Of Mice and Men

by Terri Gillespie

The heart of man plans his course, but Adonai directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 TLV

Have you ever heard of the saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” It is from the poem To the Mouse, by the 18th-century Scottish author, Robert Burns. The poem describes the story of a field mouse who carefully builds a winter nest in a wheat field, only to have it tilled over by a young farmer.

In the mouse’s small world, her location for the nest seemed perfect. In the young man’s broad world, there was nothing standing in the way of tilling the soil. Both plans were shortsighted due to their imperfect understanding of the world around them.

As I thought about the story, I realized sometimes we’re the mouse and sometimes we’re the farmer. Whatever our plans, they are fragile in the light of eternity and our Heavenly Father’s kingdom. They are flimsy in the face of evil.

Sometimes we have no idea just how big the world around us is, and how any given circumstance will affect our plans. Other times, we may know more of how the world works, but there are other things at work we can’t see. And, how easy it is to run over others — unintentionally or intentionally — to accomplish our goals.

We may seek the Lord for our plans, or He may implant a passion and vision in our heart we long to fulfill. He may even give us a release to proceed with plowing the field, but because we are flawed — and not omniscient — we can go off course or not pay attention to the nests of others around us.

The little mouse was not wrong in building a winter nest, it was her choice of locations that crushed the plan. On the other hand, it was necessary for the farmer to plow the field to plant his wheat; however, he destroyed the plans of the mouse.

When we have a delay in our plans, it can cause us to doubt we heard from God, but there may be something else at work. Therefore, the second half of Proverbs 16:9 (TLV) is so important: …but Adonai directs his steps.

If we go off course — if our location is not where He wants us — He is there to redirect our steps. Or, He may have us slow down or linger to show us the mouse nest and how to avoid it.

It takes faith to be open to altering our course, even if it’s uncomfortable or frustrating. Because even in the discomfort, we can be assured He will get us to our destination. His plans never go awry.

If we’re feeling frustrated or discouraged because our plans and visions are not going as we thought—as we thought we heard from the Lord—then perhaps there is a mouse nest we might destroy, or the season is not right for us to begin plowing the field. We don’t want to be the oblivious farmer or the foolish mouse. We want God’s will, right?

Heavenly Father, I can’t help the feelings of discouragement and frustration right now. First, Father, confirm the vision or plan you showed me. Then help me see if I’m running over someone else’s vision or if the season isn’t right. But above all else, I pray for Your will to be done—not mine. In Your Son’s Name. Amen.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is terri-gillespie.jpg

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry

Sweet Rivalry, the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart again?

Join the conversation: Are you experiencing a big fail and don’t know why? Please share.

Advertisement

Acceptance of the New Normal After Loss

by Yvonne Ortega

If we live, we are living for the Lord, and if we die, we are dying for the Lord. So living or dying, we belong to the Lord.  Romans 14:8 NCV

When my mother died, Dad had me help him go through her extensive wardrobe two days after her burial. Her clothes filled all the closets, except one for Dad and one for linen. He said, “Pick what you want to keep. Take what you can in your suitcase, and I’ll take the rest in the car the next time I visit you.”

I felt uncomfortable going through Mom’s clothing so soon after her death. However, I sensed Dad didn’t want to do it alone. He also wanted to take whatever I couldn’t use to a needy family that same day. Although he continues to grieve seven years later, he accepted the fact that his wife had passed away.

The presence in my home of some of Mom’s clothing and jewelry consoles me. I remember seeing her wear these items. When I wear Mama’s things, I feel close to her.

Several years after my son’s unexpected death, I accepted the fact that my only child had died, and I would never be a grandma. I could move on to what is called the new normal. It still hurts, but not as much.

Part of my acceptance of the new normal included praying for six months about whether to leave my fulltime counseling job. I had to keep moving forward. Both my mother and my son, Brian, would want me to do this. They wouldn’t want me stuck in the past. I finally left counseling to become a fulltime speaker, author, and speaking coach.

I remember the Christmas season of 2015. My friend’s daughter delivered a baby boy. I insisted that my friend take the blue-and-white gingham quilt I had made for Brian’s crib to her new grandson. I cried, but I could no longer allow the quilt to sit on a shelf in the linen closet. (I still have a few baby items, and perhaps one day God will lead me to part with them. When he does, I will, but not before that time.)

My son had had a wooden trunk that matched his bedroom set. I packed Brian’s Bible memory books, photo albums, and his games into the trunk. Then I divided his clothes between a family that could use them and a thrift store.

The following summer, my father and I flew to Alaska to take a ten-day trip by deluxe motor coach, luxury train, and cruise ship. We smiled, enjoyed the adventure, and met new friends. Yet we both wished Mom and Brian could have been with us.

I’ve learned to honor God, my beloved mother, and my son through my speaking, writing, and coaching. I give God all the glory for my recovery from grief. I keep a gratitude journal and thank him daily for all the blessings he brings my way. Each day, I tell God, “I want to do what you want me to do. I want to embrace the opportunities you give me and live life to the fullest.”

You, too, can keep a gratitude journal and embrace the opportunities God gives you. You, too, can live life to the fullest.

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. –Colossians 3:17 NIV

(Taken from Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief with permission from Yvonne Ortega.)

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

About the author: With a small footprint but a giant imprint in people’s lives, Yvonne Ortega, an award-winning international speaker, and author of the Moving from Broken to Beautiful® Series, pursues her dreams. Yvonne is an AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Association) Certified Coach with a specialty in speaking and writing. More at www.yvonneortega.com

She writes and speaks about all she has overcome. You can, too. She keeps busy writing, speaking, and coaching women to rewrite their story. Yvonne celebrates life at the beach, where she walks, builds sand castles, blows bubbles, and dances.

Join the conversation: Are you in the grieving process? What wisdom do you have to share with us?

Do You Need to Kickstart Your Quiet Time?

by Shadia Hrichi

Has this ever happened to you?

You wake up with your mind racing through a to-do list. You promised yourself you’d set aside more quiet time with the Lord, but things crowd into your day so that, no matter how hard you try, you barely spend a few minutes with the Lord. I get it because I’ve been there.

I’ll never forget the day. I was a new Christian and sat down for what I knew would be scarcely a 5-minute Quiet Time. Convicted, I confessed to God, “I know something has been standing in the way. I wake up and rush to work and hardly spend 5 minutes with You. I’m sorry, Lord.”

Can you relate?

Later that night, someone on TV talked about fasting. I decided I should fast but knew nothing about fasting. From what should I fast? And for how long? The next morning, after fixing my coffee, I asked God, “From what should I fast?” The answer was as unexpected as it was unappetizing.

“Your coffee.”

“Oh no, Lord! Not that! I don’t think I heard you right.”

“You look forward to your morning coffee more than you look forward to Me.”

Ouch.

But I knew He was right. I poured my coffee down the drain and spent the day with a fierce headache. Yet instead of reaching for coffee or taking an aspirin, I prayed for whatever came to mind – anything to get my mind off my headache. At about 4:30 pm, I called my best friend and whined about my headache and the 30-day fast I had started. She asked me,

“Did God actually ask you to fast for 30 days, or was that your idea?”

“Uhhh…I just assumed a fast was supposed to be 30 or 40 days.”

“Well, then why are you wasting time talking to me? Ask God what He really wants.”

Whether as new Christians or after many years of walking with God, it’s easy for us to jump to conclusions or set expectations that God didn’t ask of us. Thankfully, He’s always willing to help steer us back onto the right path.

Flipping through my bible, my eyes fell on Psalm 94:3, “How long, Oh Lord?” Taking the verse out of context (by the way, I do not recommend this), I cried out, “How long, Lord?” Amazingly, He answered:

“As long as it takes.”

“To do what?”

“To put me first. You see, my child, the headache you have is just a picture. This is how you suffer spiritually when you deprive yourself of time with Me in the morning.”

It was a quite an “ah-ha” moment. It is not that God wants to see us suffer, or to deprive us of something we enjoy, such as our morning cup of coffee or tea. He simply wants it moved out of first place. First place is reserved for God. That’s why the length of the fast was never clear: it’s not about time, it’s about position.

When we choose to give God first place, we invite Him to pour His Spirit into our soul. And as we drink in His reviving goodness each morning, we will be filled with the strength, confidence, and spiritual vigor to face whatever may come our way.

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3 NIV

Do you need fresh ideas to help kick-start your Quiet Time”? Get your FREE guide: 7 Simple Ideas to Refresh Your Quiet Times.

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

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: How do you ensure that you give time with the Lord top priority?

Beware of Identity Theft

by Nancy Kay Grace

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him… Psalm 103:11 NIV

Not long ago, when I checked the status of a credit card account online, I noticed a charge I did not make. After several phone calls to the vendor and the credit card company, it became clear that I was a victim of credit card fraud and identity theft.

Thankfully, this did not involve a huge sum of money.  It did cost a lot of time to get the issue resolved. The theft happened without my knowing it. After a new card number was issued, I had to contact any merchant that had used the previous card. It took nearly a year before the refund appeared on my statement.

Identity theft can also occur within our hearts. The enemy of our souls robs us of our joy and self-esteem by whispering lies that cause us to doubt our value to God.

Comparisons, perfectionism, and focusing on past mistakes are a few of the lies that can snatch our self-identity. When we compare ourselves to others, we lose sight of our uniqueness to the Creator. If we think anything we do must be perfect, we believe the lie that we are only as good as the last performance of a task. Regrets from past mistakes keep us from forgiving ourselves and moving forward with confidence. When we succumb to any of these, we are suffering from identity theft.  

How can we prevent spiritual identity theft? By knowing and believing what God says about us in His Word. Here are a few key thoughts and Bible verses to bolster self-worth:

God knows you personally. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 NIV

God created you. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14 NIV

Because of God’s unconditional love, Christ died for you. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV

Because of God’s immense love for us, we are chosen as His children. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”1 John 3:1 NIV           

As someone who has struggled with physical identity theft—through my credit card incident—and spiritual identity theft—through listening to lies about myself —I know my source of truth is in what the Word of God says about my value.

Each day presents a new opportunity to look in the mirror and say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator who loves me.”          

Our self-worth is stronger when we understand our identity in Jesus Christ.

As someone who has struggled with physical identity theft—through my credit card incident—and spiritual identity theft—through listening to lies about myself —I know my source of truth is in what the Word of God says about my value.

Each day presents a new opportunity to look in the mirror and say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator who loves me.”          

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 peace in the face of turmoil. She is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God. As a cancer survivor, she writes about hope, perseverance, and God’s grace. For relaxation, Nancy enjoys hugs from grandchildren, playing worship songs on piano, hiking, and travel. Her website, blog, and GraceNotes newsletter sign-up are found at www.nancykaygrace.com.

Join the conversation: With what part of your spiritual identity do you struggle the most?

Saint Patrick’s Day is Forgiveness Day

by Peggy Sue Wells

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  Matthew 6:12 NIV

Saint Patrick showed me how to forgive the unforgiveable.

Patrick was a wild youth growing up in England when raiders hauled Patrick to Ireland as a slave. Much like Joseph of the Old Testament, while in captivity, Patrick dedicated his life to God.

Years later, Patrick escaped. Reunited with family, he became a priest. But Ireland called in his dreams; he returned to the Emerald Isle.

The people of Ireland believed Patrick came for revenge. There was a showdown between Patrick and the king’s magician, similar to Moses and Pharaoh. Patrick traveled the nation, sharing the Gospel.

Patrick knew there is no path around, over, or under the pain of having been deeply wronged. He understood forgiveness is the way out of the soul-sucking emotional vampire of depression.

In the Greek, forgiveness means to free oneself from something that ensnares. An offense is like the bait stick of a trap. Having little to do with the other person and everything to do with me, forgiveness is the only way to freedom. When I forgive, I find the prisoner set free is me.

Forgiveness is not blind injustice. Never does forgiveness condone the actions of the person who hurt me nor stamp what happened as acceptable. Forgiveness never tolerates abuse nor gives the offender permission to continue hurting me or others.

Forgiveness is healthy boundaries. Forgiveness is not remaining in an abusive relationship, nor excusing addictions or affairs.

Forgiveness is our choice. When I forgive, that person no longer defines me. Most who offend never ask for forgiveness. I forgive because I’ve been forgiven by God.

Forgiveness is supernatural. Seeking revenge is a natural human response. Not logical or fair, I give forgiveness with no expectations.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Experiences are chemically burned into my memory. Forgiveness doesn’t erase the past, but allows me to remember and deal with it.

Forgiveness heals the forgiver. Forgiveness transfers the offender’s debt to God and frees me from being sabotaged by the past.

Forgiveness does not guarantee reconciliation. Forgiveness takes one person. Reconciliation requires both sides. While many forgivers experience restoration, many don’t. Reconciliation isn’t wise when emotional or physical safety is at risk.

Forgiveness is not a feeling. Like love, forgiveness is an action. I can act in a forgiving manner when I do not feel like forgiving. Forgiveness is a courageous act of strength.

Forgiveness is not a magic wand. Forgiving a difficult spouse, parents, or children does not promise ideal relationships in the future. Challenging people frequently continue to stir friction.

Forgiveness is a lifestyle. Content people are characterized by an attitude of forgiveness.

Unintentional offenses happen because we are human. Selfishness is the root of many offenses. Others are premeditated, deliberate, and stem from evil intent. Everyone encounters situations that can only resolve through forgiveness. Yet I can struggle to forgive because

1. I feel the offense was too great.

2. The offense is a repeated offense.

3. I struggle with memories of the offense.

4. The offender never apologized.

5. I am too angry to consider forgiving.

While I cannot cause another to feel remorse or behave differently, the person I can change is myself.

Patrick’s forgiveness of the people who had most harmed him had a deep impact. The Irish embraced Christ as Savior. All because Patrick surrendered to God and told others their lives could be different through Jesus Christ.

Who can you share the gift of forgiveness with on St. Patrick’s Day? “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 NIV

About the author: History buff, and tropical island votary, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, PeggySue Wells is the bestselling author of 30 books including Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make. Connect with PeggySue Wells at peggysuewells.com

Join the conversation: Are you struggling to forgive? Why is it so hard for you?

God’s Strange Question Strengthened My Contentment

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15 ESV

We didn’t have money for the unexpected bill. We didn’t know what we were going to do, but somehow I had an anticipation that God knew. God had been working on my contentment, and the lack of money seemed a perfect challenge for learning more about His ability to provide. I decided I wouldn’t be discontented or worried.

A strange question God asks in Psalm 50:13 seems to provide the same challenge for all of us: “Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?”

God is addressing the Israelites who believe they are offering sacrifices to Jehovah because He is weak, impotent, needy, thirsty, and hungry. The unbelievers around them have influenced the Israelites to believe Jehovah is like their gods, which they think actually eat the sacrificed food.

In Psalm 50:10-13, God explains,

“For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.“ If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” (ESV)

The pagans believe they must bribe their gods in order for their needs to be provided. But the God of the Israelites wants to provide out of His great love. God established the sacrificial system not as a means for His people to bribe Him or earn His favor, but to point to the future sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. God knew exactly how He would generously provide for the most important need of all: reconciling sinful people to Himself.

In effect, God is asking in Psalm 50:13, “What is your motive in giving the sacrifices? I don’t need you to provide for me. I want to provide for you. My resources are unlimited and I am generous.”

How much we believe the powerful truth of God’s generous nature can be measured by our level of contentment. Then we are resting in the assurance that He knows what’s best and will generously provide it, just like God did for our unexpected bill.

Soon after finding out about the bill, I heard a crash in our back yard. Our ten-foot-high brick fence was adjacent to a busy street. I used a chair to crawl up and look over the fence. A car had smashed into the brick wall.

Thankfully, the driver took responsibility and his insurance company estimated how much it would cost to repair the brick wall and then gave us a check. When my neighbor who owned a construction company heard of the amount, he said, “I can fix the wall for lots less than that.” And he did.

And guess what? Yes, you can guess. The unused amount was exactly the amount we needed for the unexpected bill.

I almost felt like I could hear God say, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” Interestingly but not surprising, verse 15 in Psalm 50 says, “…call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

God has received glory many times as I’ve used that story to remind myself to be content and share it with others in my writing and speaking. It reminds me God wants me to be content knowing He will provide according to His will. He is generous and caring.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is the author of more than 55 books and is an internationally-traveled speaker. She loves to share from the reservoir of God’s work in her life and from the truths of Scripture, especially about His nature. Two of her books (co-authored with husband Larry) emphasize how God’s questions in the Bible reveal His nature. One is the multiple-award winning God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. The other is God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature.
Check out Kathy’s other books at: https://www.amazon.com/Kathy-Collard-Miller/e/B001KMI10S? Kathy and Larry live in Idaho. They were high school sweethearts and married in 1970. They are parents of two and grandparents of two.

Also connect with her at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
Twitter: @KathyCMiller
Pinterest/Kathyspeak
Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03
Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What other examples or concepts in the Bible assure you God is generous?

Is it Sin?

by Julie Zine Coleman

“… God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NASB

He was a teen in all-out rebellion and dressed the part: longish hair, shredded jeans, and an offensive graphic t-shirt. Even the way he sauntered past my house made a statement. I gave him a friendly wave and a greeting as he passed by.

It wasn’t long before his mom came down the street for a visit. “Did you see my son?” she asked. “I can’t believe how he was dressed. When I told my husband how horrified I was when I saw him walk out the door like that, he just said, ‘Is it sin for him to dress that way? We need to pick our battles with him.’”

Wise words for teenage parents. It became a thing for Steve and I even as we parented our young children. When one gave us pause, we automatically considered: Is it sin? The answer to that question made a difference in our response.

Now that our kids are grown and have children of their own, I’m so glad we had that perspective. Too often, we react to what is culturally different than our standard rather than looking to the heart of the matter. For example, I can remember the horror my church community had at the thought of drums or guitars leading worship in the 70’s. They assumed it to be sin—the beat of drums was satanic—they even had a verse or two to back that belief up.

Rob Parsons, in his book Bringing Home the Prodigals, tells the story of some German Christians that noticed a group of American Christians wearing gold and diamonds. The Germans were so shocked, they dropped their cigars into their beer. What is acceptable in one culture can be unacceptable to another. But culture is culture, and not necessarily sin.  

We waste a lot of time and energy pushing back on differences that really don’t matter at all.  

What is God’s perspective? In his time on earth, Jesus shocked a lot of traditionalists with how he lived. “Why are you picking grain or healing people on the Sabbath?” they demanded. “How come you do not ceremonially wash your hands before eating? Why would you eat in the company of sinners?”

Mind you, Jesus was not disobeying Mosaic Law, originating from God himself. He was ignoring the Pharisaic Oral Law, human-created in the previous century. Those strict standards and overwhelming restrictions burdened the people of Jesus’ day and kept them in fear of offending God at every turn. It contained rules based on external activities, much more about appearances than what was in the heart (Romans 9:31-33).

But Jesus offered something different: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and You will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB). Even keeping all of the Pharisees’ many rules would not necessarily bring them any closer to God.

Jesus warned a crowd at the temple, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24 NASB). They had been judging Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. But they were missing the heart of God revealed in that act of mercy. They’d been distracted by the external.

We will never bring someone to Jesus through rules and being judgmental. But we can win them over with love, by extending grace and mercy. It’s exactly how God won us over, after all. “Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 NASB).

Appearances are often a mere reflection of culture. Instead of judging by the superficial, reach for the heart. That perspective will make all the difference.

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

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 her new website JulieZineColeman.com and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation.

Join the conversation: Have you ever mistakenly judged someone by the external?

Stay Hydrated

  by  Crystal Bowman

My hubby and I spent the first two weeks in January at our home in Michigan with an uninvited guest by the name of Omicron. We coughed, hacked, sneezed, and blew our noses until we finally kicked that bad boy to the curb. Once we recovered, we jetted to Florida to escape the frigid temps.

I planned on walking, writing, and meeting up with a few friends. What I didn’t plan on was spending 48 hours in the hospital with post-Omicron cardio symptoms. As my hubby raced me to the ER, my heart pounded hard and beat fast. At times it felt like I had a gymnast in my chest doing flips on a balance beam. This was not the vacation I was expecting.

After a bazillion tests, needle stabs, and blood draws, I was relieved to learn that my heart was healthy. I needed a beta blocker to calm things down for a while, but in a month or two I would be fine. Oh, and one more thing—I was seriously dehydrated.

I’ve never been one to tote a trendy water bottle around with me wherever I go. I always thought water bottles were more of a fad than a necessity. I was wrong—seriously wrong! The doctors discharged me from the hospital with a strong verbal prescription: DRINK MORE WATER!

Our bodies need plenty of water to be healthy and function properly, but so do our souls.  
In John 4, we read the story of Jesus at Jacob’s well. A Samaritan woman with a promiscuous life style comes to the well in the heat of the day to avoid the shame of those who drew water in the morning hours. She is surprised when Jesus asks for a drink because Jewish men didn’t talk to Samaritan women. 

Jesus says to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Jesus goes on to tell her that if she drinks this water, she will never be thirsty again. The woman takes Jesus’s words literally and begs for the water he offers so her laborious trips to the well would end.

Through continued conversation, Jesus reveals her past and present sins by giving  specific details of her life. She recognizes Jesus as a prophet, and she speaks of the coming Messiah who will explain everything. Then Jesus says to her, “I am He.” The woman drops her water jugs and hurries to tell others about the man who told her everything she ever did.

The living water Jesus offers is for our souls. When we receive Him as our Savior, our souls are quenched, and we no longer thirst for something to fill our empty vessels. We can continue to grow in our faith and knowledge of God through studying His Word and prayerful conversations, but we will never need to go back to the well to find eternal life.

My trip to the ER in February made a difference in my life. I am now more intentional about drinking enough water to stay hydrated so my body will be healthy and function properly. I used to leave the house with three essentials—purse, keys, and phone. Now I leave with four—purse, keys, phone, and trendy water bottle.     

“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 NIV

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

About 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.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: How do you keep yourself spiritually hydrated?

The Backup Generators

by Zoe Hicks

My husband and I live in an area where storms cause frequent power outages, at times for days.  Because of this, we had a generator installed. When the power goes out, the generator’s motor start to hum, and within a few seconds, our backup power source has restored our lights, appliances, and heating or cooling system. When I look out and see dark houses on the street, I am so thankful for the generator, which runs as long as the power outage lasts, allowing us to continue our lives without interruption.

Sometimes we become disconnected from our spiritual power source because of trauma, illness, depression, anxiety, conflict, disobedience, or negative circumstances. When we experience that kind of power outage, intercessors can be our backup generators.

Isaiah prophesied to an entire nation that had become disconnected from its power source. They stumbled, walked in the dark, and groped like the blind. There was no justice in their society. The Lord saw it and wondered why there was no intercessor. Where was that man or woman who could cry out and reestablish the connection to power? (Isaiah 59:9-16). 

Moses, too, led a people who had turned from God and worshipped a golden calf. They had surrounded Moses’ brother, Aaron, while Moses was up on the mountain and entreated him: “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up form the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1 NASB). The Lord responded in righteous anger and said He would irradicate them. But Moses’ intercession saved them from God’s wrath and destruction (Exodus 32:11-14).

All of us, at some point, need intercessory prayer. When we become disconnected from our divine power source for any reason, we need our backup generators until we are able to reconnect. They lift us up in prayer when we cannot pray for ourselves using their connection to carry us through.

We, too, can be backup generators for others, remembering those times when we were unplugged and in need of prayer. Our prayers can flip the switch in those dark houses, bringing in light and power. It’s good to bring food, books, and gifts to those who are discouraged and disconnected, but nothing helps them more than connecting them to their Heavenly Father, the source of all power and light.

Dr. Terry Teykl, pastor and author of many books on prayer, says, “Prayer is like the hidden turbines at the base of the dam. Unseen and unheard but there to produce the power needed.”

“The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” James 5:16b MSG

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

About the author: Zoe Hicks is an attorney, author speaker and Bible teacher. After practicing tax and estate planning law for over thirty years, she turned to her true love – writing and speaking for God and has written five inspirational books. Zoe’s ministry focus is international and she has been involved in the nation of Liberia for thirteen years. Most recently she has witnessed the miracle working power of God as she has spearheaded a campaign to raise funds to build a compound for the street girls in Liberia where they can be housed and fed, trained vocationally, and receive medical treatment. This enables them to get off the streets and support themselves and their babies. In working with the women leaders in Liberia (who prayed fervently) and through the women’s groups of her denomination in Georgia, the dream of this center, costing several hundred thousand dollars, is fully funded and becoming a reality. 

Join the conversation: Has there been a time in your life when you were upheld or empowered by the prayers of others?

Winner or Lizard?

by Christina Rose

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.  Mark 10:15-16 NIV

Tears of frustration rolled down three-year old Ashley’s cheeks. I had just picked up my little blond angel from preschool, and she was upset.  Her tiny hands could not open the bag of goldfish crackers I had packed for snack time. Once settled in her car seat, I finally opened the crackers, and she happily snacked away. Wiping away her tears I asked, “Did you learn anything special at school today?”

She answered, “Yes mama, my teacher told me I could be a winner or a lizard.”  No losers in Ashley’s world, only winners or lizards.

When my daughters were young, their innocent world was full of joy. Each day was another chance to play, dress like a princess, dance and sing. One day I got a call that Ashley had fallen into a mud puddle at recess and wanted me to pick her up. I took her back to work with me where she sat nearby drawing with crayons.  She then handed me a picture of the world with my face in the middle and the words, “I love you mom.” Children have a powerful gift of teaching us about the heart of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.”  Matthew 18:2-5 NLT

Small children have no ambition, pride or haughtiness, so they set a good example of being humble and teachable. They embrace each day with joy, honesty and wonder. Just as children trust their parents that they will love and provide for them, we should also trust our Father in heaven.

Once my daughters grew up and left home, I found myself worrying where they were and what they were doing. I missed those days when I could walk by their bedrooms each night to tuck them in, read them stories, and kiss them goodnight.  While I was happy they now had lives of their own, at times anxious thoughts crept in. One sleepless night I lay in bed praying for their safety and salvation. “God, I’ve been praying for years that my girls would turn to you, but at times they don’t seem to hear me, and they act like they don’t care to know you. How can I get through to them? This pains my heart.” 

I waited in the silence of the dark night and then heard the still small whisper, “Now you know how I feel.”  These words came with a love and longing as deep as the oceans, as high as the heavens and as great as the stars. God has billions of souls around the world that he is trying to reach and when he goes unnoticed it also pains his heart.  He pours out his spirit on all of us, but not everyone recognizes him. He created us to soar like eagles, but when we do things on our own and don’t follow in his footsteps, we miss out on the amazing life he has planned for us.  We fail to notice the signs, wonders and miracles with which he wants to bless us.

While lizards can be cute, I would rather be a winner and soar on wings like eagles.  I would rather be a winner of billions of souls for the Kingdom of  Heaven. By choosing to trust God with childlike faith, we can embrace each day with joy and lead others to the everlasting peace of salvation.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:31-33 NLT

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

christina rose
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cover.jpg

Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker with the John Maxwell Team. She is a DAR whose patriot ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.  Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina appeals to heaven for hope and freedom just as her patriot ancestors did hundreds of years ago. She is a contributor to Arise to Peace Daily Devotional and a frequent blogger for Arise Daily Devos.

Join the conversation: What have little children taught you?