Lessons from the Great Pumpkin

by Mel Tavares

Fall has arrived here in New England. It’s the season of apples, cider, and pumpkin everything. I went to the orchard near my house a couple of days ago and eyed the pumpkin patch. I can’t see a pumpkin patch without immediately thinking of my childhood favorite “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Most people related to Linus, who never loses faith in the Great Pumpkin and encourages others to hold fast to their faith in the Great Pumpkin. The story is a parody of our Christian walk, masterfully told by author and creator Charles Shultz. While I love this aspect of the story, I see something deeper. To me, it is a story of hope and perseverance that never gets old. Why? Because, no matter what happens, Charlie Brown always seems to bounce back.

God has created us to persevere, never lose hope, and bounce back just like Charlie Brown.  

Romans 5: 3-5 (NKJV) “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Isn’t it comforting to know that we do not suffer in vain, but that it produces perseverance that leads to character development, which leads to hope? None of us can live without hope. I will never forget reading Hal Lindsay’s book The Late Great Planet Earth in high school. He said “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only one second without hope.”  Of course, only one second is a great exaggeration but a very poignant illustration of the need for hope. I’ve read many accounts of grueling circumstances people have lived through and when asked how they managed to endure, the common denominator has been “I never lost hope.”

Psalm 27:13 says “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living” (NASB95).

How often this has been true in my own life, as I am sure it has been in yours. It’s true that Charlie Brown says “Good grief” frequently, but if I am honest I do the same when circumstances don’t seem very hopeful. Although both he and I have times of pessimism and temporarily lose heart and hope, there’s always a ‘bounce back’. Charlie Brown was able to bounce back because of the days he lives as an optimist, always hoping for a brighter future.

Let’s turn our attention back to Linus. His faith was unwavering. I admire that. He puts some of us to shame at times. No matter what others say, Linus is unmovable. Better yet, he goes beyond holding fast to his own faith in the Great Pumpkin and proceeds to proclaim the need for others to also believe.

Another thing I love about Linus is he fully embraces the fall season. Have you ever noticed how he completely enjoys munching on a fresh apple, kicking through the falling leaves, and pumpkin picking? To me, these activities are all synonymous with the best parts of fall in New England.

May you embrace this new season, both spiritually and physically, and may you hold fast to your faith and never lose hope.

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 does this holiday speak to you right now?

Get Out of the Boat

by April Newbell

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When one door closes, another door opens. There are many such sayings we often hear. They may be pithy, yet they adequately express familiar truths or experiences.  In the case of the above three, it all comes down to a choice in how to view our circumstances. When terrible things happen, we can choose to trust that God is with us over the uncertainty or difficulty before us.

I recently lost my husband in a sudden accident. It rocked my world; some days it’s hard to make the decisions that are now mine alone to make. Today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s outcome. I end up second guessing every choice.

I believe that everything that has a purpose and that God is working this all for my good—somehow, someway. I have faith in Him who created me and loves me more than anyone.

That kind of faith had Peter climbing out of a perfectly good boat to walk on the water. Matthew 14:29 (ESV): He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

It was the middle of the night and very dark, and those in the boat saw what they believed to be a ghost. Totally understandable, in light of the fact they had left Jesus on the shore without a boat. Then Peter blurted out, “If it is you Lord, command me to come to you.”

 Jesus then told Peter, “Come”.

But just as you and I may well have done, Peter took his eyes off Jesus. He focused on the storm surrounding him and began to sink. Aren’t we just like that? We get so focused on our problems we take our eyes off the Problem-solver. We let our fears and doubts control us, causing us to sink deeper. We try to do things in our own strength, instead of taking it all to God. Or, we stay in the boat that we consider safe, instead of getting out and seeing what God has for us.

Peter had to have quite a bit of faith to leave his companions and get out of the boat. I wonder what Peter was thinking when he stepped out? What would Peter’s life have been like if he chose to let fear keep him in the boat? Would he have spent his life wondering what might have been if he had stepped out in faith?

Faith can make us do “crazy” things that look foolish to those around us. Like climbing out of boats. Building a boat with no rain in sight. Taking a rock to a spear fight. Standing up and speaking out for God against opposition. God loves it when we trust Him enough to risk of rejection or worse.

It’s time to choose obedience to the God we trust over fear. It’s time to get out of the boat.

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

About the author: April Newbell is a retired office manager for a family medicine office and an aspiring writer. She has previously published two devotionals on christiandeovtions.us. She enjoys writing devotions to which everyone can relate and apply to their lives. April and her husband, along with their dog, live in Huntsville, Alabama.

Join the conversation: Have you ever taken a leap of faith? What happened?

Pearls of Marriage Wisdom (Part 1)

by Shirley Mozena

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13 NASB

I was asked to give some Pearls of Wisdom at my granddaughter’s bridal shower a few weeks ago. I ended up sharing some of the things I wished I’d known before I married.  The first concerned the importance and practice of good communication.

I’ve been widowed twice and married three times, but most of what I learned about communication came during my years with my first husband, the father of my children and grandfather to my grandchildren.

For those of you who don’t know my story, I was widowed twice. In my first marriage, Bill and I were married forty years when he died of complications of chronic Leukemia. I married a second time to Blair. We were married only seventeen months when he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Four years later, I met and married Jim, my current husband. God has blessed us with nearly nine years of marriage where we enjoy a large blended family.

It took 22 years for Bill and I to learn to communicate well. After seeing several marriage counselors, one recommended a communication class. We finally took one after years of arguing, fighting, and near-divorce. Communication can save a marriage? Yes—at least it was the ticket for us.

We learned to listen. First, we learned to allow the other person say what the problem was. Then the listener repeats what they heard. If the listener didn’t get it right, the speaker would repeat what they said. The listener would again attempt to repeat it. We were encouraged to keep repeating the two-step process until there was a clear understanding between us. It sounds so simple, yet the effect was profound. It saved our marriage.

Often in conversation, we listen half-heartedly while we are thinking about what we are going to say after the speaker is finished. Restating their perspective back to them breaks us of that habit, because we are focused on meeting the other’s need to be heard. Proverbs 18:13 tells us, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (NASB). Both partners need to know that our perspective is heard and valued by the other.

James 1:19 (NLT) applies communication methods perfectly: “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

After so many years of struggling and arguing, once we learned how to truly listen to each other, we actually enjoyed each other’s company again! I learned to trust Bill with my true feelings, honestly expressing them, as much as he trusted me. Listening is key to keeping a marriage alive.

This 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: How do you keep communication lines open in your relationships?

Two Halves Don’t Always Make a Whole

by Nan Allen

Mike and Cindy met on a blind date. A mutual friend had set them up. The friend had told Mike a little bit about Cindy. He said, “She’s really beautiful, she’s smart, she’s sweet, and I think you’d make a great couple. But,” he added, “she has really big feet and she’s quite sensitive about it. So, whatever you do, don’t stare at her feet.”

Well, of course, that was the first thing Mike tried to see. Just a quick sneak peek. Yet he couldn’t see anything really unusually huge about her feet. But, of course, she had on dress shoes, and they had met in a dark restaurant. He really liked Cindy though. She was everything that his friend had said she was.

So, Mike and Cindy went on a second date. This time it was a casual affair and she was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. Still, Mike didn’t recognize anything odd about her feet. He had trusted his friend’s warnings though, and he tried to avoid an embarrassing encounter.

Well, eventually his friend admitted to Mike that he had told a fib, he had pulled a prank. The half-truth was not well-received at first. It all turned out okay, however. Mike and Cindy got married and the prankster was eventually forgiven.

But how many half-truths does it take to make the whole truth? Zero…or it won’t compute.

There is an ancient story called “The Blind Men and the Elephant” that further illustrates this idea. Here’s a version of it:

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”

They had no idea what an elephant was. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and explore it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant at different places.

“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.

“Oh, no! It is a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.

“Oh, no! It is a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunkof the elephant.

“It is a big hand fan,” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

“It is a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

“It is a solid pipe,” the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. Sound familiar?

The moral of these stories is that the whole truth is not always what we think at first, especially if our perspective is limited or if we listen to the wrong people. We have to be sure and test out what we hear, see, or touch…or otherwise experience.

Christian apologist, Josh McDowell writes, [1]“Belief will not create fact. Truth is independent of belief. No matter how hard I may try, believing something will not make it true.”

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6, NASB).

The whole truth and nothing but the truth. That’s what Jesus offers us.

[1] https://www.josh.org/resources/apologetics/answering-skeptics

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

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books. Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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

Join the conversation: What half-truth has surprised you?

Some Assembly Required

by Shadia Hrichi

“Everything at IKEA requires assembly. I bought a pillow; they gave me a duck.” –Todd Glass

When I became a Christian at the age of 30, I truly had a ‘scales falling off the eyes’ experience. I was driving to church one morning, just days after becoming a believer and nearly drove off the side of the road when I noticed a beautiful flowering tree. Of course, I had seen the tree many times before – but previously, I did not know God as Creator. I was instantly awe-struck in seeing the world through new eyes. What I once viewed as a cosmic accident suddenly came to life. Though it was a day I will never forget, not everything about me was transformed that day. In many ways, I still looked like a duck. Certain things take more time. There was still “some assembly required.”

Many people have the misguided notion that becoming a Christian means that God instantly transforms us. That we instantly embody all of the compassion, self-control, and sacrificial love as our Lord Jesus. Then, when we fail (and we will), the world uses us as an excuse for dismissing Christianity as a hoax. But there is a difference between becoming a citizen of God’s glorious Kingdom and cooperating daily with His Holy Spirit to live it out.

“Therefore, my beloved … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

While the Holy Spirit indwells all believers (1 Corinthians 3:16), God, in His sovereign wisdom, chose for us to remain in our sinful flesh in a sinful world, at least for a short time, to be His agents in a fallen world. And who are we to question His wisdom? I, for one, am thankful for all of the people throughout history who struggled through life, sometimes making poor choices, yet God used them anyway. People like Abraham, Moses, and Esther, to name just a few.

When God chooses to use someone “with some assembly required,” the world takes notice. That is when we are perfectly positioned to introduce them to our Maker. And praise God that, when He looks at us, He sees us as a perfect reflection of His Son, both inside and out (Colossians 1:22, Ephesians 1:4).

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness from glory to glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Do you need a reminder of how precious you are in God’s sight? Check out Shadia’s Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me.

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 changes has God brought about in you that better reflect His glory?

Nobody Can Hit the Target All the Time

by Kathy Howard

Our family enjoys playing Cornhole. This old game, which has enjoyed renewed popularity in recent years, involves tossing bean bags at one of two large boards, each with a hole in the middle. Players get a single point for keeping a bag on the board and three points for getting a bag through the hole. In my experience, the game is much harder than it looks. I rarely win. When my bean bag falls short, I over compensate and fly over the board on the next toss.

But, just a few weeks ago, I experienced my best game to date. My husband and I played against our son and daughter-in-law. Two of my first four tosses shot straight through the hole and the other two landed on the board. I kept that momentum throughout the game and carried us to a strong, decisive victory. But I’m not naïve. Although I did very well in that game, I know I’ll probably slip right back into Cornhole mediocrity next time. I’ll miss the mark more than I’ll hit it.

The Bible says that every person who has ever lived has missed the mark spiritually. The Greek noun translated “sin” in Romans 3 (verses 9, 20) literally means “a missing of the mark” (The Complete Word Study New Testament). Similarly, Chata, the primary Hebrew word for sin in the Old Testament means “being off target” or “coming up short of the goal” (The Complete Word Study Old Testament).

Theologian Wayne Grudem defines and describes sin like this:

Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature… Sin is directly opposite to all that is good in the character of God, and just as God necessarily and eternally delights in himself and in all that he is, so God necessarily and eternally hates sin. It is, in essence, the contradiction of the excellence of his moral character.[i]

Sin is a universal condition. None is righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Not one person is exempt from its effects or its death sentence. We are trapped by sin, held captive by its power. We cannot break free. We cannot work hard enough to free ourselves. We cannot do enough good works to earn right standing with God. We are all helpless sinners who desperately need to be rescued.

Our condition sounds dire because it is. We stand before the divine Judge as condemned sinners. Without God’s intervention our situation is hopeless. But, thank God, there is good news! What we cannot do for ourselves, God has provided for us through His Son.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), pg 490, 492.

This post was adapted from Kathy’s upcoming devotional book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.”

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 12 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 one accidental dog. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Have you lost the wonder of your salvation? Maybe you’ve forgotten the abundant riches of God’s grace. The Gospel isn’t just a statement of faith. It is more than hope for eternity. The Gospel of Jesus is the power of God for your life today. Recapture the awe of your life in Christ with this 40-day pilgrimage through the book of Romans. Like the rest of the Deep Rooted devotional series, the Romans volume uses the 4-R Bible study framework to help you learn how to interact with and respond to Scripture, not simply read it. These meaty, daily devotions will increase your hunger for God’s Word, encourage spiritual growth and stability, and lay the groundwork for a life-long, spiritually-healthy habit.

Join the conversation: How did God’s gift of salvation change your life?

Baby Steps to Greater Steps

by Nancy Kay Grace

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8a NKJV

Have you observed a child in prayer?

My early memories of prayer are from bedtime, when Mom reminded me to say my prayers. I figured the connection to God must be important. I tightly closed my eyes and prayed, believing that if I lay still, I would actually feel the hand of God on my head as an assurance. Although I never felt a physical touch, I believed God was near me.

A child can pray with a sincere heart. The simplicity of my childlike prayers taught me baby steps to trusting God, and those baby steps in prayer taught me the promise of God’s presence. As my faith has deepened, I’ve needed to go beyond baby steps in prayer to greater steps in developing a closer relationship with the Lord.

Developing a meaningful prayer life is the result of personal, spiritual communion with God. We have freedom in His presence to pour out our heart’s joys and burdens in the inner sanctuary of our soul. While the Bible does not give us a specific checklist for drawing near to God, prayer is important for having a dynamic relationship with the Creator. God desires for us to seek Him and come near to Him.

The promise in James 4:8 includes the phrase “draw near,” which means to bring near, to approach, or join one thing to another. God has broken down the barrier of sin by providing a way for us to access Him through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We have the privilege of approaching God; and He promises to come near to us.

Drawing near to God has many forms. We start by asking God to cleanse our heart of any hindrance, or sin, that takes us away from Him. Reading the Bible, worshiping, and praying help strengthen our relationship with the Lord. Walking in nature or listening to praise music can join our heart to God. Our daily challenge is in turning down the volume of the noisy world and turning up our focus on God.

God reveals Himself in and through the circumstances of our lives as we connect to Him in a deeper, consistent way by maturing in our prayer life. Colossians 4:2 (NIV) says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Devote means to be steadfastly attentive to, to persevere and not faint.”

Prayer is a learned behavior that will strengthen our faith muscle throughout our lifetime. No one ever becomes an expert in prayer—every day we continue to cultivate our communication and relationship with God. From baby steps to greater steps, we participate in the lifelong journey and beauty of drawing near to God.

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: How have you grown in your prayer life?

Breakthrough Listening

by Terri Gillespie

Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger—  James 1:19 TLV

Apparently, not much has changed since those two souls were kicked out of the Garden. We’re even now still slow to listen. At least I do. How about you?

With more venues to “listen” and “speak” than ever before, have you noticed the dark funky cloud of anger hanging over the world lately? Have we contributed to that cloud? Have our fuses shortened to the point we blow up at the least offense?

Are those offensive folks responsible for our anger? Or could we be responsible for others’ anger?

As followers of our Savior, we’re going to offend some folks. No getting away from that. However, do we have to leave the offense there to fester? What if we at least attempted to listen—even if we vehemently disagree, and feel completely justified in opposing their beliefs, words, or actions?

The problem with vehemently opposing someone is that we end up mimicking the inappropriate actions of those who come against us.

“Loved ones, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:11 TLV

When someone cuts me off while driving, my default response is anger. I might even honk my horn. Sad to say, when someone cuts us off while hubby is driving, I have been known to reach over and try to honk out of offense for my husband! Instead, all I did was amp up the anger in our vehicle.

Guess what, self-righteous indignation is not a Biblical principle. What Scripture does say is:

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness is like a filthy garment, and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away, like the wind. Isaiah 64:5[6] TLV

So, now that our self-justified—and most likely wrong—behavior is defined, how do we listen? Truly listen when we know we’re right and someone else is wrong?

Breakthrough Listening. Well, that’s what I call it. It’s taking my offense out of the mix and trying to find common ground to truly communicate—not react. It’s the opposite of finding a quick biting retort.

Keys to Breakthrough Listening can be:

  • Listen to be able to process what the other person is saying — or attempting to say.
  • Pray to hear what common ground to build on, without compromising our faith and integrity. (BTW, that’s also listening.)
  • Pray for wisdom. (Also listening.)
  • Ask the person questions for clarification.
  • Then speak.

When words abound, transgression is unavoidable. but whoever restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19 TLV

When we finally do speak, try to avoid “building a clock,” rather than just telling the time. In other words, address the simplest theme of common ground, before ever approaching the disagreement. Don’t overcomplicate with so many words that muddy the real issues.

Then repeat the process: listen to their response, be slow to speak, stay calm.

… for human anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God. (Proverbs 10:20 TLV)

If an impasse persists and the other party only gets angrier, we must depart in shalom—in peace—as best we can. Someone who doesn’t offer us the same respect we show them, most likely won’t listen — at least not yet. Walking away is not a compromise to our faith. And it’s not our job to defend God. Because the last time I checked, He can take care of Himself. I’m sure glad about that.

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

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 book, Really Bad Hair Day won the 2022 Golden Scroll for Contemporary Novel of the Year.

Really Bad Hair Day (Book 3 of The Hair Mavens series) The Mavens bring their sense of style of really good hair out into the community and to the homeless. But as much as the ladies want to help others, they discover they need help, too or they may lose a maven. And, yes, the final book answers whether or not Shira and Jesse get married.

Join the conversation. How do you show someone you are truly listening?

Cracker Jack Box Faith

by Karynthia Glasper-Phillips

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalm 34:8 KJV

In early Spring, my two granddaughters and I stopped at a local store on our way out of town to buy snacks before getting on the interstate. While they were browsing, my eyes caught a display of Cracker Jacks. Memories came rushing back of when I was a young girl eating from a box of Cracker Jacks, anticipating the hidden prize. 

While examining and eating each piece of the molasses-flavored, caramelized, popcorn peanut mix, my fingers would finally locate the packaged prize. I took it out, put the box down, ripped open the prize and screamed with amazement at its contents—a red plastic ring, to me the best prize in the box back then. It was always worth the wait to find that treasure!

While I mused about my childhood prize searches, the girls noticed I had not moved from the same spot in a while. They asked, “What are you doing? “I told them I was wondering which box had the best prize. They looked at each other as to say, really.  Ignoring them, I purchased several boxes, and we left the store.

On that beautiful Spring day, driving to Alabama, I thought about how the journey of faith reminded me of treasure hunting in a box of Cracker Jacks. That search requires childlike faith to trust the manufacturer inserted the desired prize. Much like how we learn to trust in the Sovereignty of God in all our life situations.

As we wait for an answer to prayer, we find ourselves filled with the mixed emotions of doubt and expectancy. Although we trust God to answer prayer, our humanity often overrides faith as we search the Scriptures in hopes of receiving the promise. While we wait, we can observe the goodness of God at work, which helps us continue to trust Him for a hidden answerto manifest itself.

Hold fast to your faith. There are times we can struggle during a crisis. It seems as if the promise of delivery is buried, hidden in the chaos of life. Continue searching the Scriptures, praying, and waiting. The benefit of waiting is that it disciplines us to depend on God to strengthen us. The wait is worth it.

When David was on the run, waiting on God’s delivery, he determined to trust in what God had promised him. One day he would be lifted above his enemies, free to worship in the tabernacle once again. “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear. Though war arise against me, in spite of this, I shall be confident,” he wrote in Psalm 27.

David based his confidence on God’s faithfulness to do what He promised: “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27: 34, 13-14 NASB). If we allow the Scriptures to encourage us to run to God with thanksgiving in anticipation of blessings, the wait becomes easier . . . and filled with peace.

We can sample God’s word little by little and find that He is good. As a child enjoying my Cracker Jacks, I had confidence in the imminent discovery of the promised prize. What joy I had! Our anticipation of God’s goodness can be just as exciting.

What joy you will have as you continue to search, wait, and trust God.  When the blessing is revealed, you will experience a joyous refreshing of praise, sometimes as a softwhisper and sometimes as a loud “Lord, thank you.”

So continue sampling bite-size portions of His Word and waiting on the appearance of your blessing.

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

About the author: Karynthia Glasper-Phillips is an ordained minister and a licensed medical practitioner in primary care for over  2 decades. She has been in ministry for more than 30 years. Her concern for the continuity of care to prevent and restore health for the spirit, mind, and body is revealed in her workshops as conference faculty, women’s conference speaker, coaching, and guest blogs. She desires to see revival in reading Bible becoming affectionate toward the father.

Karynthia has authored three books and is a contributing writer for Our Daily Bread. She resides in Nashville with her husband Timothy Phillips.

Join the conversation: What Scripture have you read lately about the goodness of God?

Weathering Change with Our Unchangeable God

by Linda L. Kruschke

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Change is inevitable in life. Our status can change from single to married to widowed; our kids change from babies to toddlers to teens to adults; we change jobs, houses, cars, and pets. Some changes are good and some are not. Different people react differently to changes in their lives. Some people embrace every change, ready for each new day. Others cling to what was with all their might.

One of my strengths is adaptability. When changes happen in my life, I’m usually pretty quick to accept them. I can often see changes coming, and the anticipation helps me to accept what’s new and let go of what was.

In December 2020, our only son moved out of our house. He had lived with us all through college because his art school was only a bus ride away. For 25 years he slept in the same room, and I talked to him almost every day. Not touching base with him as often has been a big change for me, although it has been a good change for everyone in our family. It was time for him to make his own way in the world. But this doesn’t mean it’s been easy.

I am thankful that no matter whatever else changes, there is one constant—God.  He says, “I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6a NIV). The author of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).

One of the constants with God is His faithfulness. “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” Hebrews 13:5 NLT. God’s grace and mercy through Jesus Christ are unchanging. No one can snatch us from the hand of our Savior (John 10:28). No one can snatch my son from His hand either, no matter how many days pass between phone calls or visits.

God’s promises help me not to worry. When my son was laid off from his job three months after moving out, I prayed God would help him weather that change. As I waited to hear if he got the new job he applied for, I remembered God is in control. Jesus will never abandon me or my son.

Yes, changes in life are inevitable, but we choose our reaction to the changes we can’t control, and we must each decide how we will respond. Will we worry and stress about change? Or will we trust our unchanging God? He has provided the lifeline and constant that will truly see us through.

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

About the author: Linda L. Kruschke writes candid memoir and fearless poetry. She aspires to show women that God’s redemption and healing are just a story away. She blogs at AnotherFearlessYear.net and AnchoredVoices.com, and has been published in Fathom Magazine, The Christian Journal, Bible Advocate, Now What?, iBelieve.com, WeToo.org blog, The Mighty, Calla Press, Divine Purpose blog, Agape Review, Arise Daily, and several anthologies. She is the editor for Swallow’s Nest, the poetry journal of Oregon Christian Writers.

Join the conversation: What has changed in your life lately? How have you handled it?