Don’t Lose Your Wonder

by Dana Peters-Colley

Don’t lose your wonder. Oh, did this hit me like a brick! Stay with me as I drop you off my cliff and take you back up to the heights of something wonderful.

You see, jaw dropping anguish has swarmed some people in my close and distant rotation of life. Their sufferings and terrible choices have brought catastrophic trouble. One had a heart attack, another a devastating car crash. Then, I recently discovered an old friend from high school passed away ten years ago. But the biggest hit: Someone close to me has mental issues and wound up in jail. It’s been horrific. I’ve been praying through it all, and many days Jesus has carried me. Oh, I’m so grateful to know him in all this.

After waking up this morning, I put on some worship music and headed out to my porch. There’s a spot where I sit surrounded by lush green trees and blooming flowers. Then, a song kissed the air and the words sent fragrances from heaven. Plop! My ears perked up, and I stopped. Fantastic instructions in the music: Don’t lose your wonder!

I had been in the trenches. I had been at war. But those words resonated. No matter the bad things going down, don’t lose it. Just don’t. Don’t lose your wonder.

My eyes blinked. I took a deep sigh. I breathed in slowly. The wonder. There is life, and it’s here. The sky. The clouds. The children across the way on swings. Yes, even birds chirped, and a neighborhood cat visited.

Note to self: Do not lose your wonder!

Jesus died so we would live. His words, like sticks of dynamite, blow up what the enemy tries to sling. We don’t have to stay in dark places. We live in the light.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (emphasis mine; NASB). He didn’t say must have. He didn’t say should. We are offered the opportunity to find Him and make Him our residence.

To get the full impact of this, let’s look at one word of that verse of Scripture, the Greek word, perissos. The peri part means all. The word literally describes abundant, but it also means all-around excess.

Hit the road, Jack! I’m in. Spectacular news, don’t you think? All-around excess is the abundant life I might tap into no matter what’s swirling around me.

That’s what I want, what about you?

No matter what tornados hit my doorstep, if I abide in Christ and live from the wisdom of the Word, it will all work out. I can do this assignment and seek God for my part.

Now let’s zero in on wonder so we don’t lose it. I think wonder lives in Christ. Wonder is the awe of it all. The extreme luxurious world God created and poured out for us to experience. It’s that abundance we were created to encounter. Discovery. Mystery. Adventure. All of that resides in wonder—the spark of life. Our senses come alive with God in our midst.

We can rest, open our Bibles, and discover Jesus right inside the Word. We can encounter the supernatural wonder that pours out: the revelation; the understanding; the wisdom. It’s all in Jesus. And it’s wonderful.

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.  Matthew 24:35 NASB  

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

About the author: Dana Peters-Colley is a creative who loves Jesus. She has been tucked away developing a brand of Christian parable books, faith-based fiction, and inspirational books as well as screenplays. Dana holds a B.A. in journalism, studied screenwriting at U.C.L.A., and is a former long-time Disney creative leader and producer. When the Lord got ahold of Dana everything marvelously changed. She is developing a heavenly-inspired brand line that brings stories to build family, inspire discovery, and teach kingdom ways. See danapeterscolley.com to connect to her spiritual blog and gaze at her adventures.

Do you have a friend you want to receive Jesus into their lives? Do you want to receive how much God loves and values you? Do you want to be empowered to do the impossible? Then, you have to know who you are! Treasure will take you into the realization of God’s love for you as you discover you are His treasure.

Join the Conversation: How do you keep a sense of wonder in your heart?

The Unexpected Frustration of Aging

by Debbie Wilson

Those watching me heave a carry-on suitcase into a plane’s overhead bin wouldn’t believe I was the arm-wrestling champion of our 5th grade class. The legs that earned me a blue ribbon for speed, in my 6th grade, city-wide relay competition, and scaled any tree with ease, almost failed me when I took the second step of a stepladder with no hands.

I am painfully aware I’m no longer fast, strong, or young. What happened?

Aging not only brings limitations, it taps fears when our limbs—and mind—lose the speed and strength we’ve learned to depend on. The recent experience of some friends reminded me that the challenges that unnerve us don’t surprise God. He never leaves us.

My friend’s husband slipped during a vacation and injured his back. Instead of getting better, the pain grew worse. After numerous doctors’ visits and tests, he heard the news no one wants to hear. Cancer. Of the bones. And he needed back surgery.

The surgery left this formerly active husband and father with a back brace and a cane. His wife struggled with responsibilities he’d previously carried with ease. Sometimes the loss of the life they’d taken for granted and the frustration over lack of youthful strength boiled over.

One such day, she fumed to herself and her husband as she hurled boxes that contained a lifetime of accumulated junk and memories into the dumpster at the local junk yard. “Why didn’t we prepare for old age before it was so hard?”

In her rant, her keys sailed with her belongings into the huge dumpster. Suddenly my friend’s frustration turned to desperation—and then to God. “Lord, forgive me for complaining. Please have mercy and rescue my keys!”

Halfway down, the keys dangled from protruding trash. She asked two burly men, “Please, would you crawl in and rescue my keys?”

One man fished out a long pole with an attached magnet and snagged the keys. “No problem.”

Has weakness, frustration, or lack of planning dropped you into the middle of a mess? Have your limits or those of someone you love raised fears for the future? We can’t predict or prepare for everything. But we can take refuge in the One who cares enough to rescue even lost keys, for He has promised:

Even to your old age and gray hairs; I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Is. 46:4 NIV).

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your many promises. I choose to trust you to rescue me in my stumbles and carry me when I can’t walk. Amen.

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

About the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie writes and speaks to connect sojourners to the heart of Christ. She and her husband Larry founded Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit ministry offering life and relationship counseling and Bible studies. Despite time in Boston, the Midwest, and Southern California, she still says y’all. Her family, which includes two mischievous standard poodles, calls North Carolina home. Find free resources to refresh your faith and connect with Debbie at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What fears do you have about aging?

Cornbread and Faith

by Crystal Bowman

For more than a decade I was a mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I loved meeting with moms who were facing the challenging role of motherhood. I tried to encourage them with words of advice, affirmation, and some much-needed hugs.

Those young moms arrived sleep deprived and hungry for both food and fellowship. Our gourmet breakfast spread with egg souffles, French toast casseroles, yogurt parfaits, and cranberry muffins was the best way to kick off each meeting. The moms took turns bringing the food; and as a mentor, I would often get a last-minute phone call to please bring a dish since one of the moms (or her child) was sick. I kept a stash of mixes in my pantry just for that reason.

One morning, I received the 911 call that more food was needed for the breakfast table, so I opened my box of cornbread mix and added the milk, oil, and eggs. In a few minutes the cornbread was in the oven and soon the sweet aroma engulfed my kitchen. The moms will love this, I thought as I pulled the Pyrex dish from the oven and headed out the door.

I placed the 9×13 glass dish on the buffet table and set a table knife beside it. If my cornbread could talk, it would have said, “Help yourself.” But here’s the thing—almost nobody did. I went home later with nearly a full dish.

A few months later I received the call once again. My pantry stash was running low, and the only thing I could whip up in a hurry was another dish of cornbread. This time, however, I tried something different. Rather than placing the Pyrex dish on the table with uncut cornbread, I cut the cornbread into squares and neatly arranged them on a silver platter lined with a paper doily. I placed a small card next to the platter that read, “Mama’s Southern Cornbread.”

I went home with an empty platter!

The cornbread was exactly the same, but the presentation made all the difference. And that got me thinking about my life and how I live out my faith.

The Apostle Paul instructed the early Christians to imitate Jesus. Crowds had followed Jesus because they were drawn to Him and the way He treated everyone, even sinners, with love and compassion. He reminded those in Ephesus, You are the children that God dearly loves. So follow his example. Lead a life of love, just as Christ did. He loved us. He gave himself up for us. He was a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIRV).

If non-believers see our lives as dull, unfriendly, or uninviting, why would they want to know more about our faith? But if we follow Jesus’ example of loving others with kindness, gentleness, and authenticity, others may be drawn to us and interested in learning more about our faith in Him.     

Living and loving as Jesus did is not something we can learn to do overnight. To live like Him, we need to know Him more. As we spend time in the Word and pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with power and wisdom, our faith will grow—and it will show in the way we live.

So, the question I ask myself is this: Am I serving my faith in a Pyrex dish that says, “Help yourself,” or is my life of faith an irresistible, sweet aroma served on a silver platter?

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 NIV

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

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

Join the conversation: How has your faith grown in the past year? How has your life reflected that growth?

The Long Goodbye

by Amy L. Harden

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

My mother took 13 years in her long goodbye. The last time my sister and I saw her, we were the “lovely ladies” who came to visit. Mother sat in her chair, staring into the void. Sadly, there was no coming back from this journey home. We were grateful my father didn’t have to experience her vanishing away. Mother’s inability to recognize her loved ones would have broken his heart.

As hard as the long goodbye was for us, it allowed my sister, brother, and me time to come to terms with issues we had with our mother. God, in His amazing grace, gave us time to regain our understanding of the person who was melting away. We needed to rely on His grace and mercy throughout those years. On some days, it was all He gave us.

My mother had become angry and belligerent in her final months, hitting and throwing things. The last time I saw her, I tried to comfort her as she lay in bed, but she angrily hit and hissed at me. Heartbroken and crying, I left the room.

I wondered, Wasn’t this always the way it was with my mother? I never measured up in her eyes, and we had constant battles. Yet, God reminded me of one visit a few years prior when a window in the void had opened.

My visits up north had been few since my mother moved into the memory care unit. The responsibilities of raising five children consumed me; finding time to break away from home for an eight-hour trip proved impossible—besides trying to afford a hotel stay. However, a time opened for me to travel, and my siblings gifted me with a three-day stay at a lovely bed-and-breakfast near my mother.

As my sister and I drove to the hospital, she said Mother hadn’t recognized her in many months and probably wouldn’t know me either. Yet, when we walked into Mother’s room, recognition swept across her face, and she said, “Amy, my sweet Amy. You have come to see me.” She reached out and pulled me toward her as she had never done when I was a child.

That was my window of love and warmth after years of resentment, bitterness, and anger. It was the opportunity God provided for complete forgiveness, mercy, and grace. All the memories and filters that had kept Mother and I from being authentic with one another were demolished. As I rested in her arms, I felt the purity and innocence of the moment.

Standing in the hallway that day, I realized God had gone before me. He told me to remember this moment, not the previous visit that brought anger and resentment. That healing moment gave me a new perspective to share with my brother and sister so they could forgive Mother before she passed.

The reality of the long journey is that you mourn twice—first when dementia steals your loved one’s mind, and again when God claims their body. We should never abandon or fail them. And if we’re attentive to the Lord’s presence, we’ll capture memories, and perhaps healing and restoration for all.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s and Dementia, please go to https://alzfdn.org.

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

About the author: Amy L Harden is an author, wife, mother of five children, and Nanny to four grandchildren. She has written for Guideposts, Focus on the Family, Christian websites, and blogs. Amy is presently working on her first novel. Connect with Amy at her website – AmyLHarden.com, or on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the Conversation. What healing moments has God given you?

Eye Candy for the Soul

by Jackie Hayden

For it was You who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14 HCSB

I take my camera on a lot of my journeys to capture what God has created.

Most photographers look for “eye candy.” What I mean by this is anything we see that is pleasing to our eyes. A flower, a squirrel running up and down a tree, an old road shaded by trees, a red bird that reminds us of a loved one that has passed but is still in our heart, or even the waves on a lake that calm our soul and heart.

To capture a still shot of what God creates is sometimes beyond my comprehension.  

We might forget that we are created in his image and designed to serve and praise our Lord and Savior.  Because he created us, he knows every part of our fears, doubts, and what makes us happy. He knows how committed we will be and what part of his plan we will submit to.  And God knows how much of our life we will let him have.

We are worthy and treasured by him according to Psalm 139:13-14, which says we are created and wonderfully made. These words show what a miracle that we were even formed. Only God could “knit” us together in the most perfect place, the womb, where the journey of our being begins. And these verses suggest that God was proud of his creation.

Even as a camera makes a still picture of what we see, God’s Word is the still picture we can claim, with promises recorded for us to remember, such as John 3:16: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (HCSB).

God gives us eye candy in his creation so that we can appreciate what he has done, seeing that every detail of life has been directly touched by him. Seeing his hand at work around us restores our soul and gives us peace. And God’s Word reminds us that he alone controls this world and our situations, and that he is always near because of his great love for us. We are his eye candy! 

Father God, Thank you for your creation, the formation of a little baby, the beauty of the earth, and the wonderful people in our lives. You overwhelm us with your presence all around. We exalt thee, oh Lord. Amen.

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

About the author: Jackie Hayden is a pastor’s wife who is new to devotional writing and speaking to women. She is a mom, Meme, and loves her Yorkies. God has been teaching her many life lessons over the years. So she chose to say Yes to God and trust Him to equip her for the call.

Join the conversation: What eye candy have you seen lately?

The Waggle Dance, Bowling, and Humanity’s Depravity

by Kathy Howard

I know more about bees than I need to. Our friend Stan, who our grandkids call “Stan the bee man,” is a veterinarian and a beekeeper. Whenever Stan harvests a new batch of honey, he brings taste samples to our small group Bible study. Stan also often shares fascinating bee facts with us. For instance, the worker bees – females that forage and gather pollen and nectar – perform an intricate series of moves called a “waggle dance” to communicate the location of a newly-found food source to other workers.

The bees’ built-in “GPS” is just one example of the order, intricacies, and beauty of creation that necessitates a powerful, intelligent Creator. Although we cannot see God, we can see concrete evidence of His existence. We smell the grass. We feel the sand between our toes and the wind on our face. We hear the relentless pounding of the surf and the sweet notes of the song bird. The evidence for God is overwhelming. Biblical scholars refer to this proof for God’s existence as “general revelation.” God wants mankind to know Him, so He has made Himself known.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  Romans 1:20 ESV

And yet many in our world ignore the proof and inexcusably reject the truth that God exists. According to a 2021 study by Pew Research Center, about 9% of Americans describe themselves as atheist or agnostic. Although that number may seem small, it has more than doubled since 2010. And many more reject God by practice if not by declaration.

How does God respond to this rejection? He doesn’t force anyone to choose Him. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote that God “gives them up” to their choices (Romans 1:24). He removes all divine restraint from their lives, allowing them to fall deeper into sin.

When we bowl with our grandkids, the younger ones use the bumpers. On the ball’s journey down the lane, it ricochets from one side to the other, but it never drops into the gutter. The rest of us bowl without the extra protection of the bumper’s restraint. Likewise, God removes the protection of His guiding influence from those who rebelliously reject Him. As a result, they end up in the spiritual gutter.

This heartbreaking passage describes mankind’s depth of depravity apart from God. The injury incurred from the first fall into sin in the Garden of Eden has festered into an oozing wound. Apart from the gospel there is no cure. Spiritual and eternal death is the sure end.

We face a life and death situation and there’s just one cure. Unrighteous humanity desperately needs God’s righteousness and God graciously provides it through Christ. When we consider the depth of our need, the sheer scope of our sin, God’s offer of salvation seems miraculously inconceivable – that our holy God sent His Son to die for the likes of us. And yet He did.

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 has God made himself known to you through his creation?

What’s a Soul Worth?

by Shadia Hrichi

When I visited the county fair each year as a young adult, my favorite exhibit was always the pen of baby “piggies.” Just thinking back on them makes me smile.

We live in a culture that is nearly obsessed with animals. Pampered pets are everywhere. There are zoos to visit, not to mention animal movies, videos, and TV shows. In my leisure time, one of my top choices for video entertainment is nature documentaries. I’ve watched countless of shows on every kind of creature. I will simply never tire of marveling at God’s astounding creation.

It may not be surprising that some people have cast doubt on Jesus’s compassion when he allowed 2,000 helpless pigs to plunge to their deaths. The story is found in the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark. Jesus had just sailed across the Sea of Galilee into Gentile territory with His disciples when a naked, crazed, demon-possessed man meets Him at the shore. Speaking through the man, the demons “begged Him not to command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31 ESV).

When we consider the power of Satan and his demons, it is almost comical that when we finally get a good glimpse into their behavior, we find hissing, cowering beggars. Picture the scene: after the demons realize that Jesus had not come to execute their final judgment—after all, it was “before the time”(Matthew 8:29 ESV)—and, because Jesus is forcing them to abandon their human host, the demons immediately look around for a new victim, for another opportunity to inflict chaos and torment on God’s beloved creation.

There on the hillside, a huge herd of pigs is leisurely grazing on grass, plants, roots, insects, and anything else it can find. Spying the pigs, the demons squeal with delight as they present Jesus with their request: “Send us away into the herd of pigs” (Matthew 8:31 ESV).  If they could not destroy the man, perhaps they could find a way to entice the entire town to curse God! After all, pigs were a lucrative business for the region’s rampant pagan sacrifices.

Jesus responds with a single word: “Go!” (8:32 ESV). All at once, the demons charge into the pigs, throwing the herd into a panic. Squealing in terror, kicking dirt and grass into the air, the pigs stampede right off the edge of a cliff, plunging to their deaths in the water below.

Pause here for a moment. Imagine that you are the demon-possessed man’s parent, child, or sibling standing nearby. For years, you have witnessed him living among the tombs, howling into the night, and cutting himself with stones. He was so violent that even iron shackles could not hold him. When the demons beg Jesus for permission to enter the pigs, how would you react. What would you say to Jesus?

God takes delight in all His creation (Genesis 1:31). The problem, however, with focusing on the loss of the pigs is that we lose sight of what matters most. If the man were our father or brother or son, we would be the ones begging Jesus to rescue the man, no matter the cost. And when He does, we would be so overcome with joy and gratitude that we wouldn’t even give the pigs a second thought. How could we, when a human soul created in God’s own image was just delivered from unspeakable torment? The reality is that Jesus is exercising the deepest compassion by declaring one lost man more valuable than two thousand pigs.

Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! Matthew 12:12 ESV

This article is adapted from Week Four of LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me, a Bible study by Shadia Hrichi. Copyright © 2019 by Shadia Hrichi. Published by Leafwood Publishers.

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 Me, and 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: In what ways can we treat people as significant and valuable?

Shine As Lights

by Jessica Van Roekel

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16, ESV

The starry sky pierces the night like pin pricks in a lampshade. In the winter months, Orion marches across the dark curtain like a moving picture show. The North star glimmers and gleams as a beacon for travelers.

I stand in awe that God hung each star in its place and gave it its name (Psalm 147:4). The stars remind me that light overcomes darkness, and I remember that I have the same power within me.

But I must confess that I struggle to shine. My personal ambitions for glory and my desire for God’s glory wage a little war inside my heart. Because I struggle with my motives, sometimes it’s easier for me to not shine at all. But then I miss being part of God’s story in the world, so since it’s a story I want a part in, I keep wrestling.

God’s light inside us pierces the darkness of those around us who need it the most. Will we shine like stars?

The apostle Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always…. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things… and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4, 8-9 ESV).

In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul reminds us that apart from God, people live in spiritual darkness. Followers of Christ must shine as lights in the world so that we reflect God’s light and show others the way to him.

Will we complain or rejoice? Will we grumble or lay down our rights?

Our attitudes toward everything we do impacts the way others see or don’t see God. For example, I don’t like cleaning sink drains; the smell makes me wrinkle my nose and curl my lips. But, with three girls in the house, this task needs to be done. I can show Jesus’ light to my family by choosing to do this and other things I don’t like without a grumbling heart.

Stardom comes in servanthood. Not from receiving the most “likes” in our social media pages. Not by being the most popular person in the room or the cool mom. It comes from doing what needs to be done, whether in front of people or behind the scenes, without complaining. We sparkle as we serve God with a willing and happy heart—brightening the world around us.

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

About the author: Jessica is a worship leader, speaker, and writer who writes at www.welcomegrace.com giving hope-filled inspiration addressing internal hurts in the light of God’s transforming grace. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future. Jessica lives in a rural setting with her husband and family. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

Join the conversation: How do you try to shine like the stars?

Praying for Healing

Dr. Mel Tavares

Praying for healing is something people have been doing for centuries. There is evidence throughout the Old Testament that God has the power to heal and is pleased to do so. The New Testament is filled with passages recounting the miraculous healings Jesus did while walking here on this earth.

God is still healing today, sometimes through medicine and sometimes miraculously through prayer. Healings can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual in nature. There is no magical formula of how to pray for healing in a way that yields results, but there are biblical principles that are as true today as they were thousands of years ago.

Healing is a Response to Faith. Jesus asked two blind men if they believed he could heal. (Matthew 9:28) He responded to the woman with the issue of bleeding for 12 years, saying, “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (Mark 5:34 ESV). We should pray, expecting God to deliver a miracle.

Just today, I read a Facebook post from a friend who received miraculous healing in her knees. She had been unable to walk, was preparing for surgery, and in constant pain. One day as she prayed, God answered, and the pain disappeared. She was able to walk without support, and her surgery has been cancelled because she has been miraculously healed.

Why Doesn’t God Heal Everyone Who Prays in Faith? That’s an often asked question. False teachers would say if you believe enough, if your faith is big enough, God will heal you. I’ve witnessed many people face discouragement and lose faith because God has a different plan for their lives. Sometimes, God’s plan is to allow sickness and disease to be used for His glory in ways we do not understand.

My husband’s late wife battled cancer, and many stood with her praying in faith for the Lord to heal her. Yet, God took her home to heaven, and she received her healing there.

The apostle Paul, a giant in the faith, prayed for his own healing from his unidentified “thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV) that plagued him constantly. Yet he acknowledged that our sovereign God had a reason for this.  Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil,” (Job 1:1 NIV), yet he suffered all manner of loss and sickness. Neither of these men lacked faith to believe God could heal them, but they had to surrender their will to God’s.

How Then Shall We Live? The model given to us in James 5:15 is to pray in faith, believing that God has the power to heal and asking him to do so. At the same time, we must recognize that it is not always his plan to bring healing to our natural bodies. Yet God still loves us and has a profound purpose for our lives despite whatever pain and suffering we may go through.

This article 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: Have you prayed in faith for healing? What happened?

All That Glitters…Is Never Going Away

by Rhonda Rhea

Has it happened to you? You get that one greeting card with glitter on it—that one card—and next thing you know, your entire living room is a sparkle-palooza.

 Granted, I’m the kind of person who enjoys a good sparkle. Shiny makes me happy. But when I got one of those sparkly cards the other day, there was a sudden, panicked realization that there was more glitter in my living room than was ever on that card. I tried to brush it off, but it refused to be brushed. I vacuumed it. Then vacuumed some more. Still…glitter.

There’s a fear when dealing with glitter—the fear that you will never escape it. Ever. If it’s on your face? Accept that it’s a part of you now. Learn to live this way. Oh, and pass out sunshades to all your friends. They must learn to live with it too.

You’ll also need those shades as protective eyewear. A friend of mine went to her ophthalmologist when her eye felt persistently scratchy for a week. What’s that gleam in your eye? You guessed it. Greeting card glitter. She had to have a little glitterectomy. I asked her if instead of seeing her eye doctor, she should’ve gone to a cardiologist. Get it? Card-iologist?

Really though, how is it that what starts as one sparkly greeting card seems to produce enough glitter to cover that card and eleventy-dozen others? It’s just about more than I can handle.

Then again, what can I really handle? The popular Christian maxim, “God won’t give us more than we can handle” is one we tend to mail out like the trustiest proverb in the prettiest greeting card. But let’s think that one through. Because really, friends, everything is more than we can handle. In our own strength, we have nothing to shine.

First Corinthians 10:13 is often the backup text for thinking we won’t face more than we can bear. “But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it” (CSB). The passage’s context, however, is not adversity. It’s temptation. It’s not about the Father delivering us from tough challenges. It’s about the Father giving us strength to say no to sin.

There is strength for resisting temptation as we depend on Him. And Paul tells us as well that there is grace for every difficulty. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 CSB).

Embracing His all-sufficient strength and grace when we’re struggling is a way for us to shine. Shining when shining doesn’t seem possible.

Our God is able to take the weakest sparkle and illuminate it with the glory-brilliance of Christ—all across our home, our neighborhood, and our city. Sometimes our world. We’re talking about a shine that never fades. Never goes away. Sparkle-palooza, indeed.

Oh, that we may ever learn to live this way.

Still though, a little side note to new first grade Sunday School teachers: there is glitter in your future. All over your Sunday School future. All over your Sunday School classroom. All over you. And it will never leave. I say, lean into it and shine!

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

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: What are some of the little things that distract you from obedience?