To the Mother of the Would-Be Graduate

by Patti Richter

Out for a morning walk last week, I stopped to greet a neighbor from a safe, COVID-19-inspired distance. When I inquired about her well-being during these trying days, she burst into tears. Her daughter, she explained, is a high-school senior—was a high-school senior. Everything is upended in their world. And a graduation celebration is nowhere to be seen in the blurry picture.

Though it’s been ten years since my youngest child’s graduation, I totally understood. These commencement ceremonies mark a new beginning for our children, and they may further serve as an invisible book-end to Volume I of motherhood. The parenting journey that began with a stack of diapers and swaddling blankets reaches a pinnacle at the toss of a tassel.

When my son donned a satin robe and mortarboard to receive his college diploma, he thought it was no big deal, just a necessary bit of pageantry. I, however, considered it monumental, a milestone for both of us. I wanted to see his tassel swing with each of his long-legged strides across the stage. And I’d begun celebrating weeks ahead of the event while I addressed linen envelopes. Before sliding the announcements inside them, I rubbed my index finger across the gold-embellished emblem atop each one.

Motherhood usually begins with celebration, as it should. Friends and family come together to shower the mother-to-be with things she will need—about a dozen pages of store registry items these days. But when the baby arrives, the new mother may soon realize the astounding array of items filling the nursery has given her a false sense of confidence. The room is equipped, but is she?

Children have the power to turn their parents into desperate creatures. At first, we’re sleep-deprived. Then we move from that phase to a long succession of others, as if jumping from one stone to the next across an incredibly wide creek. But desperation drives prayer, which means that raising children may compel us to pray more earnestly and more often.

Mothers are well-acquainted with fear and trembling brought on by children and their circumstances, whether real or imagined. Seeking God in prayer will keep our hearts from fainting over any offspring-induced distress. And reading His Word relieves our fears and anxieties as we ingest His wisdom and promises.

The last chapter of Proverbs includes a long passage praising the qualities of a godly woman. It further suggests the attire she needs to run well in this long-distance marathon of motherhood: “strength and dignity,” which help her to “laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25 NIV).

In the future, if not now, “Her children arise and call her blessed” (Prverbs 31:28 NIV). However, it’s the next verse that likely holds the key to her success: “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NIV).

For the mother with a heavy heart over postponed or canceled plans that would have celebrated your child’s milestone (graduations, weddings, etc.), may you experience God’s comfort in your loss. Psalm 94:19 NIV says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”

Meanwhile, please remember the closing verse of Proverbs, which may indeed include another kind of graduation ceremony:

Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.                                                                                                                                     Proverbs 31:31 NIV  

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To the Mother of the Would-Be Graduate – Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Patti Richter headshot 2017-1nAbout the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She writes and edits global mission stories for The Gospel Coalition and her faith essays appears at BlueRibbonNews.com.

Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of SufferingIt 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: Have important milestone events been canceled in your family this spring? How are you managing the loss?

Are You Overlooking Your Best Gifts?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

One summer, our four-year-old son drove a friend’s battery-powered three-wheeler. Watching Brant’s joy planted an idea. This would make the perfect Christmas gift.

My husband and I located a red one that December on sale. We stretched our seminary student budget and bought it. I smiled every time I imagined Brant’s surprise on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve we set the gleaming three-wheeler beside the tree. I went to bed anticipating the excitement of the next morning.

But Brant didn’t like his gift. It wasn’t blue—like the one he’d ridden that summer. “But red’s your favorite color,” I reminded him. Didn’t matter, Brant wanted blue.

That year, his friends and sister scooted around on the three-wheeler. But Brant. Wouldn’t. Even. Touch. It.

The next summer we visited my friends again and Brant anticipated riding the blue three-wheeler. He was surprised at how much smaller and more worn it was than his three-wheeler. His attitude toward his vehicle changed. But by this time, because of Brant’s lack of interest and our coming move, Larry had already promised it to a man for his grandchildren.

Our good gift to our son never benefited him, because he rejected it.

I wonder how many times I’ve repeated my son’s story. I missed the joy of a good gift because it didn’t look like what I imagined or wasn’t the color of a friend’s. Worse, how many times have I’ve questioned my Father’s wisdom and love?

When God’s gifts don’t look like we imagined, we feel disappointed or rejected. We can’t imagine that His gift is better than what we asked for.

One year, I had a roommate who didn’t get anything I said. I felt frustrated trying to connect with her. One night in my journal I came across a prayer I’d written earlier to become a better communicator. I laughed to myself. God was answering my prayer, just not in the way I’d imagined. While I’d pictured an easy exchange of ideas, He was teaching me how to listen and express myself in ways that didn’t come naturally.

Do you have prayers that seem to be unanswered? Could you have overlooked the answer because it came wrapped in a blue bow when you expected pink?

It’s not too late to change our attitudes and enjoy God’s good gifts.

  • List the “gifts” you wish were different. Include experiences, personality traits, and people in your life. God already knows your thoughts, so be honest.
  • Ask Him to open your eyes to see them from His perspective.
  • Go down your list and, by faith, thank Him for His promise to work even the bad things together for your good and for the good of all who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

When our four-year old dismissed his Christmas gift, he wasn’t the only one who missed out. Our family missed the joy of him enjoying his gift. Remembering God gives good gifts helps us look for the good. The treasure may be hidden, but we know it is there.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  James 1:17 NIV

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Are You Overlooking Your Best Gifts? – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Has there been a time when you failed to recognize what God gave you as a desirable gift?

How to Resist A Donut

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

On a recent morning at 6 a.m., as I walked home from our neighborhood work-out room, I felt drained by the unusual humidity along with the 90-degree temperature (yes, I live in the desert). Tomorrow morning, I’ll have to drive the car. And then the most delicious thought entered my mind.

After I finish, I’ll go get a donut.

Oh! What motivation to drive the car to the gym. I felt delightfully sneaky. I could already taste my favorite donut—the sugar cinnamon spice. What does it matter I’m trying to eat healthier? I deserve a donut!

Then my spiritual eyes were opened and 2 Corinthians 10:5 came to mind: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” ( ESV).

I saw Satan’s ploy to destroy my self-control by using a tactic of mine I developed in childhood. I often felt like the possibilities offered me were promises. Most often they were not fulfilled. I shared a room with my sister and always wanted my own room. At one point, most likely when I was a pre-teen, my mother mentioned, “Daddy and I are thinking of making the garage into your own bedroom.” What great news! I felt important and valued.

Emotionally, I waited on the edge of my seat for the next mention of the coming transformation. But my parents never brought up the idea again. In my insecurity, I didn’t ask about it because I feared hearing, “We aren’t going to do it.” Such an answer would feel like rejection, affirming my mistaken belief that I didn’t deserve anything special.

My hope died a slow painful death. I’m sure my parents thought I’d forgotten. I’m not even important enough for them to tell me they changed their mind.

Somehow in my complicated way of thinking, I began to hate being disappointed, even by myself. I believed “a broken promise equals rejection.” My warped need for self-control made sure I kept any promise to myself—like getting a donut—even if I couldn’t control other people.

All this was involved on that morning when I promised myself a donut. But I was willing to allow God to empower me to take every thought captive to obey Christ. 

Kathy, if you continue to promise yourself this donut, by tomorrow morning, it’ll be even harder to resist. Praise God, I saw the lie and refused to be caught in Satan’s web.

As I studied the truth of 2 Corinthians 10:5, I began to envision any thought as an arrow headed toward my heart and mind. I could take each thought “captive” and examine it whether it aligns with Scripture and its the truth. Then I could reject the lie and receive the truth.

By commandeering our thoughts and evaluating them, asking for the Spirit’s power, we choose obedience, resulting in God’s power being seen by others—to his glory.

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How to Resist A Donut – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is passionate about teaching how to trust God more. The author of more than 55 books, one of her most recent is Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. Her books include Bible studies, Bible commentaries, and Christian living topics like parenting, spiritual transformation, marriage, and God’s nature. She is a popular women’s conference speaker who has spoken in 35 states and 8 foreign countries. www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: Do you have a lie that keeps running through your mind?

Tempted to Compare My Holidays

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

This time of year always brings to my mind fun memories of childhood Christmases. The pattern in our house rarely changed from year to year, and I loved it. I would anticipate every second, from munching on Chex party mix while visiting my dad on Christmas Eve to playing in the backyard at my aunt and uncle’s house Christmas afternoon.

I always knew what to expect, and I thrived on the predictability of it all.

I don’t know how my parents managed to pull it off, with the challenges divorce can bring. But somehow, they did. I felt safe in knowing and anticipating what our holiday had in store.

As a wife, mom, stepmom, and step-Mimi, holidays can be a bit more unexpected now.

For years I longed to create a Christmas season our family could not only count on, but look forward to each year. But outside factors and challenges always seemed to interrupt my best laid plans.

Frustration has a way of knocking at our heart’s door at times like that, when expectations lost cause us to feel like what we do for our holiday isn’t good enough. With a simple scroll through social media, I can easily become overwhelmed with post after post of recipes, decorations, and family outings that put my spur-of-the-moment schedule to shame.

When we compare our holidays to others’, we risk losing the mountain of blessings that God has given to us. Our expectations become disappointment, and what we long for becomes the enemy of what we already have. But God offers a better way.

Expectations can push contentment into the shadows, but God renews our contentment with the light of each new day.

So I’ve learned to be content with my circumstances. Even when they take an abrupt turn, like they have recently. In fact, our current circumstances have already affected my ability to plan, go, and do as much as I’d like through this year’s holiday season. But when disappointment tries to creep in, I will remind myself of God’s promise to me. His presence is always here, filling me with joy and peace through the holidays.

My holidays may not be perfect, but they are wonderful because God is in it.

You may be thinking, “But my holidays can’t be wonderful. Not this year. Too much has happened.”

I am right there with you, friend. We can let a diagnosis, grief, or hurt cast a pall over this season, or we can allow them to draw us into the throne room of grace, where mercy, hope, and healing reside.

So this year, join me in deciding to celebrate our wonderful, imperfect, unexpected, sometimes painful but always grace-filled, holidays.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 NIV

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Tempted to Compare My Holidays – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable ways. Her lessons highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with comparing your holiday experiences with others’?

 

Then Sulks My Soul

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I think my spirit gets a little pouty every now and then. It’s a spoiled rotten little spirit, mind you, and the things that inspire the pouting are most often quite trivial. Like having to get a new phone and not being able to keep the old number. Or like when you’ve been thinking about that last Ding Dong all day and then find somebody ate it and left the empty box.

I so hate to admit this, but I’m just climbing out of a ridiculous pouty-mope right now. The other day I sighed so hard I’m pretty sure my neighbors felt a breeze. Embarrassing.

To add to it, as usually happens when I’m brooding, suddenly I hated all my clothes. I’m not sure exactly why, but sulkiness always seems to bring out the worst in my closet. It’s not that I necessarily want new clothes even. It’s more that I become discontent with absolutely everything and I’m convinced I need a different body to put inside the clothes I already have. It doesn’t matter that I know I’m to blame, I still blame the closet. Goofy closet.

When I’m overwhelmed or blue or hormonal or discontent or just plain pouty, there’s one thing that can snap me back around like nothing else. It’s dwelling on the Lord. Not just passively thinking. No, really and truly meditating. Contemplating to the point of being overwhelmed and undone by the glorious God of all joy. It’s an altogether better “overwhelmed.”

“I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,” (Isaiah 61:10, HCSB). The New Living says, “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!” As I focus on Him and rejoice in His goodness, it’s amazing how those trivial, pout-inducing circumstances shrivel in significance.

It’s at the moment of praise, as I ponder amazing grace, that I remember—I remember all the way to my soul—that when He gave me the gift of salvation through the cross of Christ, He gave me absolutely everything my soul needs. Whatever I’m whining about looks small and petty. And even when I’m fretting over something that’s not small or petty, that something is still nowhere near as big as the grace of God.

It makes me smile to recognize that as I dwell on His goodness and the sulkiness fades into worship, the Lord totally takes care of the closet thing. The spiritual closet, anyway. The very reason for rejoicing is that “He has clothed me with the garments of salvation.” It’s impossible to whine about the “robe of righteousness.” It’s borrowed from Christ. And though this whiny woman doesn’t deserve it, it fits perfectly.

The sweet, old hymn expresses it well:

“And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,

Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,

That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin.”

A soul can hardly sulk when it’s singing about the greatness of God.

            “Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

            How great thou art! How great thou art!”

Reveling in our great God. It reboots a mope. It inspires a joy that goes all the way to the soul. And all the way to the closet.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.                                                                                                                                       Isaiah 26:3 NIV

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Then Sulks My Soul – insight on praising God from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (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.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for the Messy to Meaningful series, with My Purse Runneth Over coming soon. Edie Melson and Rhonda have a new book as well, Unruffled—Thriving in Chaos.

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 with the sulks?

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!