Waiting on the Lord for Strength

by Louise Tucker Jones

 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 KJV

I was 30 years old, six months pregnant and recovering from an emergency appendectomy, when I read Isaiah 40:31 on a hospital menu. The pregnancy had been difficult with early bleeding, monthly injections, and limited activity. And now, after surgery, I couldn’t even turn over in bed without the baby sliding under my 5-inch incision and giving a painful kick. As I reread the verse, I wondered how long I would have to wait before I could “walk and not faint” or “run and not grow weary.”

A year and half earlier I had experienced a devastating miscarriage, spending two days in the hospital due to excessive hemorrhaging. Two years before that, my three-month-old son, Travis, had died unexpectedly due to congenital heart disease. I ached for my babies as well as renewed strength.

I thought of Hannah in the Old Testament and how she asked God for a son. The Lord answered her prayer. I followed her example, kneeling by my bed and begging the Lord for a child. Now I waited.

Three months after my appendectomy, I held my newborn baby in my arms. I kissed his tiny face and promised to love him forever, continuing to claim the promise of Isaiah 40:31. I knew this little boy with Down syndrome would have an uphill journey most of his life. What I didn’t know was how steep that climb would be for me. I can’t say how many times I have prayed and pleaded for God to renew my strength, to let me soar like the eagles and to allow my little boy to walk and run.

There were seemingly impossible tasks and skills for Jay to master. Nothing came easy for him, but he never lost heart. Playing on the floor led to rolling which eventually gave way to crawling, then to walking at three years old. Tactile sensitivity made eating texture a chore and a compromised immune system kept Jay at the doctor’s office much of the time.

But God did not leave us alone. He sent angels to protect Jay in the midst of medical problems and challenges, knowing this child would touch hearts around the world through the many stories written about him. Though my son’s life has often been one obstacle after another, Jay’s faith always soared. There has never been a time that he did not know and love God. He never even needed an explanation. He just knew the Lord from the beginning and forever holds Jesus in his heart. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed Isaiah 40:31 during these 46 birthdays with Jay—both for my son and for myself. I can only tell you that God has always been faithful.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the many times my soul has soared with You. Please continue to give me wings when the walk is too steep.

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

Louise Tucker Jones Profile
Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child With Special Needs

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist, and Gold Medallion award-winning author. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs and has contributed to more than 40 anthologies with her poignant life stores. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. Find out more at LouiseTuckerJones.com.

Join the conversation: How has God been faithful to renew your strength?


Faith to Soar By

by Christina Rose

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

This morning, as I walked about the nearby lakes, I noticed a group of people looking to the sky and taking pictures with their phones.  As I followed their gaze, I saw the source of their interest, two large, majestic eagles perched high on a lofty treetop. The eagles’ piercing blue eyes were focused intently on the lake, searching the water for prey. One could sense their impressive power as they perched on alert for the sign of fish, gripping the branches with huge talons.

Eagles have long been considered a symbol of freedom and strength. Rather than retreat from a storm, the eagle uses the adversity to its advantage. When a storm hits, the eagle positions its wings above the wind so that it will lift it up to soar above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle soars above it. 

Last year the Pandemic unleashed storms throughout the world with loss of life and income, closures and cancellations, sending waves of anxiety and fear around the globe. At times, it feels like we are all in some weird Twilight Zone movie that can’t be real. My church of several thousand attendees endured closures for months and services were streamed online.  Shortly after reopening, the lead pastor announced that he and his wife would be leaving to start another church. We were unsure if they truly wanted to leave or were asked to leave, but for many of us it was just another loss during this time of great change.

Our pastor and his wife had relocated from another state to serve at this church for almost 10 years. They have three small sons, one of whom has special needs. Since they both worked for the church, leaving meant that both would lose their salaries which required big faith. There was no guarantee that this new venture would succeed, and they risked losing everything.  As the pastor addressed the congregation on his last sermon, he expressed his gratitude and then broke down. He started sobbing while his wife tried to comfort him and after some time, he looked up with tears streaming down his face. We could feel his love for the church and how sorry he was to leave, along with concern for what the future would hold. He was just a young dad trying his best to trust that God would provide for him and his family to move forward. He exemplified the emotions that many of us feel during this time of great uncertainty.

One month later, the new church opened its doors to fully packed Christmas services. Many members of the former church had chosen to follow the pastor, and they donated time and money to convert an abandoned restaurant into a welcoming church, beautifully decorated for Christmas. That first weekend as we sang Christmas hymns, familiar faces smiled at one another as the room was filled with joy that our pastor had succeeded in making his dream happen. He stood in front of the congregation, radiantly beaming and announced that they had received enough donations to build a larger church that would accommodate the 2,000 people who had chosen to follow him. 

There have been many storms in the past year as our lives have dramatically changed by the Pandemic. We have been required more than ever to have faith and trust God for all our cares.  Just as the eagle positions its wings to fly above the storm, if we position ourselves to trust God for every need, he will carry us safely above the storm as he delivers us to our divine destiny.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  (Matthew 6:25-27 NIV)

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

christina rose

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

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Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Are you soaring on wings like an eagle’s in this time of uncertainty?

Pride/Humility—Swinging Back and Forth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 HCSB

I don’t think I’m all that vain, but I do think this song is probably about me. I mean really, what if the song actually is about me?

A lot of people think I’m completely self-absorbed, but I have to tell you, I’m pretty sure I can absorb even more of me. So, not completely absorbed. Not yet.

Whenever I’m struggling with some sort of pride issue, though, I figure a good way to turn things around is to get into a hammock. Just try to hang on to any shred of smugness as you’re writhing yourself in or out of a hammock. Nope. Bye-bye, dignity.

It takes some complicated physics to get in that hammock, stay in it, and then get out again. I’ve never understood physics. That’s why my hammock stories so often end with an inelegant face-plant. Yep, bye-bye, dignity and hello, dirt.

The challenge for me seems to lie in not totally losing my mind, living somewhere between singing a song I’m sure is about me and eating dirt. Things can so easily get twisted. Yes, the hammock. But also that struggle to wrap our minds around balancing humility and self-abasement, confidence and pride.

In Romans 12:2, just after Paul has urged us to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God (vs. 1), he says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (HCSB).

So hey, we’re not meant to lose our minds. We’re meant to renew them. In the very next verse, Paul says, “I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly” (vs. 3 HCSB).

“Think sensibly” is from the Greek, sophroneo, which means “to save,” and phren, which means “mind.” So what we have here is, literally, a “saved mind.”

Every time we get a bit hung up on thinking too often of ourselves, thinking too highly of ourselves, and singing too loudly about ourselves, we can swing it right back around to a sensible place of nonconformity to everything our culture tells us we deserve. We can instead have a saved, transformed, renewed mind—one that understands His will. So this is sensible.

We’re always the most satisfied in life as we’re thinking and operating outside ourselves, less focused on successes vs. face-plants. Life swings in blissful balance as we’re instead engaged in the kingdom of Christ and in focusing our every thought on the God who is all.

Andrew Murray said, “Humility is nothing, but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.”

I love that. I want to climb into that thought and rest peacefully there.

The balance between humility and pride isn’t about thinking badly of ourselves or eating dirt. It’s certainly not in thinking every song is about me, either. We’re taught all through Scripture to focus in humility on the grace of God, to love Him more than anything, to present ourselves wholly to Him, and in all of it, to rely on and fully trust in Him for the strength we need.

There’s a beautiful visual of that trust in Isaiah 40:31 (HCSB): “But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles.”

We can trust Him to sort out our pride/humility issues, too. It’s one more little trust-flight on eagle’s wings. Or sometimes a flight on hammock swings. Whichever. He’s got this.

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

Pride/Humility—Swinging Back and Forth – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: In what attitudes do you have trouble balancing?

How To A Hit Curve Ball

by Stacy Sanchez

“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7 ESV

Hot and exhausted, fourteen sweaty (and may I say stinky?) baseball players and I sat in the outfield grass, eating orange slices and guzzling fruit juice drinks while regurgitating the details of our game.

“Wow! That was ugly.” The team’s shortstop blurted out.

“Yeah! We sucked!” The words spat out of my catcher’s mouth along with the orange seed he launched across the field.

I tried to encourage them in their accomplishments. “Yeah… that was a tough game. You boys just played your hearts out against a team that is way more experienced than you. They are older and have played as a team longer. I’m seriously proud of you all though. You guys just went up against a pitcher that knows how to throw a nasty curve ball. Until today, you haven’t even seen one. You were swinging at those pitches like you were swatting flies, but you didn’t give up.”

“How the heck are you supposed to hit a curve ball, anyway?” my youngest player mumbled, trying to mask a quivering lip.

“You wait on it,” I explained. “You can’t react to the pitch and swing as soon as you think you should, because the ball will break on you, and you’ll miss it. Don’t worry. I’ll teach you. It’s only the beginning of the season. You will get it, but it will take patience to learn, young grasshoppers. You will have to learn to wait.”

The curve ball is a difficult pitch to hit. When thrown correctly, the spinning of the seams tricks a hitter’s brain into thinking the ball is diving at a steeper angle than it is. The art of hitting a round ball with a round bat is already one of the hardest things for a young player to do, but add a spinning breaking ball into the mix? Forget about it.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV).

I don’t know about you, but waiting isn’t the easiest thing for me. When an out-of-the-blue problem comes hurling at me at eighty miles an hour, I want to jump on it right away and either fix it, finish it, or feed my face with food until it passes. Waiting is not at the top of my to-do list. I’ve had to be trained to wait.

The night Jesus was arrested, he told his disciples to “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NIV).

With his arrest and crucifixion at hand, Jesus knew the boys were about to be thrown a curve ball. The disciples were going to experience the most gut-wrenching experience of their lives and needed to watch Jesus so he could train them how to handle it. What were they to do? Wait. Not react. Wait on the Lord for direction. (As it turned out, Peter would need a bit more practice with this one.)    

“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7 ESV). What should we do when an unexpected crisis is thrown at us? Wait. The enemy would like us to panic and react right away. He would love nothing more than to see a child of God in a state of worry and confusion. God has taught us a better way–to wait. Don’t react, but watch, pray, listen, and wait on Him for what to do next.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

Like my young baseball team learning to hit a curve ball, we need to practice waiting until it becomes second nature. So when a curve ball is pitched at us we will know how to knock the snot out of it. (That’s baseball-ese. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere.)

Father, we know that we will be thrown curve balls in life. Whether it be an unexpected divorce, an illness, the death of a loved one, a rejection, a prodigal child, and now this viral epidemic, crises will come. Help us, Lord to not react right away, but, to wait on you for direction. Maybe you will have us do nothing but rest. Maybe you will have us swing for the fences. We won’t know until we wait on You for the call. Help us to wait.

How To A Hit Curve Ball – encouragement from Stacy Sanchez on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

stacy sanchez

About the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog, writetotheheart.org, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: When was the last time God called you to wait?

Aging and Sickness: How Can You Have Hope?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  1 John 3:2 NASB

Does the news scare you? It frequently scares me—especially what I read on the Corona virus pandemic or many other serious illnesses like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.

In 2021, I will turn 62. While I can no longer be considered young, neither will I be considered that old. After all, isn’t 60 the new 50? But if I can be completely honest, there are many ways in which I am beginning to feel my age. For one, I am starting to experience slight hearing loss along with other typical aches and pains. Sometimes I suffer from insomnia, waking up at 3:00 AM on the dot. Finally, I do not have the strength or endurance that I used to. Not to mention how hard it has become to lose weight!

How can I have hope when my life seems to be on a downward trajectory? Many women in my aging shoes can look to the faithfulness of God in their younger years for encouragement. Maybe He was your strength in bearing children or your wisdom as you raised them. Maybe He used the pain in your life to draw you closer to Him. Maybe He has taught you to forgive more easily and love more deeply, all because it brings glory to Him. If He was all that to us before, why would we not trust Him for what lays ahead?

As we’ve aged, we have also matured in how we set priorities. Outside appearance matters much less than it once did. We now value what is in the heart and mind of a person. Our earnest prayer is that we will continue to grow in our ability to be a living testimony of the love and greatness of our Lord and Savior. We are determined to continue in our faithfulness until our very last breath. This is our living testimony.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) declares, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” That promise is so much more relevant today than it was in our youth, back when we felt invincible. In our weaknesses, we now recognize our complete dependence on Him. He is enough to provide for our need and strengthen us in our older years.

Do you grieve your youth? Think about this: Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-17 NIV). 

Remember that every day we are getting closer to seeing Jesus face to face! That promise alone should give us all the hope we need to endure until the end.  

There’s something else we should always remember. John wrote that “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John3:2 NASB). Not only will the Lord one day give us a brand-new body that will never grow old, but one day we will become his beautiful, eternal bride! What greater hope can we have than that?

Will you praise him through your present pain for the future hope you have? How amazing that day will be when we see the Lord’s face! We can look forward to the day when He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It will be worth every hard thing we endured on this earth.

Aging and Sickness: How Can You Have Hope? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio Picture

About the author:
 Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: What keeps you going in suffering and pain?

Waves of Mercy

by Melissa Heiland

Life can be overwhelming between family, ministry, health, and finances. The to-do list grows and free time seems non-existent. The pressure I sometimes feel is akin to being buried beneath a heavy weight–of unmet needs and expectations. Under that load, it’s easy to lose perspective.

That is when I like to head to the beach. It is a place of rest and relaxation for me, a place where I can once again gain perspective. At the beach, my mind clears as I breathe the ocean air and observe some of God’s greatest gifts revealed through His glorious creation.

He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. Job 9:8 NLT

Standing at the shore, I am reminded of the faithfulness and power of God. The ocean has a rhythm, much like my life. The tides come in, bringing times of loss and cleansing. Then they retreat, leaving in their wake times of peace and rest. Sometimes, I feel as if the waves will overpower me, and yet, I know the One who calms the sea. He promises to keep me safe when my eyes are fixed on Him.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! Psalm 139:17,18 NLT

The copious sand at the shore is a beautiful reminder of God’s abundant love. In the Psalms, the Lord tells us that His thoughts about us outnumber the grains of sand. Too many to count! When I am tempted to feel unloved and unseen, I need only fill my fist with sand and watch it sift through my fingers to remember how loved I am.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

And how I love the birds! As I watch them easily soar over the ocean, I am reminded, that with God, I too can soar above the stormy seas of my life. There is freedom in Jesus.

God has revealed Himself to us in His Word and in His creation. I’m so thankful for that. Sometimes, when the pace of life is fast and furious, we need to step away and be still, to let God speak to us and refresh our souls, giving us strength and peace to continue in the work He has called us to do.

Waves of Mercy – insight and encouragement from Melissa Heiland on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Melissa heilandAbout the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Where do you go to find perspective?

Into the Wind

by Nan Corbitt Allen

They’re loud and demanding and messy. No, I AM NOT talking about my grandchildren.

I’m talking about seagulls.

Recently, my husband and I were on the Gulf Coast of Florida taking a few days of R & R. We spent a couple of days just sitting on the beach watching the waves and the dolphins roll in and out of our view. And though I’ve been to the beach many times, I always learn something each time I go. (Maybe it’s because I choose to look for something new.) Anyway, this time I chose to watch and learn from the seagulls.

They’re scavengers, no doubt, and they find no shame in begging for morsels from unsuspecting beachcombers. Reflection: don’t throw out anything edible if you don’t want to reenact a horror scene from a Hitchcock movie. This I already knew from experience.

Observation: seagulls are almost always found in flocks. You hardly ever see one alone (no matter what the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull implies). Sometimes it’s a small flock, sometimes a huge herd. But I knew that, too.

Here’s what I did learn:  Seagulls in a flock, while on the ground, face in the same direction. It was funny at first. A single gull might fly off for a few minutes, then return and resume the position as if compelled to fit in or because he was being careful not to ruffle the feathers of the alpha male or a higher-up in the pecking order. Was it east or west or what that lined them up facing one way?

Finally it dawned on me. They all seemed to face into the wind.

When I got home, I did a little research and found that this was exactly what they were doing. It was the wind that determined their on-ground direction, and for a bird of flight, that is important. Seagulls need to vacate the beach quickly when danger arrives or when a food source suddenly becomes available. If their tail feathers are facing the wind they would be less aerodynamic and more in danger of getting saltwater, sand, or debris under their perfectly designed down and feather covering.

It just makes sense. They protect themselves from harm, by always being ready for flight by leaning into the wind.

Eagles can soar to great heights, and like Isaiah tells us, “Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles” (Is. 40:31 CSB). Ducks can fly long distances but not necessarily so high. (That’s maybe why they are sometimes easy shots.) However, you have to give them credit for endurance. Like James says, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2 CSB).

Eagles fly high, and sometimes so do I. Ducks fly far, and often perseverance is required of me.

But seagulls stand on the shore, feel the wind on their beaks, and wait for the next thing. Right now, I’m not really soaring to great heights or flapping furiously for distance. Often I find myself …waiting…leaning into the wind a little, and trying to respond as the wind’s direction changes, ready for whatever is coming.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.   Psalm 91:1-4 ESV

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections, most of these works in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner for her musicals written with Dennis, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed across the U.S. and around the world. Throughout their writing careers together, Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books. Nan lives with her husband Dennis in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant experiences that can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bible passages given throughout the book make this a book for all readers.

Join the conversation: What kind of bird do you find yourself most like at present? Soaring the heights? Flying long distances? Or facing into the wind, ready for whatever God has for you next?

Waiting Patiently

by Crystal Bowman

Several years ago, my son and daughter-in-law found themselves in a cold and sterile infertility clinic 1500 miles away from home. They desperately wanted a baby, but things didn’t happen the way they had planned. After all attempts to conceive had failed, they flew home with shattered dreams and lost hope. Their story is heart wrenching, and it’s shared by more than 6 million couples in the U.S. who just want to have a child.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (ESV). Whether it is hoping for a child, a career promotion, or that special someone to share our life, it’s only human to want things to fall into place. We pray and plead and weep, wondering if God hears us. Our well-meaning friends quote Bible verses for us. We read and reread God’s promises. But when what we hope for is deferred, it truly does make the heart sick.

During a season of waiting, bitterness can take root and hopelessness can overwhelm us. We ask questions and wonder why, but the answers don’t always come. In Psalm 40, King David says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (40:1, 3 NIV). Waited patiently. Two words that tell us what David did in his time of distress, and that God heard his cry. But I wonder how long David had to wait before God responded—one week, two years, or a decade?  The Bible doesn’t say.

Waiting patiently for something our hearts long for is physically and emotionally exhausting. It consumes our thoughts and can make us feel weak as we attempt to go on with our daily lives. The prophet Isaiah offers encouragement with these words: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). When our hope is in God, rather than in doctors or bosses or dating websites, he renews our strength. His love and grace and mercy are great enough to cover our shattered dreams, heal our broken hearts, and restore us to wholeness.

My son and daughter-in-law were finally blessed with baby boy, and three years later a baby girl. They now have a noisy home with scattered toys on the floor and fingerprints on the windows. Of course, not every desire or hope we have will be fulfilled the way we want, and only God knows how each person’s story will be written. But while we wait patiently for his plan to unfold, we can soar with the eagles knowing that God will answer our prayers in his time and in his way.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  Psalm 130:5 NIV

The struggle and the hope of waiting patiently – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps? She is a mentor for MOPS and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Her latest release, co-authored with her daughter-in-law, is Mothers in Waiting, Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. She lives in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best), and travels often to get hugs from her grandchildren.

Join the conversation: For what are you waiting?

Who’s Really Driving the Car?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

When our oldest son was just a few months old, my husband and I felt like God was calling us to leave our home in Arkansas, and move to South Carolina. We had no friends or family in the Carolinas, but my husband had a job offer, and there had been some issues with his job in Arkansas that made both of us uncomfortable.

So we began to discuss the possibilities. My husband, ever the engineer, made lists of pros and cons. While I, the creative right-brained one, tried to discover how I felt about the chance of moving. We wrangled over the decision for weeks, but for every pro there was a con, and for every upside there was a corresponding downside. The situation had us stymied.

Then one night, as I drifted off, I was captivated by a dream. I was the passenger in a car, a convertible to be exact, and we were driving a dangerous, winding road that led the side of up a mountain. The road was a tiny two-lane affair, minus guardrails. There were granite cliffs on the mountain side of the road, and a sheer drop to the valley below on the other. I knew about the drop off because the driver kept veering toward the edge of the cliff and I’d have to reach over and yank the steering wheel to keep us from crashing into the valley below. As we hurtled toward the top of the mountain we were up so high I could occasionally see clouds below us.

Finally, I got really irritated because it seemed the higher we got the more often I’d have to pull us back from the edge, and it suddenly occurred to me I didn’t know who was driving. While I kept a cautionary hand on the steering wheel, I risked a quick glance at the face of the person driving.

Even though I couldn’t describe the features to you now, I immediately recognized him…it was Jesus driving the car.

I was immediately mortified and jerked my hand away from the wheel and sure enough, He drove us right off the edge of the mountain. But we didn’t crash. No, instead we were suddenly free, and soaring above the mountain. I don’t remember Him saying anything, but he held tightly to my hand, and I remember Him smile.

At this point I woke, and shook my husband awake to tell him about my dream. He got excited and gave me hug, “That’s it. That’s the answer.”

I was still a little groggy, and I voiced the first thought that came to me. “Okay, but what’s the question?”

He laughed and hugged me again. “That’s our answer about moving. We’ve been trying to make the decision all by ourselves. God wants us to just let go and follow Him.”

Within the month we were gone, headed to South Carolina. It has been one of the single-best decisions we’ve ever made. That decision caused a domino effect in our lives leading us straight to God, strengthening our faith as well as our family.

Through the years I’ve found myself at crossroads, with God once again asking me to trade the security of what I knew and was comfortable with, for His path, which lead only He knew where.

You might think the choice would be simpler each time, but it isn’t. Never-the-less, I’ve learned the joy and peace that comes when I trade my control for His.

What about you? What part of your life is God trying to get you to relinquish to Him?

I invite you to join me and let go of the steering wheel. You won’t be sorry you chose to trust Him.

Who’s Really Driving the Car? Thoughts on Following God from @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What part of your life do you need to turn over to the Lord?

Up in the Air About Who I Am

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

I like your top,” the silver-haired flight attendant commented as I boarded the Denver-bound flight, “So sparkly.”

“It set off the metal detector in security,” I complained.

“So does my hip,” her snappy reply.

We exchanged glances with a nod and a laugh.

Seated at the front, I watched as she welcomed each passenger with a personal comment or smile—almost like she was welcoming us into her home, greeting us as she would a group of friends. She’s been at this a long time, I thought to myself. She’s good.

We laughed during her safety briefing, breaking from the traditional stuffy announcement. People chuckled – and they listenedYep. She’s good.

Because I had the prized front row single seat in this smaller regional aircraft, she sat opposite me during takeoff, our knees nearly touching. I could see the nameplate pinned to her uniform. Elizabeth.

“How long have you been flying?” I asked.

“Seventeen years. It’s changed so much over time. It’s not what it used to be.” She detailed some of the changes she’d experienced. Her biggest complaint was the decline of civility from passengers. “Demanding. Loud. Impatient. Rude. Just plain rude, ” she said, shaking her head.

“So, why are you still flying?” Clearly, she was old enough to retire.

“Several reasons. My husband is retired and not well. We need the benefits. And if I quit working, what would I do with myself every day? I’d be old before my time.”

I smiled. For most of us, we’d have said her time had come a long time ago. But that’s not how she saw it. That’s not how she saw herself. And because of her self-image, she was still here – going and doing and living at 30,000 feet—rudeness and all.

I was curious. “Do you still enjoy it?”

“Most days, I love it. For every cranky flyer I encounter, there are two or three who are lovely. Like you.” She smiled. The girl’s got skills.

As I thought about her later, it occurred to me—she’s good, because she has decided to be good. She’s also decided to stay young and to show up each day with that mindset.

Life is a daily decision. What’s my plan for living today? What’s my purpose at this point in my life? How will I show up? We’ve all heard the saying, “You’re as young as you feel.” I’d suggest an alternative, because I decided long ago not to be led by my feelings. I’d propose: “You are as young as you choose to be.” I’m not talking numbers here.  I’m talking mindset.

The story of Joshua and Caleb is inspiring. Both men were around 40 when Moses sent them as part of the twelve to explore the land. And because of their decision to see the promise of God instead of their circumstances, they were the only two God allowed into the promised land.

Many years later, as Joshua is dividing the land among those entering, Caleb comes to Joshua with a request:

“Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So, give me the hill country that the LORD promised me” Joshua 14:10-12a  NLT.

Caleb chose to see himself as God did: able, strong and prepared to enter into God’s promise.

My flight ended uneventfully – my favorite kind. But I had been reminded by my new friend that I can’t afford to be “up in the air” about how I show up each day. I will choose to be as young as I need to be – He may have important things for me to do!

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.                                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 40:31 NASB

Up in the Air About Who I Am – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: How do you plug in?


Join the Conversation: How do you choose to see yourself today? Have you decided to be able and ready when He calls on you?