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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God is Always Present and Accounted For – @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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