Just Like a Mother Bird

by Sandra Chambers

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 NIV

During my morning walk today, I saw an interesting site—a tiny bird was chasing a much larger bird in midair. It was quite a sight as the little bird darted back and forth, at times getting fearlessly close to the larger bird. Back and forth they flew, zigzagging and circling overhead.

At first I was puzzled, expecting the larger bird to turn at any moment and give chase to the smaller one. Then it dawned on me—the smaller bird might be a mother bird protecting her nest that was nearby. The larger bird was possibly perceived as a predator after the eggs or young hatchlings.

When the midair confrontation finally stopped and the larger bird flew away, I began to think about several scriptures in the Bible where God is anthropomorphically described as a bird offering His wings of protection:

  • He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 NIV
  • I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:4 NIV
  • How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7 NIV
  • I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1 NIV

In the New Testament, Jesus also speaks of himself as a mother hen, longing to protect God’s chosen people:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37 NIV

We have a God who fiercely protects His own. He offers us comfort and refuge from the storms of life and from our enemies. We can do the same for those we love by pointing them to God and praying for them. As believers, God gives us the privilege and power to stand in prayer for our family members, our friends, our co-workers and church members. We can be like that mother bird who defends others because God has given us the mighty weapon of prayer to route our enemies.

When I face an enemy that seems bigger than me—whether in my life or the life of others, I want to remember that little bird’s boldness as it flew over and over again at the perpetrator. I want to remember that prayer is a mighty weapon and that God offers His wings of protection to all who would take refuge there.

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

About the author: Sandra Chambers has a desire to help Christians find joy and purpose in their prayer life and has written a personal or small group study, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet—How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life. Her current writing projects include picture books and kid’s devotionals to help children find a personal relationship with God, develop godly character traits and discover their self-worth and purpose in God. Discover more about Sandra at sandrakaychambers.com.

Join the conversation: What other metaphors found in Scripture describing a characteristic of God are meaningful to you?

The Restored Heirloom

by Nancy Kay Grace

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. Psalm 98:1 NIV

The antique parlor grand piano remained the final item in my in-law’s estate. The family didn’t know what to do with the instrument, since it hadn’t been played in decades. It was out of tune, and needed a lot of work to make it playable. Its mahogany wood grain was barely visible through the cracked, dull varnish. The closed piano lid provided a display area for family photos and plants, and years of watering the plants had damaged the wood.

My husband and I didn’t have the heart to discard the piano. We felt an emotional connection to this family heirloom with its unique history. It had been on stage during silent movies, and was played by a long-ago relative in a church. I, too, had played it in its better days. Could the seemingly worthless instrument become a restored treasure with a new song?

We took a risk and found a piano restorer who agreed to work on the instrument. The restoration began as the legs were removed, and the keyboard set aside. Decades of dust clung to the strings. Some strings needed replacing, and a hammer had to be handcrafted. Sanding and refinishing the damaged wood took months. But eventually the restored instrument was delivered to our home. Was it playable?

Tears filled my eyes at the beauty and sound of the piano. After decades of dormancy, the 100-year-old parlor grand piano gained a new life, redeemed from disposal. The keys no longer stick and are responsive to a soft or firm touch. The rich wood grain has a warm patina.

The restored piano sounds better than it should, for all it has been through with many moves in its lifetime. It holds a tune, to the piano technician’s amazement. The instrument has a new song.

The Lord has transformed me, too. He has taken my old self with doubts, fears, and insecurities, and exchanged them with hope and acceptance in His love. He shapes me by smoothing off my rough edges and out-of-tune attitudes. God has given me a new song. I am a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God uses everything in our lives when we give everything to Him—our past, our pain and brokenness, even the times when we have no song. Anyone is worthy of restoration in God’s eyes. We can be renewed day by day when we seek the Lord. Our growing faith is a legacy to be shared with future generations.

The Lord restores and tunes us to be more like Him, creating a new song in us.

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

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

Join the conversation: What differences have you noticed in yourself since believing in Jesus?

The God Who Sees

by Christina Rose

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”  Genesis 16:13 NIV

When the Lord told Abram that his heirs would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and he would have a son, it seemed impossible. He and his wife Sarai were childless and well beyond child-bearing years. Their son Isaac would eventually be born, but they became impatient, so Sarai told Abram to sleep with her slave, Hagar, thinking to build a family through her.  

Hagar conceived and the two women started bickering out of pride and jealousy. When Hagar ran away to the desert, the Lord saw her lonely, wounded heart. He sent her an angel who told her that her unborn child was a son, whom she would name Ishmael (which means “God hears”),  for the Lord has heard of your misery.  Genesis 16:11 NIV.  Then he  told her to return to Sarai and promised that her descendants would also be as numerous as the stars.  

When my daughters were young, we frequently enjoyed a picnic at the Zoo. One day we were at the ground level gorilla enclosure, where only a pane of glass separated us from the animals.  I was holding my baby on my hip and my toddler by the hand, when a gorilla mom with her baby on her hip sauntered over. She stared deeply into my eyes as if to say, “We’re the same, we’re mothers.” My eyes popped open as I felt I heard her heart and then hers popped open in surprise as if to say, “This human mama sees me!” We showed off our babies to one another and she sweetly stared into my eyes a last time before wandering off.

On another occasion, a juvenile chimp pressed his face against the glass in front of a group of children. He was moving his mouth rapidly, and the children were laughing at him and slapping the glass. It occurred to me that he saw our mouths move while talking and possibly thought if he moved his mouth like us he could talk to us, too.  I told the kids to stop teasing him; the young chimp just wanted to be our friend and talk to us.

When we see with the eyes of our hearts, we are better able to see the hearts of all God’s creatures. 

Each year we journeyed down the California coast to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One year, as we entered the Aquarium, I sensed extreme panic and fear. It was so intense that I couldn’t ignore it, so I asked my daughters to follow me as I led them in the direction it seemed to be coming from. We made our way through the tightly packed crowds and I then spotted a tiny, terrified toddler hiding under a stairwell, crying in desperation and curled up in a ball. I didn’t want to alarm her so said, “I know your mama is searching for you.  I’m a mama too and these are my daughters. May we stand here to make sure you’re safe while you wait for your mama?” She sniffled and nodded, and within minutes, screams of “Emily, Emily!” resounded through the building.  Little Emily then scampered out from under the stairwell and raced towards her very relieved family.

If all the world could open the eyes of their hearts to see as God sees, there is no limit to the good works we may do for his glory. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18 NIV).

The God who sees meets us in the desert, in the valley, at the Zoo and the Aquarium and anywhere else he chooses. God sees each of us and chases us down when we feel unloved, lost and unworthy to lead us into his marvelous light. He knows our hearts and works continuously to help us grow in faith, so that we may help others see the glory of his riches in Christ Jesus.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV

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

christina rose

About 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. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, 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, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Have you ever had a moment when God showed you His perspective?

A New Day Brings New Mercies

by Virginia Grounds

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23 NRSV

Mornings are special for me. Like the spring season of the year, mornings usher in new opportunities for new growth. Those early hours of the day mean time spent with the Lord and His Word. It is during this time, when I draw near to God, that He draws near to me. He teaches what He would have me know for that day or season of life. He is faithful to reveal Himself through the pages of Scripture and His Spirit, and He inspires me with new thoughts that guide me on His path.

The author of Lamentations lamented over the unfaithfulness of Judah. Yet, his hope was in the Lord. In chapter three, verses 22-23, he mentioned the attributes of God applied every new morning and reasons for his hope. These verses are the bright spot in a book of suffering and judgment. That he could acknowledge these things about God when things looked so bleak shows the faithfulness of God to remind us of who He is during times of our suffering:

  • His love is steady; therefore, difficulties do not consume us.
  • His love never ceases.
  • His mercies never end; they are new every morning.
  • He is faithful.

It is because of God’s love for us, that every morning, he shows mercy. Whatever our situation, God is faithful to apply mercy as we come to Him. What great assurance this is to us on those mornings when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed with an attitude, or with an exhausted body and mind that says, “I don’t want to get up,” or with difficulties facing us. One day we may bounce out of bed, the next, we want to stay in bed.

As the author concluded telling of the goodness of God, he proclaimed Him as his portion (Lamentations 3:24) and committed to putting his hope in the Lord. What is the portion he speaks of? It is the inheritance reserved for the individual. He had hope because he knew something better was in the future. This hope is for us as well. As believers, we can confidently say the Lord is our portion. We have an inheritance from Him.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3-4 HCSB

God’s daily mercies show us that God is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him. The portion He has given of Himself through Christ in us is a promise of eternity to come. It is our inheritance. Therefore, mornings with Him are opportunities to confess our unfaithfulness, knowing our merciful God forgives. As we pray acknowledging His mercies, love, and faithfulness, He reminds us that we have so much to be thankful for. Great is the faithfulness of the Lord!

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

About the author: Virginia Grounds is a speaker, author, Bible Teacher, former radio host, and effective communicator. Her love for women’s ministry and passion for God’s Word have been an important part of serving for more than 30 years in ministry in one of the largest churches in America. Virginia served with her husband in full-time ministry

Rock Solid Trust: Trusting God When Life Is Hard by [Virginia Grounds]

helping to meet the needs of hurting people. This motivated her to write her first book, Facing Fears, Quenching Flames, a devotional book for overcoming fear and anger.

Virginia writes to grow women in their faith and teach life lessons for survival in today’s world. She is married with three adult children and grandchildren. Her ministry website is majesticinspirations.com.

Join the conversation: How do you spend your quiet times with the Lord?

A Better Bridge

 by Patti Richter

A better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God . . . This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. Hebrews 7:19, 21 ESV

For several months, I enjoyed daily walks with my dog along a usually busy—but now quiet—road. I further enjoyed going straight down the middle of this road since barricades had been erected a half mile in both directions. The county temporary closed the road while a crew worked to replace an old, unsafe bridge over the creek that bordered our neighborhood.

As we walked without the noise and worry of traffic whizzing by, it felt like we owned the road. Each day, I observed progress on the new bridge. One day the workers were gone, and I realized the bridge appeared finished. Yet the road remained closed for weeks longer. Other crews would need to paint road stripes across the bridge and install guard rails alongside it.

Didn’t the county realize how many folks waited anxiously to have their road reopened?

I lived on the side of the bridge that had access to another good road to town. But I sympathized with those on the other side of the bridge who must be frustrated over the completed but inaccessible bridge. Their day-after-day detour of several miles on a curvy, rutted road must have been exasperating.

Then suddenly, without fanfare, the flashing signs and barricades came down and the road was reopened to traffic. But the road remained quiet! Drivers had grown so used to turning another way that they didn’t even notice the work was finished. Maybe the county should have replaced the flashing detour message with another bold announcement: Bridge Completed—Road Open.

This made me consider that Christians should do likewise. We know that, through Christ, the “bridge” is open, and we have access to God. But others haven’t heard the Good News.

Too many people (including me at one time) believe that God will accept us based on our personal goodness or good works, which sounds reasonable from a human perspective. But the writer of Hebrews explained that if we had been able to keep God’s laws perfectly, there would have been no reason for a new covenant between God and man “much more excellent than the old” (Hebrews 8:6-7 ESV).

Trying to qualify ourselves for heaven is about as easy as taking detours. We might do well enough on good days, but what happens on a dark night if we take a wrong turn? Or what if we hit a pothole that sends us careening off the road?

God provided the perfect way to himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:12 ESV).

The bridge is open! We need to spread the good news.

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you let others know about the bridge God has opened?

Step Back to See the Big Picture

by Kathy Howard

Yet he gave [Abraham] no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. Acts 7:5 ESV

Mosaics grace the ceilings, walls, and floors of cathedrals, homes, and buildings all over the world. Skillful artists create them by arranging small bits of colored tiles, glass, or other material into patterns or images. The oldest known mosaics, discovered in a temple in Mesopotamia, date back to the 3rd millennium BCE.

In the 1990s, photo mosaics developed as a modern twist on this beautiful ancient artform. In a traditional mosaic, one large image is created by combining small colorful pieces. But in a photo mosaic, these small colorful pieces are also individual images. Many small photos join together to form one big picture.

Stephen, a deacon in the first-century church, tried to help the Jewish leaders who arrested him see God’s big story of salvation. In Acts chapter seven, Stephen responded to the Sanhedrin’s charges against him with a mosaic-type narrative. He skillfully combined individual stories of Israel’s history to tell them one big story. Reciting Israel’s history to make a point was a common practice, but Stephen used it to encourage his accusers to pull back from their micro-focus and see God’s greater plans and purposes for Israel.

Accusations of false witnesses reflected the Jewish leaders’ small-picture thinking. According to their testimony, Stephen claimed Jesus would destroy the temple and change the customs of Moses. The council would have considered this particularly blasphemous. In their minds, God resided in the temple and His salvation came through the Mosaic Law. Everything they held dear and hoped for revolved around these two things. But their narrow focus caused them to miss the big, glorious truth of God’s eternal redemption.

So, Stephen took them back to the beginning. He reminded them of their calling through Abraham. He recounted God’s faithfulness to keep His promises. He illustrated God’s power and sovereignty through the life of Joseph. And Stephen highlighted God’s presence with His people – inside and outside the Promised Land. He showed them how the pieces fit together to form the big picture. They’d seen the colorful pieces but they’d missed the glorious beauty of the complete redemption picture. They’d missed Jesus.

Like the Jews who saw the colorful pieces of God’s salvation story but missed the Savior, we sometimes get stuck on the smaller pieces in our own story. The tiny piece that has captured our attention may be a past failure, a difficult trial, or even a victory. But God is working through every event and experience in our lives, arranging them into a work of art. Step back to see how the small pieces fit into God’s eternal plans and purposes. Don’t miss the beautiful, big picture.

Father, I know that sometimes my focus gets stuck on one event or problem. Help me to see the bigger picture of the ways you are working. Show me how I can best cooperate with what You’re doing in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

***

This post is adapted from “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts.”

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

About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. Kathy is the author of 11 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Deep Rooted: Growing Through the Book of Acts: A 50-Day Devotional Journey by [Kathy Howard]

Here’s more about “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts”: Pack your bags and join Kathy Howard for the journey of a lifetime. You’ll experience the powerful arrival of the Holy Spirit, witness the birth of the church, and walk the dusty roads alongside those first missionaries as they boldly share the Gospel of Jesus with the world. 

Join the conversation:  Have you ever tried to remember specific moments that you now know God would work together to move you into the person you are today?

A People With No Word For Love

by Sheri Schofield

Nine hours south of El Paso, Texas is a canyon deeper and larger than our Grand Canyon. It is called the Copper Canyon. Tourists take train rides around it and marvel at the native runners who race the trains. They are the Tarahumara, the world’s greatest long-distance runners.

Twelve years ago, I traveled south to work among them for a few days. The man who took us there, Tomas Bencomo, was a pastor in Juarez, Mexico. One day the government of Mexico had sent out a plea to the people: “Please help the native tribes, or they will become extinct within ten years.”

Tomas had driven down to the canyon. He looked out over the vast gorge three thousand feet below and wondered, “If my son were lost down there in those gorges, would I not do everything I could to find him? I would do anything, search through every branch of the canyon, for as long as it took! The Tarahumara are lost from God. He loves them and is searching for them. I will do all that I can to find them and bring them to God.”

At first, he took a team from his church to the canyon, plus some mules. They loaded the mules with food and began the dangerous trip into the canyon, walking on eyebrow trails down the sheer cliffs. One mule didn’t make it. He fell into the depths.

After several hours, the team reached the bottom of the canyon. Tomas called to the Tarahumara, who were in hiding. But none came out to meet him. So the team unloaded the mules and left the food before heading back up the dangerous cliffs.

Gradually, the Tarahumara came to trust Tomas. They took the food back to the caves in which they lived. They didn’t trust outsiders, for they had been tricked before. But as time passed, they learned to trust Tomas and his teams.

On one trip, Tomas saw the skeleton of a child alongside the trail. When he reached the bottom of the canyon, he mentioned it to a native man, who knew some Spanish. The man shook his head and said, “The mountains are covered with the bones of children.”

Each year, there was a starving time among the Tarahumara when the food ran low. The parents had to choose which children to feed. The others died. They had no other option. There wasn’t enough food. The mortality rate among the children was 50%.

There was no word in their language for “love.” But they felt the pain of loss in what they called the Valley of Death.

With so many orphaned, starving and abandoned children in the canyon, Tomas decided to build a boarding school for them. Canadian and American churches helped, hauling the materials down those dangerous cliffs on their backs and on mules. Once the school was built, Tomas asked for volunteers to oversee the work there.

A twenty-two year old woman named Sandra went into the canyon to serve. Tomas supplied food, and Sandra and a native helper prepared it. They had thirty-six children the first year. They have over a hundred children now, and the Mexican government sends teachers.

Many of the Tarahumara children are named “Tomas” or “Sandra,” for the two leaders who have become precious to the natives. Those two have made it possible for the Tarahumara to survive during the starving times without losing their children. They have demonstrated God’s love. The gospel has swept through the canyon, transforming lives because of that love.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. John 4:10-11 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 and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

FREE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM! Author/Children’s Bible teacher, Sheri Schofield, offers a free series of video lessons about Jesus and His salvation—for children ages 4 and up. It is available at her website www.sherischofield.com. In this video series, Walk-The-Talk Island, Sheri presents her award-winning book The Prince and the Plan, in 24 video lessons for your children, grandchildren and any others with whom you wish to share. In addition, Campfire provides devotions for children.

Join the Conversation: Have you ever won someone over to Jesus with love?

The Marriage Cycle

by Andrea Towers Scott, Ph.D.

Marriage is much like a rose. When it starts, the bloom is beautiful and everyone can smell the sweet fragrance of love. Over time, the bloom naturally falls off the rose. As the seasons change, the leaves sometimes fall, too. What’s left are thorns. They’re not much to look at.

Other, more beautiful flowers that look and smell so sweet begin to capture our attention. We wonder if we are stuck with thorns forever. We wonder if anything is happening to bring the beautiful blooms back. We water and fertilize. And wait.

If we use the right food and water, the kind that comes from the Word of God, then the roots are soaking it up. Over time buds begin to appear that will become leaves.

We put effort into that seemingly dead plant. We water and provide food. have more energy to provide food and water to our rose plant. Eventually, more blooms appear. Once again, we enjoy the beautiful and fragrant blossoms. However, we know that a time will come when we are left with thorns again. This time of re-blooming reminds us that the bloom will always leave and come back if we continue to feed and water our rose. Other flowers have their own cycle, so we can’t compare the rose’s cycle to theirs. Even other roses may be blooming when ours is thorny. That’s just our season.

Marriage is probably the hardest relationship God has given us. We can gain hope when we remember the cycle of our rose bush. We experience times of blooming and times when we wonder where the happier feelings have gone. But as the seasons change, we again experience more connected times. So we feed ourselves from the Word of God, and over time, both spouses are drawn closer to God and thus to each other. And as the relationship improves, we see that we really ARE more than just thorns.

The thorny seasons can feel very lonely, though, especially if we look around at all of the other marriages that seem to be blooming so beautifully. But we aren’t really alone. We aren’t the only ones to experience this balance of blooms and thorns. Everyone has their seasons.

Joseph certainly did when he was thrown into the well, falsely accused, and then jailed. But he trusted in the Lord, continued to live in obedience to Him, and eventually, he was assigned to be Pharoah’s second in command. He ended up saving his entire family and his relationships with them were restored (Genesis 37:1 – 49:28). Ruth, a Moabitess, married an Israelite who died. She ended up leaving her people to follow her mother-in-law to a strange land. They were practically destitute until God provided food for them through the good will of a kind man named Boaz. He became her kinsman redeemer and she became the great-grandmother of David and the ancestor of Jesus Christ (Ruth 1:1 – 4:22). Paul thought his season of blooms as a Pharisee was forever until Jesus approached him, made him blind, and commanded him to serve the very people he was killing. He bloomed again when he finally walked into the calling Jesus had for him (Acts 9:1- 22).

Our lives are in constant change as different seasons come and go. Knowing that makes it possible to withstand the hard times in expectation they will not last forever. The same is true for  our marriages: our relationships are simply seasons of blooming and waiting through the thorns.

Here’s to many seasons of blooms!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace…He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11 NIV

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

About the author: Andrea Towers Scott is a professor of successful relationship communication. She’s also the author of www.WriteSpeakRelate.com whose mission is to equip couples and families with the skills they need to thrive. She uses sound Biblical wisdom to ground her teaching and coaching. Andrea has been married for 27 years to an amazing man and they have two wonderful teenage boys. Their family also runs a working farm in Florida.

Join the conversation: What season are you in at the present?

Don’t Settle for the Bubblegum Ring

by Terri Gillespie

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the [Holy Spirit] to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13 TLV

 Do we settle for less because we believe that’s all we deserve? We have a Heavenly Father that wants to give us the best, whether we think we measure up or not.

Have you ever noticed that we don’t always recognize what is best for us? What has the most value?

Once, my mother decided to take each of her young granddaughters out on a special “date” for their birthdays. Their date consisted of grandma and granddaughter one-on-one time.

When their date-day arrived, each little girl could choose their favorite restaurant and then go to their favorite store and pick out a special treasure — within reason — that my mom would purchase for that granddaughter.

Mom found it interesting how different each child was by their choices.

The older granddaughter’s birthday was first. She dressed in a cute sundress. When grandma asked where she wanted to dine, the granddaughter chose her favorite fast-food restaurant. Together they enjoyed a burger, fries, and shake. After the meal, the two perused the local five & dime. The granddaughter randomly walked the aisle, then finally chose a bubblegum-machine ring. The bobble was shiny silver with a big, purple “diamond.” All made of plastic.

When it was the younger granddaughter’s special day, they too dressed in their Sunday best. When mom asked the younger granddaughter where she would like to dine. The granddaughter asked her grandmother, “Where would you eat?” As a result, the grandmother chose her favorite restaurant so the two of them ate at a fancier establishment.

Mom and granddaughter ended up at the same five & dime, but this granddaughter asked for help again. Mom directed her to the jewelry case. The granddaughter chose a sweet, enamel floral bracelet nestled on a pad of cotton inside a shiny, white box.

The big purple ring broke within days. The bracelet lasted considerably longer.

As our Heavenly Father’s redeemed children, our idea of a “good gift” is not always what is best. We may think we know what is best, but our Father often wants to give us more.

Earlier in this chapter, Luke gives his version of the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. The example He gave them is essentially the same as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. Where Matthew’s context focuses on humility and forgiveness, Luke focuses on the generosity of our Father.

Today’s verse and the previous verses in the chapter, may seem like we can ask God for anything we want, and He’ll give it to us — like some celestial Santa Claus—or grandmother. But because He loves us, He longs to give us more than a bubblegum-ring; He longs to give us the riches of His Kingdom. The Holy Spirit. A part of HIM!

Let’s let that one sink in. The Creator of the Universe wants to give us a part of Himself, just as He gave His only Son to redeem us.

We have all prayed for what we believe is the best and God answered, “No.” As difficult as that answer can be — especially when we truly believe it is the best “ring” in the earthly bubblegum-machine — He has a much better choice. A gift beyond our wildest imagination. Isn’t that what we really want?

Abba Father, I don’t want the “bubblegum machine ring,” I want Your best. Please, help me let Your will be done without willfulness from me. Amen.

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

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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: Has God ever blessed you in a far greater way than your original request? Please share!

Remain Steadfast

by Na’Kedra Rodgers

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 NASB

I feel as if the storms of life have been raging at an all-time high lately. It seems as if I just can’t catch a break or even my breath. Every time I turn around, something else has gone wrong. Sometimes if feels like my life is hanging on by a thread.

For example, my youngest daughter continues to get incident reports at daycare every day. Her teachers complain that she hits her classmates, each time unprovoked. She’s only a little over a year old; therefore, she won’t understand time out or similar discipline measures. I just continue to send her to school every day and pray that she has a better day than the day before.

I’m also struggling in my marriage. My husband and I can be found arguing almost every single day. It seems as if we aren’t on the same page about anything. Both of us are frustrated and tired of being at odds with each other. 

Is there anyone who can relate to feeling as if their life is a bit off-balance? That it seems their hair is turning grayer with each passing day?

Adversity or hardship can make us feel inadequate. It’s a natural response to trouble, especially when we seem to be failing at every turn. But we need to consider the source of those kind of destructive thoughts. Destruction is the enemy’s tool. He will attack our minds and spirits in an attempt to make us lose hope and give up.

If it hasn’t already, temptation to feel that way will most likely knock at your door at some point. But God has given us weapons to fight that evil power. Scripture provides instructions for believers to use when temptation to give up arises.

They are listed in Ephesians 6:14-18. Each weapon is a counterstrike to Satan’s evil lies.

Feeling guilty after a failure? Remember our righteousness is in Christ Jesus, not in our good behavior. Thinking you won’t make it through? Remember where our trust belongs, not in ourselves, but in our powerful God. Worrying that you have fallen out of God’s good grace? Remember salvation is a gift from God and is not dependent on our success or works.

God has promised: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV). 

Not only has God given us the tools to succeed, but He also promises a reward if we endure these trials. James 1:12 (KJV) says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

I encourage you—stay in the fight. You may be shaken to your core when you’re tried and tested; however, as a child of God, you need not fold. Testing will last for a season. And when it is over, and you have stood firm in the strength of the Lord, what a testimony you will be able to share with others to keep them lifted during their tough times. God has already given you the victory. Keep persevering until your change comes. Remain steadfast and never forget that you are blessed.

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

About the author: Na’Kedra Rodgers (OptimisticallyKe) is a spiritual life coach that posts daily uplifting and inspirational videos on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. She believes that no one is immune from life’s trials and tribulations; therefore, she encourages others by spreading optimism using biblically based talks. She loves to connect with others who also believe that with God, all things are possible. Her first written body of work, Kneeling Earnestly for Transformation is available for purchase here.

Join the conversation: What weapons have you found to be particularly effective against the enemy?