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?

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?

Amazing Grace in a Punkerish Place

by Patti Richter

My friend Cindi, in the words of Dr. Seuss, has been in a “terribly prickly place.”

Cindi undergoes intermittent treatments for an incurable cancer. Her husband, during Cindi’s recent round of chemotherapy, suffered an unexpected health crisis of his own and spent a week in the hospital recovering from surgery. At home alone that week, Cindi received the sad news of her father’s death; she had to make the difficult decision to miss his out-of-state funeral. Despite all of this, Cindi maintains a hopeful attitude and a genuine smile.

Dr. Seuss offers a bright perspective on tough circumstances through light-hearted verse:

It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute, however, “Duckie! Don’t Grumble! Don’t stew! Some critters are… much more unlucky than you!”  (From Dr. Seuss’ book, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?)

Some critters, however, will serve a term—whether long or short—as one of those “much more unlucky” ones. Consider, for example: those who opened a new restaurant, store, or fitness center in early 2020; Nigerian students kidnapped for ransom or worse intentions; the majority of citizens of North Korea.

A man named Job became famous for his suffering. Though considered blameless by God and man, Job lost his children, his wealth, and, finally, his health. At first, Job responded in humility and faith, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” But as his health deteriorated, Job “cursed the day of his birth” (Job 1:21; 3:1 ESV).

We can’t always look on the bright side, especially from within a deep pit. Sometimes we’ll need more than bootstraps to pull ourselves up. In desperation, we may be tempted to either give up hope or else look for rescue in the wrong place.

Righteous Job began to lose hope in God. His anxiety and anger were quelled only after he experienced God in his midst—speaking to him! And though Job received no explanation for the purpose of his suffering, he gained sufficient peace through God’s awesome presence.

A king named Asa once sought help in the wrong place. Though he mostly “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 14:2 ESV), he wrongly sought Syria’s protection by paying silver and gold. A prophet warned Asa, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (16:2, 9 ESV).

Most of us are cannot claim to be as blameless as Job or mostly good like Asa. We don’t deserve the favor of God’s watchful care. Yet, through faith in Christ Jesus, we are made acceptable to the Father as “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:18-19 ESV); and we have “obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2 ESV). 

We need not fear being “left all alone in some punkerish place like a rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space.” (Again from Suess’ Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?)

Suffering saints and martyrs testify of the unfailing grace of God through the One who died, rose again, and says, “Behold I am with you always” (Matthew 28:28 ESV). If, like my friend Cindi, we believe God raised Jesus from the grave, we know he will also raise us.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:14 16 ESV.

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Are you in a “punkerish place”?

The Importance of Trust

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” John 2:5 NASB

In John 2, Jesus and His disciples attended the now famous wedding at Cana. Mary approached Jesus about a horrible problem their hosts were having. In Jewish weddings, which lasted seven days, running out of food or wine was a shameful mark against the family. Mary told Jesus, “They have no wine.” Whether she believed her son would provide miraculously or just be resourceful enough to find more wine, we don’t know, but she trusted that Jesus could somehow help.

Jesus gave a somewhat surprising response: “Woman, what does this have to do with me?”

First, we need to understand why Jesus would call His mother Woman (John 2:4). In today’s world, this might be regarded as disrespectful and even mean-spirited. But we can be assured it was actually an endearment, from a second time Jesus addressed Mary from the cross: “Woman, behold, your son!” (John 19:26). In that moment, He was lovingly telling her that His apostle, John, would provide for her.

But then what does Jesus mean when He says, “What does this have to do with me?”

The meaning of this idiomatic phrase in other contexts in the Bible is, “We aren’t on common ground.” Or “Your perspective is entirely different than mine.” We can identify five reasons Jesus may have needed to point this out to His mother.

Motive. Mary desires to spare the couple embarrassment. Jesus has a bigger picture in mind: He desires his Father to be glorified.

Timing. Mary wants the wine problem to be solved immediately. Jesus was waiting on the Father to let Him know it was the right time to do His first public miracle.

Quality. Mary assumes he will merely replace the same kind of wine. Jesus provides something so superior the wedding coordinator is amazed.

Method. Mary tells the servants to do what he says. She trusted Him to do exactly the right thing. Her instruction to the servants was an expression of faith in the One who lived in consistent obedience to the Father. It was exactly what Jesus was waiting for.

Feelings. Based on her request, we must conclude she feels anxious. Is Jesus showing her a better way? The literal Greek of His response reads “What is that to me and to you?” He may have meant, “It’s not your responsibility, and it’s not mine.” Jesus was perfectly calm. He didn’t feel pressured by anyone, even His beloved mother. He would only do what His Father wanted. In that obedient relationship with Him, Jesus was filled with peace, confidence, and guidance.

We can learn a few things from Mary on this occasion:

  • Like Mary, we can bring our concerns and cares before God. We can trust God will do the perfect thing.
  • Like Mary, we can have faith Jesus can do anything. We don’t need to help Him, only follow His directions.
  • Like Mary, we can direct our anxiety to God. He can bring us peace even in tense situations.

What God wants is for us to trust Him. He will respond to us with the same understanding that He did Mary, even as He calls us to deeper faith and godly living.

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The Importance of Trust – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to assure God’s people of His understanding nature. She is a wife, mom, grandma, author, speaker, and lay counselor and lives in Southern California. Kathy has more than 55 published non-fiction books in genres like Bible studies, commentaries, Christian living and compiled books. She has spoken in more than 35 US States and 9 foreign countries. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Kathy’s most recent book is God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature from which this devotion is excerpted. Kathy and her husband, Larry, of 50 years, co-wrote God’s Intriguing Questions.

Join the conversation: What principles or other stories from the Bible support your assurance that God is understanding?

The Almighty Shadow of Rest

by Christina Rose

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, 
my God, in whom I trust.”                                                                                                                                          Psalm 91:1-2 NIV

We were happily married and joyfully expecting our first baby. We enjoyed a carefree life on San Francisco bay and never imagined anything could go wrong. I still remember the day a notice arrived from the lab showing abnormal test results. When my husband came home, I was too overcome by grief to speak and just handed him the notice. Further testing revealed that our baby was thriving, but I had to quit working, rest often, and notify my doctor with any problems.

There were many sleepless nights as I constantly prayed that our baby would survive and be healthy. In the early hours of dawn, I would head to my rocking chair by the fireplace and look out over the twinkling lights of San Francisco to the south. To the west was our lush green lawn and a view of the mountains. Deer would arrive in those early morning hours to feed on the grass before the sun came up. Their peaceful presence would calm me as I prayed. They had no worries, and I decided that neither should I.  I learned to rest and find peace in the shadow of the Almighty.  Months later, our beautiful little daughter arrived, perfectly healthy.

Now, many years later, sleepless nights have led to more rocking chair prayer in the early hours of dawn. My trip home to California was cancelled due to the pandemic of the corona virus. As I sit in the silent, dark hours, in Denver looking west towards my family in California, I choose to rest and trust in God’s perfect plan.

While this pandemic has seemingly paralyzed the world, it is instilling humility, compassion, and gratitude for many things we took for granted. This is a time of great harvest, as formerly self-reliant people are now turning to God for guidance. We will emerge from this global reset with a greater appreciation for our families, jobs, health, food, shelter, and most importantly, more trust in the God who has provided these things.

Not being able to see or hug our loved ones, especially in times of sickness and death, is something we have never known. But the silver lining is, once the crisis is over, we will embrace each other with greater love and affection. We will joyfully celebrate the simple pleasures that were temporarily taken away from us. We will have a greater appreciation for one another and all of life itself, realizing that each day is a gift from above.

As I watch the sunrise casting pink shadows over the snow-capped Rockies, I think of all the magnificent wildlife that is stirring in the mountains. I think of the vast beauty of the majestic mountains, lakes, streams and wildflowers that are starting to bloom. I think of my family on the California coast and pray that I will see them soon.  When we learn to rest in the shadow of the Almighty, we learn to find the peace that surpasses all understanding. We learn that while we may seem to be in the middle of a dark storm, it is merely a pause to reflect while God is birthing something new and wonderful.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

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The Almighty Shadow of Rest – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout 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. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, 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 that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What have you been learning through the corona virus crisis?

Faith Over Fear

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

My mother was a fearful person. As a child, I learned not to approach her unannounced. At times, I’d forget to call her name or make noise before I entered a room. I’ll always remember the look of fear on her face and the way she jumped when I “sneaked up” on her.

As Mama aged, her level of fear increased. My father’s death–nineteen years prior to Mama’s–contributed to her anxiety. She worried constantly about finances, taxes, potential home repairs, the health and safety of her loved ones, and world events.

One day I mentioned something I read in the newspaper and a report I heard on the evening news. “I don’t read the paper anymore or watch the news,” Mama said. “I don’t even like to answer the phone, because I’m afraid it will be bad news.”

I sat down beside my mom, held her hand, and said, “You don’t have to be afraid of the future. God has taken care of you all these years. He isn’t going to abandon you now.” Tears glazed her eyes and her chin quivered. As we held hands, I prayed for her. I asked God to help her trust his unfailing love and power to protect. Then we looked up several verses about fear.

The Bible addresses fear over three hundred times, coupled with the directives to be courageous, strong, remember God’s promises, his faithfulness, protection, and to trust rather than fear.

Today, as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19, fear seems to tap us on the shoulder at every turn. Media reports tend to focus on worst-case scenarios, enhancing fears and increasing anxiety. Shortages, protests, political bantering, misinformation, and medical concerns combine to discourage, disillusion, and depress. But we don’t have to allow fear to control our lives.

Near the end of her life, Mama seemed calmer, although anxiety sometimes surfaced. A few months before her death, a hospice worker identified my mother’s fears as classic symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), the result of some frightening experiences in childhood, including the death of a first-grade friend.

Following my mother’s death, I looked at the flyleaf of her Bible and found two verses in her handwriting:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

“Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:7 TLB

I believe these verses and prayer lessened Mama’s fears and provided a measure of peace in the final years of her life. Like my mother, you can make the decision not to let fear control you. Don’t allow COVID-19, or any other challenges you face, to paralyze you with fear and prevent you from following God’s designated path for your life. Fortify yourself with Scripture and prayer and choose faith over fear.

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Faith Over Fear – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). 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 book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: How are you managing fear in light of what we are seeing all around us?

In the Palm of His Hand

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

…In your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.                                                                                              Psalm 139:16 NASB

It’s easy to feel right now that the world is spinning out of control. Disease runs rampant. The economy is struggling. Our fears or concerns mount. Yet, our God has it all under control. He has the world – and all who are in it – in the palm of His hand.

Psalm 139 tells us how intimately acquainted God is with all of our ways. Not only does that verse tell us God has searched us and known us and that He knows our every whereabout, but it also says He protects us.

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” (verse 5).

What peace there is in knowing God is here with us in the dark, in the light, waking up, going to sleep, going out, and coming in.

Psalm 139 reminds me that I never need to worry about anything concerning my life or the lives of those I love, because of God’s ever-present watchfulness. From Psalm 139 alone, I am assured that God is One who:

  • searches us and knows us from the inside out (verse 1)
  • knows our every action and thought (verses 2-3)
  • knows what we will say before we say it (verse 4)
  • “encircles” us and places His hand of protection upon us (verse 5)
  • follows us everywhere we go – or stays with us when we can’t go anywhere (verses 8-12)
  • formed us and watched over us while we were in the womb (verses 13-15)
  • wrote out our life story in His book before we even lived it – meaning even this time of quarantine doesn’t take Him by surprise (verse 16)
  • thinks innumerable thoughts of us (verses 17-18)
  • knows our concerns and anxieties – especially during uncertain days like these (verse 23)
  • convicts us of our offenses and leads us in the right direction (verse 24)

That Psalm reminds me that God is intimately acquainted with us and our loved ones. And He is aware of what is going on in the hearts and lives of those we can’t be with on a daily basis. It assures me that there is nothing I can do, and no place I can go where His love doesn’t follow. That means there is never a reason to worry or feel alone. I am safe – and you are safe – in the palm of His hand.

God knows every detail of the paths we walk, the decisions we make, the words we say and the actions we take. He also knows every detail about the world we live in. He will never let us out of His sight or out of His heart.

Lord, thank You that You know the condition of this world and the condition of my heart. Thank You that Your love follows me everywhere I go and I am safe and secure in the palm of Your hand.

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In the Palm of His Hand – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 copies sold), God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart by [Cindi McMenamin]God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Which truth from Psalm 139 means the most to you this morning?

 

 

Trusting God in a Season of Uncertainty

by Lee Ann Mancini

I have heard your prayers. I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you.  2 Kings 20:5 NIV

“Hi, Mrs. Mancini,” I heard a faint voice saying. Slowly, I opened my eyes and began to register that, once again, surgery was finished. This time, I had required a complete removal of my thyroid. Only three months prior, I had undergone surgery for avascular necrosis of the third metatarsal. What is that, you ask? It is when the bone in the middle toe of your foot begins to die.

I was carrying a large biblical commentary when, all of a sudden, I somehow managed to drop it on my foot. Unfortunately for me, the book did not land on its flat surface, which would have allowed the weight to be evenly distributed. Instead, the corner of the massive book struck my middle toe like a sharp-pointed knife! Wincing in pain, I told myself with resignation, “Well, that’s going to hurt for a while.” Little did I know that, only eight months later, I would require surgery.

Why do I mention my surgeries?

Well, I suffer from anxiety. Normally, just the thought of having to lie in bed for two weeks with my foot propped up above my heart—or the thought of possibly never being able to talk again should my vocal cords accidentally be cut—would normally have sent me into full panic mode. However, I am thankful to say the Lord was gracious to me, and this did not happen.

We all go through seasons of tests and trials, however, during those two recent health issues, I decided that I would earnestly focus on learning to trust God completely first and foremost. I wanted to rely on the Word of God, pray to the Lord in confidence, and trust in His promises without reservation.

Whenever a fearful thought began creeping into my mind, I would take that thought and bring it directly to Christ. “We demolish arguments and ever pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).

Do you earnestly seek the Lord in prayer during difficult times? Do you recite a particular Bible verse to help ease your mind as you feel anxiety creeping in? Or do you focus on the situation and dwell on the problem?

This time I didn’t dwell on the problem, but told my Father that I would accept whatever outcome He had planned for me. I was determined to praise Him no matter what the result. The Lord rewarded me by giving me peace and comfort through the entire process both surgeries entailed.

May the Lord protect and guide your hearts and minds during these very stressful days. May you be drawn closer to the Lord, trusting him and praising him. He promises to give you peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)!

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Trusting God in a Season of Uncertainty – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio PictureAbout the author: Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: What has helped you in dealing with anxiety?

 

Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I’m not going to lie, I allowed my kids to make a few bad hair decisions as they were growing up. I did it for two reasons. 1) I knew I would be able to show them the pictures years later and tease them mercilessly, and 2) if everything was all hair perfection for them growing up, how would they ever learn to be funny?

May I say now, “well-done, me.” Because I have pictures. And the laughter is very satisfying. And also, all my kids are hilarious.

I’m also big enough to admit that sometimes when we look at those pictures, the bad hair is mine. I’d rather call it a bad mousse day. Or as I’ve come to more often refer to it, “Serendipity-Do”—since I never knew exactly how that hair would turn out. Or how the gel would come off.

When I say that I’m big enough to admit it, sometimes I mean my hair was big enough. Big enough for whatever. Oh my, the sheer “bigness” of that hair. I look at the photos of those three-story bangs and wonder how it all held up without girders and trusses. I think the highest hair stood with a lot of teasing, spraying, wishing and even more worrying. Plus another jar and a half of the gel-mousse-plaster-of-Paris of the day.

Back then I also worried on windy days that those bangs might accidentally achieve enough thrust, drag, weight, lift and hairspray to fly me a couple of counties over. Oh the worries of heavy-duty aerodynamic bangs (hair-o-dynamic?). It’s enough to…well…make your hair stand on end. Or turn it gray.

Worry in all aspects of life can be as sticky as cheap mousse. It’s even sneaky. I often convince myself that worry works. After all, most of the things I worry about don’t happen. Doesn’t that mean it’s working?

Even in all its slick sneakiness, there’s something we can do with worry. When we feel we’re coming unglued (not a hair reference), and we don’t know what to do, we have a choice. We can trade in that worry. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (Philippians 4:6, CSB).

Trading worry for prayer, petition and thanksgiving? It’s the most amazing exchange. And you’re not even going to believe what comes along with it. A gloriously unexpected peace. We’re told about it in the very next verse. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, CSB). A heart-and-mind-guarding peace straight from Jesus Himself!

Seeking Jesus—heart and mind on Him—is the key. He said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow.” He preceded that command with, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33, CSB). When His peace rules, the fears that seem three stories tall one minute, appear appropriately minuscule the next. Is there any worry—anything at all—that can stand up against the perfect peace of God?

God’s peace has proven its ability to stand up against the biggest heartbreaks, the highest life-threats, or even the smallest and goofiest hair events—even events with pictures.

On the pics topic, I’m backing off my kids a hair. Possibly because for every shot I take at one of their styles, they can always pull out a Glamour Shot of mine.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.                                                                                                 Isaiah 41:10 NASB

TWEETABLE 
Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head – Encouragement from @RhondaRhea (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout 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.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-CaffeinatedWhen the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. 

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.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep your worrying under control?

 

Learning to Listen Well

by Natalie Flake Ford @tearstojoy

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Panic. Dread. Unprecedented Fear. These words describe the emotional turmoil in the car just moments before my daughter’s first driving lesson. After a quick prayer, I gently instructed her on keeping between the lines as well as knowing when to brake and when to speed up. As I did this, my anxious feelings slowly began to dissipate. Peace and calm gradually replaced my fear and anxiety.

In order for my daughter to drive well, we had to turn off distractions (cell phones and radio). As she listened intently to my voice and worked diligently to obey my commands, she gradually learned to drive.

God wants the same for us in our daily lives. Too often distractions drown out his still, quiet voice until we are consumed with doing what the world deems important. The result is becoming preoccupied with worry. Henry Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and psychologist, wrote, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.”

If we want to walk in obedience to Christ, we have to remove distractions so that we can focus on His voice. This is easier said than done. Silence can be uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I get quiet, my mind starts to race. I obsess over my to-do list and struggle with the urge to “do something.” If I am quiet long enough, anxieties, fears, hurtful memories, anger, and pain threaten to consume me.

Uncomfortable with these feelings, I want to stop this “inner chat” and hide in busyness. But to do so would mean missing God’s voice and the peace He offers. When we are still before Him, the Holy Spirit does a healing work in the deep recesses of our heart and soul.

One of my seminary professors required that we spend three hours alone with the Lord. Honestly, I dreaded this assignment and thought it to be a waste of time. But out of obligation, I gathered my Bible, a hymnal, a journal, and my guitar and headed for a local state park.

In the beginning, it felt awkward. My mind wandered, and I continually fought to bring it back to the Word. But as I disciplined myself to be still, I experienced one of the sweetest, most intimate times with the Lord that I’ve ever had. I left that park different than when I arrived. I was filled with contentment, peace, and joy, even though my circumstances remained the same.

Spending three hours alone with God daily is not realistic for most of us. But we can make finding quiet moments a priority, whether it be the few minutes before we get out of bed, turning off the radio in the car, or meditating on the Word during our quiet times.

Consider scheduling time in your calendar for solitude and don’t let anything change that appointment. Get up early on Sundays and spend time preparing your heart for worship — maybe even go to the Church and find a quiet place to pray and listen.

Solitude is not easy. It is awkward at first, but it has the potential to radically sanctify us and make us more like Christ. If Jesus was always intently listening to the Father, how much more do we need to do the same?

TWEETABLE
Learning to Listen Well – insight from Natalie Flake Ford, @TearsToJoy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Natailie Ford headshotAbout the author: Natalie Flake Ford teaches counseling and psychology at Truett McConnell University.  She is also a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Ford is passionate about missions and lives to make Jesus known.

In her book, Tears to Joy, Natalie details the tribulations of dealing with mental illness. Debunking stigma and presenting practical advice, she offers hope to those who have dealt with a loved one’s mental illness or suicide, even to those who have struggled with it themselves.

Join the conversation: How do you manage to incorporate solitude into your life?