IDEA

by Susie Crosby

noun: something imagined or pictured in the mind; a plan for action 

“We can only keep going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea…” 2 Timothy 1:8-9 MSG

God has so many wonderful ideas. Billions and billions of them–each one unique and intricate and miraculous.

Life was his idea.

Every living thing comes from him.  He imagined stars, oceans, continents, gardens, fish, birds, insects, and mammals. He created babies to grow inside of their mothers and be born. He made music, poetry, friendship, laughter, campfires, and homemade pie.

And he designed the flowers.

As I write this, life is beginning on some shelves in our basement. In some old clay pots, tiny shoots of green are poking up through dark, moist soil. Within weeks, delicate buds will appear and burst open into brilliant purple blossoms.

How does he do this?

What happens inside these dry, dirty, odd-looking bulbs that causes them to grow up and out of the soil, radiating beauty and fragrance? And how did he make my brain to appreciate the scents and sights and comforts of brilliant hyacinths blooming in the warm sun?

New life was also his idea.

It was His idea that we could be born again. His idea that all the wrong we’ve done, the hurtful things we’ve thought and said, and the selfish choices we have made could be redeemed.

His idea that we could start over with him.

When do we ever get to do that? Start over completely? As human beings, we try to forgive and even forget, but things from the past lodge firmly in our hearts and minds. We hold things against each other and against ourselves–judging unfairly and restricting freedom.

But God takes our dry, dirty, odd-looking souls and plants us in his nourishing, grace-filled soil. Somewhere in the deepest, darkest places, he does his creation miracle, part two.

He makes us brand new.

The hyacinths that spark the hope and joy of the coming spring were created by God for a beautiful purpose. And so were we. God’s idea for us is to embrace this new life filled with glorious calling and promise. We are not limited by what we have or have not done, by what we think we can or cannot do. He will be faithful to prepare and purify us for his holy work–and to accomplish the wonderful ideas he has for us. We can trust him to nurture us with righteousness and love as we begin to bloom and bring joy.

Thank God for every one of his ideas. Thank him for creating life and especially for creating new life. Ask him to show you how free and forgiven you are, and to grow you into your holy purpose day by day.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: What is spring revealing to you about God this year?

Are You a Negative Nellie?

by Amber Weigand-Buckley

The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NASB

During the months of COVID quarantine, I’ve found myself fighting one long-lasting virus more deadly than any other—the virus of negativity. And it doesn’t matter how much I pray or how many Scriptures I read, sometimes it only takes one scroll through social media or one disgruntle phone call. Or a not so lovely email, for the symptoms to come creeping back in.

The thing about negativity is that not only does it affect you, but it also creates an environment that infects you.

There are times when my British husband has told me: “Stop being a Negative Nellie,” and I don’t realize I’m being negative at all. But you see, the symptoms of negativity are more surprising than you might think.

  • Do you find yourself zapped of energy when you read someone’s Facebook post? Then do you spend time fuming about it, even if you don’t write a reply?
  • When a particular person’s name is mentioned, does your mind instantly transfer to all the bad qualities about that said person? Or do you dread when one specific name pops up on your cell phone because you “just know” they are going to “drain you” of your good mood?
  • Do things that you don’t like about yourself, or “stupid mistakes” keep you feeling like you will never achieve (you fill in the blank).
  • And this is a big one for me— Do you find yourself calling yourself “a failure” or other demeaning names when things go wrong, or your home is not at peace.

Negativity is an outflow of tired, frustrated, prolonged discouragement. It is as infectious as any virus. In fact, I think that the enemy of our soul likes to use it more than any other weapon against us. Why?

It’s a spirit-killer.

Negativity destroys the spirit of hope, joy, and peace that the Father works to grow in us, so we might be a testimony to His faithfulness in all things and through all things.

Hebrews 12:1 describes it like this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every UNNECESSARY WEIGHT and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith” (AMP).

Negativity may not be sinful, but it definitely is “unnecessary weight” that keeps us from testifying the truth of God’s faithfulness. So, refuse to carry it.

You can turn the channel on negativity with mindfulness to what we let into our thoughts and hearts. When the negative dialogue starts playing in our head, we can catch ourselves. Speaking God’s truth into those moments will break negativity’s hold on us!

Guide negative conversations with friends into the truth of God’s good things. You might consider breaking through negative conversations with moments of laughter or funny or encouraging words—it’s indeed good medicine. 

Also, know there is nothing wrong with guarding your heart against social media or feeds that stir up negative emotions in you. Also, consider Philippians 4:8 when you are posting, too. 

In order for you to arise to everything God has called you to be, I pray that God would daily strip away everything that the enemy would like to use to hold you back, by the ultimate authority and power of the name of Jesus Christ.

amberweigand-buckley - Issuu

About the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley is editor and art director for multi award-winning Leading Hearts magazine, the official voice of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Get the latest issue for FREE by texting LEADINGHEARTS to 64600 and check out leadinghearts.com.

Join the conversation: How do you fight negativity in yourself?

When You Don’t Know When . . .

by Afton Rorvik

Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called place Marah (which meant “bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses, “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.  Exodus 15:22-23 NLT

First they had too much water, and then they didn’t have enough.

The people of Israel had just watched God part the mighty waters of the Red Sea so they could walk through them to safety from their Egyptian pursuers. Then they had witnessed God calling the waters of the sea to regather and crash down around the Egyptians, obliterating them.

They danced and celebrated and praised the Lord.

Then three days later, they got thirsty and started whining. Did they forget that God had just parted the Red Sea for them? Did they forget that God had just rescued them from many years of Egyptian oppression? Did they get so focused on their own immediate needs that they forgot to remember God’s past provisions?

Yes, yes, and yes.

And oh, I understand. After a year of so many uncertainties, I just want some certainty. I want to know when this Covid virus will release its grip on us. I want to know when schools will reopen. I want to know when I can once again have neighbors gather around my dining room table. I want answers. I want to know when.

Like the people of Israel, I can all too easily complain about what I need and want today and not remember to thank God for the many times He showed up for me in the past in His perfectly orchestrated timing.

I forget the way He helped me find a job just weeks after my previous job ended. I forget the way He helped orchestrate the arrival of a book contract the month the pandemic began, providing me a distracting project while quarantined at home.

Lord, help me to remember!

As I read about the people of Israel, I notice how God graciously continued to remind them of His care:

Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. After breaking camp at Rephidim, they set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.

Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:1-4 NLT).

Oh, Lord, remind me that You see and you care, that You carry me on eagles’ wings too. Help me to trust Your timing. Forgive me for whining while I wait. Help me to live grateful.

About the author: Afton Rorvik writes about living connected, something that matters deeply to her even as an introvert. In her book Storm Sisters, she talks about the power of friendship in hard times. Afton and her husband John have two adult children and love to walk and hike in Colorado. You can connect with Afton on her website, or on Facebook.

Join the conversation: What do you remember about God’s gracious care for you?

Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayer?

by Cindi McMenamin

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 CSB

Are you wondering why God isn’t answering a particular prayer of yours? Maybe He seems silent and you’re wondering why you should pray at all – especially if God doesn’t appear to be doing anything about it.

Oh, how we hate the silence of God. And yet, God does some of His best work in the quiet.

It’s easy to get the idea that because we pray, God is obligated to answer. Yes, God is good. Yes, He is loving. But He also promises to work all things for our good, when we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Sometimes our waiting – and unanswered prayer — ends up making us more dependent upon God, like His Son, Jesus. And when we become more like Jesus, God is working our situation for our eternal good (Romans 8:29).

 God is also eternal, meaning His idea of time is different than yours and mine. God may choose to wait a whopping 10-20 years to give you something you’re asking for. For you and me, that seems like an eternity. To God, it is just a moment in time. And yet, His timing for your life and mind is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Sometimes, God’s work is in the eternal realm where we can’t see it. Proverbs gives us good advice when we can’t see what God is doing: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 CSB). Trust that what He does in the silence is in the scope of the billions of consequences and details that He is ever aware of and that you may never be able to see this side of heaven.

Sometimes God’s refusal to answer your prayer is His way of keeping you close by…still asking, still waiting, still relying on Him. Show God that He can trust you to be faithful even in the silence. Even in the uncertainty. Even in the dark.

Psalm 84:11 tells us, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord grants favor and honor;
he does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity” (CSB). That promise of God assures us that if we are living with integrity and God doesn’t appear to be granting our request, it either isn’t good for us or it isn’t time. Trust Him with the silence. 

When God Sees Your Tears: He Knows You, He Hears You, He Sees You by [Cindi McMenamin]

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and the author of 17 books. For more on drawing closer to God during disappointment, see her books, When God Sees Your Tears, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs. You can find out more about Cindi’s speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and resources to help you grow in your walk with God, your marriage, and your parenting at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced an answer to prayer after a long wait? Were you able to see God’s goodness in His timing?

He’s Got This

by Nan Corbitt Allen

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Just a few days ago, for almost a week, we were SNOWED in. As I write this, the temperature outside is a balmy 70.

I recently saw a funny meme about our unpredictable weather here in Tennessee. It said our region actually has 12 seasons. They are, or so it says:

  1. Winter
  2. Fool’s Spring
  3. Second Winter
  4. Spring of Deception (where we are now)
  5. Third Winter
  6. The Pollening
  7. Actual Spring
  8. Summer
  9. Hell’s Front Porch
  10. False Fall
  11. Second Summer
  12. Actual Fall

This is supposed to be a lighthearted jab at our present condition, of course, but it speaks more to me than that. It’s a message on the unpredictability of things, such as weather and seasons, life and death, day and night—events that only God can control.

There is a lot of discussion these days about climate change and how we, as humans, have caused it. I don’t believe that we have been good stewards as we were instructed. Of course, we need to take care of the planet. In the beginning of Genesis, God declares that humans were put in a perfect environment, and charged with the task of maintaining it—of caring for it. Being aware of our responsibility to our Creator and His handiwork, I believe, is important. But I also believe that in taking this responsibility more seriously of late, we’ve forgotten Who made it and Who sustains it. And we somehow start to believe that we are the only ones who can fix it.

Several verses in Psalm 104 portray Creator and His creation in a beautiful poetic way. This speaks to the title “He’s Got This.”

“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains…He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down…All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things” (Psalm 104:5-6, 19, 27-28 NIV).

Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, grew up in a strict Calvinist family. However, he became a confirmed deist in adulthood. A deist believes that God created the universe, but that He left it to its own devices. In other words, He spoke us into being, spun us into orbit, and let us go. There’s no need to pray since God isn’t listening.

Scripture doesn’t support this idea.

Paul explained the work of the Trinity in Colossians: all parts of that entity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit are actually One—Him. He writes: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17 NIV).

In this time of uncertainty and perhaps feelings of impending doom—the virus, the weather, the unsavory events in politics—remember that God, Who made it all, is still in control of it all.

Daniel, of lion’s den fame, wrote this about the providential care of God:

“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness,
 and the light dwells with him” (Daniel 2: 21-22 NIV).

Good to know. Important to remember.

For the record, in 1787, at the opening of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin called on those gathered to open each session with prayer. Perhaps Franklin, who didn’t believe in prayer, was exercising some diplomacy. Or maybe he began to believe in the existence of God’s providential care by recognizing His creative and sustaining hand on a brand new nation.

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.

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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.

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: How does the thought of God being active and in control of all things help you this morning?

Time to Soak Up the Son-Shine

by Debbie Wilson

Riding home one Saturday night, I caught myself grumbling. My husband and I had picked up Thai takeout for dinner. While we waited for our food, I felt like an alien. Everyone wore facemasks and avoided eye contact. What happened to the friendly South? We rounded the bend and the bright moon interrupted my grumbling. “Look how bright that small sliver of moon is!”

The moon’s brightness stood in beautiful contrast to a day that had been gray, windy, and even briefly snowy. Seeing it helped me understand an admonition from Scripture I needed to ponder, especially with what is going on in our country now.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:8-16 NIV).

God wants His children to live as children of light. He warns us to be very careful in how we walk, because the days are evil. Evil and darkness are synonymous in Scripture. As the lines between good and evil blur, we need the light of true goodness to guide our steps.

How do we shine light in darkness? The same way the moon does.

When Astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the moon they didn’t discover a glowing orb. Photos of the moon look like pocked concrete. Yet, who hasn’t felt the enchantment of a full moon? Even that small sliver of bright moon made me smile.

Craters and dark areas mar the moon’s surface. It’s beauty and light don’t come from the moon itself. The moon is beautiful only when it reflects the sun.

Whether we deal with the darkness of an inner attitude, bad habit, or what is going on in our nation and the world, we find our way through darkness, not by staring into it, but by following the Son.

Focusing on a bad habit won’t make it go away. In, fact, it’ll probably make it worse. Fretting over the evil and deception around us won’t heal our nation. But focusing on Jesus—the way, the truth, and the life—illuminates our paths and shines on those around us.

Have you felt overwhelmed by the darkness? I have. We become light when, like the moon, we allow a purer light to illuminate us. Here are some tips to help you soak up the Son.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate any area where the world has shaped your thinking instead of the Word.
  • Write it down.
  • Write out 1 John 1:9 over your list. Then tear up the sheet and throw it away.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His light and help you live wisely (Ephesians. 5:17-21).

The darker the night the more we must keep our eyes glued on Jesus, the true light. Then we will shine as light, walk wisely, and help others find their way.

Everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:13 NIV


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

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

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

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

Join the conversation: Has darkness felt overwhelming to you this early spring?

For Every Dry Place

by Rhonda Rhea

My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. Psalm 63:3 CSB

Is there anything better than a really good hand cream on a dry day? I love me some high-quality lotion. I can almost hear my hands: glub, glub, glub.

My husband though? His hands could be sparking from the friction. They could be a mere half a degree from kindling and he would still snub my hand cream. I say snub, but spurn would be more like it. Maybe “repulsed repugnance” is closer. Is that redundant? If so, I still think it fits because he doubly-triply-quadruply despises all things even nearly linimentish.

Richie doesn’t even want me to drive his car after I’ve lotioned up. According to him, it makes his steering wheel “gooey.” I’ve seen him drive his car after hand-creamed-me has had a turn, and he’ll drive using only a forefinger and a thumb from each hand. Or my favorite is when he pulls his sweater sleeves over his hands.

Granted, I might have to admit somewhere in here that when I say I love me some lotion, I mean it. Sometimes I may go a tad overboard. I consider myself sufficiently creamed when my fingers are so slippery I can barely keep them from sliding off that steering wheel. Never ask me to hold your favorite coffee mug. Because I may have recently been swimming in my vat of lotion, and there’s no way to have enough mug-holding traction. Bye-bye fave mug. Give me an ocean of lotion. That’ll be perfect, thanks.

More perfect than any lotion could ever satisfy, though, I love how our God satisfies every dry heart—all the way to the innermost parts of our souls. “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:1-5 CSB).

When we seek the God who quenches, and we desire Him more than anything else—whether life feels dry or downright gooey—we find ourselves swimming in the deepest satisfaction. Contented. Fulfilled. Satiated! As we get a glimpse of His strength, His glory, His faithful love—we leave behind the crackly-dried for every kind of satisfied. I think it’s impossible not to slip into praise and worship as He so beautifully quenches.

It’s good for us to remember that in any difficult place, God’s faithful love can lead us to a sweet, gratifying closeness with Him. “The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry” (Isaiah 58:11 CSB). Never running dry, ever-lotioned—in a beautiful way. No matter the circumstances. It’s a glorious heart-watering. David had the perfect response in Psalm 63. “So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands” (vs. 4). Praise!

By the way, if we’re ever in the same crowd of praising hands, mine will be the ones that are especially moisturized.

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

rhonda rhea

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.

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: Are you living a satisfied life?

Following Directions

by Janet Holm McHenry

I had a fun unit I did with my students when I was teaching them to write technical language. First, I created relevance for the unit by bringing in appliance and auto instruction manuals. Then I stood in front of the class with peanut butter, jelly, bread, a bread board, a knife, and a plate.

“Tell me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” 

An eager student would raise his hand. “First, put the peanut butter on the bread.” So I’d pick up the jar of peanut butter and set it on top of the loaf of bread. I was following his directions exactly, right? 

The student—and the class—quickly got the importance of being specific with directions and giving and following them exactly.

Moses started out that way. When God told him to strike the rock at Rephidim to produce water, he did just that. And water flowed out (Exodus 17:1-7). But perhaps his hearing wasn’t so good after forty years of wandering in the desert. The people were still rebellious, and he was an old man, weary of leading. “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me,” he said (Numbers 11:14 NIV).

Later, when the people again complained about lack of water, Moses and Aaron went to the Tent of Meeting, fell facedown, and found God’s glory again to guide them. “‘Take the staff,’ the Lord God said, ‘and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. SPEAK [emphasis added] to that rock before their eyes, and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink’” (Numbers 20:8 NIV). 

For whatever reason, Moses raised his arm and STRUCK the rock twice, instead of speaking to it. While Moses did not follow the Lord’s instructions, the Lord gushed water out of that rock. God is merciful, isn’t He? But Moses would pay a price for not following God’s specific directions. He would never see the Promised Land. Joshua would lead the younger generation there instead. 

It seems a harsh punishment. Moses had been faithful. He had previously followed the Lord’s instructions. He had stood before Pharaoh over and over, risking his life to ask that the king allow the Israelites to leave. He had used his staff to part the Red Sea waters and to bring about water for the thirsty people. He had dealt with the people’s unending complaints and led them through the desert. Hey, I’ve taken kids on walking tours; it’s not easy leading even just a couple dozen! 

Water. We need just enough. Not too much or we suffer flooding or icy slick roads or snow past our windows. Not enough and we suffer thirst and possible death. Moses faithfully led the people through waters and to waters so they could experience the rich abundance of watered pasture for their flocks and themselves.

Perhaps he was dry–his will all used up. Perhaps he was too old. Perhaps he was too weary. Perhaps he was just not the right man to lead millions of people into already inhabited lands of people who would not be happy about being displaced. Following directions exactly would have been the most important job requirement for leading those thirsty hordes. 

I struggle some days with listening and following. I’m weary. I’m aging. I just want to get there, you know? That Promised Land . . . whatever that looks like here on earth. And then other days I take an honest look at my life and give thanks for God’s graceful, life-nourishing Spirit rain that has faithfully quenched my thirst all these years. And I give thanks because . . . I’m already there.

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descent like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

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

About the author: Janet McHenry has been called the Prayerwalking Lady, because she has been prayerwalking her small town for more than 22 years. The author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk, she is the creator of the online masterclass Prayer School, which can be found through her website. She and her rancher husband Craig live in the Sierra Valley in northern California, where they raised their four children.

Join the conversation: What supplies refreshment for you when you are in a dry and thirsty place?

Timing Is Everything

by Sheri Schofield

“Tim, the snow has drifted over our driveway. I’m not sure how bad it is down in the meadow, but I may need you to plow the road ahead of me,” I reported via cell phone on my way to church. Tim, who cannot be around others because of his health issues right now, stood by while I tried to negotiate the road into town. A couple minutes later I called to say, “Well, I’m stuck in a snowdrift down past the creek. I need some help.” I never made it to church that day.

Sometimes we face roadblocks in life. We may want to do a ministry for the Lord, but others won’t cooperate, or facilities are not available, or a pandemic hits and the way is blocked. We reach a standstill. It can be frustrating!

Reading Acts and the letters written by the Apostles, I find they had some expectations that seemed to be delayed, too. They all thought Jesus would return to earth as King during their lifetimes. But He didn’t. Down through the ages, the great hope of the church has been the imminent return of Christ. Every generation seemed to believe He would return quickly. Yet, here we are, still hoping, still watching and waiting. We seem to be stuck.

What’s the deal? Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? The Apostle Peter wrote this: “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come—they will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?’ But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:3, 4, 8, 9, NIV).

What is God’s perspective in this? I think He sees things differently than we do. If Jesus had returned to earth in the Apostles’ generation, imagine how few of earth’s people would be in heaven. But in over two thousand years, countless millions have come to know Christ. If Jesus had returned earlier, you and I would not even have been born!

But God saw our generation from eternity past. He loved us. He wanted us to be part of His family. He’s planning a huge party in heaven when we all arrive—a great banquet—a reunion lasting seven years!

God promised Adam and Eve a Savior. Then He waited four thousand years before sending Jesus! Let us not be impatient! Sure, we all want to see Jesus return in our lifetime. But God’s family is not yet complete. There remain others He wants in His kingdom.

While we wait, let’s work toward reaching as many people as possible for Jesus. One day, the last child will join the family. Only then will the Father send His Son back to earth. Stay prepared! Trust God’s timing! We never know when that last child will join God’s family. What a great day that will be!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV).


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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: To what do you look forward to the most when Jesus returns?

GRACE

by Susie Crosby

  noun: mercy, pardon, approval; special favor

Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. Isaiah 30:19 MSG

Grace is a hard concept for me. I need it so desperately. This undeserved favor, this washing away of my mistakes and failures, this loving welcome into the open arms of Jesus. This generous gift of God–pure and simple and free–is supposed to be anything but hard to receive, yet I can struggle with it.

I try to earn it. I try to understand it. I try to explain it. I ask why? Why does God give me this unconditional love when I don’t deserve it? And how? How can He possibly see me as innocent and clean despite my stains of selfishness and failure?

God teaches me over and over that I get his grace because of WHO HE IS… 

-not because of anything I do or don’t do

-not because of how loving or how critical my heart has felt

-not because of how well or how poorly I perform

-not because of how obedient or how self-serving my choices have been

And he reminds me that grace doesn’t have to be earned, understood, or explained by me.30:19

It is free, undeserved. A gift.

Ahhh. But I don’t do well with those. If someone gives me something, I have a hard time accepting it. I scramble. Something in return–quick! A gift for them, a note of thanks, a favor. I can barely handle it. But that isn’t why people give me gifts, is it? To make me run around and try to earn them?

It certainly isn’t the reason that God gives. The only thing God wants me to do with his precious grace is to humbly receive it. 

“When you come before me, whoever gave you the idea of acting like this, running here and there, doing this and that–All this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?” Isaiah 1:12 MSG

But I feel like I should do something. Run here and there, strive hard, criticize myself…maybe these might make me feel like I could possibly earn it a little bit?

Nope. He reminds me again. That isn’t how grace is given. It is an absolutely free and completely undeserved gift from his loving, forgiving, good, and generous heart.  

All I can do is thank him.

All I can do is be still and accept this gift that he is offering without trying to pay him back.

All I can do is cry to him for help.

As I open my heart and trust His, He will do all the work. Grace will flow in overwhelming abundance. More and more will pour over me, around me, into me. So much grace, that all I can do is laugh (or cry) in relief and rest in this waterfall of love and joy and freedom.  

This is all he wants in return.

My heart…open to His.

Open your heart to His greater-than-expected gift of grace. Cry to Him for help as you struggle to receive it, to believe it. He is pouring out his forgiveness, His love, His joy to wash over you and draw you close. And He will keep it coming. More and more for the rest of your life.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with grace?