Out of Nowhere

by Christina Rose

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory  of the Lord has risen upon you.”                                                                                                                                            Isaiah 60:1 ESV

\Years ago, I made a checklist of plans for my life. I decided that I would marry a handsome prince, and that we would have four perfect children. We would live in a beautiful mansion by the sea and be very rich, among other things.

While life turned out much differently than what I had planned, I came to know that God had a better plan for me, and I had to trust Him. Years later, as I was thinking about my old checklist, I heard a still small voice whisper in my ear, “Did you check with me when you made that checklist?”  I had to laugh.

While I did get married and have a nice home and two wonderful daughters, they eventually grew up. It was time for a new chapter. This time, however, I did not construct a checklist, but instead spent hours talking to God on the mountain, in the chapel, in the pool, in the middle of the night, and first thing in the morning. In that process, I learned to hear His voice. I got visions of writing and speaking, but at the time, that was not happening. One day my fortune cookie read, “You have a charming way with words, and you should write a book.” I had to laugh again, but within a few months, my first book was written, and I continue to write more.

A few years ago, I was called to sell everything, quit my job, leave my home in California, and travel across the country. Not long ago, while walking along Sarasota Bay, it seemed that all of those tests had been leading me nowhere. I looked to the sky and asked God for some clues.

The day was so still, the water was like glass, but then suddenly out of nowhere, a huge flying fish shot out of the water like a rocket into the sky. Its scales shone like silver and gold in the sun for a moment, before it plunged back into the water. Then several more flying fish burst through the air, sparkling just as brightly, before they dove back into the water.

Flying fish out of nowhere? And then I considered that nowhere is somewhere to God. Those fish had once been tiny; it took a very long time of swimming in the cold, dark depths against strong currents to gain the strength to shoot into the sky, surprising everyone around them. God loves to make things happen out of nowhere. Jesus came out of nowhere to walk across the sea, the burning bush came out of nowhere to talk to Moses, and God created the world out of nowhere.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”  (Genesis 1:1-2  ESV). 

Those unexpected flying fish gave me hope. Many times, I have felt like them, swimming against the currents for a very long time and gaining strength in a hidden place. But while many of us may feel we are on a journey to nowhere, nowhere is somewhere to God. He has a plan. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”  (Isaiah 43:19  ESV).

So join me, my fellow flying fish, as we burst out of the depths of darkness (after swimming a long time) to sparkle with gold and silver in the sunlight, proclaiming God’s magnificent glory to all of  the earth!

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Out of Nowhere – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: How does knowing God has a plan for your future help you in the here and now?

Grateful for Little Things

by Crystal Bowman

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1 NIV

My late cousin Marion spent most of her life in adult foster care or nursing homes. We lived in the same town, but since she was much older than I was, I rarely went to see her. She was closer to the age of my parents, who lived 40 miles away but regularly visited her. The week before Easter, my parents would always bring her an Easter lily. One year, my mom and dad were both sick, so my mom asked me to bring Marion an Easter lily. I thought it was a lot to ask, but I honored my mother’s wishes with a not-so-great attitude.

Since those were the days before online ordering, I went to our local supermarket, bought the lily, and delivered it to her with my three young kids in tow. “We’ll only stay a few minutes,” I whispered as I knocked on the door. Marion was thrilled to see me. She knew every cousin by name (dozens of them!) and greeted me with a bright smile. “Hello, Crystal! It’s so good to see you. And who are these children?”

I introduced Marion to my two little boys and my baby girl. Spending time with her was so delightful that we ended up staying for more than an hour. What impressed me the most was the joy that flowed from her because she was grateful for “little” things. “I’m so thankful for my window!” she said.  “It allows me to enjoy God’s creation. I love watching the birds find their food and shapely clouds sweep across the sky.” She was also thankful for her radio, which allowed her to enjoy hearing Christian music, messages from pastors, and current events.

After that initial Easter lily delivery, my kids and I went to visit her regularly. I usually went with the intent of cheering her up, but I was the one who was always blessed. Through the years, we brought her pictures my kids had colored, cards they made, and home-made holiday decorations.

But one visit will stand out in my mind forever.

As we entered her room, she greeted us with her usual smile. When I asked how she was doing, she replied with child-like enthusiasm, “I have a new job! I get to fold the towels when they come out of the dryer. They smell so fresh and clean, and I fold each one the best I can. It makes me feel useful, and when I do my best, it brings glory to God.”

The Apostle Paul encouraged the early Christians in Colossae to set their minds on things above, and to live with a God-focus and a grateful heart. In Colossians 3:17 (NIV) he says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This message is timeless and applies to us as well. In everything we do, we have an opportunity to do our best, to the glory of God, with thanksgiving.

I admit that I am not always thankful for daily chores, inconvenient requests, or business demands. Maintaining a positive focus and an attitude of thankfulness is a daily challenge. But every now and then, when I have a load of fresh towels to fold, I think of Marion and fold each one the best that I can to the glory of God.

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Grateful for Little Things – encouragement from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: Is there someone in your life that has lived out an important truth in front of you?

 

 

Living in Grace Will Guide Our Words

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.                                                                                                                                        Proverbs 18:2 NIV

Over the years, my words have gotten me into a heap of trouble. I’ve initiated and meddled in arguments I shouldn’t have, fought to be right rather than understand, and wreaked destruction in the name of self-defense.

For years, though I longed to behave differently, my mouth failed to change.

Here’s why: I fought the symptom instead of the cause.

Whenever my words run amuck, my pride’s at fault. The solution, then, is surrender—making Jesus, obedience to Him (rather than man’s opinion) and the intimacy that follows—my treasure.

Let me explain.

Proverbs 18:1-4 (NIV) says, “An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach. The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.”

When I speak foolishly, focused on defending myself or proving my point, I’m likely acting out of fear: fear of losing face or not getting what I want or hope for. But in my desire to elevate or defend myself, I miss crucial unspoken “heart talk.”

A while back, I engaged in a heated discussion that revealed considerable miscommunication—things heard that were never said, statements taken out of context, and others extrapolated in confusing ways. Focused on the miscommunication, I attempted to unpack each one.

I remained oblivious to the insecurities and wounds underlying it all, and thereby only exacerbating the problem. Had I focused on the person’s heart more than their words, I could’ve responded with wisdom and grace.

Reading through Proverbs 18, I thought of this interchange and prayerfully evaluated my heart.

I came up with this list of reminders and steps:

  1. I don’t need to defend myself. When someone criticizes me, if their complaints are valid, acknowledge them and prayerfully consider ways I might change. Because living in grace means I’m in need of it, too. I’m broken, prone to sin, and nowhere near who God would have me to be, yet even now I’m accepted and deeply loved. This disarms my pride, as I humbly recognize my need for Christ, which increases my courage to grow.
  2. God’s opinion and my obedience to Him is more important than man’s perception of me. When I base my identity in Christ and treasure intimacy with Him more than saving face, I don’t need to defend myself or prove my point.
  3. When I begin to feel defensive, I must uncover the fear beneath and remind myself of who I am in Christ. He’s my defender, protector, perfect guide, and the One who holds my future in His hands.
  4. Don’t own whatever’s not true. Simply disregard it, reminding myself of steps one through three.
  5. Finally, listen for the fears and insecurities behind my “opponent’s” words and address those before attempting to resolve anything external.

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Living in Grace Will Guide Our Words – encouragement from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Relational conflicts can be messy, confusing, and cloaked in emotion and false perceptions. Seeking grace-filled resolution means putting a guard rail on my tongue and taking time to go deep—to my and my opponent’s heart. It also involves surrendering my pride and emotions to Jesus so that He can love others through me. It’s just another way to live out grace in our lives.

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author:  Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Hometown Healing and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Do you ever feel insignificant or unseen? As if what you do or even who you are isn’t quite good enough? If so, this seven week Bible study, Becoming His Princess, is for you. Based on the remarkable life of Sarah, you will find a grace that will prove sufficient for all your failures and insufficiencies.

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to guard your tongue? When considering times your words have gotten you into trouble, can you see similar “root causes” as I mentioned above? How often has fear and pride lied at the root of your conflicts? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

 

That Stinking Sin

by Dena Dyer @denajdyer

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.                                  Romans 3:23-24 NIV

“What is that horrible smell?” my husband asked me after climbing into the front seat of my car.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve looked under the seats but there’s nothing there. Maybe something spilled?”

A day later, the smell was even worse. Desperate to find the cause, we got our brightest flashlight and looked under the hood (thinking maybe a mouse had crawled up in the engine and died). We even searched the side pockets on the car’s doors to see if some bit of food had gotten trapped.

Finally, I looked in a box of clothes I had been planning to take to Goodwill, which had been behind my back seats for a couple of weeks. And I found a small grocery sack with—wait for it—a two-week old tube of ground turkey. It had expanded and looked ready to explode. Holding my nose, I put the gaseous tube, along with the donation box in a big garbage bag and deposited into our outdoor trash can.

The next morning, as I drove to work, God nudged me. That’s like sin, He pointed out. Even small sins can become a big problem over time. At first, our sin may seem like no big deal. But over time, it poisons more of the areas and relationships in our lives, until nothing remains unaffected.

I remember when bitterness over a friend who betrayed me turned sour, affecting my ability to trust in others and risk friendships. It stank up my words and thoughts, until my husband noticed and called me out. I had felt justified in my emotions and reaction, and so I had allowed myself to become blind to its insidious, creeping nature.

But here’s the good news: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NIV).

I did confess my bitterness and anger to the Lord. I rejoiced that Jesus paid for that sin, and that it would not stand between the Lord and I. But the Lord did more than forgive. Over time and with His help, I forgave the person who had hurt me, releasing her to God, and I felt the freedom to pray for her and (gasp!) even wish her well.

In the illustration above, the Holy Spirit is like the flashlight, helping us search out sin and convicting us of its presence so we can confess. God has already removed our sin by the blood of Jesus. We are clean and wear His righteousness. In His grace, he has set us free.

Today, ask God what sins–big or small–are “hiding” in your own life. Then confess the wrongdoing and thank God for His forgiveness and mercy.

This blog is excerpted from Dena’s book, Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms, which is available as an e-book from online retailers. 

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Only Cats Have Nine Lives – encouragement & insight from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Clic, to Tweet)

dena headshotAbout the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Dena’s book, Grace for the Race,  uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled females. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help moms realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: Have you nursed bitterness in your heart? How did God set you free?

The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 ESV

Around the fifth century, as the story is told, Irish raiders stole an adolescent named Patrick from his family and enslaved him for six years until he escaped back to his family in Britain. After entering the church, Patrick returned to Ireland – to the people who had held him in slavery – serving them as a missionary and spreading the truth of Jesus Christ.

Patrick is quoted as saying, “Before I was humiliated, I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.”

In his studies, Patrick must have read the story of a boy named Joseph, favored by his father above all his brothers. One day, out of jealousy for their father’s attentions, the brothers conspired to kill Joseph, but instead sold him to passing slave traders.

Joseph was enslaved in Egypt but found favor with the man he served. Once again, though, despite Joseph’s innocence, he was falsely accused and imprisoned. Any one of us would have been tempted to sink into self-pity, bitterness, and anger. Joseph’s faithfulness had been once again repaid with injustice and humiliation. During his imprisonment, Joseph, again, distinguished himself for his faithful work.

Finally, Joseph was freed and rose to be second only to Pharaoh. God used him to serve and deliver not only the nation where he served as a slave, but also his family, the very brothers who betrayed him. By the time he saved them, he, like St. Patrick, had found a greater purpose to his trials than they could ever know.

To celebrate St. Patrick is to celebrate the power of the One True God who continues to work in those of us stones that lie in modern mud, in those of us betrayed or victims of injustice, in those of us who suffer despite our faithfulness and love.

Today, before you don the green, cook up the corned beef, or raise a pint, consider those who have committed wrongs against you – those who perhaps held your spirit captive  – and choose, like St. Patrick and Joseph, to forgive them, maybe reach out to them, to serve in the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

People harmed many of us in our youth. Like St. Patrick who was taken captive, or Joseph, the dreamer, sold by his brothers into slavery, we experienced harm and a certain type of bondage that interrupted our direct track to growing as we thought we should. St. Patrick and Joseph both found the power of God to be stronger than the power of those who had done them wrong.

They overcame through the spirit of Jesus Christ and not only broke free but forgave those who wronged them. Rather than being crippled by their captors, they translated their experiences into the language of God’s love and wove it into a greater story.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to celebrate a kind of freedom that many still have not experienced. The freedom to forgive those who have harmed us and to live our lives defined – not by them – but by our devotion to the truth and to Jesus Christ.

It isn’t an easy path. But it is a possible path. Jesus. Jesus is the Way.

Ask Patrick. He found the road. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. It is a celebration of those, freed by Christ, who spent their freedom serving others.

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The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick – insight from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been given a rock? What deeper issues did it lead you to question?

Join the conversation: When did you receive the correct diagnosis on you spiritual ailment?

 

An Icy Reminder of God’s Faithful Provision

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.                                                                                                                                                         Psalm 145:5-6 ESV

How often does God provide, but we miss it?

When our kids were still at home, our family enjoyed snow skiing together. But one winter we had a scary experience. It happened during the first of seven ski seasons we lived in Alberta, Canada. While our son spent the afternoon in ski school down near the ski lodge, my husband, two daughters, and I hopped on a quad lift to go to the top.

Where we got on the lift, the sun was shining and the wind was calm. But as we glided up the side of the mountain the weather began to change quickly. Snow began to fall and the wind picked up speed causing the lift chair to sway dramatically. When we finally got to the top of the lift, we stepped off into a blizzard. Icy snow painfully pelted any exposed skin. We could only see a few feet in front of us. It was a total white-out.

Since this was our first visit to this particular ski resort, we didn’t know the trails. We couldn’t see the trail signs or even the ground! We didn’t know how we would get down the mountain to the lodge. The weather was so extreme they had closed the lift behind us, so that wasn’t an option.

The girls were frantic. Panic began to rise up in me as well. While the four of us huddled together against the white, icy barbs, I shot up a prayer for divine intercession. We definitely needed help.

Just then a young man skied up to us. “My name is Luke. I used to be a ski instructor here and know this mountain well. Can I help you get down?” Oh, yes please!

Luke led the way with our older daughter right behind him. I came next, with our younger daughter between my skis. My husband took the rear to make sure no man was left behind. With our eyes on Luke’s back, we slowly made our way down.

After about 20 nerve-wracking minutes of blind descent, we skied out of the white. We thanked Luke profusely, and he quickly skied away. The four of us went straight to the lodge and warmed up in front of the fire with big mugs of hot chocolate.

We were so thankful for Luke’s help. Sadly, it wasn’t until much later – after telling this story a few times – that I realized just who our Rescuer really was. It was not that experienced Canadian skier, but our faithful God who sent him. Just when we needed help.

This experience taught me to not only ask for God’s provision in desperate times, but to also anticipate it. To look for God’s hand and provision in all our circumstances. Like a stranger on a mountain in a blizzard.

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An Icy Reminder of God’s Faithful Provision – encouragement & insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Have you ever missed seeing God’s provision in difficult circumstances?

Tear It Down

by Ashley Lauren McClain

Last year, my husband and I bought an old farmhouse that was built in 1929. I fell in love with this house. It sits on a beautiful piece of land with a creek flowing through it. The driveway is lined with trees that make my heart smile every time I look at them. Our plan was to restore and remodel it. You know, Chip and Joanna style (cue all of the shiplap.)

After purchasing the house, it was funny to see the reaction of friends and family when they came to see it. They had no vision. All they could see was a dilapidated 100-year-old house. In their defense, they were correct. But in my mind, I could envision its future. I pictured us raising our family in that house. I saw our kids running in and out of the back door of the kitchen, while I watched out the window. It was my dream home.

As we began the restoration process, problems started to pop up, as you can imagine. But my husband and I had our hearts so set on that house, we continued trying to push forward and make it work. Until it just wouldn’t. Several professionals told us that it would be best to tear it down and start over. We didn’t want to hear it.

It wasn’t just a house they were talking about…it was our dream.

I decided to fast and pray over this decision. At the end of it, God had given both my husband and I both peace; tearing it down was the right thing to do. Peace doesn’t always mean happiness and joy. In my peace, I was still sad that the house had to go.

At the end of that fast, the Lord also showed me something even more important than tearing down that house. He showed me the dreams and plans in my heart that He was asking me to tear down. He showed me places that I was pushing for my plan and not listening for His.

He reminded me in His Word of these verses:

Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert (Isaiah 4:19 CSB).

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9 CSB).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 CSB).

My mind knew all of these well, but I hadn’t yet taken them to heart. Did I really believe them?

So as I watched my dream house come down, I found the walls of my heart coming down as well. I opened myself up to what the Lord has for me. In that surrender, I found extreme kindness from the Lord and beauty in all of it. How kind of Him to give me an external example of what was happening internally for me. How kind of Him to allow me to watch the old go away and see the beauty and excitement of the new that is coming.

We all have plans and dreams for our lives. I know for me, when those things aren’t realized, I find myself easily pulled into disappointment. I want to flip that script in my life. I imagine you may want to as well. I want to trust what those verses say with all of my heart. I want to know and trust that His plan, His story for my life, is the best.

Is the Lord asking you to tear down your house? Let down those walls and surrender those dreams to Him? My prayer for us all is that we let Him in and allow Him to do what only He can do in our lives. I pray that we can open up our eyes and hearts to see the beauty of restoration. The beauty of letting go of the old and rebuilding the new. His ways are higher, His ways are better, His ways are good… all the time.

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Tear It Down – encouragement from Ashley McClain on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Ashley McClainAbout the author: Ashley McClain is a girl with big dreams and a blog to encourage women in their journey through this life, given by the greatest Gift Giver. She loves to read, write, drink coffee, and spend time with the hubby & puppies! Connect with Ashley on her website ashleylmcclain.com. She would love to hear about your journey too!

Join the conversation: Is God asking you to tear down the walls of your dreams?

 

Defusing Rage

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NASB

I love my man, Chuck. I do. But sometimes he baffles me.

Like the time he noticed the philodendron in my flowerbed had grown so big it blocked the sprinkler. So Chuck, with his logical, fix-it left brain, hacked it off at its base. He’d somehow missed that the whole point of the sprinkler was to grow the plant big.

Now you have to understand that the flowerbeds are my domain. I carefully nurture every plant, talking and sometimes even singing to them. Don’t laugh. They’re my little green babies. So imagine my horror when I found my gorgeous six-foot philodendron stretched out like a dead body beside the garbage can.

I was so devastated I could barely breathe. I turned to stare at the gaping hole in the row of seven enormous, wondrously healthy philodendrons I had planted and lovingly coaxed to adulthood during the past three years. The one in the middle was missing like a six-year-old’s front tooth. The one by the sprinkler head.

I wept. Then I got mad. I was ready to blast the cold-blooded murderer.

But then I remembered the funeral I’d recently attended, during the heart-melting eulogy, the husband of the deceased praised the way she’d held their marriage together for 58 years and said in a grief-choked voice, “She never looked down on me in all those years – she always looked up at me in respect …even when I didn’t deserve it.”

Whoa. Those words hit me hard. I was so convicted about criticizing my husband – sometimes in my own mind, sometimes out loud – that I vowed to try harder to curb my sharp critique tendencies. My husband didn’t need a finger wagging in his face; he needed respect.

“Lord,” I prayed, “help me understand, not criticize him. I know he was only trying to help. Glue my mouth shut. Morph my wrath into gentleness. Help me appreciate, not blast him.”

So as hard as it was, I swallowed my harsh words. And recited my verse of the month: “Keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23 NLT).

Later that afternoon, I went back out to the flowerbed to attempt some damage control. To my surprise, there in the gap next to the stark green stump, stood my listing, drooping philodendron. Chuck had dug a hole and tried to replant the poor rootless thing. He’d even watered it.

I burst into tears again, but this time they were warm tears of gratitude mingled with salty tears of joy. Oh, I knew there was no hope for the philodendron, but the point was that by me not blowing up and instead allowing the Holy Spirit to calm me down, what could have been a marital Mt. Vesuvius … wasn’t.

And because of the Helper’s intervention, Chuck got it. Without feeling criticized or belittled, he got that he’d unwittingly broken my heart and was doing his best to redeem the situation. How can you not love a guy like that?

These days, a rocky marriage is far more common than a marriage that rocks. Discerning intent is crucial when we’re tempted to blast Spouse for something he did that we found hurtful. Perhaps the results of his action turned out badly, but what was his true intention?

Replacing harsh words with gentleness is not something that comes naturally to most of us. Sometimes we need a glue stick instead of lipstick. Thankfully the Lord of rage diffusion is well-stocked.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

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Defusing Rage – encouragement from @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: When was the last time the Holy Spirit prompted you to keep your mouth closed?

My Tarnished World of Wonder

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

 When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind. 1 Corinthians 13:11  (VOICE)

When I was five years old, I had a front yard filled with wonderful secrets, like the enchanted oak tree. I discovered what looked like a tiny doorknob made of an old staple in the base of the tree. I spent hours imagining the tiny fairies using that doorknob in the deep of the night, so they could come out and dance on my lawn. Then there were the glorious azalea bushes that would burst forth in lush pink pedals just in time to celebrate the risen Savior and serve as the backdrop for my mother’s annual Easter photos. My front yard served as the setting of epic games of hide and seek, adventures of the walkie-talkie spies, and our amazing cowboy shootouts.

My old pit-pull dog ruled the yard, serving guard over us kids, and sometimes even killing the venomous copperheads that hid beneath the house. I marveled at the great oaks that stood like sentries after surviving many hurricanes in time. I’d often wondered if their old knotholes were scars left behind from the flying bullets of a Civil War battle waged a hundred years before I was born.

Not long ago, my husband and I drove through our Texas hometown and decided to drive past the old place that loomed so large in my memories. When we pulled up to the old house, we were amazed at how much remained the same. There, still intact, were the hurricane sentries, the old azalea bushes, and the front porch that the neighbor kids transformed into a stage for our talent ‘shows’.

However, the yard didn’t look as I remembered it. It looked small, shabby, and not at all like the place of wonder that I remembered.

My husband and I were taken aback. This was the cherished place of all of my dear, most precious memories?

Time has a way of tarnishing and shrinking the old places we idolized as children. My perspective had changed from that of a tiny child to the viewpoint of an adult.

Time may have a way of giving us new perspectives, but so does maturity in the Lord. For when we look at life’s disappointments, difficulties, and trials, our eyes may want to focus on the ugly pain and bitterness. But when we look at these same circumstances through the eyes of God’s love and grace, we will begin to notice His life-changing potential and miracles everywhere.

Paul wrote about a mature perspective in his letter to the Corinthians. “When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind” (1 Corinthians 13:11 VOICE). Knowing Jesus and the love of God gives us a whole new viewpoint on both our earthly home and gives us hope for our future in heaven.

May we continue to look at our world through the eyes of God’s love and discover His wonder on every face, difficulty and relationship.

Put the childish behaviors and attitudes away and grow into the wonder of God’s loving perspective of your life and world, and you will find awe in the beauty of his amazing care.

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My Tarnished World of Wonder – @LindaShepherd on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda evans shepherd

About the author: Linda Shepherd Evans is the president of Right to the Heart Ministries and the CEO of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), which ministers to Christian women authors and speakers. She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily. Linda is an award-winning author who has written numerous books. Her prayer books have sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies. She is an internationally recognized speaker.

Linda’s latest release, When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power, is a practical and encouraging book that explains what intercessory prayer is, how to pray as an intercessor, and how to experience victory. You’ll quickly find the specific help you need to pray for the needs close to your heart. You’ll also learn how to develop your own intercessory prayer battle strategy and to celebrate each victory with thanksgiving.

Join the conversation: When have you been able to adjust your perspective?

A Bad Diagnosis

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Mark 2:16-17 ESV

My husband and I used to love watching House. You remember the medical drama about the damaged but brilliant doctor who solves medical mysteries that elude other doctors? He was usually the last hope for his patients and because of that, unlike other medical shows where a patient is devastated to receive a dire diagnosis; these patients welcome the life-altering news.

Why would anyone welcome a bad diagnosis?

It’s because the patients have suffered with symptoms that they know are real. They’ve tried dozens of other avenues for treatment and cure. Usually, the incorrect treatment was not only ineffective for solving their problem; it created more problems and sometimes threatened their lives.

The correct diagnosis, even if it is a terrible one, is better than suffering in the dark.

My husband’s life became a real-life House episode for over five years. He battled a mystery illness and pursued courses of treatment that created more problems than they cured. When we prepared to visit a new doctor to receive test results, we’d be more devastated to have no answers than we would if we were receiving news of a life-threatening disease with a name.

My college professor used to say “the facts are our friends; truth is always on our side no matter what that truth is.” An inaccurate diagnosis, a wrong course of treatment, false hopes – these are the enemies – not the truth.

Which is why most Christians were relieved to learn the condemning news that they are sinners with no hope of saving themselves.

See, we knew something was wrong inside us. We suffered from the symptoms but could not find the cause no matter where we looked. And boy, did we look!

We pursued all kinds of false diagnoses. We tried every self-help treatment available and followed each healer who told us they knew the cure for what ailed us. Those false cures were not only ineffective; they created more problems, some of them life-threatening.

Then, one day, someone told us they knew what was wrong with us. That person may have exhibited compassion, or they may have been as cold as Dr. House, but they knew the truth about our condition – we were sinners with no hope of saving ourselves, facing a sentence of death.

Rather than be offended or devastated by the news, we were relieved to hear the truth that somehow, we already knew. We’d suffered the symptoms of our sinful condition for so long we were ready for the cure.

And THAT was the good news. The cure was available for us. We could be healed by trusting Jesus Christ with our lives. No longer did we have to search bookstores and drugstores, gurus and shamans, backrooms or bedrooms for treatments that only quieted the symptoms but did nothing to touch the disease. Now we were free to pursue the effective treatment available through a relationship with the God of the universe.

Just like on House, for some the evidence of the cure was immediate, for others it took time, but the Great Physician has a 100% survival rate among those who are willing to receive the truth and trust His prescription for their lives.

Not only is the survival rate 100%, but the effects are extended release – they extend into eternity.

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A Bad Diagnosis – encouragement from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: When did you receive the correct diagnosis on you spiritual ailment?