There Will Be Spring

by Carol Rusaw

I know that whatever God does lasts forever; there is no adding to it, no taking away. And he has done it all in such a way that everyone must feel awe in his presence. Whatever it has been already, and whatever is to come has been already, with God summoning each event back in its turn.   Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 Revised English Bible

Does it seem like what you are going through has no end in sight?  It may be waiting out the pandemic, having to stay at home while the kids are trying to learn on their computers, or wearing masks and social distancing whenever shopping for food. Or maybe it is the stress of having to take care of an ill loved one. It may be searching for a job to pay the rent or buy food and coming back empty again.

What do you do to get through bad times?

For me, I am still struggling through the unexpected loss of my husband to pancreatic cancer two years ago. I am still adjusting to his absence, but also in having to stretch limited income to pay the mortgage, to care for a son with special needs, and to fix things like basement leakages.

I am also searching for where I should go with the rest of my life. I had given training workshops on managing personal and organizational changes, but I had to retire to take care of Mike. Despite my experience in educating others, I now have trouble taking my own advice for coping with such massive, sudden changes.

“How long is this thing going to last?” we ask ourselves.  “When will things begin to return to normal and get better?”

We look to God for answers, but we do not hear any clear replies.  God does not seem to be responding to our pleas for help, and we become even more anxious.

I found some help from the book of Ecclesiastes. In this ancient writing is an enduring promise: bad things do not last forever. They disappear like winter’s snow, melting before crocuses pop up through the thawing dirt. God’s answer is as firm as the recurring cycles of nature, year after year, century after century, generation after generation. We can be reassured that a lack of apparent signs of His help do not mean it will never come. God ordains spring to follow winter. 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) assures us: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God has His plans and purposes. We cannot know when a difficult season will end, but we can trust that He will use even the hardest of things for our beauty. All in His time.

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

About the author: Carol Rusaw has retired from teaching adults about management, leadership, and organizational development to write, paint, and consult. She has written two books and over 20 academic articles. Her current project is a book on transformational redemption based on the book of Job. In addition to her PhD in adult education and human resource development, she holds several Masters degrees including an MA in Theological Studies. You can see her art at https://www.artforthespirit/shop.

Join the conversation: What does Ecclesiastes 3:11 mean to you?

The Plenty Nests

by Doris Swift

There’s something about children in the house at Christmastime that adds an extra measure of joy to the season. My heart yearns for those crack-o’-dawn Christmas mornings when jumping beans would shake us awake, their Christmas list items wrapped and waiting beneath the tree. This late-night-wrapping mama would roll out of bed and make those littles wait while I “put the coffee on” and popped cinnamon buns into the oven. I’d light the tree and give the okay, standing camera-ready as they rushed by like the wind, wide-eyed and giggly, the likes of which you only experience once a year.   

Oh, for just one more glimpse of that sparkle in their eyes, smiles a mile wide as wrapping paper flies. Where did the time go? Our seasons change, don’t they? Time moves on, our littles grow up, and we mama birds must teach them to fly.  

While some may say our nests are empty, God encourages us that “He has made everything beautiful in its time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV).

And whatever the status of this mama bird’s nest or yours, we can choose joy, and we can choose to be glad. For although we may miss the seasons of old, God brings new seasons of life to experience. We can take comfort in remembering that those old seasons were once new, too.

In John 15, Jesus prepares His disciples for what was to come. He was leaving, and He knew it would be hard for them to bear. He told them what it meant to abide in the vine, bear much fruit, and how much He loved them. He told them all those things so His joy would be in them; that their joy may be full—because He would never leave them empty.

That is true for us, too: Jesus will never leave us empty when we abide in Him. His joy remains in us throughout the seasons of our lives, even the hardest ones. We are full of Jesus- joy. What could be better?

So young mamas, enjoy every moment and know this: Sleeping-in on Christmas morning is overrated, even if you just went to bed an hour before. Be careful not to blink—because all that talk about time going by quickly? It’s not a cliché. Savor every moment, and don’t sweat the lack of quiet time. Your home will be quiet soon enough, so invite your littles into your moments with the Savior.

And they-say-your-nest-is-empty mamas, your nest is full. We can hang onto memories, but let’s not miss the new ones waiting to be made. This is not the end of the story, because the old story is not gone, it is just stretching and growing and becoming something beautiful in its time.

So how about we change that phrase empty nest to plenty nest? Our plenty nests, where abundance flows with the fullness of love, peace, and joy. Where loving arms of sweet grandchildren wrap around us like a warm blanket. Where the Holy Spirit dwells and Jesus is Lord. Praise God, our nests are plentiful!

May your plenty nests be blessed this Christmas as you celebrate the Savior, who makes our seasons beautiful and our joy full.

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

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

About the author: Doris Swift is an inspirational blogger, speaker, author, and host of the Fierce Calling Podcast. In ministry for more than thirty years, she is passionate about helping women study God’s Word, walk in their calling, and use their gifts to impact the world for Christ.

How would your life change if you discovered your past has purpose? In Doris’ book,

Goodbye, Regret: Forgiving Yourself of Past Mistakes, you’ll take a journey into the life of a woman who came face to face with her past. A woman who was set free when her ordinary day intersected with her extraordinary destiny. A woman with a history of past mistakes.

Join the conversation: How would you describe your nest today?

Being Extra Thankful This Year!

by Lee Ann Mancini

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11: NIV

My husband and I recently went on a road trip from Florida to Georgia and all the way up the East Coast to Boston, to visit our dear friends. Then we traveled to Ohio and Michigan to visit family.

It was such a beautiful trip. We left Florida’s ocean breezes, the swaying palm trees and the warm sandy beaches, and headed for the red clay of Georgia and onto the to the ever-breathtaking view of the fall colors that lined most of the highways we traveled. This fall treat to the eye made me recall Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV): “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  

As I listened to the music and viewed the scenery, I became aware of how much our great God has blessed my husband, me, and our family. We raised two children who chose to follow Christ. We survived and continue to survive the bumpy road called marriage (33 years this November). We overcame difficulties such as the death of loved ones and friends. We have celebrated weddings, birth of babies, anniversaries, birthdays and so much more.

With Thanksgiving on its way, memories of all the years we have celebrated this holiday with family and friends we love dearly, as well as all the traditional foods we have shared, I was reminded that we need to be thankful every day. But this year has made me aware that there are many who will not be able to celebrate because of great losses due to this extraordinary, unprecedented, catastrophic Covid 19.

As we were traveling, I thought of ways we could show our appreciation to the Lord for all he has done for us and all he continues to do. Every year we give to those who are less fortunate; however, this year, we want to give a little extra because many are suffering great personal and financial losses. Because of all the fear, less income, and uncertainty this year has brought, people need encouragement, hope, and truth. And it came to me that I could help. I would like to donate 200 of my Christian children’s books to children in need. And I have prayed, and will continue praying, that God would give me other opportunities to help others, to give a meaningful sacrifice for me and my family.

The widow who have all she had – sacrificially – has inspired me. Luke tells her story, “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4 NIV).

How will you show your gratitude for all God has given you? Don’t be afraid to give in any way that you are able, for after all, God has given you all you have and will surely give you all you need.

Thank you, Father, for all you have done, all you will ever do, and most of all thank you for sending your Son to die for our sins!

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

About the author:  Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.

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Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! In I’m Not Afraid!, Susie and her friend go to the Undersea Amusement Park. After  saying a prayer to Jesus, she rides the roller coaster and her fear turns into faith! She learns that praying to Jesus during difficult times and having faith are all she needs to overcome her fears!

Join the conversation: How will you show your gratitude to God?

Late Bloomer

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld

Are you frustrated that your God-given dreams have been delayed?

“We need to cut it down, Lori.” As my husband and I sat on the front porch of our new home, he referred to the large tree that hadn’t yet bloomed.

“Oh, please wait,” I pleaded. I wasn’t excited about our new home. It was over one hundred years old, seriously run down, and in need of major renovation (my husband’s dream, not mine). The front yard, however, had promise, and I had hope for this Catalpa tree whose limbs embraced it like a great protector.

“Look around,” Rob replied. “The other trees have buds or leaves. This has nothing. Even the Catalpas down the road have buds.”

I was turning fifty. My last child had just graduated. I’d dreamed that this would be the season I could write full-time, but this new home and other circumstances now meant another delay. “Maybe it’s a late-bloomer,” I reasoned.

Rob stood and sighed. “One more month. If it’s dead, it poses a hazard.”

By July, life within the Catalpa had burst forth, and on Independence Day it was covered with white flowers and a vision to behold. It was a sign to me that perhaps God wasn’t yet done with my writing, either. It wasn’t long before that was confirmed. A few weeks later, I was offered my first book contract.

Every year, the tree continues to be the last tree in the neighborhood to bud and bloom. It’s the last to show leaves, flowers, and beans. And yet, in spite of its quirky timing, it’s always a sight to behold – lush, sprawling, and providing abundant shade.

My husband still frets about it every June. But by August, being last makes no difference at all.

One of the hardest verses for me to continuously believe is the one from Ecclesiastes (below) – that God will make everything beautiful in its time. It’s much easier for me to believe the second part of that verse. I have so many dreams, so many plans, so many adventures I want to live – I most certainly was designed for eternity. But, just as certainly, I cannot see God’s plans until He unveils them.

I long to fulfill the beauty of God’s purpose for me and yet so much of life is about the work and the wait. Every year, my Catalpa reminds me that though God may take longer than I hope, He does, indeed, make everything beautiful in its time.

And as I wait for Him, God whispers encouragement to me to also be patient with others. For He is faithfully at work creating something beautiful in them as well.

Are you wondering when it will be your time to bloom? Hold on, friend, and trust the season even if it tarries.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. Biblical, funny, and real, she inspires courage and Christ-centered confidence. She’s authored three non-fiction books including Running from a Crazy Man, Jesus and the Beanstalk, and the upcoming, The Art of Hard Conversations, as well as a Christmas novella, Red Pen Redemption. Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, she learned the most from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. To join the adventure, knock on her door at www.loriroeleveld.com .

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Lori’s book, Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life , please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: For what dreams are you waiting on God?

Hope Comes in the Breaking

by Joy Anisa

I uttered a heartbroken plea to my Heavenly Father asking Him for a pretty bow to go on His very messy gift. My life was unraveling faster than I could comprehend, and I was beginning to accept that what was being allowed to pass through my Father’s hands had come with purpose. Nevertheless, it did not lessen my pain. The whole matter was just messy and ugly.

I did not share that prayer with anyone. His answer was divinely orchestrated weeks later. But while my kind, gentle Heavenly Father had allowed the discomfort, in the end, He used my distress to reveal Himself in an up-close and personal way. And that, I knew, was my bow.

Satan wants to convince us that we should handle things on our own. He lures us into hiding our mess, so everyone will continue to think well of us. But God has better things in mind.

“…We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5, NKJV). Four powerful words of truth, “hope does not disappoint”!

Our hope does not come from anything we have or could do. Our hope is in Christ alone.

Hope entered a broken world. Hope hung on a cross to cover us with grace and mercy. Hope continues to grow us into perfectly reflecting His character. Hope is birthed from a love that is perfect and pursues our soul at all cost.

When we think of gifts, we think perfect and beautiful. Sometimes God’s gift to us is not what we had in mind. But our mess and ugly circumstances can be an unexpected gift. What if we changed our perspective and trusted in His divine purpose in the middle of the chaos?  What if we believed Solomon when he wrote “He has made everything beautiful in its time”?  Ecclesiastes 3:11a NIV

When you find yourself thinking that you cannot take much more, you are in the perfect place for finding hope outside yourself. God places the seed of hope in the dark and dismal, because it is there we realize we need Him. Hope quietly whispers, “Rest in Me, I will carry you and light your path.” And holds us with a grip that will not let go.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:5 NASB

joy anisaAbout the author: Joy Anisa speaks for women’s retreats, MOPS, and Single Mom conferences. Her book, Identity Crisis: Moving from Crisis to Credibility,  offers an invitation to hope in the God who loves deeply, heals wounds, and offers His joy when life around us crumbles. You can find Joy on FB, Twitter, and Instagram. Joy lives with her husband, Jeff and their son, Caid, in Conyers, GA.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Joy’s book, Identity Crisis: Moving From Crisis to Credibility,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How have you placed your hope in the Lord?