One Last Petunia 

by Sandra Kay Chambers

I have one last petunia still growing in my flower boxes along my back porch railing. It doesn’t seem to realize it’s winter. It has survived several frosty mornings, below freezing nights and wind whipping around the corner of the porch. Two other flower boxes on my railing are more sheltered, but all the flowers in these have already died. They were all planted in good soil and grew beautifully during the bright, sunny days of summer. So I ponder: why does this one single flower continue to flourish?

Perhaps this flower has grown stronger because it has weathered the harsh wind and extreme temperatures and thus developed stronger roots. As Christians we, too, tend to grow deeper and stronger in our faith when we have to endure adversity, and experience God’s faithfulness in the process.

. . . We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)

Something else I noticed about my flower is that in spite of its vulnerability to the wind and cold, it is positioned to get the best sunlight—morning rays from the eastern sky. As Christians, we are able to endure the dark, cold nights of doubt, fear and trials only when we bask in the light of God’s promises and His continual faithfulness.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12 NIV).

Even though I stopped watering the other planters long ago, the single thriving petunia does get rain showers that tend to drench that end of the porch. Likewise, in our Christian walk, it’s important that we continue to drink the Living Waters that Jesus promises to provide for us if we desire to keep growing.

. . . but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14 NIV)

If you’re experiencing tough times in your life right now—take heart! Learn from my brave petunia. Adversity will make you stronger and God’s faithfulness enable you to keep blooming.  Just remember to bask in Jesus’ light and drink of His eternal water.

I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NASB

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

About the author: Helping Christians develop a creative and joyful prayer life is Sandra’s passion. She has served as Prayer Coordinator at two churches, leads small group Bible studies, speaks on the topic of  prayer, and teaches an online class at based on her book, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet (How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life), available at Amazon at You can follow Sandra on her author website at  and her prayer blog at

Join the conversation: How has adversity made you stronger?

Reset Your Mindset

by Nancy Kay Grace

The new year brings an opportunity to reset your mindset.

Recovering from holiday travel and a blast of cold weather made me want to hibernate. I struggled to get into a routine for the new year. Now that the holidays are over, what is there to look forward to? Is anything different about this year?

I knew I didn’t want my attitude to stay frozen in the bleakness of cold winter days, complaining about the news or and shivering about things I cannot control.

The only thing I can control is my mindset. The verse in Philippians 3:13-14 challenged my mind and heart: “But this one thing I do, forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

  • Forgetting what is Behind

Forgetting what is behind keeps me from dwelling on the past. I can reflect on the successes and good memories of last year, and also recall the struggles and frustrations. But if I stay fixed on them, I become paralyzed and won’t go forward. In looking back over the last year, God’s faithfulness was evident, which encourages me for the future. Those experiences propel me into the next year with hope, trusting the Lord for whatever may come.

  • Straining TowardWhat is Ahead

Straining toward what is ahead is the image of an athlete crossing the finish line of a race. By planning realistic goals, I know what I am aiming toward. If I don’t write them down, I wander off track and accomplish nothing for the Lord. To keep on track, writing a list of my goals to keep in front of me is part of straining toward what is ahead. I see them every day, pray about them, and seek the Lord for strength and wisdom to accomplish them.

  • Pressing on to the Goal

Pressing on toward the goal is perhaps this the most challenging action—to keep going even when you feel like quitting, persisting through the hinderances no matter what. Pressing on requires resilience. It strengthens determination to overcome roadblocks.

Philippians 3:13-14 helped me reset my mindset for a fresh start, through forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead, and determining to press on in spite of roadblocks.

Are you ready to reset your mindset for the new year?

Lord, as I go into the new year, help me lean into Your character. You are faithful. As I reflect on the past, let it be a springboard to catapult me to seek You and plan wisely. In Your strength, may I press on to do what You have called me to do, for Your glory. Amen.

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

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is the speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about God’s grace. Her website, blog, and GraceNotes newsletter sign-up are found at As a cancer survivor, she writes about hope, perseverance, and God’s grace. Nancy enjoys hugs from grandchildren, playing worship songs on piano, hiking, and travel.

Join the conversation: Have you reset your mind since the beginning of the new year? What changes do you hope to make in your thinking?

3 Truths to Keep Hope Alive

by Grace Fox

Life is flat-out hard sometimes. Stuff happens when we least expect it, and it can send us into a tailspin or drive us to our knees. Sometimes that stuff lingers much longer than we’d like. We tie a knot and hang on for dear life, but fear threatens to slip our grip.

I’m in a season like that right now. I’ve lost four friends in six weeks. The oldest was 53. The others left behind 10 children ages 8 thru 16 years. Two more have been diagnosed with cancer, and one has been fighting for his life, on ECMO, since early December. My heart wants to cry, “Enough already!” and yet the hurt and uncertainty continue to linger.

 Perhaps you can relate. I suspect that, if everyone reading this devotional pooled their stories, we could fill a book. Or two. Or more.

So what’s the key to hanging onto hope during these seasons when they come? Here are three things to remember:

  • God is with us.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual assault, and forgotten in prison. I wonder if he sometimes felt like God had turned His back on him. Nonetheless, Scripture says that God was with him (Genesis 39:2,3,21,23).

The enemy will try to convince us that God has abandoned us, but don’t be deceived. God has not changed. His faithfulness remains the same, therefore, rest assured that He is with us as we deal with difficulty. He will never leave us.

  • Our trials are temporary.

Joseph’s hardships lasted about 14 years. Some of you might think that’s a long time, but others might think, If only mine were so short-lived. No matter the length of time our difficulties stay, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth when we’re in the middle of the mess. The truth is – our trials will not last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Joseph’s hardships lasted until “the time came for [the LORD] to fulfill his word (Psalm 105:19). Ours, too, will end at just the right time. So, again—be encouraged. This too shall pass. We might not know when they’ll end or what the process will look like enroute, but they will not last forever.

  • Our trials are part of a picture that’s bigger than the one we see at this time.

Joseph’s hardships were divinely designed. Psalm 105:17-18 say, “Then he [God] sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and put his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his word, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.”

Why did God deem it necessary to test Joseph using these means? Because He planned to make Joseph second-in-command in Egypt. God wanted to prepare him for the task, and this was the best way to do it.

God has purposes yet unseen for our lives, too. Every one of the hardships we experience are part of the pruning and honing necessary to prepare us. They’re also designed to make us more like Jesus no matter what our destiny is (Romans 8:28, 29).

Father God, we don’t understand why hard seasons come our way. But we belong to You, and we want Your highest purpose fulfilled in and through us. So help us remember that You’re with us, hard seasons are temporary, and they’re part of a bigger picture than the one we see now. We trust You with our pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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About the author: Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored 12 books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts), a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and co-host of the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse.” Her new devotional Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm releases today and is available wherever Christian books are sold.

Join the conversation. Are you in a hard season?

Faith And Miracles

by Sheri Schofield

“If God doesn’t do a miracle, how am I supposed to believe?” a friend asked in anguish. He had been begging God to grant him healing for a long time, but God did not heal him. “Why?” he cried. “The Bible says that by his stripes we are healed!”

Some people think if they don’t believe hard enough, God won’t give them a miracle. Others think they should name the miracle then claim it. When they don’t receive a miracle, their faith in God suffers a blow.

This brings us to the question: What is faith that results in miracles? Trying to believe hard enough—insisting to ourselves and God that we believe—is a form of works. It is not true faith.

Faith and absolute trust in God are two sides of the same coin. Faith is believing God is all-powerful and in control plus trusting Him absolutely for His answers to our prayers. Job said it best when he was suffering Satanic attacks. His response on why God allowed this? “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!” Job 13:15 (KJV).

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3 ( NIV.) When a small child wants candy at the check-out counter but his parent refuses to buy it, the child doesn’t shout, “Because you didn’t give me that candy, I don’t believe in you!” No. The child may cry or even throw a tantrum. But when they get out to the busy street, the parent will reach down to take the child’s hand, and the tiny hand will trustingly take the parent’s hand. That is trust. It is the other face of faith.

Jesus told us to persist in prayer and not give up. He told a parable about a crooked judge who didn’t fear God or care what people thought about him. A widow in his town persistently came to his court asking the judge to give her justice against someone who was causing her great distress. The judge resisted for a long time. But finally, out of exasperation at seeing this woman in his court repeatedly, he gave her what she asked so she would leave him alone. (See Luke 18:1-5.)

Jesus said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6-8, NIV)

Yes, we are to persist in prayer, continually taking our requests to our heavenly Father. But we are to ask in true faith, not presumption or demanding to get our own way. When we bring our requests to God, we should leave them there and not tell him how to answer. Trust that he hears us. Trust that his answer will be best. Trust that he has the power to do anything he chooses. Trust that he does miracles when that is the best answer to our prayers. Trust that his answer will be for our good and his glory.

God will always answer us, but sometimes his answer will be the miracle of shaping us into the image of Christ. Sometimes it will be a miracle of healing or provision. But he will never leave us without his loving answer. We must simply trust him.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV).

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

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

God? Where Are You?: Answering Your Questions About God and How You Can Find Him by [Sheri Schofield]

Her first book on salvation, The Prince and the Plan, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, God? Where Are You?, tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: Has God ever finally answered a long-time request of yours? Please share!

Us Loves You

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.” Psalm 25:5a NIV

My family attended a Baptist church while I was growing up and no excuse was good enough to get out of going, barring coma or gushing blood. As a preteen, I was quite annoyed to be stuck in Sunday night “Training Union” class. I did not wish to be either trained or unified with the other unfortunates, like me, who were forced to be there.

So many more important things to do – bike paths to forge; Lost in Space to watch on TV, homework to ignore.

Instead, I was held captive week after week by Mr. and Mrs. Buford, a childless, elderly couple, neither of whom had completed eighth grade in order to help their families scratch a living on farms during the depression. They owned no television, nor microwave, and had never been on an airplane. Why, they had no idea what a video game was. Unfathomable.

Yet there they were, week after week, month after month, faithful as the springtime rain. I and my know-it-all cronies scoffed at their country bumpkin speech. So uncool.

“Us loves you.”

It was the phrase with which Mrs. Buford started every class. An occasional snicker would burst from one of us enlightened scholars, but the Buford’s never seemed to notice.

Soon they’d have us racing to look up Scriptures, learn the books of the Bible, and win candy for answering Bible story questions. Of course, we acted as if none of this was the least bit fun. Yawn.

“Us loves you.”

Mrs. Buford would close the hour with the same ridiculous phrase, a warm smile crinkling her careworn face. Somehow, I remember like it was yesterday.

Fast-forward thirty years.

My husband Chuck and I are surrounded by a group of 12- to-14-year-olds, all of whom wish they were elsewhere. We are trying to teach them scriptural principles and bring God’s Word to life.

They’re only interested in who got busted Saturday night.

Chuck asks a boy with a purple Mohawk whose father is in prison to read a specific passage of Scripture aloud in answer to his question about how we know the Bible is true. The boy reads haltingly, unsure of what some of the words mean.

We explain it in terms he can understand. He’s still unconvinced. Skeptical. Mistrusting. But for some reason, he keeps coming back. I notice that he listens, really listens, when one of the other boys asks, “Miz Coty, why do you meet with us every week, when all we do is eat your food, wreck your house, and give you one big headache?”

The answer travels through time and registers in my mind as if I’m hearing it for the first time.

“Us loves you.”

Faithfulness has a resonating voice, doesn’t it? In this world of casual abandonment, when we choose to faithfully serve God by using our gifts and abilities to help others in His name, His love shines through like a lantern piercing the darkness.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you” (Proverbs 3:3 NIV).

We may not preach globally, or teach from an elevated platform, or have more than a handful of Facebook friends, but if we show up day after day, week after week, faithfully glorifying our Savior in the ministry He has custom-designed for us, He’ll be there too.

Whether we’re riding herd on a passel of squirming preschoolers, sweeping up crumbs after a home Bible Study, or invisibly running the worship service sound system, Papa God promises to bless us and keep teaching us the eternal truth of His ways.

And that’s the way I want to go. How about you, my friend?

Us Loves You – insight and encouragement 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

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: Have you ever felt frustration that your ministry is too small? How has/is God using your efforts for His kingdom?

I Will Pray for You

by Letitia Suk @LetitiaSuk

I recently engaged a community group in a conversation about prayer. I asked them how they felt about people saying, “I will pray for you.” Each one, even the ones who called themselves non-believers, remarked that they felt cared for and supported and appreciated the gesture.

I wish they could meet my mother. She would put them all on her list.

If you have ever spent any time with my mom, she probably told you she would pray for you. She immediately gets on first name basis with most everyone she encounters: the guy pushing her wheelchair through the airport, the wait staff in any restaurant, and individuals sitting next to her in public settings. She manages to get the highlights of their story and ends each conversation with “I will pray for you.” And she does.

It’s not just a one-time deal, either. Once my mom starts praying for someone, they go into her permanent record. She once told me how worried she was about her cable guy’s girlfriend’s family and had put them on her prayer list. I’m sure they are still there. Each night the list gets covered before she goes to bed.  She does admit it takes a long time to get through everyone!

Perhaps some of these folks might not welcome being prayed for, but I’m sure she would just pray harder for them if she knew.

When we’re out together, she usually commits me to the effort as well. “We’ll pray for you,” even though I haven’t been a part of the conversation. Sometimes she adds, “We’re good pray-ers.” That always seems a funny thing to say, but I guess it is like a personal endorsement. So, I pray too once I get proxied in but not forever and ever like her.

I thought of her today when “Luigi” drove me home from getting my car serviced. I got the highlights of his life story in the fifteen-minute drive but didn’t add the final line, “I will pray for you.” Once I got home, I did anyway though. My mom’s voice rang in my ears.

I don’t know if I will ever take my stranger prayers to that level, but I know my life has been profoundly shaped by being near the top of her list for every one of my days. Maybe one of these days, I’ll start carrying around a list too!

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2: 1 NIV

I Will Pray for You – inspiration from @LetitiaSuk on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

letitia sukAbout the author: Letitia Tish Suk invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She is a blogger and author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat and Rhythms of Renewal.  She is a speaker, personal retreat guide, and life coach in the Chicago area.

Her latest book, 100 Need-to-Know Tips for Moms of Teens and Tweens, will help you cope with the day-to-day challenges of parenting your teen while encouraging your heart and soul.

Join the conversation: What inspires you to pray for people?