaiah 43:2).
  • God is good, loving, and faithful (Psalm 145:17).

When you doubt God is working, when you wonder if He cares about you and your situation, remind yourself of the truth. Even if you can’t see it, He is working. Even if you don’t feel it, He loves you.

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:29-31 NASB

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Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s Bible study. Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Has there ever been a time you felt like God “left you hanging?” In retrospect, how was He working?

How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

I glanced at the Waze GPS app on my phone. Great. I was on my way to a group who’d invited me to visit after discussing one of my books. Before I was even out of my driveway the estimated time of arrival said I’d arrive five minutes late.

Why can’t you leave on time? What’s wrong with you? My thoughts chided me.

This line of thinking neither helped me make up for lost time or prepared my heart to encourage the women I’d see. I thought of a book I’d recently finished with an imperfect heroine. If she ran late I didn’t love her less. I empathized with her. So why was I so hard on myself?

I shifted my thoughts off myself and onto God. I thanked Him for making me who I am. I asked Him to help me do better and to work this situation out for good—and to help me arrive on time!

A woman pulled in behind me as I parked my car. She jumped out of her car and raced to open the door. “I was so glad to see you drive up. If I walk in with the speaker I’m not late.” We both laughed.

God used my timing to build a bond. I entered relaxed and happy to be there. Would that have happened if I’d stayed self-absorbed brooding over my weaknesses?

Reading how God dealt with His flawed children in the Bible has helped me learn to give myself grace when I disappoint myself. God appeared to Jacob and gave him a spectacular dream in which the Lord stood at the top of a ladder that spanned the gap between heaven and earth and His angels ascended and descended it (Gen. 28:10-17).

God blessed Jacob in the dream and promised to give Jacob and his descendants the land of Canaan. “Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (v. 14 NIV). God was passing the blessing of Abraham to Jacob.

What amazes me about this scene is its timing.

The Lord revealed Himself and the promise to Jacob after Jacob had just deceived his father. Jacob was fleeing his brother Esau’s wrath.

God showed similar grace with Abraham. A pagan king took Abraham’s wife Sarah into his harem because Abraham told everyone that she was his sister. When the king discovered the truth, he reprimanded Abraham and had him escorted out of the country (Gen. 12:10-20).

I’m sure God didn’t condone this lapse on Abraham’s part, but He never mentioned it. Abraham had suffered the consequences of his deception. That was enough. Instead, in the next recorded conversation between God and Abraham, God gently reassured him and showed him the land He would give him.

If God is patient with us, shouldn’t we emulate Him and extend grace and patience to ourselves as well?  Living in regret doesn’t help us move forward. But if we surrender it to God, He can use our weaknesses for His glory and our good.

Perhaps the key to accepting ourselves—which precedes the ability to unconditionally love others—comes from seeing ourselves as our Lord sees us. “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians. 1:4 NLT). When He looks at us, He sees what we will be.

And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.  Romans 8:30 NLT

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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: Do you struggle with forgiving yourself?

Praying for your Pet? Seriously?

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

Max, my eight-year-old miniature Labradoodle was dying. He’d lost a lot of fur and almost half of his body weight. Now, he lay listless on the floor beside me.

I reached down to pet him. “Sorry you’re feeling so bad,” I said before sending up another prayer: “Lord, please help my dog to get better.”

I have to admit, I felt a little guilty spending one of my prayers on my dog.  Shouldn’t I be praying for world peace, or at least that the Lord would help a hurting friend?

But I just couldn’t help myself.  My beautiful dog had shrunk from forty to twenty-four pounds.  And it was his own fault. He had a thing for chicken bones stolen from our bear-proof trashcan. He’d wait till we went to bed, pad his way down the stairs and sneak up on his shiny silver prey.  He step on the peddle at the base of the can and when the lid popped open, he’d tug the garbage bag filled with bones onto the floor then gobble them as fast as he could.

I’d scold him in morning’s light.  “Dog’s aren’t supposed to eat chicken bones!” He’d reply by licking his pink tongue across his black, furry face.

Then one day, his stomach became upset.  It stayed upset for the next 18 months and nothing seemed to help.

As a matter of last resort, I tried an organic kibble recommended to me by a friend. But three days later, Max was sicker than ever!  I knew it would only be a matter of days before we’d lose him.  But I suddenly had an idea.  I could try feeding him a crockpot of chicken soup; a special recipe for dogs where you add two cups of rice and three chicken breasts to a large crockpot filled with water.   I followed the recipe, and five hours later, I flaked the chicken and stirred the mash together.

Max ate my chicken soup and miraculously kept his dinner down!  I continued to feed Max this dish until his naked tail sprouted fur and his coat begin to fill-in with black velvet.  One day, he even felt like playing fetch again.

A month later, I took Max back to the vet.  When the doctor saw him, she was stunned. She sat down on the floor with him. “Look at you, bud, you’re well!” she said, as Max wagged his furry tail.

So, is it okay to pray for pets?

According to Proverbs 12:10, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals.”  With this in mind, sometimes the best way to care for your pets is to pray for them.  Plus God always wants you to pray for anything that is on your heart.  After all God not only created animals, he’s interested in the things you’re interested in.  So when you pray, pray for the provisions you need, your family members, your church, nation, hurting friends and world peace, only don’t forget to pray for your pet.  God’s grace is big enough to cover your prayers for even the little paws in your life.

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.                                                                                                                                  Luke 12:6 NASB

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Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 34 books including Praying God’s Promises and The God You Need to Know.  She is the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.  She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily.

Linda has been married over thirty years and has two grown kids.  She loves to travel and bring the word to groups and events across North America.  You can read more about Linda at Arise Speakers.

Join the conversation: Are there things in you life you consider too “small” to pray for?

Round-Up Time for My Thoughts

by Sheri Schofield

It’s round-up time here in Montana. The mountains behind our house are free range, which means that the rancher below our property drives his cattle up into the mountains in early summer, where the cattle graze for about three months. They are all cows and calves. (The bulls have to stay home, for they are extremely valuable breeding stock.)

When fall comes and the trees start to turn yellow and red, the rancher and his family mount up and ride into the mountains where they round the cattle up and drive them back to their home pasture. The older cows know when round-up time is coming, so they head down the mountain on their own.

Early one morning when my husband and I were still asleep, a loud “MOO” roared across our dreams. Our eyes popped open. There was a cow looking into our bedroom window! She was in my flowers!

I jumped out of bed, grabbed my robe and flip flops and dashed out the back door, with Tim close on my heels. I raced around to the side of the house, clapped my hands at the cow and shouted, “Haw!”

The cow jumped and began running toward the creek instead of the gate. I raced around and headed her off.

“Sheri! Come back!” Tim shouted. “You’ll get hurt!”

He’s obviously watched too many western movies where the cattle stampede and kill the cowboys.

“She’s just a cow!” I shouted back. He didn’t get it, since he did not grow up on a farm like I did. Cows and bulls are not the same critter at all. One can chase cows. One avoids bulls. “Go stand at the top of the driveway and don’t let her get up behind the house!” I shouted.

We eventually chased the cow out and closed the gate. Whew! What a workout! Our lawn and garden were safe . . . but now there was a cow pie in the middle of the lawn to clean up. Cows are messy.

Sometimes when I least expect it, I find that bad thoughts, like that cow, have crept into my brain when I’m not on guard against them. When that happens, I must immediately go into action and chase those thoughts out, for they will lead me into bad actions if I don’t. They will spoil my peace and hurt my relationships.

The Apostle Paul, in his closing remarks to the Philippians, wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”(Philippians 4:8-9, NIV).

Guarding my heart against bad thoughts toward others is something I’ve had to learn to do. My natural tendency is to take offense at what others say that may hurt my feelings. If I allow those offenses to fester, they will bubble up into my speech, and my resentment will spill out. As Jesus said, ” . . . the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34 NIV). So, I work to give those thoughts to Jesus and ask him to drive them out and replace them with right thinking. I choose to fill my heart with thoughts that please God instead. When I do that, I am filled with God’s peace, and my relationships prosper.

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3, 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: How do you deal with your thought life?

Getting to Know Him Better

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Consider it a great joy…whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.   James 1:2-4 CSB

I remember the week I got to know Jesus a little better.

When I say that, you probably know that I’m not referring to experiencing a great vacation, or receiving a huge check in the mail.

No, when God shows me more about Himself, it’s usually during a week when nothing seems to go right. It started with disappointing news from a friend, then a car repair I couldn’t afford, and then a bad case of food-poisoning that left me wiped out physically for three days.

It was then that I remembered a treasured truth from God’s Word.

In Romans 8:28, we are assured that “all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Verse 29 tells us how God works all things for good in our lives: ” For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….” (CSB)

There it is. All those “bad things” (like disappointments, unexpected expenses, and illnesses) God promises to work for good in our lives by making us more like Christ through them. He can make me more understanding and gracious toward others through my disappointments, more dependent on His provision through my unexpected expenses, and more thankful for my health and His other blessings to me when I seem to lose mine.

With that in mind, our tough times really pave the way for our Jesus makeover. It is our God encounter. It’s how we get to know Jesus a little better.

When we filter every circumstance of our lives through the grid of His unfailing love, we will see every test and trial, every desert and disappointment, as a loving gesture on God’s part to draw us closer to Himself and make us more like His Son. From that perspective, there is no room for bitterness, worry, or fear.

The Bible says “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear… (First John 4:18). I believe that means if we love God perfectly we will trust Him implicitly. And where there is absolute trust, there is no fear.

If you’re going through a situation – or several — you don’t like right now, don’t fear. And don’t fight it. Instead, trust that the One who is allowing it is giving you a priceless opportunity to get to know Him a little better.

Lord, help me to cling to you during times of uncertainty, loss, or desperation, knowing that You are in absolute control.

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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, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: How has God revealed Himself to you in a trying situation?

One for the Other Team

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:27 NASB

One of the most infamous moments in college football occurred during the Rose Bowl of 1929. It was a contest between two evenly matched teams: University of California and Georgia Tech. In the second quarter, Georgia Tech fumbled the ball at their 40 yard line. The ball was scooped up by Roy Riegels, UCal’s skilled linebacker. He turned to the left and began to run. A shove from the opposition careened Riegels into a tackler.  As he pivoted away from him, Riegels completely lost his bearings. Breaking free from the crowd of players, he began to run the wrong way–toward the opposing team’s goal line.

His quarterback saw what was happening and quickly began pursuit. He caught up with and was able to halt Riegels at the one yard line. Georgia players quickly tackled him there before he could reverse the damage. The next play was an attempt to punt the ball away from the Georgia end zone, but it was blocked. Georgia Tech scored a 2-point safety. The final score of the game was 8-6, Georgia Tech. Riegels’ gaffe unwittingly enabled the opposing team a victory.

Poor Riegels never lived the moment down. He was nick-named Wrong Way Riegels for the rest of his days. While we can chuckle at his embarrassing mistake, we might also learn from his story.

Paul wrote of his concern that the Ephesians might unwittingly be helping the enemy’s cause. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for the wrath of God comes because of these things upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:6-8, emphasis added).

Who were these “sons of disobedience”? Commentators suggest various possibilities. It is likely that Paul is referring to people promoting heresy which threatened to divide the Gentile churches early on. Whoever they were, their purpose and motivation is clear from the context of this passage. They walked in the spirit of the prince of the power of the air (Satan) and worked toward disunity and destruction in the body of Christ.

Paul warns that we are not to be partakers with the sons of disobedience. The original word for partakers conveys more than a passing involvement. The Greek lexicon interprets partakers as “having a share with another in some possession or relationship; casting one’s lot with them.”

Years ago, Steve and I were involved in a church that struggled with a polarizing disagreement on the role of women. For a year or so, the issue became the church’s central focus. Anger and disunity resulted. While the various Scriptures on women’s role can be controversial, the command to treat each other with love is not.

One night I stood outside the church talking to a young mother who had become a believer while attending our church neighborhood Bible study. She desperately wanted her husband to come to a saving faith in Christ. He had occasionally attended services with her but as of yet had not made a decision. Nor did it now appear he ever would. “He told me he will never come back here again after watching how people are treating each other,” she confided. “He says that the people in this church are no different than anyone else. In his opinion, from what he’s seen, belief in Christ doesn’t seem to make a difference.”

I was just sick at her words, mostly because I knew I was as guilty as the rest. In my anger over the issue at hand, I had allowed sin to enter the controversy. I had unwittingly become a partaker with the enemy in his destructive scheme on the body of Christ.

Like Roy Riegels, we can score points for the opposing team when we do not walk as Children of Light. The Devil seeks opportunities to carry out his destructive intentions. When we neglect honoring God in our actions, we unwittingly give him a foothold, which he will use to the fullest.

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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: Have you ever scored points for the opposing team?

 

Jesus, Do You Care?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I’m often amazed at the disconnect between my heart and my mind when I think of God’s love for me. I can think, “I know God wants the best for me and those I love” but my heart still worries about what disaster might fall upon me and my beloveds.

That’s what happened to the disciples.

On that day, when evening had come, he [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41 

I can surely understand the disciples’ terror. As they looked around for help, they saw Jesus asleep on a cushion. He was completely oblivious to their need and fear.

I can only imagine how “they woke him.” Did they jostle him? The boat was already being jostled. Did they call to him? The sounds of the wind were already screaming. Did they grab him and shake him? That’s what I would have done. Out of terror.

Then the disciples reveal their underlying motive. “Teacher, don’t you care we are perishing?” We thought we could depend upon you, yet obviously your own comfort—your sleep—is more important than us.

I think their question is often what our heart is crying out to know: do you care? We can be tempted to express it through emotional outbursts because we’re afraid we’ll hear, “No, I don’t care because you don’t deserve it.”

I’ve been guilty of getting angry at my husband and only later realizing the anger was really my heart crying out, “Show me you love me! Maybe my anger, distress, or craziness will get your attention. Prove you care about my welfare!”

After Jesus calmed the storm and the danger was past, the disciples were filled with wonder and awe. They rightly wondered, who is this who can calm the wind and sea? If they had asked that question at the beginning of the crisis, they wouldn’t have become distressed. Because the truth was the storm was no surprise to Jesus. Even though he seemed to be asleep on a cushion, he hadn’t stopped loving them or caring for them. He is the powerful and omniscient God. We can trust his allowing this.”

Have you ever asked Jesus, “Do you care?” He won’t be upset by your question, and wants you to hear, “Child, I do care! Trust me. I know exactly what I’m doing and it will be used for your good and my glory.”

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:1-4 NASB

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Jesus, Do You Care? @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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: Have you had times in your life when it was difficult to trust in the goodness of God?

Sitting in Silence with God

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.   Psalm 37:4-5 NIV

In December 2006, I found myself sitting in the Christmas Eve service alone. I was recovering from a recent miscarriage and subsequent surgery, my husband was sick at home with the flu, and I was feeling sorry for myself. The image I was anticipating not even one week prior was definitely not what had played out in reality.

The following February, I found myself back in the same emergency room, this time with my husband as the patient, with questions as to what was causing his pain, symptoms and rapid weight loss. We finally received the first of several diagnoses that May and began a difficult 10-year journey toward healing.

However, throughout the physical and emotional upheaval, what weighed most heavily on me was grief for our unborn child. My arms were empty. My heart ached. Yet still, it felt selfish to pray for another child, because of the demands and uncertainty in our lives.

My thoughts kept being drawn to Psalm 37:4-5 (NIV) “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:” I didn’t quite know how that specifically fit my situation, so I looked to Jesus as my example.

In Matthew 26, Jesus went away from his disciples and got really honest with God. First, He asked that this cup (dying on the cross) be taken from Him if possible; but then He followed that request with “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (26:42 NIV).

While my unmet desire didn’t begin to compare with facing death on the cross, it felt right to approach God in the same way. First, I poured out my heart to my Father – all my fears about my husband’s illness, the grief over the loss of our child, and how desperately empty my arms felt. Then I prayed: “Lord, please either give me the desires of my heart (another chance to be a mom again)” OR “Change my desires to match Yours for my life and take away this deep longing that is consuming me.”

I prayed that prayer faithfully, every day, for almost a year. Every day leading up the one-year anniversary of our child’s death was difficult as we worked on my husband’s recovery simultaneously while still grieving. Each day I meant it more and more: “Please, God, either bring my husband and I into agreement about trying for another child, or take this desire away from me and allow me to be content with the blessings You have chosen to give.”

Almost to the year, we discovered we were pregnant with our “bonus blessing.” God once again delighted our family with another child, when we were not even actively trying to conceive.

Sitting in silence, during that difficult time, meant initiating conversation and pouring out gut-wrenching, honest feelings with my Father. I prayed over Scripture on what I was facing, and spent time being quiet to allow God time to work. Every day I sat quietly with God and waited on Him time to change my heart. I wanted Him to line my will up with His.

While that season was incredibly difficult, I wouldn’t change what I experienced and the resulting closeness I felt to God during that time. This time He chose to heal our family with another child, one who continues to bring laughter and joy; but I also know that whatever God chose to do would have been the perfect choice.

I’m truly grateful for our three blessings here on earth and can’t imagine life without them. I’m also excited to meet the one I’ve been patiently waiting to meet for 11 years now. What a reunion for our family of six that will be!

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Sitting in Silence with God – @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine, her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartacheand Caring for the Caregiver . Cheri would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell. 

Join the conversation: Do you have a desire that you are waiting on God to fulfill?

When I am Counting. . . One, Two, Three

by Edna Ellison @DrEdnaEllison

“Thirty-four, thirty-five. . . Lord, what are you doing with my life? This tedious counting feels like such a waste of time.”

Have you ever felt that way while you waited in a place where God had placed you?

While I taught English in our local high school, I served as the sponsor for the yearbook staff. When the teen staff didn’t finish their deadlines on time, I usually took a stack of their hand-written reports home with me after school. After dinner, with my two small children nestled in bed, I pulled out the stack of yearbook reports to finish shaping them into camera-ready pages. As my husband watched television, I counted characters to fit each line into proper columns for the yearbook. (Yes, those were the dark ages!)

One, two, three…thirty-four, thirty-five. One, two, three…thirty-four, thirty-five…

Ten years later, I was still counting characters during the school year, but one summer I visited a writers’ conference with a friend, Sandra, who wanted to publish a book. I slipped into a devotion writing workshop, just for fun, and to my surprise, I came out with a contract to write six devotions for a large Christian publishing house!

When I told Sandra, she said, “Edna, you can’t do that. I’ve tried it, and it’s complicated. I’ve written a nice devotion and then had to cut out so many words it took weeks to fit the words into an editor’s specifications!”

I believed her. After all, she was a book writer. I was an amateur who hadn’t planned to write anything! Much less the most complicated article of all, at least according to Sandra: a devotion.

When the specifications came in the next week’s mail, imagine my grin when I read the instructions: write 25 lines of 35 characters each! For over ten years, I had been writing for those exact specifications for our yearbook. I could write those specs in my sleep—had done it in my sleep on some occasions! That week I chose as my life’s verse Romans 8:28—“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV).”

God had called me to teach in our town’s high school–and I knew every high school was a mission field–but God had also been preparing me all those years, through the word counts of the yearbook pages, to breeze through these devotions. The contract to write six devotions turned into renewed contracts for over 100 devotions, which were compiled later in a book. To date, I have written or co-written 40 Christian books, and have served for ten years as a national Christian women’s magazine editor, all based on the daily practice I received as a yearbook sponsor.

God always has a purpose for our lives. He doesn’t waste a minute, working in the background, laying the foundation through practice, habits, and training we need for future ways to serve Him.

When we are bored or weary from the tedious hum-drum of daily life, we can remember, He has no random acts in His plans for us. All things in our lives have an eternal purpose in God’s overarching plan. They work together as he calls us to share His love.

Join the conversation: What has God called you to speak about? To others? In your community? To your children/ grandchildren? Speak up! Please share with us. 

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.   Psalm 139:16 NIV

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When I am counting. . . one, two, three – @DrEdnaEllison on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

edna ellisonAbout the author: Edna Ellison, an award-winning author, has written/co-written 40 books. Woman to Woman: Preparing Yourself to Mentor, (called the classic book for mentors by Publisher’s Weekly), is a best-seller for New Hope Publishing, which has published many of Edna’s books.

Edna loves to speak at women’s conferences. She’ll tickle your funny bone and then touch your heart with a personal message from God. Contact her (website above or at ednae9@aol.com,  Edna Martin Ellison on Facebook, or YouTube.)

Join the conversation: What has God called you to speak about? To others? In your community? To your children/ grandchildren? Speak up! Please share with us.