The Fear of Missing Out

by Crystal Bowman

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV 

Have you ever suffered from FOMO—the Fear of Missing Out? I have before, and I’m still wrestling with it now! I was supposed to attend a major women’s conference in Tennessee where I would be schmoozing with my fellow Christian authors and speakers. The three-day event concluded with a fancy-bling banquet and entertainment by a major Christian celebrity. Following that conference, was the Christian Product Expo, where I’d have the opportunity for more schmoozing—this time with retailers and big names in the publishing industry.

I had decided months before these events that I would be there. I even felt like God was telling me to go. I registered for both conferences and booked a hotel room as soon as early-bird registration was open. I was invited to lead a workshop on writing for children. I was scheduled for four radio interviews and a television interview. I was invited to have not one—but two books signings. I not only wanted to be there, I felt I needed to be there. My newest book had just released in February and this was my big chance to let the world know.

As I anticipated this exciting opportunity, I pictured myself smiling and talking about my new book as I personally signed each copy. I even knew what outfits I’d be wearing and was tempted to start packing weeks in advance. But none of this happened. The events came and went without me, and I suffered from an acute case of FOMO.

When my mountain climbing-marathon running-alligator hunting husband ended up in ICU in July, I was sure he’d pull out of it in time, and I’d still be able to attend the mid-August event. But he didn’t, and I didn’t. He was released from the hospital after ten days, but was in no condition to be alone while I did my thing in Tennessee.

One-by-one I contacted my publishing companies, my hotel roommate, the conference directors, media interviewers, book singing schedulers, and more. Choking back tears, I notified each person that I would not be attending the conference. Then I had a chat with God that went something like this: “God, I don’t get it. I felt like I was supposed to be there and that You wanted me to go. My husband has not been in the hospital since the day he was born. Why now? Why this?”

The above words from Isaiah were written at a time when God was calling the nation back to Him. There was an infinite difference between their thoughts and His. They needed to trust Him. He did not act arbitrarily, but in love. Even when they didn’t understand what He was doing, they could count on His perfect character.

I believe that God is not accountable to me, and He doesn’t owe me answers. I know that as I surrender to Him, He will carry me through difficult times.

But I also love how He sometimes offers a glimpse of His purpose when the unexpected interrupts our lives.

Weeks later, on a walk, He helped me realize something. I kept thinking about all the people I had called or emailed to let them know my plans had change. I thought about what each of them said— “I’ll be praying for you and your husband.” “I’ll be sure to give this to our prayer team.” “Is it okay if I share this at our staff meeting, so we can pray?” Because I had to inform so many people about my change of plans, dozens of people were lifting up my husband and me in prayer. People I don’t even know.

I don’t know when I’ll have another opportunity to schmooze with authors and retailers to promote my new book. But I know that God’s ways are higher than my ways and that He is in control. When I fully trust His ways, FOMO is just an acronym that has no power over me.

Dear God, when life changes quickly in ways we don’t understand, help us to surrender our plans to You and trust You to work out Your ways for good. Amen.

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

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you a glimpse of His purpose when the unexpected hit?

The Cave

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1, NIV

I don’t like this cave I’m in. Not one bit.

It’s dark. It’s uncomfortably damp. And it smells like rancid mushrooms.

I feel terribly alone one minute, and the next, I’m not sure I’m alone at all. I think I can hear someone – or something – breathing. If I strain hard enough in the darkness, I can make out the shape of a man on the far side of the cave.

Still. Silent. Facing me.

I feel my skin crawl. But I’ve no one to blame but myself. I chose to come in here. I slipped into the cave of disappointment on my own volition. No one chased me here or forced me to enter.  It just seemed the only place to go under the circumstances I was facing. Hard times. Heartache. Uncertainty.

So here I am. Hating the darkness and wishing I could find a way to escape this cave of disappointment. Disappointment over people I thought I knew and trusted. Disappointment in witnessing injustice and helplessly watching those I love suffer.

Disappointment with life itself.

I’m reminded of a biblical shepherd-king named David. He spent a lot of time in caves too. He was running from a man (Saul) he once trusted and even revered; a hand-picked-by-God king whom David had been honored to serve and comfort with music during his deepest emotional struggles.

A man who then turned on David and sought to take his life.

And so David fled to caves (documented in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel). Many different caves over the years. Many different disappointments. David was forced to live life on the run.

A cave-dwelling fugitive.

And there he must’ve shivered like me in the cold blackness, feeling the deep disappointments of life to the marrow of his bones.

The Cave is an awful place. It sucks light, joy, and hope right out of us. Drains us dry. Because it makes us overlook all the things we have to be grateful for, all the blessings of life that our Papa God has lavished upon us. Things we forget to notice when times get hard. When things don’t turn out the way we envisioned; when dear ones betray us and God seems silent. When we’ve lost jobs, security, mentors, friends, health, or the dreams we secretly nurtured.

And we cannot fathom the why of it.

We all spend time in The Cave. It’s where Papa God does some of His finest character-sculpting. The Cave is where He keeps his sharpest chisels and coarsest sanders. Where He meets us one-on-one, to shape and mold us into the beloved son or daughter He’s had in mind for us to be from the very beginning.

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love” (Ephesians 1:4, MSG).

Mother Teresa, who spent quite a few of her precious years here on earth in The Cave, said, “You’ll never know Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you’ve got.” In her own barren cave of disappointment, she learned that when all else seems lost, He is enough. And He was.

You know, the more I stare through the murkiness of this cave, I can begin to make out the identity of the shape over there, patiently biding time, watching me.

It’s … why, it’s Jesus.

I get the feeling He’s been waiting there a long time for me to notice that I’m not alone. And now He’s drawing nearer. There’s a warm light radiating from His eyes. I think He’s got something in His hand. And He’s smiling.

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The Cave – insight from @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Momsaddresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: Tell me, dear friend, when did you last spent time in The Cave?

God Is Supposed to Do It My Way

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

My sister-in-law, Leslie, took her ten-year-old daughter, Megan, to the ballet and carefully explained beforehand what Megan would be seeing. But it turned out Megan didn’t quite get the concept.

During the performance, Megan watched the dancers communicating through their dance with a questioning look on her face, like, “This doesn’t make sense.” During one scene, when a male dancer was trying to communicate something to the ballerina, Megan leaned over to her mom and whispered, “Why doesn’t he just tell her?” Megan was troubled at the dancer’s frustration that the ballerina didn’t seem to understand his message.

Leslie replied, “It’s a ballet; they don’t talk.”

During the performance, Megan asked several more times about the lack of verbal communication. She just couldn’t get the non-verbal concept.

When Leslie and Megan returned home, her father asked about the ballet, expecting an enthusiastic response. Megan’s “OK” was definitely not enthusiastic.

Chuck was surprised. “Didn’t you like it, Megan?”

“No, Daddy, it was all in sign language.”

Megan had missed the beauty of the ballet because she expected something different—even though Leslie had tried to prepare her. Her incorrect assumptions had kept her from a wonderful experience.

Sometimes God’s children have the same problem. We expect God to work in a certain way, and when He doesn’t, it’s like He’s communicating in sign language—and we aren’t getting the point.

Maybe you have been waiting for God to do a certain thing. When He hasn’t, you have assumed He hasn’t done anything at all. But maybe your expectations are getting in the way of seeing the ways He is at work in you or others.

Maybe it’s time to release your expectations and believe that He is faithful according to His will. Let’s notice everything God is doing—not just what we are hoping for—and trust His will is best.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11 NASB

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God Is Supposed to Do It My Way – @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to travel and has been in more than 25 countries and has spoken in 8 of them. Her passion is to teach about God’s unconditional love and acceptance.  Kathy is the author of more than 50 books. She and her husband, Larry, are lay counselors and write and speak together. They have two children and two grandchildren and make their home in southern California.

Kathy’s recent release is a women’s Bible study. In Heart Wisdom: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, you will learn to navigate every area of your life through insightful commentary and challenging questions from the wisdom in Proverbs.

Join the conversation: When has God met your expectations differently than you assumed He would?

 

 

Is God Still Good?

by Ashley Lauren McClain

The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:9 NASB

Our front yard has always been one of my favorite things about our house. It’s beautiful. Our house sits back off of the road, there is a weeping willow tree, a white fence with horses and a barn, and a perfect place to watch the sunrise every morning. I remember sitting on that front porch before we bought our house and looking out at that front yard, dreaming about the wonderful life we would live there.

This morning as I sat on our couch looking out the window, I could see the “coming soon” sign recently erected out front. That sign represents so much excitement about the future and our new home, but it also represents those dreams that are now gone.

I always pictured children playing in that yard or sitting on that ugly living room carpet. I thought I would someday show them pictures of Mommy & Daddy’s first house where they lived part of their happy childhood.

But sitting here today I now there is no possible way for that ever to happen. Those children never came. Why God? I prayed for that. Why didn’t you do it?

I wish I could tell you that my faith is so strong, I don’t ever question Him. That I know He is sovereign, and His plans are the best plans for my life. I DO know that to be true. But I still sometimes ask Him questions… and you know what? He is not mad or even disappointed in me for doing so, not one bit.

Even in my questioning, I know He still loves me. Even in my disappointment, I know He is still good.

Maybe today you are not moving on and leaving behind unfulfilled dreams. Maybe your struggle involves a recent diagnosis, an unexpected death, the loss of a job; maybe it is hurt recent or from your past, or plans you had that never came to fruition.

But you know what? He is still good.

That can be hard to believe in the midst of some of our greatest challenges. But it is true. I know that His Word tells me that He will NEVER leave me or forsake me, and I believe it. I know His Word tells me that He has GOOD plans for my future, and I believe it.

When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, they faced some of the biggest challenges possible. The land was filled with strongly fortified cities, fierce warriors, and impressive kingdoms. Not much had changed since their parents had balked in fear and refused to go in forty years earlier. But God had once again promised to go before them. He would give them the victory and eventually the land. And as they prepared for what lay ahead, He reassured them once more: “The Lord will deliver them up before you…Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:5-6 NASB). God had their good in mind. And unlike their parents, they chose to believe in His goodness.

It was the right choice.

He is the same God today. I am sorry for the pain, the hopelessness, the frustration, or loneliness you may feel today. I am sorry for whatever dream you may have had to lay to rest. I get it. I am laying down one of mine with you today.

But here is what we can know: God is good all the time. No matter what you may have to face today, know that you are facing it with the strong & trustworthy presence of Jesus Christ living in you.

The plans that the Lord has for my life and yours are greater than any dreams we have for ourselves. Does that mean they will look exactly like we thought or wanted them to be? No. But we can trust in His goodness. Because He is good. Always.

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Is God Still Good? – thoughts on #GodsLove from Ashley Lauren McClain on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Ashley McClainAbout the author: Ashley McClain is a girl with big dreams and a blog to encourage women in their journey through this life we have been given by the greatest Gift Giver there is! She loves to read, write, drink coffee, and spend time with the hubby & puppies! Connect with Ashley on her website ashleymcclain.org. She would love to hear about your journey too!

Join the conversation: What dreams have you had to lay down? What did God give you instead?

 

Don’t Just Survive – Thrive!

by Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner @SGiesbrecht

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.                                                                                                                                                   Psalm 145:14 NIV

I’m intrigued by stories of personal injury survivors. Is it possible to survive a free-fall from the Sears Tower in Chicago? The answer is yes. Or what if you fulfill a lifelong dream of skydiving, and your parachute fails, could you survive the fall? The answer is still yes. The wikiHow site says, “Hundreds maybe thousands of people have fallen from such heights and lived to tell the tale.”

You and I can increase our chances of physical survival by putting their helpful hints to use. We may not fall from a plane, but accidental falls happen when we least expect them. It’s just a part of life.

Beyond the literal, physical ways we trip, teeter, or collapse, life can bring spiritual or emotional challenges that can move us out of our comfort zones. Facing those things can plunge us into aimless descent. Ever feel like you’ve been tripped up by an addiction? Tormented by shame? Slipped up by doubt? Fallen headlong into depression?

God is near and waits for us to ask Him for help to get back up when the circumstances of life knock us into a downward spiral.

I’ve found it helps for me to reach out to Him in times of difficulty: like doubt, despair, depression, disappointment, disease, destruction, divorce, discouragement, domestic violence or grief. Even when I don’t really feel like asking for help, God’s hand is already extended to me. His will for us when we are down and out is for us to turn to Him and ask for a hand-up, lacing our fingers with His. God’s will for us is completeness and wholeness. He wants us to more than survive. He wants us to thrive! Psalm 145:14 says, “God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (MSG).

Dear Lord, thank you for reaching out to help me get back up. I choose to hold on to you. Thank you for giving me a hand, for giving me a fresh start and for allowing me a second chance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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Don’t Just Survive – Thrive! @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheryl giesbrechtAbout the author: Exchanging hurt for hope is Sheryl Giesbrecht’s focus—a message she shares with audiences as a radio and television personality, author and speaker. She served as Focus on the Family’s columnist for Pastor’s Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family Magazine and many others.

Sheryl is the author of It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth (Redemption Press, March 2018). When we don’t get answers or see God’s guiding hand, it’s hard to keep moving forward in faith. Does God see me? Does he hear me? Does he care? Many Christians confuse doubt with unbelief and are afraid to admit those fears, but God is not threatened by our questions, and doubt does not negate our faith. Find a deeper understanding of the role doubt plays in your spiritual growth–and how learning to doubt your doubts enables faith to prevail.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced God’s saving power when you were down and out? Please share!

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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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?

What Fills My Emptiness

by Janet Perez Eckles

Getting rid of junk is so liberating. The other day I got busy, I rolled up my sleeves, and began with closets, then drawers. As I tossed out jars of who-knows-what in my bathroom drawer—old tubes of lipstick, creams that probably ended up there since I was a teenager—to my delight, I found the little bottle of perfume I’ve been searching for months. It was my favorite for its delicate, yet delicious scent.

Without hesitation, I popped the glass lid off, brought it to my nose, and the scent was, well, blah. How could that fancy bottle of perfume have lost its fragrance? Well, it was like many things in life—a new car, new house, new career, and even new relationships—all eventually losing their zest over time.

Have you been there? At first, they shine with promises and fill that part of us that hungers for satisfaction and fulfillment. But then something happens—a misunderstanding, bad decisions, wrong path taken, or mistakes that lead to regrets.

Before you know it, the luster fades. Expectations turn to disappointment. and the scent of  happiness evaporates.

We handle most of this. But when that which we held so dear, when something we counted on or someone in whom we trusted lets us down, we are disappointed. Disappointment turns to grief as the hurt remains. The fragrance once sweet is now gone, and the smell of heartache fills the air instead.

Oh, how I wish to tell you I’ve not known that kind of grief. But I have. And when empty boxes of tissues fill my trashcan, I hold on to the one thing that remains, the only thing that will never disappoint.

What still holds the fragrance of hope and of comfort is love. But not the love of a friend or family member. It’s the love of Christ. The love from which we can never be separated. It’s the love that promises to ease loneliness, bring back joy, and fill the emptiness disappointment has left behind.

Christ’s love contains all we need. It’s available. It’s free, and it’s ours.

The Apostle Paul was convinced of this. . . and we should be too. He wrote: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).

Surrounded by His love, saturated by its fragrance and relishing in its power, no matter what rejection, cruelty of life, or pain of broken dreams we experience, we’re loved, truly loved. That reality will always remain.

Father, how foolish of me to trust in others for security and love. Remind me, Lord, each moment that your love is more than enough, it’s sufficient. And I can trust that it never loses its promise of protection, reassurance and comfort.

janet perez eckles

About the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker and author of four books. Her best-selling release, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta invites you to experience the simplicity of finding joy even in the midst of hardship, broken dreams, and sorrow. With engaging stories, Simply Salsa gives practical steps to overcome fear and celebrate life once again.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced a time when your fragrance of joy was replaced by sorrow? How has the love of Christ made a difference in your life?

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash