It’s Personal

by Janet Holm McHenry

I was raised going to church.

Every Sunday we five kids put on our best clothes and headed out the door with Mom and Dad. My sister Nan and I were old enough to sing in the girls’ choir, so for the first service we donned choir robes and sang from sideways pews up the steps by the altar.

My not-very-vast understanding of the faith came from habits. Rituals. You went to church. You said the faith responses. You said the prayers. You sang the hymns. You did your best to stay awake during the sermon. Church was the foundation of my faith all through high school.

And then, during the summer after my senior year of high school, we learned our married minister had been seeing the women’s ministries director. All of a sudden, the foundation of my faith crumbled. If the leader of the church failed, what was that faith thing all about anyway?

I went off to college, where learning seemingly became more of a life foundation. Then, in my sophomore year my roommate and a friend took me to a free movie: For Pete’s Sake. The main character Pete was a mess of wrong thinking and behavior but learned that he could experience freedom through a personal relationship with Christ.


That word kept bouncing around in my head. Faith could and should be personal? Others were not responsible for my faith? I could have a personal relationship with God simply by my choice to believe and put my faith in Jesus?

I made a commitment to follow Christ that night. And I learned that church was never meant to be a faith foundation; it’s simply there for fellowship with other believers, for a forum for worshipping the God who desires that we have a relationship with Him, and for challenge for personal growth.

I now go to church because I love being with others who also follow the God I love. I go to church to be challenged by God’s Word. And I go to church to worship. While I can sing that music from home, I know that attending church is critical to my spiritual formation and for the expression of my faith.

Church is not my foundation, but it encourages me to keep looking up.

We know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Janet McHenry is a speaker and author of 24 books—six of those on prayer including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. For almost 40 years, she has lived in the Sierra Valley of northern California, where her husband is a cattle rancher and where she taught high school English. She would love to connect with you on social media and through her Looking Up! website:

Join the conversation: When did you go from your family’s faith to a personal relationship with God?

Disobedient Thoughts Escape Captivity in the Night

by Carol McCracken

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24 (NIV)

I reached down to transfer my wet laundry into the dryer and tugged at the tangled clothes which seemed anchored in the washing machine agitator. The agitator. How fitting.

It was 4:17 AM and the wrestling match of trying to sleep was continuing for a second night in a row. My ruminating thoughts were obsessing anxiously on things that did not make me proud. Prior to doing laundry, when I had stumbled into the kitchen to feed my coffee addiction, the Keurig had begun my agitation by jamming.

Too much testing already. Passing any test was highly unlikely at this point.

Something wasn’t right in my spirit, and it appeared my sleep deprivation was the open door to self-examination. But I didn’t want to examine my heart. I already knew negative thoughts occupied real estate in my brain. The more I stuffed them, the more disquieted my spirit became.

The irony of my recent book publication on wisdom taunted me. Though the launch team had given me great feedback, I felt far from wise. I instead battled spiritual darkness along with the darkness of the night.

I climbed back in bed with a pen, paper, and my gratitude journal and wrote, “God loves me even with my ruminating, obsessive, not-able-to-sleep thoughts.”  I added, “God will search my heart and correct and center me as needed when I ask.”  Interesting. I had never asked God to search my heart.

It isn’t as if He didn’t already know what was in my heart; the exercise would be for me to see what was there. So, since sleep was evidently not on my agenda, and with plenty of time for self-examination, it was time to get to work. Looking through my gratitude journal, one reflection stood out: “Think of all God’s blessings–His salvation, hope, wisdom…we can look to God…ask for His wisdom.”   I had written on this very thing.

So, I asked for His wisdom, and He gave me this verse: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). I began to write down those thoughts that were running rampant in my head while sleep escaped me. Those tangled, agitating thoughts, some of which escaped understanding. Some of which I was afraid to see.

Over time, God revealed issues I would have to keep bringing before Him because only He could heal them. And He opened my eyes to some lies from the enemy my heart believed– some big insecurities.

Perhaps that’s why God had Paul use the pronoun “we” in that verse. It is not in our power alone to make our thoughts obedient to Christ. Willpower is not enough. It is for us to lean into Jesus’ power to help us. We may be reminded that working with Jesus in that way, can be a process. Avoiding a heart search or a test keeps us in potential captivity when Jesus can release us with His help. That’s wisdom. His wisdom rather than our human wisdom.

Oh, the dryer just buzzed. Apparently, the benefit of a good spiritual cleansing is clean laundry before dawn. Clean heart. Clean laundry.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Carol McCracken has been a Bible teacher for over twenty years. She currently serves on church staff as Minister of Discipleship. Her passion is to make the Bible come alive for women and connect it to a real relationship with Jesus Christ in today’s busy and demanding world. She is an AWSA Associate and Destin Word Weavers member.

Carol is a contributor to, Arise Daily, and Mustard Seed Ministries. Her new book, Wisdom: Where To Find It If You’ve Lost, Forgotten, Or Never Had It released in November 2020.

Join the conversation: What damaging thoughts plague you in the dark of night?

Holding on to Hope

by Grace Fox

Last year at this time, my husband and I held high hopes for the future. As co-directors of a missionary sending organization, we looked forward to seeing how God would raise up more workers for the harvest at home and abroad. We anticipated attending our annual staff conference in Poland, leading short-term teams to Eastern Europe, and training Middle Eastern nationals for career ministry. As a Bible teacher, I busied myself writing materials for upcoming women’s retreats. We’d booked our calendar and bought airline tickets.

Then the pandemic struck. Countries closed their borders, airlines grounded their flights, and authorities banned public gatherings.

Saying that 2020 propelled us into unfamiliar territory is an understatement. It stretched and tested us, and it brought Isaiah 42:16 to life. “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”  (ESV)

As our usual ministry doors closed, we asked God to guide us in a new direction. He led us down the Zoom road to stay connected with our international staff. Becoming more comfortable with virtual communication paved the way for us to host an evangelistic outreach to Poland, complete with translators and breakout rooms for Bible study. After my speaking events were canceled, He directed me to develop and host two online Bible studies—truly a modern-day miracle for a techie-challenged person like me.

God shone light into our darkness and leveled rough ground before us within the context of ministry.

He did the same for our family when my 88-year-old mother’s health failed. She’d always been strong and independent. One morning, an unexpected diagnosis propelled us into foreign territory. Suddenly we were sitting vigil by Mom’s bedside in a hospital with relaxed but confusing COVID restrictions. But God once again fulfilled His promise to lead us along a path new to us. He guided our decisions about Mom’s care until she passed from our presence into His, and He continues to walk with us as we journey this road called grief.  

Here we are, my friend, at the beginning of 2021. Last year at this time, we may have looked forward to the unknown with eager anticipation. This year, skepticism or fear might cloud our perspective. Vaccines can end the pandemic but they can’t fix political strife, restore lost income, or bring back those whom we loved and lost. They can’t heal the hurt that 2020 inflicted on our hearts in so many ways. A little voice in our head warns us not to hold high hopes lest circumstances beyond our control dash them again.

Let’s silence that voice.

You and I don’t have a clue about what this year holds. But this we do know—God promises to lead us on paths we have not yet known. This One who sees everything from beginning to end will guide us. The Light of the world will illumine our darkness. Almighty God for whom nothing is impossible will level the rough places before us. Therein lies our reason for hope.

Let’s face 2021 with confident expectation of a good outcome. That’s not to say everything will turn out as we wish or expect. It’s saying that, whatever happens, God is still in control. We hang onto hope because we’re in the hands of almighty God who loves us more than words can say. And there’s no better place to be.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Grace Fox is a career global worker and the author of ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the First 5 writing team (P31 Ministries). She and her husband of 39 years live on a sailboat. Together they celebrate three married kids and nine grandchildren. Her new book, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos (Rose Publishing) offers bite-sized nuggets of encouragement for those whose minds are on overload.

Learn more about Grace and her books at

Join the conversation: How have you been staying positive in these difficult times?

Time, Days, and Wisdom

by Nancy Kay Grace

In January we think about resolutions, goals, a fresh start, and time. A new year has begun with all its promise, opportunity, and challenge.

A. W. Tozer said, “Time is a resource that is non-renewable and non-transferable. You cannot store it, slow it up, hold it up, divide is up, or give it up. You can’t hoard it up or save it for a rainy day—when it’s lost, it is unrecoverable. When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”

Wow. In this day of concern for non-renewable resources, do we stop to consider time as one of them? It is something that vanishes every day and cannot be replenished.

In Psalm 90:12, written by Moses, we read: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” How can we practice this wise prayer?

Seek God to determine what is most important. Moses depended on God to lead His people. He asked for God to teach him. In the everyday details of life, can you ask God to teach you how best to use your time? Create a daily to-do list. If there are still tasks on it at the end of the day, begin the next day with those. Asking for God’s guidance in planning the day helps overcome flightiness amidst distractions.

Realize that time is irreplaceable, a valuable asset given to each of us. Instead of thinking how you are going to spend your time, think about how you are going to invest your time. The verse reminds us that life is short (our days are numbered). Consider it in a positive way: what activities and people nurture you? Make time for more of those and less for the things that drain you. Time invested with the Lord at the beginning of the day increases productivity in the long run.

Live wisely, making each day count. The verse focuses on the day, not the year. How can you share the love of God throughout your day? Be diligent to let your light shine in your family and at work. A heart of wisdom results from seeking God and obeying Him.

All the days of our lives matter to God. Time is a non-renewable resource and gift given to all of us. There are many choices for how we will invest what we have been given. What will each of us do with the 24 hours in each day and the 365 days in 2021?

Seek God daily and live for Him to gain a heart of wisdom.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is thankful for the gift of time. She is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives.  

Visit to sign up for her monthly Grace Notes devotional newsletter.

Join the conversation: How do you plan to invest your time in the coming year?

Make the Choice to Take the Journey

by Patty Mason

Have you ever wanted to be somewhere, but didn’t want to make the effort to get there?

I wanted to attend a women’s fellowship gathering, but it had been raining for hours, leaving my spirit as gloomy as the day. I longed to be with friends and share times of laughter, but it was dark and I didn’t want to make the long drive on that back country road. Allowing my feelings to overrule my desires, I stayed home where I was comfortable and only thought about being at the gathering.  

Sometimes, this is how it is in our walk with Jesus. We yearn for peace. We want healing. We long for the joy of the Lord. We wish we could walk in freedom. Trouble is, we don’t want to take the journey to get there. We make reasonable excuses and talk ourselves out of what needs to be done. Content with our comfortable surroundings, we settle for less than.

This is not how Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to find our courage in Him, to push past our discomfort and take the journey. At times, the road may be long, dark, uncomfortable, even stormy, but if we want real change, we need to make the choice to stop making excuses, to get up, take the hand of Jesus, and start walking.

 “One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” (John 5:5-9 NIV).

Just like this invalid man, I understand the desperate cries for healing. I also understand how easy it is to give up, make excuses, or lie in the problem. When Jesus asked the invalid man the question, “Do you want to get well?” he made excuses. “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (John 5:7 NIV). 

For thirty-eight years this man remained stuck. His past became his present, and if he didn’t stop making excuses, his present would become his future.

Each New Year we have an opportunity to begin again and find fresh hope. If we want to be somewhere in our walk with Jesus, enjoying His peace, joy, and freedom, then we need to be willing to take the journey and do what needs to be done. Together, let’s discover what is possible in this New Year as we stop making excuses and follow Jesus instructions, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8 NIV).

“Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” Deuteronomy 5:33 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patty Mason was once drowning in despair. On the brink of suicide, Jesus set her free. Now her passion is to help others find the hope she found through Jesus Christ. Patty Mason has shared her story of God’s deliverance before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, magazines, such as Lifeway’s “Living More,” as well as radio and television, including American Family Radio, Moody Radio, and The 700 Club.

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Patty is the author of Finally Free: Breaking the Bonds of Depression Without Drugs, the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries, and the director of the Seeking Freedom Mentoring Program. She lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband of 32 years. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Find her at

Join the conversation: How can you move forward into the new this new year?

Time to Lay Down Your Burdens

by Julie Zine Coleman

He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23:2b-3a NASB

The longest river in the world, the Nile, flows 4,130 miles from its headwaters in Africa’s mountainous lakes region to the Mediterranean. Sediments from as far away as Rwanda are carried northward by the force of the water as it plummets over falls and sweeps through channels in relentless movement toward the sea. Near the mouth, the river meets the sea. Suddenly the water slows down, and at the loss of energy drops its sediment to the river bottom. Thousands of years’ worth of these deposits have resulted in the famous Nile Delta, an enormous landform easily seen from space.

Sometimes it takes slowing down before a burden can be deposited. David knew this fact well. He wrote about his Good Shepherd: “He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” Before David could be restored, he had to be brought to a place of rest.

I didn’t used to be much on slowing down. As I raced through each day, tyranny of the urgent ran my agenda. We were raising four children, and I was working full time, throwing my energy into my fifth graders. Even my service in the church held the same frantic urgency. The busyness eventually took its toll on me, and I began to experience physical problems related to stress. But even then, slowing down didn’t seem like a viable option.

Then I went to seminary. One of the classes I was required to take was on spiritual disciplines. I was a bit skeptical from the first time I walked in the door. I wanted to do biblical exegesis; I wasn’t big on topical study. I took it because I had to. But I wasn’t going to like it.

As the class dragged on, I began to count the sessions until it would be over. Then one morning, as the class neared its end, we were told to go find a quiet place in nature and sit there for one hour, just listening to what God had to say to us. An hour? Of listening? Seemed a bit ridiculous to me. I reluctantly collected a notebook and a pen to record all of those messages I would supposedly receive and headed out to find a tree.

“OK, here I am,” I begrudgingly informed God. “Fire away.” My mind was full of the papers I had to write, the books I had to read, the Greek I had to translate. I could use this hour so much more effectively. I could hardly sit still. My frame of mind was anything but conducive to listening.

But as the hour dragged on, I tried to relax and at least appreciate the peace and quiet. I began to perceive the Lord’s presence. Not that he hadn’t been there all along, mind you. I was just too preoccupied to notice.

I started to bask in the love and grace he has lavished on me. My thoughts went to his greatness and power and faithfulness, his mercies that were new every morning. I began to thank him for loving me and for the blessings he has put into my undeserving life. Suddenly, my former agenda seemed very shallow. I prayed again, this time with an open heart and mind. “Lord, show me what you desire,” I pleaded.

God began to invade my thoughts. He wanted my heart more than my efforts. I was carrying too many burdens. It was time to put them down. So I did. I gave him my worries about finishing my studies successfully. I gratefully handed over concerns about my fledgling adult children awkwardly spreading their wings. My fears and anxieties fell off my shoulders as he impressed on me his power and ability to handle it all. And when the hour was up, I walked away feeling freer than I had been for a very long time.

We Americans are busy people. In our drive for productivity, we pick up burdens we don’t have time to lay back down. The Covid crisis has temporarily knocked a lot of that out of us. If you haven’t already, embrace the reduction in activity.

Find a quiet corner in your house. Sit down unencumbered by routine distractions and open your heart to him. As we embark on a new year, make it a priority to give God the time he deserves. Don’t go to him with an agenda. Let him set the pace. And as he leads you beside quiet waters, you will be restored.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).


About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How do you create quiet time to spend with the Lord?

Know It All

by Nan Corbitt Allen

Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 The Message

I overheard a conversation recently between a mother and her 8-year-old son.

SON: Mom, do you know everything?

MOM: Oh, no. Not everything—just a little something about a lot of things.

SON: Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I wanted to say to that mom, “Cherish this moment, because he won’t always think so highly of you or your knowledge.”

Perhaps the young boy wasn’t asking about his mom’s knowledge, but about her wisdom. There’s a difference, you know.

Knowledge is acquired through experience or education. In other words, we can study enough and travel enough and experience enough to gain knowledge. That’s impressive!

Wisdom, however, goes beyond knowledge. A wise person has perspective and discernment. They know how to use the information to make good decisions. The only way to gain wisdom is through a gift from God. Someone once said: “Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.” 

When thinking of wisdom, we often think of good King Solomon from the Bible. He was the son of David and Bathsheba who inherited the throne of Israel when his father died. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Solomon, with a whole kingdom at his disposal, asked for a “discerning heart” to judge the people wisely. God told him because he didn’t ask for riches or health or long life, He would give Solomon wisdom. And along with the wisdom He would bless him with all of the other things that usually follow success. (Find this story in 1 Kings 3 and 2 Chronicles 1.)

Of course, the rest of the story isn’t so good. Solomon had it all, but he allowed his possessions and successes to go to his head. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18 NASB). His pride was his undoing, not his knowledge or his wisdom.

There is something about getting older that awakens us to new things, new ideas, new knowledge. Trial and error. Adventure and experimentation. Voracity. These teach us a little something about a lot of things. But wisdom comes from a heavenly source. My favorite verse about this is in James 1:5 (NASB) “…if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

As a mom, I called on this promise often—everyday sometimes. Child rearing books were everywhere, and I read many of them. I had a lot of knowledge, you might say, but what I needed was wisdom on how to bring up my boys in a way that was pleasing to God. And when I asked, He provided.

These days we get a lot of information—some of it tainted with opinion and some of it sound with truth. However, none of this is valuable without first asking, “Give me wisdom, Lord.”

Romans 12:2 (NASB) says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (emphasis mine). The first part of the verse is a great word about gaining new ideas and insights, but the last part is the promise to which I cling. If I test information I receive against truth, wisdom will guide me to finding what is the right action.

Like the old hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” says, “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour…” No matter what we face, we should first ask for wisdom, then for the courage to act upon it.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Can you think of a time when wisdom was vital to the knowledge you possessed?

A Holy Moment

by Terri Gillespie

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:2 TLV

It was after the second time I felt the tapping on my shoulder that I turned around. Behind me was a young man holding a gun.

This month marks five years since my friend Cathy and I were held up at gunpoint at a New Jersey mall. After all these years, I still unpack lessons and revelations that keep me in awe of that holy moment.

Cathy and I were traveling back from our writing retreat at the Jersey shore. We decided to make an impromptu stop in Vineland, NJ for some lunch and a little shopping at the mall. My vehicle was loaded with bags and computers from the week-long retreat. Our clothes hung from the backseat car rack like a curtain over the door.

Since we were running late, I wanted to call my husband to let him know we were on our way home. I opened the back-passenger door to place my purse on top of a suitcase, then leaned over to search for my cell. Something tapped me on my back, but I thought that it was the clothes hangers. As I searched for the phone, I felt the tapping again. I straightened and turned and there was the young man with a gun.

He motioned toward my purse. I reached for my wallet, then remembered a scene from the movie War Room. I faced him and said, “Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”

I heard Cathy asking me if I had found my phone—she was oblivious to what was going on because of the wall of hanging clothes! She later said she only heard bits and pieces of my side of the conversation and thought I was ministering to a beggar.

I pulled all the cash from my wallet—$12.00—and handed it to him. I apologized that it wasn’t more. He rolled his eyes and demanded my car keys. I whispered, “You’re taking my car? You’re leaving us stranded?”

He pointed the gun toward Cathy and said he would kill her.

I pleaded, “No, please. She just got over cancer. She almost died.” I handed him the keys. At this point, he looked briefly at me, then lowered his eyes.

Miraculously, he returned the keys! He paused as though not sure what to do next. I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder and repeated one last time, “Jesus loves you.” He walked away.

Once he walked away, my whole body began to shake. Cathy asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t speak. I thought the kid would change his mind and come back blazing, so I wanted to get out of there fast.

Finally, I was able to tell Cathy what happened. We prayed the whole way home. We thanked the Lord for His protection. We prayed that God would touch the young man’s heart and change his life from that moment on.

People have called me brave. I wasn’t brave. I was covered in the shadow of my Heavenly Father’s wings—all three of us were. The moment the young man walked away His wings lifted—the moment gone. At that point, you would call me anything but brave.

I am so grateful that God called me for such a time. Grateful for His protection, and that my friend did not have to see a gun pointed at her. Grateful to be able to go home to our husbands. Grateful for the young man’s mercy.

Every January, I pray for him. My hope is that we will see one another again, in heaven.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place—but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 TLV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She hopes to abide in rest for as long as it takes.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced a Holy Moment?

Because You Said So

by Stacy Sanchez

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5 NIV

Critical people are THE worst!

They can hurt us, make rude comments, judge our decisions, talk about what we’re doing wrong, and rarely have anything nice to say. One way to deal with them is to stop being around them. But this is hard to do when the critical person is YOU.

Sometimes the most powerful voice we believe is the critical voice inside our own heads. And we can’t get away from us.

  • “I can’t.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m not smart enough.”
  • “I’m not pretty enough.”
  • “My personality is too strong.”
  • “Who do I think that I am?”

These are just some of the lies that frolic freely in our minds, because we allow our brains to become playgrounds for self-defeating aphorisms. The lies could have come from our childhood. An adult may have said we will never amount to anything, and we now believe it.

The lies can be our way of sounding humble. “Oh, she is so much more (fill in the blank) than I. Let her do it. She will do it better than me anyway.”

Maybe we find ourselves defining who we are by our past mistakes. We love to beat ourselves up because of something we did a long time ago.

Whatever the source of the lies, the enemy of our souls would love to use our perceived inadequacies to keep us handcuffed to him. But Jesus came to free us from him. He wants to free us from our own self-defeating thoughts.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:14-17 NIV).

God has proven himself over and over to be faithful and true. Has he ever turned his back on us or let us down? NEVER!Why do we believe the self-condemnation over him? Probably because if we believed God’s truth, we would be responsible to act on it. Ouch! That’s scary. He might want us to step out of our comfort zones. Yikes!

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5 (NIV)

Because you said so… Those are four small words, but they sure pack a powerful punch. We can say, “Because you said in your word”:

I am loved: This is real love-not that we loved God, but He love us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:10 NIV

I am beautiful: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

I am free from condemnation: So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 NIV

I am never alone: God is in the midst of her; she shall not me moved; God will help her when morning dawns. Psalm 46:5 NIV

I have value: She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Proverbs 3:15 NIV

I am who you say that I am: chosen, adopted, blessed, holy, blameless, loved, daughter, redeemed, forgiven, have purpose, united and included with Christ, predestined, sealed, have inheritance, have a spirit of wisdom, enlightened, have calling, have mighty power and strength. Ephesians 1 NIV

… I will believe you.

“Now with the voice of truth and power of God—armed on the right and armed on the left with righteousness from God—we continue. 2 Corinthians 6:7 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

stacy sanchez

About the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog,, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Armed with the truth about who says we are, what will you believe today, because He said so?

Pass The Salt, Please!

by Sheri Schofield

Winter has come to Montana, along with its ice and snow. It’s time to start putting Ice Melt on the slippery patches between the back door and the car so that nobody will fall going in and out. I’ve been avoiding putting it on the steps, though. The edges of the steps are already chewed into rounded shapes because the bunnies, mice, skunks, and deer love the salty flavor! It is a great temptation for them, much like chocolate is for me.

With January snows approaching, I know I will see many little paw prints and hoof marks clustered around the back steps every morning. The animals usually eat breakfast before daylight then return to their cozy dens and lairs for naps. Except for Mopsy the bunny. She runs laps on the snow-covered lawn after breakfast. I steadfastly refuse to find a lesson in that for me!

The creatures of the forest find the salty Ice Melt irresistible. It’s as welcome as an ice cream truck coming down the road. Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth. We are to be irresistible, too! I’ve been looking for ways to be salt in the lives of those I meet.

The pandemic and its limiting of contacts has narrowed my outreach. But there are store clerks that I see often. I’ve heard some of them say that customers have become more gruff and harsh now that they are hiding behind masks.

I’ve made it a habit over the years of learning the names of each clerk at every store I enter. At the counter, I ask about their lives briefly, and I remember what they say. The next time I see them, I ask about what they said before. Sometimes we talk about faith, too. This is one way I can be salt in my world during this time of great separation and isolation.

In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus told a parable about a man who was traveling. Bandits attacked him, took all his clothes and possessions, and beat him up and nearly dead. The man lay bruised and broken alongside the road. A priest walking down the road, saw the man … and crossed the road to the opposite side. Next, a Levite, someone who worked in the temple, chanced to walk by. He saw the wounded man, pulled his cloak closer around him, and scurried by as well.

Finally, a Samaritan came down the road. (The Samaritans were despised by the people to whom Jesus was speaking.) But the Samaritan stopped when he saw the wounded man. He showed compassion. He cleaned and anointed the victim’s wounds, helped the man onto his own donkey, and took him to an inn, where he cared for the man. The next day, the Samaritan gave some money to the innkeeper for his continued care for the wounded traveler. He agreed to pay any cost necessary to help the man. Then he went on his way, promising to return.

The Samaritan was an example of the salt of which Jesus spoke.

In the coming year, I am asking Jesus to show me new ways to be salt to those around me. Where will there be wounded souls along my path? How can I help them? How can I touch their hearts with Jesus’ love? During this time of great trial, how can I lift up those whose pathways I cross?

Pass the salt, please! I want to flavor my world with love!

Then [Jesus] said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Matthew 9:37, NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: How are you flavoring the world with love?