No Fishing!

by Sheri Schofield

Some people are born with a gift of understanding technology, math, science and balancing their checkbooks. But me? No. Not so much. All my gifts are on the creative side—art, music, writing, painting, etcetera. Those are the things that fulfill me. Fortunately, my husband excels in the things which I don’t. This has allowed each of us to focus on what we consider fun.

One of my fun pursuits was writing music. I wrote musicals, songs for the kids in my class at church, and songs for our worship team. Then something crushed the music out of my heart. Though I was still able, with some intense effort, to write children’s music, I was unable to write adult Christian music for about eighteen years.

I had a wounded spirit. The memory of that pain haunted me. One day God showed me the cause of my crushed spirit: I had not completely forgiven those who had hurt me. It was as though I had received a splinter in my heart and had not removed it, so it festered. There was a hidden bitterness inside.

It was then I remembered a poster quoting Corrie ten Boom, who had been imprisoned in a WW2 Nazi concentration camp. She said, “When God forgives, He forgets. He buries our sin in the sea and puts a sign on the shore saying, ‘No Fishing Allowed.’”[1]

The Lord told me I was cherishing the blame of those offenses. I needed to let them go. I must not just forgive, but I must also put up a “No Fishing” sign at the door to my memory.

I made that choice. The feeling of cleansing was wonderful! When someone reminded me of a painful incident inflicted on me by a long-time offender, I mentally pulled up that “No Fishing” sign in my brain and refused to think about it. I forgave, chose to forget, and moved on.

Shortly afterward, I asked God to restore music to my heart. A couple of weeks passed. Then one morning as I was driving into town, God unexpectedly put a complete song in my heart! I had no paper on which to write, so I pulled into a store, bought a notebook, and returned to my car. There in the parking lot, I wrote down the music and words to a new adult Christian worship song. I had been set free.

Paul addressed a similar problem in Philippi. Two godly women, Euodia and Syntyche, were battling over something in their church. We don’t know their specific issue, but haven’t most of us been there? We get involved in a work for Jesus, then we can’t agree on how to do it! Churches have split over differences of opinions in decorating, or over who sings what songs on Sunday,

Paul wrote to the warring women: “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche, Please, because you now belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News,” (Philippians 4:2,3 NLT).

Later in the same chapter, Paul told that church, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise…Then the God of peace will be with you,” Philippians 4: 8, 9, (NLT).

When we work it out, forgive and forget, we receive inner healing.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us, Psalm 103:12 (NIV).


[1] Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord, Revell Co. Publication, 1974.

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: Do you have tips on how to forgive you can share?

Love is a Choice

by Debora M. Coty

Marriage should be honored by all. Hebrews 13:4 NIV

I truly love my man, Chuck. I do. But even after 40 years of marriage, his thinking still befuddles me.

One day he came in from doing yard work, filthy from head to toe, and proudly announced that he’d fixed the sprinkler problem in the back flowerbed. 

Uh-oh.

Now you first have to understand that although the lawn is his job, the flowerbeds are my domain. I plan, plant, and carefully nurture each and every shrub. I often talk to them and sometimes even sing to them. Don’t laugh. They’re my little green babies. 

So imagine my absolute horror when I found my gorgeous six-foot philodendron stretched out like a dead body beside the garbage can. It had been hacked off at the base.

I was so devastated I could barely breathe as I stared at the gaping hole in the hedge of wondrously healthy philodendrons I had planted and lovingly coaxed to adulthood. Chuck, with his logical see-a-problem-so-fix-it brain, had decided that the plant had grown so big, it was blocking the sprinkler. What he failed to consider was that the whole point of the sprinkler was to grow the plant big.

The rage fuse lit in my innards and erupted into an inferno. I was ready to storm inside and scorch the remaining hairs off Chuck’s head. But something stopped me. It was the verse I’d read that morning: A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2 NIV).

Honestly, I was so livid at that moment, I didn’t care whether I was a fool or not. But I knew Papa God did. So I just stood there, praying for a new “herspective” (my term for a woman’s point of view), sobbing quietly over my murdered plant-baby.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Chuck watching me from the porch.

My mind flew to the funeral I’d recently attended of a woman I’d known since childhood. During the heart-melting eulogy, her husband of 58 years praised the way she’d held their marriage together through difficult times. He said in a grief-choked voice, “She never looked down on me in all those years – she always looked up at me in respect …even when I didn’t deserve it.”

Those words hit me hard. I was so convicted about criticizing my husband that I vowed to show him more respect. Even when it seemed undeserved. 

So standing there in my backyard, I prayed. “Lord, help me understand Chuck, not criticize him. I know he meant well. Glue my mouth shut; enable me to forgive him and appreciate all he does for me.”

Later, I returned to the flowerbed for damage control. There in the hedge gap stood my listing, drooping philodendron. Chuck had tried to replant the poor rootless thing. He’d even watered it.

I burst into tears again, but this time they were warm tears of gratitude. Oh, I knew there was no hope for the philodendron, but by me choosing to not blow up and criticize my husband, what could have been a marital Hiroshima … wasn’t.

According to Dr. Gary Campbell, “Love is a choice you make every day. And in choosing love, you’re following Christ’s example. Nothing is more Christlike than loving your spouse.”

So girlfriend, the next time you find your Godiva stash missing, because your guy is helping you stick to your diet, choose love. And remember the verse I just might have tattooed across my forehead, “Keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23 NLT).  

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

About the author:  Debora M Coty is an AWSA Certified Writing Coach, speaker, and award-winning author of over 40 books including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series with nearly 2 million books sold in multiple languages worldwide. Deb lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her horticulturally-challenged husband Chuck and five precocious grandpals nearby. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com

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

Join the conversation: How have you shown love by keeping quiet recently?

Bring On the Sonshine

by Dawn Scott Damon

You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10 NASB

“Bring back the sun,” said the security guard at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. I smiled and said, “I will!” So I was off to Arizona, and when you live in Michigan (otherwise known as the frozen tundra), any trip to warm weather during winter brings an envious response from those left behind. Winters are long and brutal—we long for the sunshine.

My smile lingered as I walked down the jetway and boarded the plane. But, of course, I can’t really bring back the sunshine. That’s silly. No one believes we can transport sunshine. I may be influential, but I don’t have that power. I giggled at her funny comment.

Yet, I ponder that little social nicety and determine that we say it because:

  1. We believe there is sunshine somewhere, and we need it.
  2. We think people can help us in bringing the sun.
  3. We believe that sunshine will change our situation.

Okay, so maybe I’m overthinking. But I’m on a plane and have nothing else to do. 

So, here’s the deal: What if we really could bring people sunshine?

I think we can.

You’re probably already on to me, but what if we were carriers of Sonshine?

What if you and I, filled with the love of Jesus, the Son of God, could shed the warmth of his love on people?

I believe we could change the world.

How Sonshine Could Change the World

  1. We would show God’s love, that there is Sonshine. God is real—His beauty exists. His power to warm our lives and fill our souls drives away the clouds surrounding a life without God.
  2. We would share good works. We’d become the extension of Jesus—his hands, feet, and heart for a hurting world. When we bring the Sonshine to a cold heart, we melt away the pain, the frozen cynicism, and the jaded scars so many have because of life’s disappointments.
  3. We would shine the light on the darkened path. We’d reveal that when God comes into our lives, He shows us the way; no more bumping around in the shadows. Our lives change as we walk His path of victory.

So will you do it? Will you bring the Sonshine? Show, share, and shine today!

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

About the author: International Author, Speaker, and Pastor, Dawn Scott (Jones) Damon began her ministry and writing career after finding freedom and healing from the childhood trauma of sexual abuse. Dawn’s first book, When A Woman You Love Was Abused: A Husband’s Guide to Helping Her Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation, won the Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal Award in 2013.

The Freedom Challenge: 60 Days to Untie The Cords That Bind You by [Dawn Scott Damon]

Dawn is a favorite keynote speaker at Women’s Conferences, bringing in-depth teaching along with heartfelt honesty, laced with side-splitting laughter. In her latest book, The Freedom Challenge: Sixty Days to Untie the Cords that Bind You, Dawn shares compelling truths in a sixty-day interactive Bible study that identifies and confronts eight cords that keep many believers bound. These practical and powerful biblical tools will give you a new mindset, a fresh beginning, and a clear direction for a positive future. Take the Freedom Challenge and become an active participant in your own emotional and spiritual transformation. 

Join the conversation: What ways have you found to show, share, or shine the Light of Christ?

Cleaning Our Spiritual Filters

by Dyann Shepard

Recently, I was cleaning out the filter of my clothes dryer. Usually, I just pull the lint out, but I pulled the entire filter out and was shocked at all the packed-in lint. There was no doubt my dryer was being overworked, having to push air through extra lint.  It made me ponder, “What kind of spiritual lint or clutter am I accumulating, slowing down the work of the Holy Spirit in my life?” 

I have learned an indicator of spiritual clutter in my life is actual physical clutter. When I look around my office or home, and all I see are piles, I know I have pulled back control from the Holy Spirit. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know where to begin to put order into my spiritual and physical life. I need to stop, take a deep breath, pray, and allow God to reveal what needs to be dealt with, beyond the obvious: like needing to hang up my clothes, put things in the proper file, etc. It is time to ask what spiritual issues need to be addressed, more importantly, to listen. It is not a pleasant process, but it is a freeing process in the end. 

Both giving forgiveness and asking for forgiveness are probably my most vulnerable areas for accumulating spiritual lint. This saddens me, especially since forgiveness is at the center of Christ’s sacrifice for me.  But truth be told, I can be stingy with forgiveness. There is often an internal battle of excusing actions I deem insignificant. It can be a seemingly minor infraction, perhaps a snippy response to my dear husband when I am tired; “No big deal, I tell myself, I am tired.”

But it is a big deal.  Each time I fail to ask for forgiveness, there is a buildup of hardness. It is a type of spiritual plaque clogging the free flow of God’s spirit just as the buildup of bad cholesterol inhibits blood flow. Eventually, I risk not hearing God’s gentle prompting: That was unnecessary, apologize.”  Jesus reminds us in Luke 16:11 (NASB), “The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much.”

Every time I ignore the Lord’s conviction in a minor matter, I risk falling into sin in a significant matter, progressively searing my conscience (Ephesians 4:18-19).  

The beautiful truth is my Father knows my weakness. He has provided His son’s sacrifice and the means for the daily cleaning of my spiritual filters. It is confession: the acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Confession is not for God’s sake but for ours. The Lord knows as we acknowledge our offenses, we keep our relationship with Him and others healthy. 

As we practice confession, we build spiritual muscle memory, which makes confession easier and more automatic.  

I feel freer when I confess my sins. It is an intentional act of giving up my pride. There is a sense of refreshment and renewal. At the same time, I am allowing the fruits of the spirit to grow and thrive. 

I love what Louise Smith, a top level women NASCAR drivers, said: “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.”  It’s time for spring cleaning.  I encourage you to join me by letting go of any accumulated spiritual lint or clutter of old hurts, unforgiveness, disappointments, and pride. Make room for all that God has provided. He has given us the imperishable gifts of love, joy, peace, and forgiveness. 

 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”  James 5:16 Amplified Bible

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

About the author: Dyann Shepard is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, Bible teacher, former staff member of CRU, former Stephen’s Minister and retired CPA. Her passion is writing about God’s transforming power in our daily lives as we open our hearts to Him. Her Bible study Wisdom: Capturing the Power of our Words is scheduled for release in the summer of 2022. 

Join the conversation:  Are you holding on to spiritual clutter?

Mysteries to Miracles

by Christina Rose

You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb, I thank You, God,  for making me so mysteriously complex!  Psalm 139:13-14 TPT

When we learned our first baby was on the way, we were not prepared for how dramatically our lives would change. When pregnancy complications arose, requiring bed rest, I became downright grumpy. I felt guilty for being impatient and thought if only I could see my baby’s face, then I would have more peace in the waiting. Our baby’s identity remained a mystery for nine months; then a miracle happened when our daughter finally arrived. She was exquisitely perfect and beautiful in every way.

If I had had more faith, I would have trusted that not only did God create my baby, but he was able to perfectly knit her together in my womb. God is the father of miracles, and when we can’t see an outcome, or circumstances look impossible, we can remind ourselves of all the miracles God has done in the past and continues to do today. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation”  (Hebrews 11:1-2 ESV)

The Israelites also became grumpy in their journey with Moses out of Egypt. In their forty years in the wilderness, God miraculously provided for their needs while strengthening their faith.  “The Lord went ahead of them.  He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire.  This allowed them to travel by day or by night”  (Exodus 13:21 NLT).

When the Israelites became trapped between the Red Sea and the advancing Egyptians, God supernaturally parted the seas so they could safely cross. When they grumbled about having no meat, the Lord sent millions of quail to rain down upon them; in the mornings he covered the ground with a bread they called manna. When the Lord commanded them to move from place to place, they settled at a camp that had no water and complained again. The Lord heard them and provided water out of a rock!  “ I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on. Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?” (Exodus 17:6-7 NLT).

At times, we may feel tested like those weary Israelites who wondered if the Lord was still with them and if they would ever reach the promised land. They may have wanted to quit many times, like I did when I was sent on a wilderness journey seven years ago.  The testing was so severe,  one day on my prayer mountain I cried out, “God, why are you doing this to me? When will it end?”

He gave me a vision of mountaintops around the world with many people praying, and I heard, “I’m about to shake the world! Many will lose everything and that is where they will find me. I will restore everything greater than before. Share the good news.”  

When we face a mountain so high that it makes us weak in the knees, we must fall on our knees and pray. When God answers us with a vision that seems impossible, and we ask ourselves, “How in the world will this happen?”, we must remember that we are not of this world. “They do not belong to this world any more than I do”(John 17:16 NLT). With God anything is possible. “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26 NLT).

Life is full of mysteries that are a setup for miracles to display God’s glory, such as wondering who will our children be? What will the future hold? Who will be joining us? When we become impatient with an “Are we there yet?”, we can remind ourselves that our father in Heaven goes ahead of us, just as he did the Israelites. The Lord provides for us and strengthens our faith as he leads us to the greatest miracle of all.  

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 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: Has God ever changed what seemed impossible in your life?

Blinded by Distractions

by Candy Arrington

Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. Luke 24: 31 KJV

Have you ever been so distracted by circumstances that you weren’t able to see the obvious?

Cleopas and his traveling companion were headed home on the road to Emmaus after a tragic weekend of loss and grief. As they walked, they discussed the events. Suddenly, a man appeared and joined them on their journey. But Cleopas was distracted. He was so busy discussing current events and focusing on his own disappointment and emotional turmoil that he failed to realize the Lord walked right by his side.

Although Jesus was physically present with him, Cleopas was so upset he didn’t notice. Aren’t we the same? Often, we allow ourselves to be so overcome with emotion and burdened by the weight of perceived problems that we leave Christ out of our struggles.

While Cleopas whined about things not turning out as he expected, Jesus had already provided the ultimate solution to mankind’s problems. However, Cleopas was blind to what Jesus accomplished on the cross. He was disappointed that Jesus hadn’t done what he expected—redeem Israel from Roman oppression. He, like many of Jesus’ followers, was looking for the wrong kind of rescue.

We often miss Jesus at work in our lives because we’re expecting something different. We’re spiritually distracted, thinking up remedies to problems on our own, while missing the obvious God-solution.

Perhaps you feel the oppression of a secret sin, abuse, divorce, job pressure, financial concerns, or perceived expectations. Jesus is ready and available to walk the road beside you and provide solutions even when things seem overwhelming and impossible.

Like Cleopas, when we’re dealing with difficulties, we sometimes separate ourselves from the body of believers. Cleopas and his companion left the fellowship of believers for the seclusion of home. When we’re troubled, it’s best to seek the counsel and wisdom of trusted Christian friends rather than try to figure things out on our own. Our emotions can blind and overwhelm us. Others may be able to provide a clearer picture, while praying with us for wisdom.

When Cleopas and his companion finally recognized Jesus, they were engaged in an everyday event. As they sat at the table, Jesus broke bread and blessed it. Suddenly, distractions fell aside, and their vision cleared. Jesus was right there with them!

Think of your own dinner table and how often laughter, discussion, confrontation, and revelation occur there. Although Jesus was frustrated they hadn’t seen the obvious when on their journey he explained the fulfillment of prophecy, in a comfortable, familiar setting, recognition filtered through their confusion and grief and their spiritual eyes were opened.

Jesus wants to do the same for us. He offers comfort, love, salvation, and hope despite our doubts and distractions. Will you allow Jesus to be your life’s traveling companion and open your spiritual eyes?

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

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books),  When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Wellprovides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: How have distractions kept you from seeing God’s answers?

My Marvelous Mentor

by Louise Tucker Jones

This happened so that God’s mighty works might be displayed in him. John 9:3(CEB)

It was a difficult day. In truth, it was a difficult week. An emotional week that left me feeling exhausted and inadequate. Night came and there was still so much to do. Jay, my son with Down Syndrome and significant heart disease, still needed his bath as well as warm compresses and ointment for an eye infection. And along with his nightly snack of oatmeal, he needed ice on an injured knee and a little compassion. Finally, teeth were brushed, humidifier filled, and oxygen ready for nighttime sleeping.

Jay wiggled into his bed comfortably while I sang “Jesus Loves Me,” then as usual, I sat on the edge of his bed for nighttime prayers. And as is our habit, Jay placed his hand in mine and I started my prayer. “Holy Father,” I prayed, then paused. Not my norm. I paused a little longer then suddenly blurted out, “Lord, we are tired!” Again, not my norm, and it struck Jay so funny that he giggled out loud and patted me on the back and said, “Good Girl, Mom!” We both laughed and hugged then finished our prayer and goodnight kisses.

What a difference that honesty toward the Lord and Jay’s sweet affirmation made to me. It brought me back to what was important and even relieved some of my fatigue. Too often I forget Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28 (NLT) “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” I often overwhelm myself with a mental list of all I should be doing or even should have already done. I sometimes have to sit myself down and say, “You are not called to be perfect!”

Yes, God is perfection, but He does not expect perfection from us. What a relief! We will make mistakes. We will say or do the wrong thing at times. We will need forgiveness—every day! As a mom, a friend, or a Christian, I will never be perfect. But as long as I love and speak Jesus to my family and others in my life, then I am following the Lord’s command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27 NIV).

I’m so thankful for the truths God teaches me through my son. Just like the Lord, Jay offers unconditional love to me. And no, my son is not perfect. He can be stubborn and ornery but is also quick to forgive.

Sometimes when I’m trying to teach Jay lifesaving habits, he ignores me, not understanding the importance of a particular skill. Too many times the fear that he won’t learn that life lesson leads me to frustration instead of patience, or even an angry comment. Jay doesn’t understand the reason for my fear or anger and when I see the hurt I caused him, it breaks my heart. I go to him immediately and ask for forgiveness, telling him Mom was wrong. And just like Jesus, he always forgives with a hug, and while I hold him close and blink back tears, I silently thank the Lord for this marvelous mentor with Down syndrome.

 “Holy Father, thank You for the gifts of love, joy and forgiveness. Thank you, Jesus that you invite us to rest in You. We love you! Amen.”

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

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and award-winning author. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Her poignant life stories have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. Find her at LouiseTJ@cox.net LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Who is your mentor? What have you learned lately?

One Body

by Melissa Heiland

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NIV

We all know this passage about how God created us as parts of one body, designed to work together for His glory. God recently reminded me of this truth in a very concrete way. My friend Sonya and I had been asked to speak at a missions conference in Florida. One of our assignments was to do a workshop together, answering questions about short-term missions projects. However, we both came to the conference with some pronounced physical problems. Sonya had recently fallen and broken her foot, and I was suffering from long-haul COVID which had significantly affected my hearing.

The conference director called us onto the stage and Sonya was escorted by her husband because she needed to lean on him to prevent her from falling. I proceeded to explain that I was experiencing hearing loss and would need for the audience to bear with me as I struggled to hear their questions. Sonya patiently repeated the questions I could not hear, and we rejoiced as we shared about the joys of short-term missions with our fellow believers.

I was thankful that day even though Sonya was struggling to walk, and I was struggling to hear.  Our challenges reminded me so clearly that God never intended for any one of us to do it all. He planned for us to rely on each other, to be strong where our brothers and sisters are weak, and to accept help when we need it.

We easily fall into the trap of trying to handle things on our own. We are slow to ask for help. Yet we function best, when we work together. The body of Christ is beautiful thing.

I am thankful that God created us to work as a team, honoring and respecting the gifts of every believer. When we work together, God is honored. Our Father rejoices when He sees His children lifting each other up, working toward one goal, bringing glory to God.

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 NIV

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

About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the beauty of working side by side with someone with a complimentary gift?

Do You Feel Less Loved?

by Debbie Wilson

“Did you feel less loved, because you had less toys?” I asked my son, who’d just told me the reason he didn’t invite friends over was because “we didn’t have many toys.”

“One of my friends asked why I didn’t have many toys.”

My daughter piped in, “I bet I know who.” My son nodded at the name.

“Yeah, they have lots of toys,” she said.

Growing up, I played with dolls and balls. But climbing trees and creating an imaginary world out of what I could find were my favorite forms of entertainment. And back in olden days, I don’t remember large stores dedicated to toys. So I guess I assumed that was enough for my children too.

Gary Chapman’s book, 5 Love Languages, points out we express and feel love in different ways. Good news for some husbands: your wife may feel more loved by a sincere compliment than a piece of jewelry. On the other hand, we might overlook expressions of love that don’t meet our expectations.

I considered my son’s words. I’d given up involvement in a ministry I enjoyed to home school him when he struggled academically. This decision to step out of my comfort zone cost me hours each day plus an investment in educational programs and personal training. Of course, he couldn’t know what that gift cost me, and doing schoolwork didn’t feel like love to him.

My son’s childlike view pointed out a way we can all stumble. When others have more toys or less loss than we do, we may forget what God has done for us and what His love cost Him.

Let’s review God’s love.

Jesus gave up heaven and temporarily set aside the perks of deity to become human so you can have heaven (Philippians 2:5-8).

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV).

Jesus dreaded the cost of suffering on the cross, in becoming sin on our behalf. If there had been another way to save us, He wouldn’t have gone to the cross.

“He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44 NLT).

“He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’

Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.’

So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again” (Matthew 26:38-39, 42-44 NLT).

Jesus endured the cross because He loved you more than He despised the pain and shame.

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).

Comparing my life with someone else’s may lead me to conclude I’m less loved. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus paid the highest price in the universe for you and me. Jesus loves us more than we can imagine.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NLT

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

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

Debbie and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with the temptations to compare your life with someone else’s?

Why Settle for a Regular Life?

by Shadi Hrichi

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV

I love my handy little label maker. Truth be told, I use it more than necessary.

Not that long ago, a friend asked me if I would print some labels for her. Of course, I was delighted! Apparently, her family enjoyed having a variety of coffee. However, they kept confusing the different coffee containers. My friend liked her home clean and tidy. Ugly masking tape on the containers simply would not do.

So she asked me to make her the following labels:

  • Decaf
  • Half-Caf
  • Regular
  • Espresso

When I met her the next day, this is what I gave her:

  • Lie to Me
  • Half-Truths
  • He is Risen
  • Eternal Life 

She loved them! And no one ever mistook one coffee for another again.

We all have our personal tastes, even when it comes to Christianity. For some, lies are simply more attractive than the truth. Others might pick and choose parts they like and discard ones they find less appetizing. Even among those who receive the Savior, many quickly settle back into a regular life. But for a bold and courageous few, nothing less than exhilarating Eternal Life will do. Right here. Right now.

These are the ones who take Jesus at His Word, “I am the resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:25 ESV)

Why settle for a regular life when Jesus promises so much more? “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 ESV)

Eternal life does not begin when we enter Heaven; Eternal Life begins when Jesus enters us! He says so Himself: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)

Jesus is talking about the here and now. From the beginning to when we enter glory, God takes holy pleasure in blessing His children who humbly walk with Him (Matthew 7:11). God does not call us to a mundane life without purpose or joy. To the contrary, once we belong to Him, our lives suddenly have a greater purpose than anything we could have previously conceived!

In Christ, we are invited to participate in God’s redemptive plan for mankind. Each of us has been uniquely gifted, called, and positioned by God to make a difference in this world. The moment we embrace these truths, He fills us with Himself so that we can be poured out into a dry and weary world.     

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

How about you? Have you settled for a regular life? What would it look like to take hold of Jesus’s promise, “I am the resurrection and the Life”?

Do you need some fresh ideas to help kick-start your Quiet Time”? Get your FREE guide: 7 Simple Ideas to Refresh Your Quiet Times. May the Lord bless you as you seek to grow closer to Him!

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: What has changed for the good in your life since coming to know the Lord?