Light

by Debb Hackett

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3 NIV

In the beginning, when the earth was still formless, the first thing God created was light. The very first thing.

When I look at the behavior of heroes of the faith, Abraham always makes me smile because, among his many flaws, whenever he arrived somewhere new, he built an altar and worshipped. That was the very first thing he did.

As a military wife with eight moves in twenty-three years (four of them transatlantic relocations, two of those while quite pregnant, and one during a global pandemic), I have a pattern. We get the keys, give thanks, then set up the kitchen, followed by bedrooms, including pictures.

God’s first move? He creates light. Just two chapters later, right after the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, we see the Lord hint at a new plan to redeem us. A different kind of light is coming. We now know that light is Jesus (John 8:12). Light is clearly a crucial element.

Scripture teaches us that when we give our lives to Christ, He gives us the Holy Spirit to live within us. I love the picture of Pentecost. Before this event, the fire of God’s presence had to be kept apart from us. Moses, for example, couldn’t get near the burning bush (Exodus 3:5). Now the fire rests on Christ’s followers (Acts 2:3). Now, the light of the world dwells within and shines through us.

So, it occurs to me that we need to be careful with this light. Here are some questions to ponder:

What is our light source? Or, put another way, how are we feeding our soul? A steady diet of God’s word, prayer and worship is needed to keep it burning at it’s very brightest.

What gets in the way or filters our light? The Bible warns against hiding light “under a basket” (Luke 11:33 NIV). I’m not much of a photographer, or physicist, for that matter. But from watching my children learn how to take pictures and do well on science tests, I know that filters alter light.

Have circumstances altered your ability to shine that light? Is something stopping you from shining the joy of Christ to those around you? Where are you shining your light?

While fellowship is vitally important to the body of Christ, the darkness is where light is needed the most. We could volunteer locally, joining in a community effort, such as a food pantry—spending time shining the light of Jesus.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Matthew 9:37 NIV

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

About the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives in England with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: Where are you shining your light?

Redirection

by Mel Tavares

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

As writers, many of us have experienced the sting of rejection. I recall laboring over a particular manuscript and submitting it, only to experience disappointment, confusion, and frustration. I tried to understand why my strategically picked editors were not eager to make an offer on my two-year labor of love.

My plans to have the book traditionally published did not work out. As it turned out, the rejection proved to be a blessing. The unpublished, highly researched content became the core of my dissertation work a year later, which was published upon completion. Had the book been published, I would have needed a different research project, resulting in two added years in my doctoral work.

Have you ever experienced a time of redirection in your writing or speaking ministry? Is there a time you can recall God gently closing a door to an endeavor? These times can be painful and also confusing, leaving us with more questions than answers.

We must trust that God has our best in mind, and any door He closes is because He has something else in mind for us.

Sometimes God redirects us away from an opportunity that seems very good and aligns perfectly with our goals. Why would the Lord redirect us instead of moving us toward the goals we have prayerfully set?

You are loved with an everlasting love and your heavenly father wants to give you the very best. What is good may not necessarily God’s best plan for you. Remember, He showers us with exceedingly more than we could ever ask for or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20)!

Our omniscient God sees beyond what we can see. He sometimes redirects us, so that our timing is perfect. This was true of my situation. God called me to write and speak on transformative topics. But in the end, what felt like an extended delay actually catapulted me into an expanded ministry.


If we love God and trust that he is working all things together for our good and according to his purpose, we can also trust he will bring his plans to fruition. What initially seems like rejection should be positively viewed as God’s redirection. As Romans 8:28 says, we know that all things will work together for good. God’s redirection is his means of steering us into his plan and purpose for our lives.

What may seem a closed door should be received as movement into an even greater purpose for you and the words you have written.

Heavenly Father, thank you for calling us to write and speak. Thank you for redirecting us to the plans you have for us. We submit our works into your hands to be directed to reach the audience you’ve called us to serve. Help me to trust that this shift is your redirection and not a rejection. Amen.

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

About the author: Mel Tavares is an accomplished writer and speaker/teacher, both in ministry and in her career. She is passionate about encouraging and teaching writers. Her target market is women who are hurting and in need of Biblical hope. In addition to ghost writing and authoring her own books, Mel is a contributing author to several books, including the recently released DaySpring “Sweet Tea for the Soul: Comfort for Grieving Hearts.”  She writes for several online Christian communities, teaches classes online, conducts Facebook Live series, and is a podcast guest as opportunities arise. She is a wife, mom to seven, and grandma to ten.

Join the conversation: How has God redirected you to something better?

Make a Fist

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

I probably looked crazy talking to myself. 

I drove to Rhode Island from New Hampshire to speak at a ladies’ retreat. I usually practice my teaching while driving, and God gives me deeper insight and great analogies as I do.

The teaching for that weekend was “Shining for Jesus in this Dark World.” I practiced the portion, “How God Sees us after salvation.”

Goose bumps covered my body when God reminded me of these words of Jesus and gave me a visual image in my head: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28 ESV). With my eyes still on the road, I held one hand to the side and made a fist.

Why don’t you try it? Picture your hand as the loving sacrificial hand of Christ. Make a fist. Imagine that, as a believer, you are in His hand.

What do you see?  Only your hand.

When God looks at Christ’s hand, He does not see us; He only sees the scar on His wrist left by the nail piercing. His beloved, innocent Son endured the most intense physical, emotional, and spiritual pain to bridge the gap between separation and salvation. 

As I continued to look at my fist, I bellowed the words that Christ cried from the cross. The words that echoed throughout heaven and now in my heart: “It is finished!” (John 19:30 ESV).

I almost drove off the road with awe and excitement. My mind filled with joy, adoration, and thanksgiving as I considered how He paid for my sin at the cross, and the scar was there to prove it. What a glorious picture. Thank you, Jesus.

I sobbed, knowing I was in the protection of Christ’s hand. It was difficult to drive and cry at the same time since I wanted to throw my hands up in praise and worship to my King. Of course, I did not; it would have caused a pileup on 95 South, and my destination awaited.

I delivered the message and used this amazing word picture, and the ladies cried with me.  We rejoiced in knowing we are in His hand, secure. Nothing can get to us. God only sees the righteousness of Christ, not our sin.

We are held captive by His love, grace and mercy. So, when you feel inadequate, unloved, or guilty, remember, IT IS FINISHED! Freedom is close at hand! Rejoice and make a fist!

In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:7 ESV                   

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

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation. What part of your salvation gives you goosebumps?

               

Praising God in the Dental Chair

by Heather Norman Smith

Please help me, Lord, I prayed. Please make this easy.

My dentist visits are times of fervent prayer. During even the simplest of procedures, I almost always end up crying from anxiety, at least a little, and it seemed the recent visit to fill two cavities would be no different. As the dentist came at me with the needle, I prayed harder in my mind. Please help me get through this. My prayer was desperate, pleading.

Then something life-changing happened. The dentist poked the needle into my gum, and I stopped praying. I quit begging God to help me. Instead, I began to thank God for being so good. I changed my prayers into praises, and the panic lifted—it dissolved and floated toward the heavens with my words of adoration. It was the most painless injection of Novocain ever. So, I kept praising, right through the drilling, and the result was nothing short of miraculous.     

You are magnificent, marvelous, wonderful, worthy. Magnificent, marvelous, wonderful, worthy. Over and over, I offered those words silently. At some point, I remember thanking God for a good dentist who could fix my teeth.

In a gentle voice, the dentist encouraged, “You’re doing good,” as he worked. He always says that because he’s kind and genuinely empathetic about my anxiety. But for the first time, I actually felt like I was doing okay. Not just getting by. Not just managing. I was good. 

A verse rang in my mind. “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1b KJV). Though the praises weren’t actually coming from my mouth—a little hard to do when your teeth are being drilled—they were there in my heart, thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Who knew what I needed to do. God had heard my original request to make the visit easy, and He used my praises to accomplish it.  
  
I’ve visited the dentist a lot over the past year, since I finally decided to prioritize oral health over my fear, and I’ve still got a few visits left to get all the problems corrected. But if I can just remember my “secret weapon,” I don’t think I’ll dread the next appointment quite so much. Now to try praising the Lord in an elevator… 
 
What makes you panic? What causes you distress? Maybe praise is your answer, too. 

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

About the author: Heather Norman Smith is an author of Christian Fiction set in her home state of North Carolina. Her goal is to entertain and encourage while illuminating the redemptive love of God. Learn more about her work at www.heathernormansmith.com and her Amazon author page.

Join the conversation: What brings on anxiety for you? How do you manage it?

No Man Knows His Time

by Shirley Mozena

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10 NIV

A tragedy happened this week. A work-related accident took a man’s life. It was totally unexpected, yet it was not a surprise to God.

I don’t know for sure, for I wasn’t there, but I imagine that morning was most likely was a normal morning. The family rose, all busy with their tasks. The father/husband off to work at his business. His older son, who also worked in the business, walked out the door with him.  Most likely he kissed his wife goodbye, with a reminder of something that needed to be done that day. She kissed him back, busily thinking about her tasks for the day. “Bye, Dad,” the younger kids said, having no idea this would be the last time they would talk to him this side of eternity.

That day, the husband, father, son, entered eternity. He had no idea this would be his last day. Neither did any of his family. But his God, in whom he believed, did know. He knew his days from start to finish: Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16 NIV).

Of course, that wasn’t what this family wanted. No. They wanted more time. More of their husband, their father, their son. I’m sure his parents are lamenting that they were supposed to go first. Not this way.

I’m so glad every one of those family members knows their Maker. I have heard them speak of their faith in Jesus Christ. I know He will give them strength in the next period of their life which will be full of sorrow. Their lives have been changed forever.

For those of us, who stand on the sidelines, feeling great sorrow and pain for the people in their loss, ask ourselves, what can I do? We think, I cant take away their pain, all I can do is pray, I guess. But “all we can do” is the most important thing we can do. Those family members need prayer more than ever. One of the daughters said in a text regarding donation of meals to help the family, “no pressure, though, prayers are the best.” Even in great sorrow, this young woman recognized what was most important.

I can’t speak directly to this family’s needs, but I can tell you what was helpful for me when our family experienced loss. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Do pray each time the family comes to mind. The Holy Spirit is reminding you to do this. They need your prayers.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach these people in their grief. You don’t have to say anything. Job’s friends were most helpful when they sat with him in his sorrow. It’s when they began to speak that they were the opposite of helpful and were chastised by God Himself. Your words aren’t what they need. They need you. A comforting hug. A silent presence. Just sit with them.
  • Don’t wait for them to ask for your helop. Just offer to: vacuum the rugs, wash dishes, clean the toilets, do the laundry, mow the lawn. All sorts of things that seem so difficult for the griever to do during this time.
  • Put the family on your prayer list and pray. 
  • If there are many plants and flowers donated to the family, after the memorial services, offer to take them to people who might enjoy them–a nursing home, retirement center, hospital, the church. It will help them with a task they really can’t do.
  • Offer to go shopping for them. They need coffee. Milk. Eggs. The basics.
  • Sometimes a cash offering for their use is very helpful. I remember one older gentlemen on a fixed income wrote a check to me and emphasized it was “for my use.” No strings attached.
  • Sometimes the food donated is mostly for main meals, but breakfast items are also helpful. I really liked the breakfast casseroles so family members could help themselves when hungry and heat it up. I loved the oatmeal casserole–all ready to go.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. There are many more things you can do later on.

Remember, when people lose a loved one whether it was an unexpected or expected death, they will be recovering for many months and even years to come. Pray for them. Not just now, but for months and years.

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

About the author: Shirley Quiring Mozena is a writer, blogger, and national speaker for Stonecroft. She has written three books, Second Chances, Beyond Second Chances: Heartbreak to Joyand recently published, Second Chance at Love: Navigating the Path to RemarriageHer work has appeared in newspapers and magazines.

Join the conversation: When you were grieving, what was most helpful for you?

Disturbing The Peace

by Sheri Schofield

I intended to sleep in this morning. But nature intervened. A loud cacophony of distressed bird noises penetrated my sleepy brain. I wondered, “Did the wild turkey’s eggs hatch? Is the gobbler fighting with another gobbler? What’s going on?”

I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes. Well, if the turkey eggs hatched, I’m definitely going to want pictures! Abandoning my nice, warm bed, I threw on some clothes and hurried outside to see what the clatter was all about.

There on top of the 40-foot boulder pile next to our house stood two Canada geese, squawking at the top of their lungs. What on earth are they doing here? Their pond is three miles away, as the goose flies!

I walked around the boulders to get a better look. The geese were practicing their landing skills. I guess they were used to landing on water and wanted a bigger challenge. Teenagers! I surmised. I’m used to the antics of young animals. The males prefer adrenalin rushes, so they engage in daring feats. Since the geese have webbed feet, they had no way to grip the rock, unlike the ravens that practice flying from that same boulder. So, every time they coasted in for a landing, the geese honked and squawked until they were securely perched on the rock.

The other birds in the forest were protesting loudly. I even heard the moose, who naps behind those boulders, give a loud snort. “Stop disturbing the peace!” the other animals and birds were shouting, each in its own language. It wasn’t hard to translate.

Churches sometimes react the same way when someone new arrives who has serious needs. Many people attend church for the sole purpose of finding peace in their hearts for the week ahead. When someone in crisis shows up, others can resent this intrusion into their peace. They don’t want to hear it— “Don’t disturb us! We don’t want to believe what you’re saying or help you with your problem!”

But isn’t helping the wounded exactly what the church is supposed to do? God did not call us to be like the wild animals! He did not call us to regard church as a social club. It is a hospital for those in spiritual—and sometimes physical—need.

Once when Jesus was teaching in a house, three men tore the roof off part of it and lowered their paralyzed friend down to Jesus, who healed the man (see Mark 2:1-12). Nothing is said of how the homeowner felt about the hole in his roof. I’m guessing he probably left the hole for a few days to tell of the miracle done there!

When Jesus cast a legion of demons out of a possessed man outside Gadara and sent the demons into a herd of pigs, the pigs ran off a cliff. This frightened the inhabitants of the town so much, they asked Jesus to leave their region (see Mark 5:1-20.).

Would we rather celebrate what God is doing to restore people in our churches? Or would we rather tell Jesus to go away so our lives will not be disturbed?

Isaiah prophesied this about Jesus: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1 NIV).

I want to be part of that!

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV

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

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: What motivates our hesitancy to reach out to those who are different than us?

Hearing from God

by Marilyn Bay

In May of each year, I let my flock out to pasture for the first time. It is always mass confusion, as lambs lose their mothers and then are reunited. If I lived within earshot of a neighbor, animal control would undoubtedly be called because of the loud baahing of the ewes intended to bring the lambs to their sides. Even louder is the high-pitched bleating of the panicked lambs, who until this day have lived in a small pen with mama never more than 100 feet away. Remarkably, when the sun is low in the sky and it is time to call the flock back to the pen for the night, the ewes run back, their lambs flanking them.

Because sheep hear well and are highly sensitive to danger, they can be taught to come in from the pasture when their shepherd calls. My ewes have a very keen ear for my voice, but teaching them is a process that starts when they are lambs. First the lambs learn to come back in with their mothers. When they are weaned and turned out to pasture by themselves, I make sure to put some nice, leafy alfalfa hay in their feeders just before I call them into the pen. They soon learn that good things await when they respond to my voice. Once they are mature ewes, they rarely fail to come running when I call.

After decades of sheep farming, I’ve learned that much like sheep learning to hear my voice, believers must learn to hear the voice of the Great Shepherd. Like my sheep, I am learning that when I heed the call of my Shepherd, good things await me. I’ve also learned that when I respond to His call, the easier it to hear Him the next time.

The other thing about shepherding is that sheep will only respond to their own shepherd’s voice. As Christians, we must learn to hear our Savior’s voice and not confuse it with other voices. These other voices may seem the same, but they are not.

Not long ago, my sister was at my house, and when it was time to do evening chores, I asked her to call in my sheep. She called, just like I instructed her, but they completely ignored her. She had to get our herding dog and circle behind the flock before they made their way to the pen. As they got half way in, I called to them. Their heads shot up, and they high-tailed it to the gate.

There is probably no one whose voice sounds more like mine than my sister’s, yet the sheep could tell the difference. They ignored her voice but recognized mine and obeyed. The more time I spend with the Good Shepherd, the easier it is for me to hear His voice and to ignore counterfeit voices.

John 10: 3-4 and 27 (NKJV) say, To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. . . . . My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

About the author: Marilyn Bay grew up on a sheep farm and has raised lambs commercially for over two decades. She lives in rural Colorado and writes historical fiction and non-fiction, including “All We Like Sheep – Lessons from the Sheepfold,” co-authored with her mother Mildred Nelson Bay. For more truth and hope from the prairie, visit her website: www.MarilynBay.com.

Join the conversation: How have you learned to recognize the Savior’s voice?

A Different Plan

by Shadia Hrichi

There is perhaps no mom more famous than Mary, the mother of Jesus. Though Jesus’s conception was unlike any other, like all moms, Mary most certainly had hopes and dreams for her child. What he would be like; how he would make a difference in the world.

But God’s plans likely were very different that Jesus’ mother.

God also had plans for Mary’s child. A plan that was in place from eternity past. Her child would suffer and die for the sins of the world.

Just as Jesus had a purpose that only He could fulfill, so did Mary … and so do you. In fact, God has a plan for every child He creates, and many times those plans look different than what we expected.

The reality is that even before a child is conceived in her mother’s womb, she is first conceived in the very heart of God.

When the call of God came to the prophet Jeremiah, the first words God spoke to him were a reminder that God was His Creator. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5) What an amazing truth! God knows each of us before we are even conceived. Every heartbeat is a testimony to God’s love.

However, for some, the news of a pregnancy is not always welcome. Rather than experiencing joy and celebration, some may find themselves full of fear and questions.

When I discovered I was pregnant at the age of 15, fear led me to make a tragic choice. For years, I suffered the fallout: more poor choices, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol abuse, and so much more. But then one day God opened my eyes to His great love and forgiveness.

God knows every soul suffering under the weight of tragic choices, yet His grace to forgive is greater still. “. . .though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

In fact, this is why Jesus came. Leaving His heavenly home to enter our world, Jesus didn’t take any shortcuts. He didn’t arrive as a grown man, but was conceived in a virgin’s womb, experiencing all the wonders of life as you and I know it. Roughly thirty years later, He fulfilled the mission planned before the beginning of time: to give His life as a ransom for our sins (Matthew 20:28).

And in doing so, He opened up the way for each of us to become all that God intended us to be! What a gift!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” (1 Peter 1:3 ESV)

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

If you or someone you know has lost a child to abortion, there is hope. My Bible study, Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion, has ministered to countless women (and tugged on the hearts of quite a few men as well). We all know someone who needs hope.

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 were God’s plans different than what you dreamed of for yourself?

Protection in the Storm

by Melissa Heiland

Our son, Josh, was stationed in Minot, North Dakota and so we packed up the younger children, left our home in sunny Florida, and flew north for a visit.

When we landed in North Dakota, we were met with ice and snow and temperatures colder than we had ever experienced. Josh met us at the airport, and we all piled into his truck for a three-hour trip to his home.

The roads were treacherous, but Josh seemed confident as he braved the storm. Suddenly, Josh lost control of the vehicle, and we began to spin on the highway. The truck turned 360 degrees and crashed into a snowbank.

As we were spinning, in what seemed like slow motion, Josh remained calm and my husband quietly repeated, “We’re ok. We’re ok.” When the truck hit the snowbank, we took a collective breath and realized that we were, in fact, ok.

A highway patrolman quickly came to our aid and got us out of the snowbank. We told him where we were headed, and he advised us to get off at the next exit, because the roads were too dangerous to navigate. We heeded his advice, took the next exit and found a hotel to spend the night.

Later that evening, we were watching the news and learned that a 100 car pile-up occurred minutes after we had exited the highway at the very place where we would have been had we not listened to the advice of the officer. We thanked the Lord for His protection.

So often when our plans are thwarted, we become frustrated. We fail to recognize that God is often protecting us from unknown dangers. He is a good Father, always loving, guiding, protecting. I am thankful that He protected my family that fateful winter day, and that He continues to protect us each day.

He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

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 ever discovered that you have been protected from an unknown danger? Please share!

The Weirdness That Binds

by Debora M. Coty

I once overheard an enlightening conversation between two women, one sweetly ripened (read: silver-haired) and the other, a young newlywed.

The venerable woman mentioned that she and her husband were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary. After marinating on that thought for a long moment, the twenty-something gal shook her head and asked, “How do you do that? How do you like somebody for thirty years?”

With a wink and wisdom born of a thousand makeup kisses, the elder replied, “Well, you may not. You may only like him for fifteen years, but you love him for thirty.”

After a gentle laugh, she continued. “You see, the longer you’re married, you and your husband grow weird in the same way – a way nobody else understands. It’s that weirdness that binds you together.”

I’d never heard it described quite that way, but the truth resonated with me. Weird isn’t always bad. Weird can be good. Weird is often why we fall in love over and over again – with the same person. Weird is superglue in a relationship.

Take my husband’s weirdness, for example. (I, of course, have no weirdness of my own to report.) I’m the first to sing Chuck’s praises for all the chores he performs around the house – vacuuming, scrubbing stains out of carpets, making beds, washing dishes … lots and lots of dishes. Some of which land in the dishwasher but most he stacks in the dish drainer.

And this is where the weird comes in.

What is it with men and competition? It’s like a contest with him, a world championship to see how many plates, glasses, pots, and pans he can amass into a monstrous lurching mountain before the whole thing avalanches.

It used to really tick me off, this Mount Everest obsession of his. At first I’d sweetly point out that although he was oh, so very thoughtful to wash the dishes, it would be even more helpful if he put them away. Nope.

So I progressed to unsuccessful nagging. Then resentment and seething. How does he think they’re going to get into the cupboard – the dish fairy? Don’t I have enough to do? Why does he have to play with everything?

My tiny seed of anger sprouted into Jack’s sky-high beanstalk.

Then one day nothing changed, but everything changed. My dear friend Rita lost her husband to cancer at age fifty-seven.

As I stood in my kitchen, weeping with Rita on the phone, my eyes landed on that ridiculous mound of kitchenware in the dish drainer. Somehow this time it didn’t needle me. I knew Rita would give anything to have her husband’s weird, maddening, endearing habits back for just one minute.

Inside me, something hard broke into a hundred little pieces.

And from that moment on, although the looming precipice threatening to bury the kitchen didn’t change, my perspective did. I was able to release my annoyance. Let it go. To my amazement, I can even smile at Mount Saint Chuck now.

The thing I’ve learned is, we can’t let emotional gaps widen to the point that they form unbridgeable chasms, splitting asunder that sacred union we promised to cherish and protect until death do us part. Life’s just too short.  

Sisters, let’s embrace the weirdness.

And treasure this wise biblical advice from Ecclesiastes 9:9 (MSG): “Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift … Make the most of each one!”

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 weirdly wonderful husband Chuck and five precocious grandpals nearby. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com .

Join the conversation: What has given you the perspective you need to fully embrace your spouse and their quirks?