The Lesson of the PB&J

by Deb DeArmond

The Disciples were an interesting cast of characters. They were dissimilar in their personalities and professional pursuits. Those distinct differences could be a gift, as they could combine their strengths while working together. But those differences also created challenges, as they often disagreed on a variety of topics. In Luke 6: 12-16, the apostles are identified by name. Two are described. Simon, who was called a zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who would become a traitor.

Luke 6 is a treasure trove—a hidden store of valuable or delightful things. One of my favorite passages is found there: “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28 CEB).

This passage supplied an everyday opportunity for my children at one point. I’m not sure we had a zealot and a traitor in the camp, but their ability to “pray for those who mistreat you” was often in question.

Three sons, with five years separating the first and last, was an everyday adventure. Bikes, skates, super-hero toys and basketballs. By the time the oldest two were nine and six, their personalities were diverse—which is the nice way to say they were nothing alike and rarely saw eye to eye. 

The background music during those years was a fevered pitch that made me cringe. The greatest hits on most days included those all-time favorites “That’s not fair!” and “Mom! He’s cheating!”

Sharing was a frequent challenge. I felt akin to Solomon as they trooped in for my decree as to the real owner of the toy truck or “How much longer does he get the skateboard before it’s my turn?”

While they never strayed into the “I hate you,” territory, the concept of “love one another as you love yourself” seemed out of reach in those moments. But the idea of keeping the peace seemed a bit more attainable. Determined to teach these two the value of fairness, working together, and sharing, I hit on a solution out of sheer desperation.

It was the last day before the weekly grocery run, and lunch fixings were in short supply. Two lopsided slices of bread and the scrapings at the bottom of the peanut butter jar created momentary panic . . . and a lifelong Bible lesson.

I made the sandwich and presented it to my younger son. “Jordan, you’ll cut the sandwich in half.” He pumped his fist. “And Cameron, you’ll choose first which half you want.” He smiled wide.

Jordan slumped in his chair and crossed his arms. He then leaned into his assignment and tackled the sandwich with the precision of a diamond cutter. His calculation was important, and both boys were satisfied. He was successful in his mission.

So was I.

That PB&J became their life lesson for God’s instruction loving one another. It also worked with son #3 – and now as full-grown men, I see the fruit of that Bible verse, as I watch them guide their children with the same principles. I’ve enjoyed observing my sons guide the combined group of my seven grandsons—with boy #8 on the way. Life in Jesus helps make the testosterone zone a fabulous place to be!

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17 NASB

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

About the author: Deb DeArmond is an award-winning author, speaker and writing coach, helping others to achieve their goals whether in marriage, family relationships, at work, or in ministry. Her books reflect that path. Her newest release, We May Be Done But We’re Not Finished, encourages and informs women 50+ how to make the rest of their life the best of their life.

Join the conversation: What Bible verses are/were important to you as your raise/raised your children?

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Where There’s a Will, He Makes a Way

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13 NIV

 My mother spent much of my third-grade year in the hospital. She suffered from terrible headaches that sent her to bed. There were no MRI’s in 1963, and there were few treatments for what we now call migraines. A brain tumor was suspected as she went from hospital to hospital.

I spent those weeks sitting in white-walled waiting rooms, with the bitter smell of antiseptic, fearing my mom would die. At eight, it seemed like a reasonable fear.

What was not reasonable was the fear that struck once a treatment was discovered and she was released. I would find any excuse to avoid being away from Mom. Every morning a new malady appeared: my head hurt, I was sick to my stomach, the teacher didn’t like me, or the kids were mean to me. Each excuse had the same motive: I wanted to stay home to make sure my mother wouldn’t disappear again.

Reassurance didn’t work, nor did stern conversations, pleading, or promising a treat if I’d just get dressed and go to school. When those efforts failed, the school psychologist became my new “friend” and Mom and I began a series of conversations and testing.

I recall it clearly: a very nice older man who seemed interested in me and what I thought and how I felt. Always pleasant. And eventually, either his conversations with us did help or I outgrew it, although I’m not sure which. Life returned to normal.

Thirty-seven years later, while sorting through Mom’s paperwork after her death, I found the report prepared by that school psychologist. The first line of paragraph three caught me off guard.

“Debbie has a tendency toward willfulness.”

It was not a compliment. It was not in the plus column.

It went on to suggest, “When fearful, Debbie may try to control the situation, which must not be allowed. You and your husband must assert your authority.”

Recently I heard a gifted pastor speak about willfulness. “When obedience to God’s Word occurs it’s always an act of our will. A choice. Willful obedience.” In other words, obedience never happens accidentally.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13) NIV. Hearing those words reminded me of the assessment of my character by that nice man in 1963. Is it possible I can use my powers for good, not for evil?

Willful obedience. Willful mercy. Willful love, grace, forgiveness. Acts of my choice, fueled not by fear, but by my loving Abba father, who desires to see me walk in fullness of life as His daughter, and who delights over me when I do. It’s the redemption of something the Fallen One once twisted to torment me, and God has reclaimed it. Today, I’m all grown up.

Most days, at least.

Some folks seem to bring out the worst in us. Old hurts, fears, and resentment surface and my childhood version tries to emerge. The baggage of our past has the ability to turn even the most mature adult into a willful eight-year old.

Today can be different, by denying fear to determine our path. Choose peace. Refuse to pick up the offense. Willful grace, willful patience. Radical, willful obedience to love. This is my personal prayer, to act in order to fulfill his good purpose in my life. The amazing part is that He does the heavy lifting, when we submit our need to control to His plan and purpose.

Where there’s a will, He makes a way.

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Where There’s a Will, He Makes a Way – insight from @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. Her books help readers create the life God meant marriage and family to be. Read her at:  Family Matters/Deb DeArmond.  Find her books online here

Deb’s book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay up and Fight is a must read for couples. In everyDon't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight by [DeArmond, Deb, DeArmond, Ronald G] marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you work together to find peace? Deb and Ron DeArmond give you permission to fight – and to do it right. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with the conflict.

Join the conversation: What character trait of yours can God use for good?

Laughter: No Prescription Required!

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

My husband and I love ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but the flavors Cherry Pecan for him and Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch for me. We visit our favorite local shop often. More often than my cardiologist might prefer, but I’ve not detailed my obsession to him or the frequency with which I indulge.

We have a “standing” order. A hot fudge sundae for each (!) with our specific favorite ice cream flavor. The kid at the drive-through, Ed, knows us well. I once informed him if he didn’t see us over the course of a week, she should call the police and report us missing. He laughed. So did we.

So, it was an interesting evening when Ed was off, and the young woman at the drive through was unaware of our VIP status. Ron placed our order as always. The reply was jarring: “I’m sorry, sir. We’re all out of Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch.”

This was new.

My husband looked at me with raised eyebrows. “So what do you want?”

I thought for a moment. “I have no ideas what flavors they carry other than our two. No clue.”

Without missing a beat, Ron turned to the menu board speaker. “That’s okay. We’ll wait.”

There was a long silence, followed with “I’m sorry sir. I don’t know what that means.”

I began to laugh. I think I snorted a little. Ron clarified. “We’ll have to come in and see what’s available.”

I laughed as we pulled around and parked. I laughed as I exited the car. I was still laughing and gasping for breath as we entered the building. My mother would have described it as “carrying on out of control.” She’d have been right.

It’s a small store. We could see the girl from the drive through window who looked at us like maniacs. It made me laugh harder. People gave us a wide berth.

“Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch?” asked the manager. I nodded. It was the best I could do in the moment. “I got ya covered.” He went to the freezer and grabbed a pre-pack take home gallon and popped the lid. Crisis averted.

Nothing makes me happier than a good chuckle, a guffaw or a hearty laugh as part of a faith-filled life. It’s a gift that can break the tension, create connection, and celebrate silliness.

The Bible makes it clear that God believes humor should be on the agenda as a healthy habit. Proverbs 17:22 NKJ says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” The words laugh and laughter are mentioned 200 times in the Bible.

Some of those times are not happy moments, such as the laugh of unbelief (Gen. 11-12, 15), the laughter of a fool (Eccl.7:6), and the laughter of derision (Prov. 1:24-26).

But the fourth type of laughter is a healthy expression which brings richness to our lives. Here are a few good examples of why God’s people should have a good laugh:

  • Lack of fear – “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25 NLT)
  • Happiness and connection – “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12:15 MSG)
  • Joy – “God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21 MSG)
  • Relief – “Good people will watch and worship. They’ll laugh in relief.” (Psalm 52:6 MSG)
  • God is acting on our behalf – “When the righteous see God in action they’ll laugh, they’ll sing, they’ll laugh and sing for joy.” (Psalm 68:3 MSG)
  • Good fortune – “We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.” (Psalm 126:2 MSG)
  • It blesses God – Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.” (Psalm 100:2 MSG)

In other words, while life here on earth is sometimes no joke, laughter is appropriate, healthy, and pleasing to God. So, tune up those vocal chords and let loose a giggle or guffaw, a chortle or chuckle, a snicker, a snort or a shout. Let it fly and exclaim to the world the goodness of God!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV

4 Types of Laughter—With No Prescription Required – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you had a good laugh? Please share so that we can laugh along with you!

Set Your Heart on Him

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

My parents made a comfortable living but were solidly middle class. Actually, lower middle class. I had everything I needed as a child—including many things that I consider “extras.” I was blessed, and I knew it.

Occasionally, I asked for a pricey birthday or Christmas gift. I remember one birthday obsession: a bike, with a banana seat painted an exotic metal-flake purple. I’d talked about it non-stop for months.  As the big day neared, I again mentioned it to my mom. Her reply was kind but clear: “Don’t get your heart set on it.”

But I did have my heart set on it. I poured over the Sears catalog and visited that bike on every shopping trip. I could so envision myself on that groovy purple bike.

I got skates instead.

“Don’t get your heart set on it,” was Mom’s way of preparing me for disappointment. She understood the powerful pulse of a heart set clearly and firmly on a vision of something so specific.

I hadn’t thought of that phrase for a very long time. Recently I studied the book of Ruth. And there it was.

Her story is familiar to us.

A widowed Naomi decides to return to Judah, her homeland. Her two widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, start the journey with her. Naomi encourages both young women to return home to their mothers; Orpah tearfully turns back.

Ruth, however, cries and begs Naomi to allow her to accompany her. She resolutely declares her commitment to her mother-in-law, along with her mother-in-law’s people and God.

Naomi’s response was not verbal. It was a decision: “When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in. And so, the two of them traveled on together to Bethlehem” (Ruth 1:18 MSG).

It stopped me in my tracks. Ruth had set her heart on going with Naomi. It made me think about the power of a heart-decision. Ruth would not be dissuaded. She had envisioned herself in a new home in a foreign land, worshiping the God Naomi had shared with her, starting a new life.

Naomi saw her resolve and relented, certain it was impossible to change Ruth’s mind. Or her heart.

The circumstances were difficult. Both were widows with no means of support. Naomi’s sons were both dead. “God has dealt me a bitter hand,” she declared. She was hopeless and discouraged, resigned to live out her remaining days in despair and sadness.

Like Naomi and Ruth, we don’t control life’s circumstances. We often struggle to understand why difficulty, sadness or tragedy have come our way. It’s hard to walk in a way that honors God and reflects the spiritual maturity that we desire in these moments.

Like my childhood disappointment over the prized purple bike, we indulge in a Poor Me pity party. Or like Naomi, we accept bitterness as our assigned lot in life.

God asks us for more. And He equips us to deliver on that through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Our part is to set our heart, clearly and passionately on that which will move mountains and press on beyond our circumstances. Standing on His word, walking in the reality of our salvation, and living in joy and peace – regardless of our circumstances. We might not get to pick our lot in life, but we can always choose what we’ll build on it.

Ruth and Naomi experienced miracles in their story – which contributed to our story – all of us who claim Christ as savior. How? Ruth marries Boaz, Naomi’s relative. Their son, Obed, is born into the line of David, from which Christ Himself emerges. Surprise ending!

Are you living under the circumstances?

  • Financial fears?
  • Health challenges?
  • Disappointment in your marriage, your kids, your life?

What are you doing down there? What’s the fear that reminds you: “Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t set your heart on it?” Jesus is our hope, and no circumstances are insurmountable for Him.

What have you set your heart on today?

Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God. 1 Chronicles 22:19 NKJV

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Don’t let your fears steal your hope – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: Are there circumstances in your life right now that are driving you under?

Up in the Air About Who I Am

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

I like your top,” the silver-haired flight attendant commented as I boarded the Denver-bound flight, “So sparkly.”

“It set off the metal detector in security,” I complained.

“So does my hip,” her snappy reply.

We exchanged glances with a nod and a laugh.

Seated at the front, I watched as she welcomed each passenger with a personal comment or smile—almost like she was welcoming us into her home, greeting us as she would a group of friends. She’s been at this a long time, I thought to myself. She’s good.

We laughed during her safety briefing, breaking from the traditional stuffy announcement. People chuckled – and they listenedYep. She’s good.

Because I had the prized front row single seat in this smaller regional aircraft, she sat opposite me during takeoff, our knees nearly touching. I could see the nameplate pinned to her uniform. Elizabeth.

“How long have you been flying?” I asked.

“Seventeen years. It’s changed so much over time. It’s not what it used to be.” She detailed some of the changes she’d experienced. Her biggest complaint was the decline of civility from passengers. “Demanding. Loud. Impatient. Rude. Just plain rude, ” she said, shaking her head.

“So, why are you still flying?” Clearly, she was old enough to retire.

“Several reasons. My husband is retired and not well. We need the benefits. And if I quit working, what would I do with myself every day? I’d be old before my time.”

I smiled. For most of us, we’d have said her time had come a long time ago. But that’s not how she saw it. That’s not how she saw herself. And because of her self-image, she was still here – going and doing and living at 30,000 feet—rudeness and all.

I was curious. “Do you still enjoy it?”

“Most days, I love it. For every cranky flyer I encounter, there are two or three who are lovely. Like you.” She smiled. The girl’s got skills.

As I thought about her later, it occurred to me—she’s good, because she has decided to be good. She’s also decided to stay young and to show up each day with that mindset.

Life is a daily decision. What’s my plan for living today? What’s my purpose at this point in my life? How will I show up? We’ve all heard the saying, “You’re as young as you feel.” I’d suggest an alternative, because I decided long ago not to be led by my feelings. I’d propose: “You are as young as you choose to be.” I’m not talking numbers here.  I’m talking mindset.

The story of Joshua and Caleb is inspiring. Both men were around 40 when Moses sent them as part of the twelve to explore the land. And because of their decision to see the promise of God instead of their circumstances, they were the only two God allowed into the promised land.

Many years later, as Joshua is dividing the land among those entering, Caleb comes to Joshua with a request:

“Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So, give me the hill country that the LORD promised me” Joshua 14:10-12a  NLT.

Caleb chose to see himself as God did: able, strong and prepared to enter into God’s promise.

My flight ended uneventfully – my favorite kind. But I had been reminded by my new friend that I can’t afford to be “up in the air” about how I show up each day. I will choose to be as young as I need to be – He may have important things for me to do!

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.                                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 40:31 NASB

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Up in the Air About Who I Am – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: How do you plug in?

 

Join the Conversation: How do you choose to see yourself today? Have you decided to be able and ready when He calls on you?

Living as a Genuine Article or Cheap Knock-Off

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

I’ve just returned from a fabulous conference. It was a week filled with new ideas, new resources, great speakers, and a fresh infusion of “I can do this!” I brought home a long list of goals requiring my immediate attention.

That’s a lot of pressure. I do believe career boosting greatness and incredible results are possible—if I can just find the time and energy.

“Someone busier than you is making it happen!” This quote is a frantic reminder I’m falling behind on my to-do list; someone is beating me to it! As though it (whatever it may be) is in limited supply and only the first 25 on-the-ball doers can snatch the prize. But that’s just not true.

That pressure is magnified by Facebook. You’ve seen the posts: “I signed up for three online courses guaranteed to advance my career. That promotion is locked in!” Or “I did XXX at the gym today. Totally pumped!” I’m so far out of the gym loop, I don’t even know what the XXX would be.

Please don’t misunderstand. I believe progress toward goals is worth the time, and when you move forward, you deserve to celebrate. I’m a to-do list girl. I love checking off the boxes. But are they the right boxes?

Interestingly, I discovered earlier this year there’s “National Be on Purpose Month.” I don’t think there’s a parade or a pageant, but it’s a thing. Please note the wording in the official title: “be” not “do.”

Why is that significant? Because as His children, who God called us to be is more important than anything we could ever do without clarity on that single point.

Who has He called you to be? It’s about identity. We hear a lot about it these days, but what is it? A definition from Merriam Webster is helpful: “The qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group differ from others.”

Identity theft is common these days, and I’m not talking about someone hijacking your debit card PIN. The Fallen One is all about stealing what the Lord has given us. (John 10:10) If he can talk us out of who God designed us to be, we may adopt an identity and work to reinvent ourselves. And often, we do it in imitation of someone we admire. So instead of living as the genuine article— the one and only you—we become a cheap knock off of someone else.

Author Ken Boa is on target: “Scripture clearly teaches that we were never meant to be autonomous individuals who make our own way in this world apart from God. We cannot even know ourselves without knowing the One through whom and for whom we were created.”

God’s imprint for us is unique. He knew us before He formed us in our mother’s womb and set us apart (Jeremiah 1:5). And trying to reinvent ourselves outside of what He has designed us to be can be markedly dissatisfying. Even when we have achieved the success and accolades we’ve worked so hard for, we’re often left feeling surprised at the emptiness we experience at the finish line. Authentic identity is powerful, releasing freedom that can’t be duplicated.

We need to protect ourselves against identity theft. God created, designed, and fashioned each of us, calling us on purpose for a (particular) purpose. I struggle less with this now than ever before, but it’s still a daily vigil. And Holy Spirit is invited to tap on my heart when I stray. I keep Him busy some days.

Are you becoming His genuine article? Or are you busy doing good things?

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), created in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

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Living as a Genuine Article or Cheap Knock-Off? @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: Have you strayed from the you God created you to be?

 

Remember to Power Up & Plug In!

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

“I wish I had a picture of my mom, “ the young man said. “You look just like her.”

A compliment, yes? Not so much.  Five minutes earlier, I had learned he was the youngest of nine children—and that his mother just celebrated her 83rd birthday.

“She wears her hair just like yours. And I think she has those same shoes.”

He smiled at me. I smiled back. It kept me from bursting into tears or screaming hysterically or some other inappropriate response. It was a business setting and those types of outbursts are generally frowned upon, you know.

Truthfully, I really am old enough to be his mother. But I’d have been happier to hear she was still very much a youthful, with-it kind of gal. Not someone 83.

So, what to do with his observation . . .? Well for starters, I’m getting my hair cut today and am considering refreshing my highlights. And those shoes? Gotta go. I imagine someone will consider them quite a find at the Goodwill store.

In all fairness, the conversation did nothing more than remind me of the obvious: the sand in the hourglass is shifting. If someone said to me today, “You’re only as old as you feel,” I’d probably smack him.

Life has been both exhilarating and demanding of late. Exhilaration can be demanding. It all requires energy, which has been in short supply for me lately.

Recently, I recognized my power pack light was blinking. I’d failed to plug into the source—His power—consistently of late. It hit me yesterday on an airplane as I listened to Natalie Grant’s Your Great Name with tears streaming down my face right there in seat 3B.

“All the weak find their strength at the sound of your great name.”

It was a moment. Just ask the lady in 3C.

I know how much I need time in His presence, drinking Him in. But of all the things that pull on me, demanding my time and attention – He is the kindest and gentlest of them all. He never pushes His way to the front, knocking my world off its axis, but waits expectantly, believing this daughter who has been given so much – redemption, new life, and unbelievable favor – will appear and sit at His feet. That He waits while I wade through other stuff is a level of love I do not understand.

God’s plan for this time of my life is ambitious. He has set me on a path I never saw coming, and I’m running to catch up with it on a daily basis. I love the path. But I love Him more. And I have no illusions about whose power is required for this race.

How do I recharge? It’s just not that difficult. It’s in being mindful of Him, a minute by minute presence with God, talking to Him throughout the day and listening intently for His Spirit to direct and empower. It’s an ingrained awareness of the living Word in everything I touch. It’s also time to sit at His feet and recognize the majesty of our great God.

I’ve been trying to live and move and have my being in my own power these last few weeks. But it’s embarrassingly insufficient for what He’s called me to. Obviously… since I’m reminding people of their 83-year-old mother.

God has no intention of letting me off the hook for what He’s called me to. His word is clear that He never changes His mind about His plans for us: “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn,” Romans 11:29 (NLT). Since that’s the case, I’d better change and my practices and plug in daily.

So really, that young man did me a favor.

But I’m still getting rid of those shoes.

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:27-28a.

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Remember to Power Up & Plug In – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: How do you plug in?

Mark My Words

by Deb DeArmond

I enjoy listening to podcasts on a variety of topics while traveling. There’s a lot to choose from: shows for writers, travelogues, cooking, and business. The speakers I look forward to most, however, are those that start the day with me: podcasts by pastors and teachers that help grow God’s Word in my heart. Those that take me deep and make me think, “Hmm. I’d never seen that before in that Scripture.” Or, “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever read that passage before.” After 45 years as a Christ-follower, it still happens. Often.

Recently, a podcast entitled, “A War of Words” by Pastor Bill Johnson recently caught my eye. And by the end of the message, my heart had been caught up as well. The idea that jumped out at me most as I listened was simple: “When God speaks, He creates.”

As a Christian writer and speaker, that’s my goal. I always pray that the Lord empowers my words to create pathways, understanding, growth, and peace for those who read or hear my words. I want to encourage them to walk more closely with Jesus. So I ask for the exact right words for what He’s led me to teach.

I read it aloud to myself and ask others to read it as well. I inquire: “Does it reach the heart? Is it encouraging? Is it too direct? Might it offend, or does it inspire rather than discourage?” I use the same process as I write books and articles. I am always focused on using words that will have the greatest impact for my audience.

There are a multitude of scriptures on the topic.

  • Proverbs 21:23 (ESV): “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”
  • Psalm 141:3 (ESV): “Set a guard, Oh Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
  • James 3:8b-10 (ESV) “[The tongue] is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God’ from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”

Have you been on social media lately? Me too. Now there’s a word choice challenge!

As I look back on my interactions online, I might occasionally have strayed from purposeful word selection (!!). The war of words these days can ignite carelessness in us on topics close to our heart, or when we feel under attack for our beliefs and choices. Passion can push us in the wrong direction if we are not cautious and focused on using our words to create, not criticize or crush our accusers.

Jesus, as He stood accused, offered no words in His defense. “When He was insulted, He did not insult in return,” 1 Peter 2:23a (CSB).

Please understand, I don’t recall ever attacking someone’s parentage or intelligence. No name calling or insults. But words are my business. And I can be tempted to use them in a manner that will not create an opportunity for growth in those who receive them.

Thinking of God’s propensity to create made me say, “Hmmm, I can do better. I need to do better, because I represent Him.”

And mark my words, I will. What about you? Anyone want to join me?

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: How do you keep from being careless or worse with your words?

 

The More We Learn, the Less We Know

by Deb DeArmond

Have you ever observed the evolution of how our children think about us as they move through life? The story goes like this…….

  • At age 5, the little boy says, “That’s my dad! He’s the smartest man in the whole world.
  • At 10 years old, he says, “That’s my dad. He’s a really smart guy!”
  • The pre-teen at 12 says, “My dad is okay.”
  • At 15, he warns, “That’s my dad. He’s a total idiot – just ignore him.”
  • At 20, he says, “My dad’s not a total loser.”
  • At 30, the young man says, “My dad might know.”
  • At 40, the adult son says, “I’m gonna ask my dad what he thinks.”
  • “I’m not making a decision till I talk to my old man,” the mid-life man of 50 says.
  • At 60, he says sadly, “Man I wish my dad was still alive. He’d know what to do.”

If you’ve ever been down this road with your children, you know it can be a challenging place. As teenagers, kids really do believe they know all that needs to be known. You have to be a lot older to know what you don’t know.

How does that happen? As youth, our sphere of life is very limited. And then life happens and moves us beyond our zone of the familiar. Maturity develops from the lessons that our mistakes teach us.  And at some point, we get that flash of understanding: I know very little and have so much growing left to do.

 The more we learn, the greater our realization is of how much we still don’t know.

The Word of God warns us to be careful about self-aggrandizing assessments:

“What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever” Isaiah 5:21 (NLT).

“There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise” Proverbs 26:12 (NLT).

“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others” Proverbs 12:15 (NLT).

“At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike” Matthew 11:25 (NLT).

Just as it blesses us as parents when our children seek knowledge and are open to learning, the same is true with our Heavenly Father. A teachable spirit, one that desires wisdom, blesses Him. And as we grow in the knowledge of Him, the more we realize there is much still to learn.

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.   1 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: When did you reach the understanding of how much more there was to learn?

 

Cuts to the Quick

by Deb DeArmond

After 26 years of artificial nails, I decided to be done with them. They require time to maintain, not to mention the cost.

I was surprised when they were removed to discover my own natural nails, having been protected by a shield of impenetrable acrylic for so long, had become soft and damaged. They were not ready to be exposed – kind of like a mole that suddenly finds itself in the bright light of day.

As the nails splintered and cracked, the cuticle beneath the nail, (what many call it the quick) was exposed. This is the soft tissue that lies between the nail and the finger. It often became snagged as I waited for the nails to grow out which was surprisingly painful.

Surprisingly painful is how sarcasm almost always lands for me. It catches me off guard and cuts me to the quick. It causes the soft places in me to recoil from a hostile conversation. And I don’t recover quickly.

I saw a sign recently in a shop that said,” Sarcasm is what keeps me from telling you how I really feel.” So, “Gee, what an Einstein” actually means “You are an idiot.” Anyone who has experienced sarcasm knows that the real message comes across loud and clear, even if it takes a moment to be deciphered.

The Word of God directs us to speak the truth, which includes genuinely expressing our thoughts and feelings. God also tells us how to do this in alignment with His word and character:

“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:14-15 NLT, emphasis added).

Lies that sound like the truth. That’s a great definition of sarcasm. For a moment, it sounds like a compliment…and then you get it. Reality sets in. And when exposed often enough to this pain, we may apply a thick protective shell to prevent the damage.

Speaking the truth requires love. Without love, it’s just a recitation of the facts, and facts move the head, not the heart. The mature Christ follower avoids that kind of cheap imitation of truth.

So, if you see a guy with the T-shirt that reads, “Sarcasm. Just one of the services I offer,” keep on walking. He’s not your kind of guy.

“. . . Encourage one another and build up one another… ”  1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: Are you prone to sarcasm?

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash