His Terms, Not Ours

by Julie Zine Coleman

“It is a fundamental principle in the life and walk of faith that we must always be prepared for the unexpected when we are dealing with God.”      D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The stream of pilgrims entering the city had been steady for several days. It was time for Passover, and every male living within fifteen miles of the city was required to come to celebrate in Jerusalem. One particular group of travelers stood apart from the rest.

As they ascended into town from the Mount of Olives, some of the men began to spread their coats or freshly cut palm branches on the road before them. The object of their tribute came into view, astride a donkey. As He neared the city gate, the surrounding crowd began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” This was obviously no ordinary pilgrim.

The scene was reminiscent of another historical triumphal entry. Antiochus, King of Syria, had desecrated the Temple by offering swine flesh to Zeus at the altar of God. After the battle in which Antiochus was soundly defeated, the victorious Simon Maccabaeus was welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts of joy and branches of palm trees. Now, 150 years later, history seemed to replay itself as Jesus rode into the city. Waving palm branches and shouts of acclamation announced the arrival of another conquering hero.

The crowd believed that Jesus had come to oust their enemies and lead them to political independence. Their expectations were reflected in the very words they shouted. “Hosanna” literally means “save now!” It was a conqueror’s welcome they gave Jesus, but they did not comprehend the kind of conqueror He came to be.  He would score victory over an oppressor, but the oppressor was not Rome. It was the death-grip of sin. He came on His terms, not theirs.

Days later, the crowd was shouting at Jesus again. But this time the words were vastly different: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” He had failed to meet their expectations. And so they rejected Him as their Messiah.

Has God ever failed to meet your expectations? In the two years my mother was dying, I had expectations of God. I would not suffer grief like most people. I had the Lord in my life. I assumed He would be there for me and hold me close and shield me through the process. So I cried out to Him in anticipation, waiting for Him to reveal Himself to me and fill me with peace.

It was like shouting into the wind. I got nothing.

His silence shook my faith to its very foundation. Where was God? This was the hardest trial I had ever encountered. Why was He silent when I so desperately needed Him?

I was hurting so badly I could hardly see straight. I wanted out from the pain. But God had plans for my pain. He would use it to mold me more closely into the image of Christ. I would learn to identify with Him by going through the process of grief and suffering. Most importantly, I would experience a deeper intimacy with Him as I learned to lean on and trust Him on a whole new level. He proved Himself faithful through the crisis. But He came to me on His terms, not mine.

When God seems to let you down, it’s time to look at why you are disappointed. Maybe it’s time to adjust your expectations.

The crowd on Palm Sunday those many centuries ago was looking for a temporary fix. They wanted peace and an easier life. God had something bigger and far better in mind for them. What He would accomplish over the next few days had eternal implications. They would be given a chance of peace with Him, a cure for their sin, and a hope for an eternity in heaven. His goals were far superior to any the crowd could have imagined.

We are limited in our understanding of God’s plan for us. We go for the temporary fix quite often, begging for relief from our temporary discomfort or pain. But He has higher goals for us than that. He will use the pain to accomplish what will afford eternal benefit. His terms are superior to ours. And we can trust Him to deliver far greater things than we can even know to ask.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”       2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB  

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the author: Julie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Did you know Arise Daily has a book that just released? Arise to Peace is a compilation of devotionals from 72 well-loved authors in the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Julie Coleman served as General Editor for the project. Order your copy today!

Join the conversation: How has God surprised you with better than you could have imagined?

Detours—No Camping Allowed

by Terri Gillespie

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 TLV

Are there scriptural passages that are painful to read for you? I have a few. The above is one of them. Why? I have several “deferred hopes” — people and situations I’ve prayed about for many years. Answers that haven’t come to fruition. These are not wants or desires—like a Christmas list—but heart hopes of an eternal nature. Salvations. Deliverances. Restoration. Family.

Sometimes, it feels like deep holes in my heart, that for whatever reason, our loving Heavenly Father has left unfulfilled. Sometimes, I feel isolated with my discouragement — out there in the dark of doubt. Do you know what I mean?

So, knowing the longings are there and not knowing when, or if, they will be fulfilled can get a bit disheartening. And there are times when I am heartsick. But I can’t “camp” there.

A painful detour . . .

When my heart takes a detour, it’s generally caused by some area in my life that is weak. Those things that remind me that my heart hope is still longing. I must be especially vigilant to not get lost but find my way back to the path of faith.

One of the ways I do this is to focus on GOD’s truths. Verses that re-direct me into His loving arms — reminders of His sovereignty and love. Reminders of His love for those I love. As I come across them, I add them to my journal.

Here are a few passages meaningful to me [emphasis mine]:

  • Looking at them, Yeshua [Hebrew for Jesus] said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God!” Mark 10:27, TLV
  • Fulfill Your word to Your servant, which leads to reverence for You. Psalm 119:38 TLV
  • I am sure of this very thing—that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Messiah Yeshua. Philippians 1:6 TLV
  • And the shalom [peace] of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua. Philippians 4:7 TLV
  • Chazak [Be strong]! Let your heart take courage, all you who wait for ADONAI [the LORD]. Psalm 31:25(24) TLV
  • Never snatch out of my mouth a word of truth, for I hope in your judgments. Psalm 119:42 TLV
  • When my troubling thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations comfort my soul. Psalm 94:19 TLV

I’m sure you have your own passages of hope — verses that shift the focus from waiting for an outcome to trusting in the Father, come what may.

While I would love to see my heart hope fulfilled in my lifetime (Psalm 27:13), but like Abraham and the fathers and mothers of Scriptures, not all lived to see their promises fulfilled (Hebrews 11:13). And, I must be okay with that.

Once I return to that understanding, I’ve exited the detour and am back on the right path.

Have all your heart hopes been fulfilled? Or are some still deferred? Just know we don’t have to take the detour of discouragement, and camp alone in the darkness—at least not for very long. Because He gives us plenty of reminders of that love, we just need to pay attention.

May we trust and remember the goodness of our Father, my friends—and may our detours be avoided or brief.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She tries to avoid spiritual detours.

Terri’s weekly devotional, Making Eye Contact with God, for women only, enables you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see God.

Join the conversation: What passages are your go-to when you are discouraged?

Let Go

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

For the earth will be filled with knowing the glory of ADONAI [the LORD], as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14, TLV

We thought it was safe. The Missouri River had a long sandbar that was invisible from the shore. A group of people ran over it making them appear to be walking on water. Of course, we wanted to do it, too. So, my daughter, three of my nieces, and my sister-in-law and I skipped and laughed all the way to the end—which dropped off suddenly, in the middle of the rushing river current!

I was the last person to hit the undertow. I tried to swim back to the shallows but went nowhere. All I could do was keep myself from being dragged under the water. Within seconds I was exhausted from fighting to stay afloat. Part of me wanted to just give up—until I watched in horror as my daughter and nieces frantically tried to keep from going under.

Finally, I screamed for my brother on the shore. He ran in and stopped at the edge of the sandbar. Since I was the closest, he grabbed for me.

Have you ever heard the stories of rescuers being drowned by the victims they tried to save? I had. Still, I panicked and nearly pulled my brother in. He rebuked me—yelled at me to stop or I would drown us both.

In seconds I did the most counterintuitive thing I could do given my fear—I let go. I chose to trust that my brother would help me.

Once I did this, he was able to easily pull me to safety. Then, we both rescued the rest of our family. Had I not let go, the outcome could have been tragic.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from that experience had nothing to do with water safety. I learned what it felt like to want to give up, and how that is different from letting go.

Today’s passage is a prophecy. The prophet Habakkuk had witnessed another round of disappointing behaviors by Israel. Discouraged, he questioned why God had allowed all this. Amid this whirlpool of despair, Habakkuk proclaims that one day the earth would be filled with knowing the glory of the LORD.

The prophet continues with one of the most beautiful psalms of letting go—letting go because he trusted in the Most High God:

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and there is no yield on the vines,
Though the olive crop fail,
and the fields produce no food,
the flock is cut off from the fold,
and there is no cattle in the stalls.
Yet will I triumph in Adonai,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Adonai my Lord, is my strength.
He has made my feet like a deer’s,
and will make me walk on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19, TLV

Giving up is wrapped in despair. Letting go is supported by faith and trust.

It can be discouraging to see the disappointing behavior all around us—sometimes within our own families. We may want to give up—to not be engaged in our calling. We wonder how we can let go of our fear, anger, disappointment, and choose to rejoice and speak words of faith: that one day all the earth will recognize the glory of our Heavenly Father, and acknowledge the hard-won salvation by His Son, Jesus.

We may wonder, but it is possible. All we need to do is let go.

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Let Go – insight on #FollowingGod from Terri Gillespie, @TerriGMavens on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Do you need to let go?

LIFE

by Tammy Whitehurst @TammyWhitehurst

 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.                                                                           Psalm 34:18 NIV 

Everything was going fine, then it suddenly feels as if we’ve stepped in front of an oncoming train or just walked face forward into a brick wall. We never saw it coming. It stopped us cold in our tracks.

LIFE: a hit of some kind to the home and heart. Most of us have felt deserted either emotionally or spiritually at some point. The pain can either derail us or propel us into the arms of Jesus.

A few years ago, I found myself in a dance with depression. Without Scripture guiding me out of the dark and back into the light, I would still be in the pit. Even as I clawed myself up and out, I knew Jesus had me in the palm of His hand.

During those dark days, I always believed the dark cloud would one day give way to sunshine. It is true when God tells us weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:1-5).

The key is to keep digging through the darkness until it bleeds light. It will….. because God says it will.

As Christians, we keep moving forward even if we have to drag ourselves. Even if we must claw our way into the next day….. and the next. God sees, hears, and cares. Because of that we have hope. God is good even when life is bad.

I can’t answer why we must walk through a crisis or how long we have to stay.

I can’t tell you when it all will change.

BUT…..

I CAN tell you where our help comes from. His name is Jesus and He won’t bend nor will he break. Even when our future is uncertain, he walks ahead of us to show the way.

When fear is overwhelming and questions have no answers, rely on the peace that surpasses all understanding. He is strong enough to rescue, to save….expect the unexpected when it comes to unleashing and bombarding Heaven with our prayers.

When it comes to life, the older we get the more we realize that “sometimes” is a real word that requires real faith.

Sometimes we get answers quickly.
Sometimes we don’t.
Sometimes people are healed.
Sometimes they aren’t.
Sometimes marriages last 50 plus years.
Sometimes not.
Sometimes relationships are mended and forgiveness comes full circle.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes people realize true peace is found when we cross the line in the sand and step out on faith.
Sometimes the line is never crossed.

But even in uncertainty, as believers we can stand with our heads held high. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can march forward, not backward, eventually regaining the hope we might have lost.

Rough waters make smooth stones. Smooth stones bring down giants. Armor up. It’s time to report for duty!

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LIFE – insight and encouragement from @TammyWhitehurst on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

tammy whitehurstAbout the author: Tammy was a middle school teacher before graduating from New Orleans Theological Seminary in 2010. Now speaking full-time, she has been interviewed on radio stations including Moody Christian Broadcasting and has authored three devotionals. She is also the co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, training speakers across the country. She has been described as a hoot with a capital “H” and she struggles like the rest of us with dust, dishes, cellulite, junk drawers, and wrinkles. Find out more about her at TammyWhitehurst.com

Join the conversation: When is the last time life knocked you off the tracks? What gave you hope?

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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The Fear of Missing Out – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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?