Watch How You Twirl

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

“. . . so that there may be no division in the body, but so that the parts may have the same care for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer together. If one part is honored, all the parts rejoice together. Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, TLV

My friend twirled in her long gauzy skirt. Her curly hair extended like dreadlocks. Arms outstretched toward the heavens, she giggled, then shouted, “I love You, Jesus!” All this in a crowded church parking lot.

People stared. Some shook their heads. I was embarrassed for her. I think I said something clever to the onlookers, attempting to distract their focus from her.

Thinking about that moment today makes me cringe. Not because I’m still uncomfortable thinking about my friend “making a fool” of herself. I cringe because I am ashamed that I even thought that way.

We live in a confusing world. There are cries for diversity, and cries by those who long for unity. But what if they’re not mutually exclusive?

For most of my life I longed to be accepted. I believed if I mimicked others—abided in the status quo—people would see that I was like them. And, well, they would like me. If they liked me, I therefore reasoned, God would like me.

The thing is, I’m not like everyone else. My friend is not. You’re not. And that’s a good thing.

Finding our unique identity as children of the Creator of the Universe and followers of His Son, Jesus, is our lifelong struggle—or perhaps it’s better to say, goal. Our Heavenly Father created us to be distinctive, and His Son prayed that we would be one as He and His Father were One (John 17:6-23).

I struggled with this. At first, I wanted everyone to be like me. Which is what I did to my creative friend. When that didn’t work, I tried to be like people I thought God liked best.

This went on for years until one day a woman walked into our congregation’s bookstore. Within a few minutes of meeting me she pronounced, “You need to be writing.” I instantly broke into tears. She had no idea that thirty years before she set foot in that little store, I had given up writing. I had laid that part of me in a grave and buried it alive—not realizing it was a gift God had given me.

As she spoke those words, that gift awoke.

Since that time, I have gradually learned how to appreciate others’ God-inspired uniqueness.

What if the piercings, skin color, tattoos, style of music, and other uncomfortable differences are all part of who He created others to be? What if the reason we’re embarrassed by our brothers and sisters’ uniqueness is because we haven’t embraced our own?

The unity Jesus prayed for wasn’t about being the same. We don’t want a nose to be the same as an ear, right? What if trying to make others more like us, we cripple the Body of Messiah?

We are designed to be joined together—but we’re not designed to be the same. If we struggle with being critical of others who are different, we need to seek our Father. There may be a gift He has for us that we have buried or not revealed. A gift made for us.

Division makes us weak. Conformity will limit us. But holy diversity means we each do what God calls us to and rejoice with anyone fulfilling their God-given destiny.

So, twirl, my friends. Twirl all you want.

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Watch How You Twirl – encouragement from Terri Gillespie @TerriGMaven 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: Have you embraced what makes you unique?

Sitting in the Middle of My Doodles

by Michele McCarthy

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

My writing journey is brand new. A few years ago, I felt the tug of the Lord calling me out of bed early dark-thirty to write. It had to be God; I am not a typical dark-thirty girl. My brain would have never conjured up that idea. First, to get up that early, and second to write what He was asking me to write.

The writing turned out to be more than a one hit wonder, so instead of wrestling my husband over the use of our one computer in the house, I suggested I move my writing space elsewhere. Then my hubby surprised me with a new computer, printer, and desk last year for Christmas. Whew, I better take this seriously now!

Of course, that meant we had to rearrange, redecorate, and foo foo up my new writing/prayer room. I was on that project like a duck on a June bug. Order desk, check. Donate big bed, check. Smaller bed to fit with the new desk, check. New bedspread for smaller bed, check. New girly desk accouterments, check. New file folders, sticky notes, pens, check, check, check. It was so fun.

Now, early in the mornings I plop on the quilted white, sage vine covered, maroon flower dotted and starred bedspread to spend time with the Lord. It was several months before I realized I was sitting in the middle of my doodles.

As a doodler for years, my pattern nearly always included vines covered in daisy shaped flowers with little intersecting lines in star shapes all around. By design, I was plopped atop my artwork! In reality, I knew I was plopped in the middle of God’s plan. He has one for me. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB).

I do think that we are wired in certain ways for God’s purposes. It just takes some of us (cough, cough, me) longer to see it than others.

He has called me to write for Him. My children’s book Daddy and Me, His idea entirely, was just published. Sometimes He has me write a prophetic word for someone on the back of a copy of one of my small watercolors. I love participating in His plans and enjoying the gifting He has given me to accomplish His purposes.

Whenever I sit down on that bed in my study, I know I am sitting in the middle of His ideas, thoughts, and desires for His world. His doodles, so to speak. I hope I always recognize His creativity and join in where ever He is working.

Jesus said…“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34 NASB). If Jesus’ assignment was to accomplish the Father’s work, it is our assignment as well.

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Sitting in the Middle of My Doodles – insight from Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

michele mccarthyAbout the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves, reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

Michele’s book Daddy and Me, is the story of the unconditional love of the Father. It is a reminder of how important and influential our words are to children. In Daddy and Me, daddy’s form is left to the imagination. Every child is free to picture their own daddy and most importantly their heavenly Father. The Father who loves them perfectly, without reserve no matter what, while gently holding each child in His hand.

Join the conversation: Have you seen a relationship between what you enjoy doing and the call God has for your life?

God’s Little Surprises

by Judith Couchman

Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.  Psalm 90:4  MSG

I’ve never understood people who don’t like surprises. I’m not referring to the unexpected difficulties that badger and perplex. I mean things like friends yelling “surprise” on your birthday as you enter your door. Or roses unexpectedly arriving for you at the office. Surprises like these remind us that we are loved. They affirm you with splendor.

We receive “big” surprises only now and then. Still, the “little” surprises can impact you more profoundly than grand gestures. A stranger on the elevator whose off-handed words encourage you. A borrowed book that influences your spiritual direction. A hot, home-delivered meal when you are unable to provide it yourself. They demonstrate that not only people care for you, but show God’s care as well. For all good things originate from Him (James 1:17).

Recently I entered a three-month period with no teaching income. I prepared for that season by stocking up food ahead of time. If I couldn’t pay all my bills, I could at least eat. Toward the end of a grocery-shopping trip, I went to the seafood counter to purchase the salmon I had been craving. I picked up a package, read the price, and regretfully dropped it back into the refrigerated case. Too expensive, I thought.

My craving did not diminish over the next few days. Then unexpectedly, my friend Anita, who knew nothing about my unfulfilled desire, wrote to me. “Hey, I’m wondering if you’d like some salmon,” she said. “I bought too much and would like to share it with you.” When she arrived at my apartment, she handed me a bag brimming with produce and, you guessed it, a piece of that coveted fish.

Surprised? More like stunned! That and the fruits and vegetables she brought fed me for two weeks.

Another time, I visited a new friend’s home. A huge arrangement of orchids graced her dining-room table. Their dramatic beauty defined the room. Astonishing, I thought. I wish I could afford to purchase something that dramatic. But extras like that were not in my very limited budget.

A few weeks later, I found myself back in my friend’s home enjoying dinner. The orchid arrangement sat in a corner. After dinner, she asked, “Would anybody like these orchids? I travel too much to keep it in good shape.” Impulsively, I shot booth arms up in the air and cried, “Me! Me! Me!” Now the orchids sit in my living room, basking in the filtered sun it needs.

Did I deserve those gifts? Not really. My thoughts were more along the lines of self-pity rather than contentment. But God surprised me through lovely friends anyway. While living with a reduced income and unanswered prayers, He reassured me of His love. God cares about the little things.

Scripture says God will supply our needs. Paul reminds us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). We often assume that means our absolute needs, like water, food, and clothing. But He sometimes bestows the small desires of our hearts as well. Even the seemingly insignificant matters to Him, because He delights in His people (Psalm 149:4).

God’s surprises abound. Even when He hasn’t moved mightily in a certain area in your life—at least not yet— don’t miss recognizing the “small” gifts while you’re waiting. He will astonish you.

Judith Couchman

About the author: Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, and art history professor. She’s traditionally published more than 40 works, including books, Bible studies, and compilations. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Learn more about her at www.judithcouchman.com.

Join the conversation: What has God surprised you with lately?

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No Plug-Ins, Please

by Debbie Taylor Williams

 As Valentine’s Day approaches, we have been bombarded with suggestions of gift ideas. We choose our gifts carefully for this day, because whether the gift is a card, a phone call, or flowers, the gift says something about the giver.

The first gift I received from my husband, Keith, after we were married was at Christmas.  My family gathered in the den, as was our tradition. Like lovebirds, Keith and I sat close beside each other near the warm fire.  All eyes were glued on me as he placed a wrapped box on my lap.  Keith grinned as I slowly unwrapped the present.  Mama, Daddy, and my sisters leaned forward to see what I was opening.

Perhaps a drum roll would have been appropriate.  As the wrapping paper opened, a box with a picture of an General Electric iron was revealed.  I wondered if that was what was really inside.  However, when he gleefully explained, “I thought you could use this,” any hope that there was a piece of jewelry tucked within vanished. For the first time, my talkative family had nothing to say. Keith, noticing the silence, hurriedly explained that his family always gives practical gifts.

He meant well. But my new husband learned a lesson that day: the gifts that spoke to my heart were not those that required work.

God gave us that kind of gift. He gave His only begotten Son, a gift of salvation that cannot be earned.  It is a gift given without requirements on our part; it is a gift given in unconditional love.

Keith’s gifts to me have come a long way since that first year.  These days, our favorite gifts to one another aren’t roses or candy.  They’re spending time together, speaking encouraging words, holding hands, and taking walks. Those are the best gifts; for they are gifts of the heart.

Do you wish you had someone with whom to spend Valentine’s Day?  Remember, there is someone who loves you dearly.  He gave His most precious, only Son in order that we might have a personal, intimate relationship with Him. It was a priceless gift from His very heart. And requires nothing in return. His name is Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ. Help us always be mindful of how much you love us. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV 

debbie taylor williamsAbout the author: Debbie Taylor Williams is the author of seven books and is a national keynote Bible teacher; known for her passion and joy-filled teaching. She’s the founder and President of Hill Country Ministries whose mission is to spread the Word and love of Jesus. Debbie has held her P.R.A.Y. with Passion Across the Nation Conference, that is based on her book, Pray with Purpose, Live with Passion in thirty-three states and is booked to take it to five more. She is a faith columnist for the Kerrville Daily Times, is a charter blogger for the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG²), and served on faculty for the Marantha Writers Conference. She and her college sweetheart, Keith, are blessed with two children and five grandchildren. When Debbie’s not writing or teaching, you’ll find her at a kickboxing class, hanging out with family and friends, reading, golfing, hiking, fishing, and traveling.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51fVlwbF-3L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Debbie’s book, The Plan A Woman in a Plan B World , 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: What gifts have you received that meant the most to you?