God’s Footprints

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

Reminiscing about childhood can be a lot of fun. One weekend my sister and I stayed up late talking about events from our childhood as only sisters can do.  We laughed at some of the stupid things we did, and we spoke with sadness as we remembered the death of our pets. Mostly we remembered being fairly good kids—not perfect, but good.

The thing that amazes us the most is how closely our lives are now mirroring each other. She is a Christian counselor, working with those affected by trauma to find hope and healing. I am a Christian author and speaker helping people to find hope and healing through God’s Word.

During our weekend together we were able to trace and celebrate God’s footprints throughout our lives, guiding us to where we are today. And the good news is, He has left footprints in your life, too. They can be such an encouragement when we just take the time to look.

The psalmist Asaph, when in need of comfort, meditated on God’s faithful presence in his past. He opened Psalm 77 feeling very disturbed. His spirit was faint, so troubled he could not speak. What was the remedy for such discouragement? “I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, and my spirit ponders” (v. 6 NASB).

Asaph remembered the frightening spectacle of a great storm: the howling winds whipping the waters into a frenzy. The skies opened and a deluge poured down as lightning flashed and thunder crashed. The mighty God of the storm was overwhelming in His power and strength. “The earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen” (v. 18-19 NIV, emphasis mine).

Yet, that same powerful God led His people through the deep waters of the Red Sea in the Exodus like a gentle shepherd. Sometimes He is hard to comprehend, frightening to behold. At other times His intimate presence is a quiet balm to our troubled soul.

As my sister and I reminisced, we could see how He was constantly present in our lives. Not that we didn’t experience terrible sorrow and pain. We did. But as we looked back, we could His footprints, even in the midst of the storms. Even when we could not see Him at the time.

So many times in our childhood, God had shown mercy to us. He’d be a faithful presence leading through the troubled waters. As we shared those moments, we were encouraged.

Remembering God’s faithfulness is one way for us to cling to Him. We remind ourselves that though we may not easily see His footprints in our lives right now, He is indeed at work and guiding us forward.

In your prayer time today, praise God for His mighty work in your life, and thank Him for His faithfulness even though you may not presently be able to discern His footprints. Then find a family member or friend with whom to share those insights. It just may be the thing they need to remind them of God’s faithfulness. Finally, meditate on God’s past mercies in your own life so that you will become better at seeing His footprints in your present, carefully directing your steps.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:11-12 NIV

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Tracking God’s Footprints in Your Life – @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cheri CowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell is a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

 

Warming My Soul

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  Isaiah 60:1 NKJV

Winter in Texas is as dependable as a monkey on Mountain Dew. Thirty today, eighty tomorrow. Or worse, eighty in the morning and thirty by lunch. People in Texas do not plan out the weeks’ worth of outfits on Sunday night. Last week we had a string of days where the temperatures never got out of the upper twenties with precipitation and freezing rain. Miserably cold. In Texas these are the conditions that inspire panic, food hoarding, the updating of wills, and gas shortages.

But as quickly as it came, the cold left, and the sun shone through. Having spent several days writing in the climate-controlled comfort of my office, I was ready for some sunshine. I grabbed a light jacket and headed out to catch what sunlight I could. When I stepped from the trees surrounding our house into the open, the warmth of the winter sun wrapped around me like the embrace of a beloved friend.

I turned my face to the sun and let the rays soak into my skin. This was not the heat of the intense summer sun that hits like a furnace blast. No, the winter sun reached through the chilly air and settled against my skin like butter melting onto a piece of warm bread. Delicious. Slow. Soaking.

I am keenly aware of the warmth steadily reaching deeper into my body, feeding my soul. I feel as if I’m being filled with a golden glow.  The warmth makes me smile. The tension in my body releases, my arms open, hanging loose and ready to receive. I feel the radiance of the Lord washing over me.

Then I hear a commotion behind me—the dog and cat were having a disagreement about which one was more important, I think. It distracts me and I turn to look, my back now to the sun.  The warmth disappears in an instant, much faster than it came. I wrap my arms around my middle, holding myself tightly, trying to preserve the warmth and protect myself from the chill.

Then it hits me.

This is exactly what I do with God. I turn my face to Him and feel His love radiating through me. I relax my anxious worrying. I stand open to receive whatever He has for me. I glow.

Then something captures my attention. Distracted, I turn my face from Him. Perhaps it is an unexpected event—a diagnosis or job change. Or it could be a series of small things turning me slowly by degrees. An overcommitted schedule. A wounded heart I refuse to address. A television show I won’t stop watching or friends that pull me toward things that aren’t God’s best for me. Soon my arms no longer hang open to receive from God. I hug them tightly against me for protection. My body becomes tense, uncomfortable and aching.

I have two choices. I can grow accustomed to the cold and learn to live with the ache until I accept it as normal.

Or I can turn back to the Son.

Oh the unmistakable beauty found in the everyday rising of the sun!  Is it possible that God has established this as a picture for us? The writer of Lamentations thought so. “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every monring; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). The Son is always there. We have only to turn to Him and be warmed.

Turn your face to Him today and feel the warmth of His love.

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Turn your face to God and feel the warming of your soul – hope from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: What tends to distract you from soaking in God’s love?

When I am Counting. . . One, Two, Three

by Edna Ellison @DrEdnaEllison

“Thirty-four, thirty-five. . . Lord, what are you doing with my life? This tedious counting feels like such a waste of time.”

Have you ever felt that way while you waited in a place where God had placed you?

While I taught English in our local high school, I served as the sponsor for the yearbook staff. When the teen staff didn’t finish their deadlines on time, I usually took a stack of their hand-written reports home with me after school. After dinner, with my two small children nestled in bed, I pulled out the stack of yearbook reports to finish shaping them into camera-ready pages. As my husband watched television, I counted characters to fit each line into proper columns for the yearbook. (Yes, those were the dark ages!)

One, two, three…thirty-four, thirty-five. One, two, three…thirty-four, thirty-five…

Ten years later, I was still counting characters during the school year, but one summer I visited a writers’ conference with a friend, Sandra, who wanted to publish a book. I slipped into a devotion writing workshop, just for fun, and to my surprise, I came out with a contract to write six devotions for a large Christian publishing house!

When I told Sandra, she said, “Edna, you can’t do that. I’ve tried it, and it’s complicated. I’ve written a nice devotion and then had to cut out so many words it took weeks to fit the words into an editor’s specifications!”

I believed her. After all, she was a book writer. I was an amateur who hadn’t planned to write anything! Much less the most complicated article of all, at least according to Sandra: a devotion.

When the specifications came in the next week’s mail, imagine my grin when I read the instructions: write 25 lines of 35 characters each! For over ten years, I had been writing for those exact specifications for our yearbook. I could write those specs in my sleep—had done it in my sleep on some occasions! That week I chose as my life’s verse Romans 8:28—“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV).”

God had called me to teach in our town’s high school–and I knew every high school was a mission field–but God had also been preparing me all those years, through the word counts of the yearbook pages, to breeze through these devotions. The contract to write six devotions turned into renewed contracts for over 100 devotions, which were compiled later in a book. To date, I have written or co-written 40 Christian books, and have served for ten years as a national Christian women’s magazine editor, all based on the daily practice I received as a yearbook sponsor.

God always has a purpose for our lives. He doesn’t waste a minute, working in the background, laying the foundation through practice, habits, and training we need for future ways to serve Him.

When we are bored or weary from the tedious hum-drum of daily life, we can remember, He has no random acts in His plans for us. All things in our lives have an eternal purpose in God’s overarching plan. They work together as he calls us to share His love.

Join the conversation: What has God called you to speak about? To others? In your community? To your children/ grandchildren? Speak up! Please share with us. 

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.   Psalm 139:16 NIV

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When I am counting. . . one, two, three – @DrEdnaEllison on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

edna ellisonAbout the author: Edna Ellison, an award-winning author, has written/co-written 40 books. Woman to Woman: Preparing Yourself to Mentor, (called the classic book for mentors by Publisher’s Weekly), is a best-seller for New Hope Publishing, which has published many of Edna’s books.

Edna loves to speak at women’s conferences. She’ll tickle your funny bone and then touch your heart with a personal message from God. Contact her (website above or at ednae9@aol.com,  Edna Martin Ellison on Facebook, or YouTube.)

Join the conversation: What has God called you to speak about? To others? In your community? To your children/ grandchildren? Speak up! Please share with us.

God is Always Present and Accounted For

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

My first clue was when the garage door opener wouldn’t work. As as I walked to the front door the hair on the back of my neck prickled when I noticed all of the outdoor yard lights weren’t on, yet my neighbors had power. A voice inside of me began to warn caution, as I put my key in the door only to discover it was already unlocked. The voice in my head practically screamed go back. This time I listened. Fortunately, it turned out to be a problem with the main power line to our home—nothing nefarious.

But the experience reminded me that God is always directing our steps. Sometimes He moves us through circumstances that we encounter. Other times He chooses to speak to us in small voices instructing caution, listen carefully, go, or wait. Finally, even though it didn’t happen that evening, there are times God might choose to let us go through something with Him by our side. I praise God that my incident didn’t turn out that way, but I also praise Him, that if it had, He would have been right there with me.

How do I know this? Psalm 139 is about the omniscience of God–that He is everywhere and always with us at the same time. The Psalmist asks:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”                                                                                                                                               (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV)

David is believed to have written this Psalm. He’d experienced the presence of God through many years of living in exile, trying to escape an angry king. When David sinned and tried to hide it, the prophet Nathan assured him God didn’t miss a thing. There was nowhere that God wasn’t.

So David speaks from experience: the universe is filled from top to bottom and side to side with the presence of God. No matter where we go, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, He is there. And He is not just a passive presence but an active participant in all that we do.

It’s a comforting thing to know when you find yourself in a scary place. No matter where you are, no matter what is happening, we can be absolutely sure that God is present with you. You can count on it.

If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.  Psalm 139:9-10 NASB

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cheri cowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace. To learn more about Cheri, visit her website http://www.chericowell.com or follow her on social media https://www.facebook.com/authorchericowell/.

Join the conversation: Has God ever made you aware of His presence in a trying situation?

Blunders to Blessings

by Fran Sandlin

“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

Where is it? I felt along my right side for the little black purse, and it wasn’t hanging there!  My heart leaped in terror. Where could it be?  I had attended the Christian Bookseller’s Association Convention and was now returning home to Texas. Traveling alone in the Orlando International Airport, I had hurried to the Disney store to buy an item for my granddaughter only to discover I was missing my most important accessory. Yikes! I had retrieved my attaché case at security but not my purse. I wondered….Will I ever see it again? My credit card, driver’s license, a few dollars?

With a pounding pulse and a sickening emptiness, I prayed silently as I ran to catch the people-mover for a ride back to the main airport lobby. In my haste I accidentally boarded the wrong one that took me to the opposite side of where I needed to be. After another ride back to the gate area, I found the correct ride to my original security check point—all the time thinking… It will be a miracle if my purse is still there.

At security I asked the female attendant if she had found a small, black purse. Without hesitating, she reached in a drawer, pulled out my purse, examined the drivers’ license, and said, “This looks like you. Here’s your purse.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

The plane now boarding, I raced back to the gate check-in counter. The flight attendant said, “All the seats are taken, but I will scan the computer one more time.” I waited. “Okay”, she exclaimed, “I found a middle one.”  As I finally buckled in, with a sigh of relief I thanked the Lord that after all my boo-boos, I actually made the flight.

The distinguished white-haired gentleman in the aisle seat introduced himself as the consultant for Word of Life Press, responsible for selecting materials for Christian publishing in Korea. Also coming back from the booksellers’ convention, he wanted to know more about my books. We had a lively conversation, and he seemed genuinely interested in our work.

A few months later, our publisher notified us that both books were being translated into Korean. What a nice surprise!

I’d never lost my purse before and haven’t since. When I recall that incident it reminds me that God is in charge of “divine appointments.” He works all things together for good for those who love Him—He can even turn our blunders into blessings.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are interested in the details of our lives, and your unconditional love guides us to unexpected joys–even when we mess up.

fran sandlinAbout the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. and has co-authored others. Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren.

Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com

Join the conversation: How has God directed your path lately?

Photo by STIL on Unsplash