The Trouble with Trouble

by Terri Gillespie

When my troubling thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations comfort my soul. Psalm 94:19 TLV

Okay, I admit it. I’m a closet Trekkie. Now, I don’t have Vulcan ears or anything. Yet. Growing up with the original Star Trek was delicious, it fed my vivid imagination.

One of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek show was, The Trouble with Tribbles. If you’re one of a handful of souls in this world who have not watched the 1960s’ series, here’s a brief recap.

To protect a space station with a vital grain shipment, Capt. Kirk must deal with Federation bureaucrats, Klingons [they’re bad guys], and a peddler who sells furry, purring, hungry little creatures as pets.

The fuzzy pets are called Tribbles and seem to have a calming effect on the crew—but the creatures hate the Klingons. Tribbles physiology is such that once they eat, they reproduce. It doesn’t take long before the ship is overrun with these furballs.

Just in case you haven’t watched the show and might want to—it’s free on YouTube—I won’t spoil the end. Most likely, the writer of this fun episode and I live in our heads. It’s helpful as an author but can be detrimental to my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Do you know what I mean?

Today’s verse defines me a little too accurately. If left unchecked, my troubling thoughts will multiply like the Tribbles. Sometimes, I will talk out a concern and discover it isn’t as bad as I first thought. Other times, I’ll try to ignore it only to have it resurface unexpectedly and cause me to stumble.

The most effective way to keep my troubling thoughts from growing and mutating inside my mind and imagination is to simply seek His counsel. His comfort.

I say it’s simple, but it’s anything but easy. Why? Probably because we think we can or should be able to figure out everything. Our trouble may seem small and manageable. We might even think, this isn’t our problem, someone else should deal with it.

The more we “feed” the problem with our own solutions, or pass the blame to others, the more problems we will create, until one day, what could have been resolved simply has now overrun our thoughts and emotions. The more emotions, the more offense builds.

A few weeks ago, troubles had multiplied in my mind. My peace was gone, thereby shortening the fuse to my anger, which caused blowups nearly every day. Finally, I came across Psalm 94:19 and realized, “I’m feeding these troubles and they’re reproducing like Tribbles.” Which made me laugh. The first time in days. I was overdue to seek my Heavenly Father.

Did that resolve everything? Nah. But it did trim back the excess troubles that weren’t real. Without all my emotions, I could hear the LORD better and work through the problem.

So, should we go to our Heavenly Father for every little thing? Maybe. Little troubles can multiply quickly without His wisdom and discernment.

Besides, with our Father, coming to Him is no Tribble at all.

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, and His Son Jesus.

Terri’s newly released book, Sweet Rivalry, is the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart? The third and final book in the Hair Mavens series, Really Bad Hair Day, is a whirlwind of changes for the mavens—marriage, love, danger, loss, and redemption. The Hair Mavens series is a modern-day Ruth and Naomi story set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: With what little things are you struggling today?

New Every Morning

by Sheri Schofield

Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools. Joshua 8:31 NLT

“Tim! Drew said his first sentence today!” I exclaimed, as I welcomed my husband home from work.

“What did he say?”

“He said, ‘I wub you, Mommy!’” For a first sentence, that was delightful.

Have you noticed how enthusiastic new Christians can be? God must enjoy them immensely. They are so full of excitement and eager to obey him. It warms my heart and fills me with joy to see this new life taking shape in them, too! Just as I treasured every step my children too, every new word they learned, every hug and every smile, so I enjoy those first steps new believers take.

I have some friends who came to Jesus as a young married couple. They read the New Testament like they were on their first safari, noticing every new thing, delighting in each of the Lord’s commands. They came across the story of John baptizing Jesus. At first, John didn’t want to do it because he felt Jesus should be baptizing him instead. But Jesus told him, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires,” (Matthew 3:15 NLT).

“Oh! We need to be baptized!” my friends concluded. They didn’t know how baptisms were done by churches. All they knew was that John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. So, they filled their bathtub with water and baptized each other.

Spiritually, they sprouted like seeds in the springtime, flourishing and obeying all they read in the Bible. They read that they were supposed to become part of a group of believers, so they joined our church. What a joy it was to get to know them! They were unshaped by the church culture, willing to let God teach them, eager to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading; willing to be conformed to the life Jesus presented in the Bible.

They were like the stones of the memorial Israel built after crossing the Jordan River—unshaped by the tools of man. Their hearts were sculpted by the Holy Spirit. They were new creations. Paul wrote, “He (Jesus) died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view…This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17 NLT).

Our new lives in Jesus must be built on one thing: God’s love. We love God. We love each other. We reach out in love to those who do not know God. Yes, God told the Israelites what His love looks like in Exodus 20. There God spelled out how to show our love for him and for each other.

But the Israelites didn’t get it. They became judgmental of each other’s behavior instead of loving. Knowing this, Jesus made it clear. He simplified the instructions. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-36 NLT).

Do not let the world—the hands of others—shape us. Like fresh, new believers, let us allow the Holy Spirit to shape us. Let our love for Him be new every morning.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22,23 NLT

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

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Her first book on salvation, The Prince and the Plan, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, God? Where Are You?, tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: Are there things in you that have resulted from the world’s influence? Attitudes or actions, that are not from the Holy Spirit? How can you tell?

God, Grace, and Gratitude

by Nancy Kay Grace

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NIV

A small, wooden plaque on my office shelf contains three words: God, Grace, and Gratitude.

When I saw it in the store, the simplicity of the message spoke to my heart. The three words remind me of the blessings God has freely given and guides my response to them. Let’s look at the interesting connection between those three words.

God. The “God of all grace” is one of the names given to God in scripture (1 Peter 5:10). God is the author of grace, freely given though we are undeserving. God’s greatest gift is the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. The blessings in daily life like family, sustenance, or even the next breath we take are also gifts given out of grace. I praise God for this amazing salvation and the daily outpouring of his grace gifts.

Grace. The word for grace in Greek is charis, meaning goodwill or favor. This is also the root word for charity, which is generosity and helpfulness shown especially toward the needy.

Charity is a free gift. We are in need of God’s free gift. Every day, I need connection with the Lord. God, the author of grace, generously gives us his favor as a free gift, not from anything you or I do.

Gratitude. It is interesting to note that the Greek word for gratitude is also charis. Our response to receiving grace from the Giver of grace is gratitude. The difference is that one charis (grace) flows from the Giver and the other charis (gratitude) is the response of the receiver. Grace flows from God to us; his blessings flow to us. We receive them with gratitude, the counterpart to grace.

God, grace, and gratitude are related words that spill into our lives. No matter what season in life you are experiencing, whether it’s a time of great blessing when things are going right or a time of distress when life overwhelms you, the God of all grace is present.

Thanksgiving is more than a season. When we begin and end every day with thankfulness, we gain a better perspective. Simple ways to live with overflowing thankfulness are to make a gratitude list and refer to it often, to thank others for their impact on you, and to thank God for the small and large grace-gifts in your life. Cultivating a heart of gratitude lifts our eyes to the expansive gift of God’s grace.

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 does gratitude help your perspective?

Please Pass the Peace

by Christina Rose

It’s much better to live simply, surrounded in holy awe and worship of God, than to have great wealth with a home full of trouble. It’s much better to have a meal of vegetables surrounded with love and grace than a steak where there is hate. Proverbs 15:16-17 TPT

As the holidays drew near, Dad paced nervously, puffing on his pipe and jiggling the coins in his pocket. He was a quiet and pensive man, yet I noticed his feeling pressured as he stared out the window. Autumn leaves swirled in the wind as dark clouds filled the sky—setting the perfect stage for the storm that was about to hit with Oma’s arrival.

Mom’s mother was coming to help with the holiday meal. Oma was a tall, commanding captain of the nurses at Walter Reed military hospital, and she had a critical nature. She came from a frugal family of German immigrants who settled near the Amish in rural Pennsylvania. They worked the fields, raised livestock and saved every penny. Their diet of sauerkraut, pickled pigs’ feet, pickled beets and eggs (and all things pickled) didn’t help to sweeten their serious, hardworking demeanors.

Since Dad came from a family that loved to laugh and didn’t take things too seriously, Oma had a hard time understanding Mom’s choice of Dad for her husband. And Oma aired that opinion far too frequently.

After Oma arrived, the kitchen was on lockdown for several days while she and Mom created the perfect holiday meal. Dad took us hiking and we tossed the football around, then we enjoyed pizza and ice cream with a movie in the den. All of this was much more fun than being scolded for wandering into the kitchen and disrupting the cooks. “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife” (Proverbs 17:12 NIV).

Dad grew up on the beautiful coast of New England, and whenever we visited his childhood home, Grammie Dot greeted us with warmth and hugs. We gathered in the front room where aunts, uncles and cousins would laugh and jest for hours. When everyone got hungry, we ordered lobster rolls, fried clams, shrimp and French fries; then we tossed the paper plates in the trash so that no one was stuck in the kitchen washing dishes. These memories are full of joy.

The contrast of those memories reminds me of something I learned after my car broke down recently. I felt overwhelmed by car replacement choices and prayed to God for the right one. When a little white Ford Focus landed in my driveway, I realized it was more than a car; it was a word from God. Each day, when I see “FOCUS” on the back of my car, it’s a reminder to focus on what matters most.  

While Oma focused on creating the perfect holiday meal, Grammie Dot focused on enjoying her family. Prioritizing God’s plan for us gives us the peace, knowing He directs our steps, meets our needs with abundance, and holds our future safely in His hands. When we learn to live this way, we can relax and enjoy our lives instead of worrying about details that rob us of the joy that comes from loving God and one another.

Jesus imparted that wisdom to Martha when her sister chose to sit at his feet to listen and learn, deeming it more important than helping prepare the holiday feast. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her”(Luke 10:41-42 NKJV).

While I know that both my grandmothers wanted to create special memories, the focus on family over the feast was far more enjoyable. A holiday masterpiece feast is a treasured gift, but the love, laughter and joy we share with one another is paramount to celebrating the life that Christ died to give us.   

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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Thanksgiving Boulevard

by Fran Caffey Sandin

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

When devastation touches our lives, responding with a thankful heart becomes a challenge. Everyone has a story. Mine began when our seventeen-month-old, Jeffrey, became ill on a Sunday and died on Thursday. Bacterial meningitis. Everything medically possible had been applied. Many prayers for Jeffrey’s earthly healing remained unanswered, but I know I will see Jeffrey in Heaven.

Years later, we said goodbye to our forty-three-year-old son, Steve, a godly physical therapist who spent his life serving and helping others. He passed away after a fourteen-year struggle with cystic fibrosis and kidney failure. My heart still aches, but I cannot live in constant grief knowing Steve will greet me in Heaven.

So, the question becomes: How can we be thankful when grieving such great losses?

I once heard singer Joann Shelton say, “Praise moves me from Complaint Avenue to Thanksgiving Boulevard.” I found the four-lane divided parkway beneficial.

  1. Thankfulnesssoothes our distresses as we recall joyful memories from the past. It is comforting to recall the times we enjoyed with our loved ones and thank God for those blessings.
  2. Thankfulness—helps to allay anxiety. God is in control, and we do not have to live in fear. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
  3. Thankfulnessheightens our hope. Remembering God’s past faithfulness and mercy causes us to look to the future with hope. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV).
  4. Thankfulnessstrengthens us for endurance. After the crisis and adjustment time has passed, we look toward what the Lord has for us to do, and we become the person He wants us to be. We press on and will remain on earth until our work is done. No one else can complete the unique assignment He has given to us.

When I think of the apostle, Paul, who endured shipwrecks, beatings, hunger, sleepless nights, imprisonment, and weary days, I marvel that he wrote I Thessalonians 5:18. He did not mean that we thank God for bad things that happen. But we can say, “Dear Lord, even in this heartache, I believe You are working things out for my good and for Your glory.”

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

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

About the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She has authored See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. This devotional is an excerpt from her new book, HOPE on the Way, DEVOTIONS to Go, published by Roaring Lambs Ministries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For more information visit Fran’s website: www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: On what “street” are you living?

Discovering Gratitude

by Candy Arrington

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God. Psalm 9:1-2 MSG

Have you experienced a time when you really wanted something, prayed constantly, did everything humanly possible, and still things didn’t turn out as you’d hoped? It’s difficult to express gratitude when dreams go unfulfilled, and prayers seem unanswered.

Hannah’s story in the Old Testament is one of wanting, suffering, trusting, and answered prayer. In Hannah’s time, a woman’s self-worth depended largely on her ability to have children. Hannah’s husband loved her and was concerned about her, but no matter how understanding and loving her husband, Hannah still felt like a failure, because she was childless.

While you may not be able to connect with Hannah’s situation, we’ve all experienced times of disappointment, frustration, and defeat. When we focus on what we don’t have, gratitude is far from our thoughts.

Following Hannah’s example, we can discover and cultivate gratitude by:

Worshiping Wholly

Despite her sorrow, Hannah understood worship. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit prays for us in our weakness with groans too deep for words (Romans 8: 26). That’s the kind of intense worship and prayer Hannah expressed, even in her disappointment.

Often when we go through a time of emotional upset or difficulty, we fail to worship. Even if we attend church, we’re not totally there mentally or spiritually. Our minds drift to imagined scenarios of what we wish would happen. In times of difficulty, worshiping God totally requires intentionality.

Eliminate Envy

Hannah potentially had a major source of envy in her life – her husband’s other wife, which sounds a little like the title for a daytime drama! Peninnah possessed what Hannah wanted most – children. Peninnah seized every opportunity to make Hannah feel worse by taunting her.

Steer clear of the envy trap. Envy robs us of joy and leaves us with an attitude that can sour our whole outlook on life. Although it’s hard to do, praise God for how he’s blessed you, and stop looking at others and envying their situation. You can be sure there are difficulties in their lives of which you simply aren’t aware.

Recognize Blessings

Often, we choose to focus on hard circumstances rather than blessings. To redirect your thoughts, consider starting a gratitude journal. As your blessings list grows, notice how your thoughts track toward positive aspects of life.

Once Hannah shifted her focus to praise and thanksgiving, Peninnah’s jeers faded. Ultimately, Hannah’s prayers were answered, but even before she had that assurance, she praised God. Our lives transform when we learn to recognize and give thanks for blessings.

Live in the Present

Like Hannah, we sometimes get so involved in the wished-for future we forget to enjoy life today. Hannah modeled some practical steps we can adopt when we’re discouraged and not feeling grateful.

First, Hannah prayed. She honestly poured out her fears, frustrations, and hurts to God. Second, she told Eli, a trusted church leader, her situation. Eli listened, prayed for Hannah, and encouraged her. Sometimes, we need encouragement and help from someone else to get an objective view of our situation. Third, Hannah stopped feeling sorry for herself and trusted God. She left her unfulfilled dreams at the altar, dried her tears, ate a meal, and went home with a smile on her face.

We can do the same. By making an effort to discover gratitude, we gain a new perspective that provides joy today and hope for the future.

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

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

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

Join the conversation: Have you allowed gratitude to influence your attitude towards unanswered prayer?

The Cushions of Life

by Carolyn Newell

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11 NKJV

As we walked down the sidewalk, Iva, my guide dog, swerved to avoid something. “Great job, Iva!”

We continued our walk, but my curiosity began working overtime. What was on the sidewalk that Iva avoided? I considered going back, but that might tell Iva we need to rework a mistake.

The next day, I slowed our pace as we neared the same area. When Iva swerved around the obstacle again, I stopped. “Great job, Iva! What a good girl!” Plenty of praise told her she didn’t mess up. I could see a white square on the sidewalk behind my left shoulder. I knelt down and carefully touched it with my index finger. Styrofoam. It looked like the type of styrofoam that cushions electronics in a box. Mystery solved.

Whether we purchase a computer or a toaster, we don’t want it banged up before it gets home. If we order something from Amazon, we find bags of air to keep items from moving around. Styrofoam packaging and air pockets cushion our stuff to keep it safe. But we have other types of cushions in life, and I’m not referring to the throw pillows on your sofa.

If possible, we like having a nest egg, some money saved up for an emergency. Sometimes, we like a little extra in our checking accounts to protect us from an overdraft. Also, over the past couple of years, stocking up on household items like toilet paper and groceries has given us some cushion. Having extra things on hand has become the new norm for many.

But what happens when the cushion is removed? What if we use that last roll of toilet paper, and the shelves at Walmart stand bare? What happens when one emergency wipes out our entire nest egg? What if the stock market drops and our 401K takes a major hit? We panic! Our hearts pound as we grab our heads. “What are we going to do now?”

Friend, we have one cushion that will never flatten or let us down. Jesus Christ! Nest eggs and stockpiles have limits. Jesus knows no bounds. He will provide our every need because He is our Creator. Would He bring us into existence without the means to sustain us?

Did our calamity catch God off-guard? No. In fact, He saw it coming because He has already been in our tomorrows. He knows no limits in time. Our perfect Father provides for all His children. As sovereign Lord over every aspect of our lives, He will never leave us emptyhanded.

Lord, we thank You and praise You that the righteous will never have to beg bread (Psalm 37:25). You are our provider, Jehovah Jireh, and we trust You. Amen.

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

About the author: Carolyn Dale Newell is a speaker and the author of five books, including her series, Guide Dog Tales, where she includes devotionals just like this one. Carolyn knows what it is to live with blindness, but she calls her disability a gift from God. She shares her stories of vulnerability and conquered fears in a vast buffet of topics suitable for retreats or conferences. She is accompanied by her beautiful guide dog, Iva, a black lab who is adored by all. Carolyn resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband, Tim. She loves reading, pizza, and discovering new independence with Iva. You can connect with Carolyn on her website, https://amountainoffaith.com/.

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/carolyndalenewell/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC126VS7qlK8MFwJgdyiqCQQ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/carolyndnewell/en

Join the conversation: On what “cushions” do you depend?

Facing and Chasing the Lurker

by Shirley Brosius

Fear lurks in the shadows of my life. As a child, I was afraid of the dark. Fortunately, I shared a bedroom with an older sister. Unfortunately, she liked a radio program called “Inner Sanctum.” When I heard the ominous tones introducing horror stories, I huddled under the covers—and listened.

At bedtime, my father sometimes read ghost stories to us. My four older siblings loved hearing about chains rattling on staircases. But those sounds echoed in my head, and I refused to go upstairs alone.

So how do I prevent The Lurker from grabbing me by the throat like the ghost story villains of my childhood? Scripture helps me focus on The Lord and paralyzes The Lurker: “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear. . .  He will be as a sanctuary” (Isaiah 8:13-14a NKJV).

God is in Control

Moses sent 12 men to scout out Canaan, the land which God had promised to the Israelites after leading them from bondage in Egypt. They found a country with clusters of grapes so huge it took two men to carry them. But Joshua and Caleb were the only men who encouraged the Israelites to forge ahead and conquer the land.

The ten other men were afraid of the giants inhabiting the land. They didn’t trust God to do what He had promised (Numbers 13). And their disobedience started them on a 40-year journey through the wilderness. Except for Joshua and Caleb, only the Israelite children got to enter the Promised Land.

Joshua and Caleb trusted God to live up to His Word, and I am learning to do the same when faced with giants of fear. So, when I’m up in the middle of the night because of physical distress and I fear becoming hospitalized, I turn on a television station that offers scripture and songs throughout the night. I’ve memorized the hymn “Be Still My Soul,” and when worried, I sing it to myself.

I read the book of Philippians. These verses remind me to settle down, talk to God about my worries, and wait for His answers. While that answer may include hospitalization, I know that God controls even this experience.

God is with Me

After Moses’ death, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Since he had scouted the land, he knew they faced giants. But God guaranteed Joshua success: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NKJV).

God is our powerful ally. God’s presence inhabited the ark of the covenant, so the Israelites knew God was with them. We don’t have that ark, and when we face giants of fear, we often want someone with skin on. So God may touch us through Christian spouses and friends, through caregivers and pastors.

God is for Me

The Lurker is an unwelcome intruder. But God is stronger than our fears. We know He is in control even of world affairs. We know He walks with us. And we know He is for us. Knowing this doesn’t change our circumstances, but it does change us. We learn to rely on God rather than cower under the covers as I once did.

In Romans, Paul reminds me God is on my side (8:31). God loves me so much He sent His Son to die for my sin (John 3:16). Nothing. . . nothing. . . “shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39 NKJV).

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

About the author: Shirley Brosius is a writer from Millersburg, PA. She loves to read, write, watch the flowers grow, and keep up with five young adult grandchildren. She is the author of Sisterhood of Faith and coauthor of Turning Guilt Trips into Joy RidesWebsite: shirleybrosius.com and friendsoftheheart.us.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with fear?

Finding a Balance That’s Just Right

by Julie Lavender

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)

Goldilocks had the right idea: neither extreme worked for her—she chose the one that was just right.

The same is true of potential social and civic commitments. Too many commitments cause us anxiety and stress and result in poor performance in one or more areas of our lives. Often, it affects our families. We might wish we could be a superwoman and do it all, but we can’t.

I found that out the hard way, when I agreed to serve on the bereavement committee at church. I love to bake and cook, and I thought that ministry would be a great fit for me. Trouble was, I was already serving in the children’s choir ministry, the youth ministry, and the college ministry. With four children, I wanted to give back to those who were ministering to my own kids. Other commitments involved attending two Bible studies, helping my mom with my ailing dad when needed, homeschooling three of the four kids, and writing freelance.

One night after yet another fast-food meal, one of my children asked, “Mommy, when can we have one of those yummy casseroles you’re always taking to the church?”

That one stung just a bit. I had neglected my family for a good cause, but the kids felt like they were my second choice.  

When we say yes to too many “good” or “great” causes, something will suffer—our health or our family’s well-being, a relationship with a friend, or maybe even our position at work. Saying yes too often can lead to anger and resentment, causing unnecessary stress or forcing us to put our family in second place.

Before giving an automatic yes to a request, we women need to learn to first say, “Let me pray about that decision.” Sometimes saying yes is the easy way to keep peace or get the job done.

But at times, saying yes means robbing someone else of the blessing of taking on that role or responsibility.

We need to pray diligently, read God’s Word, and seek counsel from mentors, if necessary, before making a decision that might over-commit us. And to abide in his will, we just might have to learn to say no more often.

The passage from Hebrews above reminds me to stay in God’s Word and seek His will in my life through consistent prayer. That helps me stay grounded and points me towards a balance that is best for His purposes and my life. And in that season of balance, I know that God will equip me for everything good in Him. 

Be like Goldilocks (aside from the breaking and entering, of course) and find a balance that is “just right” for you.

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

About the author: Julie Lavender is the author of 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell) and Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime (Z Kids/Penguin Random House). She’s had seasons of balance, and seasons of chaos, but she’s happiest when she allows the God of peace to reign in her life, equipping her with everything GOOD for doing his will. The above story is an excerpt from Be Still and Take a Bubblebath, a devotional she co-wrote with Michelle Sauter Cox. Connect with her at https://julielavenderwrites.com/.

Join the conversation: Are you struggling with over-commitment?

Love Your Neighbor

by Sheri Schofield

Don’t you just hate it when the neighbor’s animals mess up your lawn? Me too. It wouldn’t be so bad if my neighbors had something sensible like a toy poodle or even a beagle. But no—my neighbors have… drum roll… COWS.

The neighbors drove their herd up the mountain about a month ago, much too late in the season to entice the cows to stay there. On the first cold night, the herd trotted back down to our place and began camping out here. Our lawn is now a disaster.

I guess some of the other neighbors are complaining to the owners, because two men from that family came up to our place today and drove the cattle off our lawn. They said, “We’re sorry about the cows, but we can’t do anything about them for another ten days.”

The words “I’m sorry, but—” are meaningless. I would have liked to hear, “I’m sorry. We’ll bring our shovels back and scrape the manure piles off your lawn.” But that won’t happen. So, I have two choices: I can either accept the problem and let it go—clean my own lawn when the cattle are gone—or I can remain upset. I chose to let it go.

On the positive side, I’m learning a lot about driving cattle.

Remember what happened after David killed Goliath? He was chosen to carry King Saul’s armor into battle. That could get dangerous, but it was a respected position. Most evenings, David would play his harp for Saul, so the king could fall asleep at night. Cushy job? Yes. But then Saul became jealous of David and started throwing his javelin at him at totally unpredictable times.

David quit. No job was worth that! He fled into the wilderness to the springs of En-Gedi next to the Dead Sea. Saul hunted for him, but no matter how intense the hunt, he never found David, though he came close at times. Once, when Saul went into a cave to relieve himself, it turned out to be the same cave in which David and his men were hiding. David’s friends urged him to kill Saul.

But David would not. He said, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD,” (1 Samuel 24:6, NIV).

Peter wrote, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9 NIV).

I don’t need to make my neighbors feel bad about their cows. Who is that going to help? If they can’t get the family together to herd the cows for another ten days, that’s just the way it is. I don’t need them to feel bad about it. But God wants my neighbors to know I care about them. So, taking this attitude of acceptance a step further, I think I will bake some chocolate chip cookies for them. Who knows what God might do through a batch of cookies?

Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like the first…’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV).

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

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

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Her first book on salvation, The Prince and the Plan, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, God? Where Are You?, tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: How do you love your neighbor?