Fighting Enslaving Behaviors

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Though I trusted in Christ for salvation as a child, you never would’ve believed this, had you encountered me in my young adult years.

It was like I’d grabbed hold of the fringes of eternal life but not the full expression of it.

I had a tainted, partial view of God. I saw Him as lofty, for sure. The One who not only set the rules but had every right to do so. I also knew I didn’t deserve the gift of grace He’d given me. In fact, I felt so undeserving, I was certain that was how He viewed me as well. As if He tolerated me on occasion but was mostly just disappointed.

He certainly had cause to be. I wasn’t living anything like my Bible said I should. I went to church on Sunday and Bible study on Tuesday, then got drunk with my friends on Friday. I took my daughter to play dates and acted the responsible and emotionally stable adult. Then, while my husband and daughter slept, I spent the quiet night hours binging and purging in a desperate attempt to fill all my empty places inside.

I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength, apart from Jesus, and I was failing miserably. Each night, I’d promise God the next day I’d do better, only to find myself falling into the same self-destructive behaviors.

Then one day, I stumbled upon Jesus’ response to temptation. You may be familiar with the story. Scripture tells us the Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He was bombarded, again and again, by the forces of darkness. Yet, He remained strong. Unshakable. Victorious. As I read Matthew 4:1-11 and all the ways Christ engaged in a more intense spiritual battle you and I ever will, it was as if He were holding His hand out to me, saying, “Come on. Watch what I do. Follow Me.”

So I began to do just that. I started to look at my faith differently; less about what I needed to do or not do and more about what God wanted me to learn. My first and most important lesson: discovering who He was. Gaining full knowledge of His love and glory, because only then could I truly live in Him.

In John 14, shortly before His death, Jesus spoke to His disciples. He left them final instructions regarding a rather overwhelming assignment—launching His church during a time of intense persecution. This by a group of men who, in a few short hours would abandon Him. In other words, individuals who, like me, were nowhere near strong enough or wise enough for the task.

But Jesus said to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1 NIV). In fact, He used the word believe six times in the span of fourteen verses. A paraphrase of the whole passage might read: “Believe not in yourself, your might, or plans, but in Me.”

As I fought against old behavior patters, it was as if Jesus was saying the same to me. “I have so much more for you, Jennifer. I’ll show you precisely what that is, in due time. But today, believe in Me. Lean on Me, and learn from Me (Matthew 11:28). We’ll take this journey together.”

That was just under twenty years ago, and I’m grateful to say, Christ conquered each one of those enslaving habits and more, as He’s molded me, slowly but steadily, into His image. This transformation hasn’t been quick or easy, but it’s been freeing and sure.

He’ll do the same for you.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV

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Fighting Enslaving Behaviors – insight on #FollowingGod from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Jennifer’s latest book is Restoring Her FaithShe left belief behind…but could this family change her mind?

With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds that his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Join the conversation: Have you been set free from an enslaving behavior? Please share!

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Mistakes and All

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  Psalm 18:30, NIV

This morning I blew it.

I was selfishly thinking of my needs and not anyone else’s. And thus, my home became not such a nice place to be.

Why do I do that?

I can so relate to the who Apostle Paul who wrote “… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19 NIV).

I know we all feel like we’ve blown it at times — as moms, as wives, as daughters, as employees, as friends. We carry guilt on our shoulders in some area of life, feeling that we have failed to measure up to others’ standards – or our own.

I will be the first to admit that I’ve failed more times than I’d like to count. In fact, my books recount much more of my failures than my victories. That’s because we can learn through our mistakes. We can be shaped by our mistakes. And we can become more humble and extend more grace toward others when we are able to recognize the areas in which we have needed God’s grace, wisdom, and correction.

When I begin to feel I am not measuring up to the standards of others, I remember my God who is perfect and makes no mistakes (Psalm 18:30).  That means He doesn’t regret making me or putting me where He has. That means my mistake didn’t take Him by surprise. And that means He can still use me for His purposes, mistakes and all.

In spite of my mistakes, I’m encouraged by God’s promise in James 1:5 (NIV): If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

God gives generously (He’s not stingy in doling out the wisdom), He gives to all (even if  I don’t feel I deserve it), and He gives without criticizing or finding fault (meaning He won’t say “Uh no, I gave it to you before and you didn’t use it”).

The next time I feel that I’ve blown it, I’ll take it to the Generous One who knows all about it and is waiting for me to seek His comfort, His ear, and His wisdom.

Thank You, God, that You know all about my fears and failures. And You are waiting to pick me back up, make me stronger, and show me all that You can still do in and through my life.

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Mistakes and All – insight on #FollowingGod from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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 130,000 copies sold), and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your marriage, parenting, or walk with God, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurtsexplores the kinds of hurt women experience and offers gracious, biblical counsel on how and where to find healing. Cindi replaces the faulty thinking that often accompanies life’s wounds with truths every woman needs to know about how God views her.

Join the conversation: Has there been a time when you learned a lot from a mistake? Please share!

Wishes and Dreams

by Louise Tucker Jones

I was thirty years old when I gave birth to my youngest child. Jay was quickly diagnosed with Down syndrome and congenital heart disease. My little bundle of joy was a very sick baby. His immune system just didn’t kick in.

It was only the beginning of discouraging news. Time after time, year after year, we were given a devastating prognosis for our son. I often feared the worst, having already lost one child to heart disease. But apparently Jay wasn’t listening to all of the “doom and gloom” reports from doctors. He went right on living his life to the fullest.

This year, my son, who was never expected to live into adolescence, celebrated his 43rd birthday. I call that a miracle! God grants them at times, you know. He also granted some wishes and dreams along the way. One took place on Jay’s 30th birthday.

Of course, we planned a huge party for such a milestone in his life. I puzzled over a gift for this momentous occasion. What would be really special? Finally, I did the obvious—asked Jay what he wanted. His answer surprised me. Along with a new necktie for his 200 plus collection (believe me, he is the best-dressed guy at church), Jay wanted a limo ride to Sonic.

Jay’s favorite thing in the world is a Coke from Sonic. We go every single day to fill that order. No hamburger and fries. No ice cream. Just a medium-size Coke. And on his 30th birthday, he wanted a limousine to pick him up and take him to Sonic for that Coke. He got it!

So why am I telling you a story about a young man with Down syndrome and severe, irreparable heart disease who wanted a limo ride to Sonic for his birthday? Because Jay dared to dream during those years that doctors told us he would never live. He made wishes that might seem unusual to some, but he didn’t let that bother him. He never let anyone or anything steal his joy or rob him of his zest for life.

Unlike Jay, I sometimes lose hope. Grief and sadness steal my joy. Maybe you know that feeling. During trying times God often encourages us to revisit past wishes or dust off old dreams. In fact, He may ask us to dream new dreams. Granted, it’s risky. I’m right there with you, trying to build a future in this new life called “widowhood.” I can’t describe how difficult it is. I never expected to be single in this world again.

But I’m trying to fulfill a promise to my late husband, Carl, who upon diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, requested that everything be done for the glory of God, just as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV): “…Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

 And it is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone.

How about you? Are you in an uncomfortable place? Do you struggle with an unexpected happening or detour in your life? Perhaps you are measuring your performance against others rather than God’s standards. That will definitely rob us of our hopes and dreams. But God knows our heart’s desires and designed dreams especially for each of us.

I love the lyrics to a song in the animated movie, Cinderella. It says, “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” So, how about it? Ready to make a heart-wish? Be like Jay and wish big. And bring that request to God.

Take Carl’s advice and do all things for God’s glory. Don’t allow anyone to steal your hopes or your dreams. And who knows? We just might see you at Sonic in a limo!

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… Ephesians 3:20 NIV

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Wishes and Dreams – insight from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is speaker, columnist and award-winning author. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the book, Special Needs—Special Ministry. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Louise’s book, Extraordinary Kids, is a Gold Medallion award winner. It provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you dreamed big?

Captured by His Holiness

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?   Exodus 15:11, NIV

The power of the ocean surprised me. I had heard stories of rogue waves, dangerous currents, and destructive tsunamis, but I had never experienced them. That was before the Pacific caught me in its pull.

Our family was vacationing on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. We rented boogie boards earlier in the day and I eagerly wanted to try mine out. When we hit the beach, I didn’t hesitate. I jumped right in and paddled out to catch the waves. Unfortunately, by the time I realized they were breaking too far out for boogie boarding, I was in over my head. So with my upper body on the small board, I began to kick my way back to the beach.

Despite my efforts I couldn’t make any progress. In fact, after several minutes of trying I was farther away from the beach and farther down the shoreline. The board was strapped to my wrist so I let it trail behind me and began to swim. I swam until I was exhausted and swallowing water, but I was even farther from shore.

Powerless against the riptide, all I could do was cling to the board and holler for help. My dear husband, who came quickly to my side atop his own boogie board, talked me through riding out the current. Soon we were safely on the beach.

That experience gave me new respect for the ocean. I had heard of its power, but without first-hand knowledge, I treated the water too casually. My new attitude does not prevent me from enjoying the ocean, but I approach it differently than I did before. The personal encounter with its power changed everything.

Likewise, intellectual assent to the holiness of God is not the same as personal experience. We can mentally agree to the truth that God is holy, but when we come face to face with His holiness we are forced to respond.

You can experience our holy God in a real way. For instance, God can reveal His holiness to you when you are enjoying a magnificent sunset or reading His Word and praying. Sometimes we simply don’t wait before Him long enough. We see His glory in nature or we read of His majesty in Scripture, pause long enough to say, “Wow,” then we’re off and running again. I’m guilty of that.

Let’s take time today to contemplate the glory and holiness of God. Ask Jesus to overwhelm you with His divinity, power, and holiness. Let His majesty envelop you like a bright cloud. Now sit, be still, and know. He alone is worthy of all our worship and praise!

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come… You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:8, 11 NIV

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Captured by His Holiness – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, http://www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest

This post was adapted from Kathy’s book “Embraced by Holiness.” Do you long for a deeper, more intimate walk with God? Embraced by Holiness is a focused six-week Bible study that will take you on a guided, deep, and consistent look at biblical principles on holiness.

Join the conversation: Have you ever personally experienced the power of God?

Are you Testing God or Thanking Him?

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

Some years ago, my new acquaintance, ‘Melissa,’ and I met for the first time at the hotel registration desk, because we were to be roomies at a conference that weekend.

A few minutes later, as we pulled our luggage into our hotel room, Melissa realized her purse was missing. She quickly called the front desk.

“No ma’am, we do not have a purse here,” the gentleman told her.

Tears filled Melissa’s eyes and she turned to me. “What will I do without my wallet?  How will I get back through security at the airport?”

“It’s time to pray,” I said as I bowed my head. “Help Melissa find her purse!” I cried to the Lord. “In fact, we thank you in advance.”

Melissa snapped, “I don’t approve of that.”

I looked up, alarmed. “Approve of what?”

“Thanking God before he answers. I won’t do that.”

“Well,” I said. “I love to thank God in advance, to show I’m trusting him…”

“No! You are being presumptuous.”

A knocked sounded at the door and Melissa swung it open as she continued to reprimand me. “I will have no part in a prayer like that.”

The bellhop held up her purse. “Does this belong to you?”

Melissa turned and stared, dumbfounded. “Yes, where did you find it?”

“It slid into one of the potted plants next to the front desk.”

Melissa quickly pulled out her wallet to find nothing was missing.

I quietly thanked the good Lord, for answering my prayer even as I prayed it. I understand not everyone jumps onto the same prayer bandwagon as me, ‘the prayer lady,’ but let’s consider: is it wrong to thank God before he answers?

Look no further than Philippians 4: 6-7, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I believe this is important, because our prayers should not be a way we test God. Our prayers should be an expression of trusting God. For this much I know, even if God had not answered my prayer for Melissa, he would have helped Melissa make it through her travels without her purse. So my thanks is an expression of trust, no matter how God answers.

My prayer was not a test to see how much God loved Melissa. His love for Melissa is a given. Neither was I testing God to see if he would obey me. No way. My prayer was simply a request to the one I love, the one who loved me first.

What request do you need to ask God today? Thank him, even before he answers. For after all, he hears you, he loves you, and he is moving in answer to your prayers even before you pray.

Thank you God! And thank you Melissa. I’m glad God answered my prayer, and I’m glad you found your purse.

“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.” Psalm 91:15 NASB

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Are you Testing God or Thanking Him? – Insight from @LindaShepherd on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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.

The Potluck Club: In the small Colorado town of Summit View, a surprising multi-generational mix of women from Grace Church meet once a week to pass a hot dish and to pray. But the Potluck Club, as they call themselves, is a recipe for disaster when they send up enough misinformed prayers to bring down a church. And the funny thing: the more they pray, the more troubles seem to come their way. It isn’t until they invite God to the table that they discover friendship is the spice of life, and a little dash of grace, just like salt, goes a long way.

With charming, down-home characters, humor, poignancy, and a recipe in every chapter, The Potluck Club will keep readers hungering for more.

Join the conversation: How has God come through for you with an answer to prayer?

Can’t Have One Without the Other

by Adria Wilkins

Do you like figs? Figs technically are not considered fruit. They are actually inverted flowers. In fact, if you eat a fig you more than likely will eat a fig wasp without even realizing it.

A common phrase you might hear is, “You can’t have one without the other.” This is true for figs. We can’t have figs without the fig wasp. The female fig wasp squeezes inside a small opening of the fig called an ostiole. She loses her wings and antenna in the process. She pollinates, lays her eggs, and then dies.

My son and I discovered figs at our local farmers market and found them to be sweet and delicious. Before the days of refined sugar, figs were often used as sweeteners.

Sycamore figs are native to the middle east and parts of Africa. It is similar to our common fig, but it is smaller and sweeter and about the size of a marble.

A well-known and beloved Bible story features a Sycamore-Fig tree. Luke 19:2-6 says, “A man was there by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zaccheus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly” (Luke 19:2-6 NIV).

I remember as a child singing about Zaccheus being the wee-little man who climbed up in a sycamore tree. Sycamore-fig trees generally grow near a river or water source. Zaccheus had a job as a tax collector. He was probably taking a break from work to get a glimpse of Jesus, who is the Living Water.

Zaccheus was a thirsty man. He was considered a “sinner” by his Jewish society because of his business association with the Gentiles. Tax collectors were hired by the Romans and were given a certain figure they must collect from travelers. But there was not limit on what they could charge. So anything extra the tax collector obtained, he could pocket for himself. As you can imagine, people considered them extortionist, getting rich off the backs of his people.

But Jesus had the answer for the life he had chosen. He climbed up the Sycamore-Fig tree to get a glimpse of the man who spread grace and forgiveness wherever he went. Exactly what Zaccheus needed. And when Jesus called him down, he came gladly. He found eternal refreshment in Jesus.

Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. He died so we could live. That relationship continues in dependence on Him. Just like the fig can’t survive without the fig wasp, we can’t survive and thrive without Jesus.

Each day most people get some type of lunch break. What if we took the time not only to be refreshed by food but spending time with Jesus in His Word and talking with Him? What would the rest of our day be like? Jesus the Living Water will strengthen us for the task we need to complete the rest of the day. Our lives, just like Zaccheus,’ will be transformed by spending time with Jesus.

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ John 7:37-38 NASB

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Can’t Have One Without the Other – insight on #FollowingGod from Adria Wilkins on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

adria picAbout the author: Adria Wilkins enjoys telling a story, adding sprinkles of joy and a few extra dollops to liven it up. She and her husband, Erik, live in Northern Virginia and have three children Katie, Blake, and Anthony. After suffering the unthinkable death of three-year-old Blake, she found that Jesus sustains and evens surprises His followers with joy.

She is a contributor to Refresh Magazine and writes a column called “Caregivers Corner: Caring for Children” for Broken but Priceless. She is a contributing author to many anthologies, including Just Breathe (Worthy Publishing).

Adria’s new book will release on July 23. The Joy Box Journal is a collection of forty bite-sized stories, Scripture, and inspiring quotes that show how joy can be found in any situation. Record your journey in the journal, jot moments of joy on the included notepads, and tuck those notes in the joy box for safe-keeping so you can reflect over them for years to come.

Join the conversation: What do you do to have refreshing times with the Lord?

 

 

 

 

 

Superman’s Cape

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

When growing up, I loved to watch Clark Kent turn into Superman. He entered a phone booth as a shy, unassuming, everyday guy until he put on that cape and Superman clothes. Then he’d step out of the telephone booth as a new man—bold, certain, and… well …Superman! The clothes gave him cover to become someone he could not be otherwise. He was proud and confident when clothed in garments that made him a new person.

We are like that, too. When you and I wear certain clothes, we behave differently. For instance, when I get dressed up I feel pretty and professional, but when I put on my comfy clothes all I want to do is curl up with a good book.

As God’s chosen people, we are holy (set apart) and loved. Because we are set apart from the world, we are to “clothe” ourselves differently than those around us. To put in another way, we should stand out of the crowd because of the clothes we wear.

Our new clothes have names—the garments of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Each morning I have a choice in what I will wear, both physically and spiritually. Some days I physically make wise choices and put on clothes that make me want to exercise or smile throughout the day. Spiritually, I can make a similar wise choice to wear patience or kindness.

The Scripture for today tells us the clothes we wear are our choice as we dress every morning.  This implies we don’t wake up with them already on. Honestly, if I am left to my own, I will wear judgment and impatience. So, each day when I reach into my closet, I am reminded of this Scripture, and as I get dressed, I am mentally putting on the garments of God.

Thankfully we won’t be asked to leap tall buildings in a single bound! However, it is good to know that just like with Superman’s cape, these clothes come with power to help us do mighty things. God’s power. He enables us to show patience when we’re unable to muster it on our own. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, our lives will display love, joy, peace (Galatians 5:22-23)…the best wardrobe we could possibly own. 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12b NIV

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Superman’s Cape – and thoughts on #FollowingGod from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace (Thomas Nelson). She can be found at www.CheriCowell.com.

Cheri CowellCheri Cowell is also a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite piece of “clothing”?

Sitting in the Middle of My Doodles

by Michele McCarthy

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. Romans 8:28 NASB

My writing journey is brand new. A few years ago, I felt the tug of the Lord calling me out of bed early dark-thirty to write. It had to be God; I am not a typical dark-thirty girl. My brain would have never conjured up that idea. First, to get up that early, and second to write what He was asking me to write.

The writing turned out to be more than a one hit wonder, so instead of wrestling my husband over the use of our one computer in the house, I suggested I move my writing space elsewhere. Then my hubby surprised me with a new computer, printer, and desk last year for Christmas. Whew, I better take this seriously now!

Of course, that meant we had to rearrange, redecorate, and foo foo up my new writing/prayer room. I was on that project like a duck on a June bug. Order desk, check. Donate big bed, check. Smaller bed to fit with the new desk, check. New bedspread for smaller bed, check. New girly desk accouterments, check. New file folders, sticky notes, pens, check, check, check. It was so fun.

Now, early in the mornings I plop on the quilted white, sage vine covered, maroon flower dotted and starred bedspread to spend time with the Lord. It was several months before I realized I was sitting in the middle of my doodles.

As a doodler for years, my pattern nearly always included vines covered in daisy shaped flowers with little intersecting lines in star shapes all around. By design, I was plopped atop my artwork! In reality, I knew I was plopped in the middle of God’s plan. He has one for me. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB).

I do think that we are wired in certain ways for God’s purposes. It just takes some of us (cough, cough, me) longer to see it than others.

He has called me to write for Him. My children’s book Daddy and Me, His idea entirely, was just published. Sometimes He has me write a prophetic word for someone on the back of a copy of one of my small watercolors. I love participating in His plans and enjoying the gifting He has given me to accomplish His purposes.

Whenever I sit down on that bed in my study, I know I am sitting in the middle of His ideas, thoughts, and desires for His world. His doodles, so to speak. I hope I always recognize His creativity and join in where ever He is working.

Jesus said…“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34 NASB). If Jesus’ assignment was to accomplish the Father’s work, it is our assignment as well.

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Sitting in the Middle of My Doodles – insight from Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

michele mccarthyAbout the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves, reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

Michele’s book Daddy and Me, is the story of the unconditional love of the Father. It is a reminder of how important and influential our words are to children. In Daddy and Me, daddy’s form is left to the imagination. Every child is free to picture their own daddy and most importantly their heavenly Father. The Father who loves them perfectly, without reserve no matter what, while gently holding each child in His hand.

Join the conversation: Have you seen a relationship between what you enjoy doing and the call God has for your life?

Popcorn and Prayer

by Nancy Kay Grace @nancykaygrace

One afternoon while enjoying some peaceful moments reading, I wanted a snack. The thought of crunchy popcorn crossed my mind, so I decided to make some after finishing the current chapter.

Then the doorbell rang, disturbing my reading.

I got up from my comfy spot on the couch to answer my curiosity of an unexpected visitor. When I opened the door, there stood an elementary school-aged boy with a bag in his hand.

“Ma’am, Here’s the popcorn you ordered.”

“Thanks!” I smiled as he gave me the bag of ready-made popcorn.

What perfect timing! I’d forgotten about ordering it a month ago from the Cub Scouts’ fundraiser.

With the treasured popcorn in hand, I returned to the sofa, amazed and thankful that my desired snack appeared on my doorstep. The popcorn tasted delicious as I resumed reading the book.

Wouldn’t prayer be easy if that’s how it worked, to ask and receive? Thinking a bit deeper about the incident, I realized that is how prayer often works.

I had ordered the popcorn at least a month prior to receiving it, knowing I would receive it at a later date. Then I forgot about it. Life went on. When the delivery arrived at just the right time, I was delighted to receive the popcorn.

We are instructed in Scripture to make our requests known to God through prayer, whether it’s for crisis situations or small daily incidences. The words of Colossians 4:2 encourage us to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (NIV). We pray, wait in faith, and are thankful that God will answer.

Sometimes God answers immediately with “yes” or “no” and other times it’s “not yet.” I can think of my prayers that God has answered in each of those categories. He’s answered “yes” to prayers of safety, guidance, and relationships. He’s answered “no” to my selfish desires that would pull me away from Him. Most times, I live in the “not yet” of prayer, waiting in faith for God’s answer. Sometimes I forget about the prayer until God answers it in His time. The answer may come soon after praying or years later. God’s timing trumps my impatience and timeline. His ways are far better than my shortsighted faith.

While we wait, we still pray, deepening our relationship with God. He is at work behind the scenes. When there is an answer, there is great joy in seeing the hand of God at work!

Like opening the door and finding His answer on your doorstep when you least expect it.

May we be diligent in prayer as we watch and wait with expectation, trusting God’s timing.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6 NIV

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Popcorn and Prayer – thoughts on #prayer from @NancyKayGrace on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

NancykaygraceAbout the author: Nancy Kay Grace is a speaker and award-winning author. She has contributed to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as online and print magazine articles. She loves sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and grace. To learn more about her ministry, please visit her website at http://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for her monthly GraceNotes devotional.

In her award-winning devotional book, The Grace ImpactNancy gives an up-close glimpse of God’s faithful character. In all things, His grace covers every detail of life, not in just the good things, but in the difficult, sad, and complicated.

Join the conversation: When has God answered your prayer? Please share!

Fearing the Worst (or Believing the Best)

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11 NIV

The email subject line from my editor read: “The email you’ve been waiting for.”

Yet I was still afraid to open it.

I’d had a rash of bad news lately. What if my editor means it’s the news that I’ve been WAITING to hear, but not exactly the good news I’m HOPING for? 

I said a quick prayer: “Lord, get me through this,” and read the email.

It turned out to be great news. And immediately I thought about that critical (I defensively call it “protective”) mode in me that takes over when I fear disappointment: Don’t get your hopes up, just in case. It can’t all be good, so beware.

How that lack of faith and absence of joyful expectation must hurt the heart of my Heavenly Father, who enjoys delivering good news to His children.

Our critical sides can rule us, at times, can’t they? We’re hesitant to hope, lest we be disappointed. We’re afraid to apply, lest we don’t get the job. We refuse to audition in case we don’t get the part. Yet, when we expect disappointment we are clearly saying to God – and others – that He is not capable of coming through for us or giving us anything better.

The Angel of the Lord rebuked Abraham’s wife – a doubting 90-year-old, barren woman – by asking her: “Is anything impossible for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Yet I have my own list of “impossibles” that I tend to think God can’t or won’t allow. But that is simply my lack of faith.

I love how Ephesians 3:20 (HCSB) sets me straight every time: “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” 

Did you catch that? God is able to do — not a little more, not even much more, but – above and beyond all that we ask or think. Immeasurably more. So much more than we believe is possible.

God measures what we receive in eternal proportions that we can’t see or even fathom. He measures out what is best for us eternally, rather than temporally; what is best for our character, rather than our sense of convenience.

The God who numbers the hairs on our heads and has thoughts of us too numerable to mention wants to blow our expectations out of the water by coming through in a mighty way for each of us.

Instead of expecting the worst, will you start believing the best?

Lord, I will expect immeasurably more today because You are an immeasurably big God who is capable of doing the impossible!  

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Fearing the Worst (or Believing the Best) – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning author who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. For more on her resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi is the author of 17 books including Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. You know what drama is…in your circle of friends, extended family, and in the unexpected circumstances of life. Truth is, we’ve all been both actor and audience when it comes to life’s dramas. But here’s another truth: You don’t have to let it sweep you away. You can find peace even when emotions overwhelm you.

Join the conversation: Has God ever surprised you when you were dreading the worst?