The Fear Not Factor

by Nan Allen

…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NIV

It was called Infantile Paralysis and though I don’t remember it, since I was only two years old, my sister and I actually had this virus—the virus we now know as polio. A few months after we had the virus, the vaccine became available and was distributed, subsequently eradicating the disease.

Even though my sister and I didn’t have any long-term effects, I’m aware that this virus not only killed but maimed millions of people, before it was finally eliminated by stopping the spread. I understand, too, that for many years before and after our illness, there was fear and panic and despair much like now with the present pandemic. Like COVID-19, this virus had a mind of its own. It could kill or not. It could make someone very ill or not. No one knew how a body would respond. But the epidemic hit our little southern town just as the vaccine was coming out.

I remember, later on, seeing pictures of people, children and adults, having to spend the rest of their lives in leg braces or a contraption called an “iron lung”—a casket-like device that moved paralyzed muscles that were required for breathing. Without it, the victim would suffocate. It was a horrible disease, and though I don’t remember much about my family’s bout with it, I know that the fear of it was very real.  (And the idea that it only affected children, infantile paralysis was no longer regarded as true. After all, President Franklin Roosevelt had it as an adult.)

We are born with a certain amount of fear. It is natural. Doctors say that humans have two inborn fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. In so many cases, fear is good. It helps us respond to danger. However, the kind of fear that we develop as we get older is born out of a feeling that we are out of control of the future. And we are. But that’s where this emotion becomes a problem. We are afraid of what we cannot see, touch, or hear. We don’t know what will happen, so we often don’t venture into that great unknown.

As believers, we add guilt to our fear. Fear is the absence of faith, right? And without faith, we cannot please God. Jesus spoke about fear to His disciples in the Upper Room. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1 ISV). However, right after this Jesus had a sense of fear Himself. “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me!” (Matthew 26:39, GNT). He knew what was ahead, and yet He still dreaded the pain of betrayal, of the whip, and of the nails that would be driven into His hands. He did not fear death, however. He knew that He would overcome that and, in doing so, overcome it for us, too.

Mr. Roosevelt said this in his first presidential inaugural address, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes…”

Fear can be paralyzing much like the poliomyelitis virus. It can keep us from walking, venturing out, and even breathing. The only way to banish this plague is to do what Jesus said in the garden just before His arrest and torture.  “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” An old adage says, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.”

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God… Isaiah 41:10 NIV

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

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. 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.

Join the conversation: What do you fear?


Holding God’s Hand

by Crystal Bowman

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

After 63 years of being married to her soulmate, my mother went into a deep depression when my father died. She was 84 years old and didn’t want to live anymore. But eventually, with the help of a caring doctor, close friends and family, she gradually emerged from her depression, ready to live again.

My mother was “young” for her age and sill had many years to enjoy life. She volunteered to chauffeur her widow friends to doctors’ appointments and grocery stores. She entertained nursing home residents by playing the piano during their lunch hour. She referred to the facility as “the old folks’ home” when in fact, many of the residents were younger than she was. I told her often that Dad would be proud of the way she found purpose and meaning in her years of widowhood.

In her early 90s she began falling, even with the help of a walker. We moved her into a beautiful, assisted living home where she was the most popular resident because of her kindness. In the dining hall, she would look for someone sitting alone and join them. In the fitness room she assisted a blind woman on the exercise bike. And she always thanked every staff member for caring for her.

My mom loved the Lord and spent hours every morning reading Scripture and talking with God. She knew it wouldn’t be much longer before she would be going to her forever home and grew closer to God every day. One day, as she was writing in her journal, her pen ran out of ink. She got up and walked to her desk to get another pen. As she was about to walk back to her chair, she froze in place, realizing she had forgotten to use her walker. She reached her hand toward the ceiling and said, “Dear God, please walk with me.” Then she felt the strength of His steady hand in hers, as God walked her back to her chair. 

In Isaiah 41, God reminds the children of Israel that they are His chosen people, and that He cares for them and fights for them. In verse 10 (NIV) He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Anyone who has received Jesus as their Savior is part of God’s family. When we belong to Him, there is no need to fear for we are never alone. Life can be full of sadness and grief. We lose spouses, siblings, children, and best friends. It’s easy to let the troubles of this world bring us down. But when that happens, we need to look up, reach out our hand and say, “God, walk with me.”

My mom lived to be 97 years old and passed away on Mother’s Day 2019. She left a legacy of faith to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She didn’t just speak about her faith, she lived it every day. Her faith continues to bless me as I read the pages in her journal.  I’m so happy she was able to get another pen. 


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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced God in a tangible way? Encourage us with your story!

Dancing with Expectation

by Janet Perez Eckles

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you With My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV

I kissed hubby good-bye. And with white cane in hand, I turned to the clerk behind the airport counter. “I’ll be traveling alone,” I said.

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. But this time, I wasn’t heading to a speaking engagement or to visit a friend. Instead, with anticipation for adventure, I headed to a Christian writer’s conference.

And the first day, while planning to attend events, workshops and networking sessions, one challenge continued to creep up: unable to see my surroundings, how would I maneuver from session to session in that large hotel?

In the private room of my heart, a little worry tried to come in. But God’s Word in Psalm 119:105 silenced that. “My Word will be a lamp to your feet, and a light unto your path” (NIV). How sweet those words. And how reassuring that promise. I didn’t have to know how He would lead. I just knew He would.

His timing would be precise, and His ways perfect.

At the end of a session, I grabbed my white cane, and from nowhere, I heard a sweet voice. “Janet, can I help you get to the next class?” I beamed with gratitude. No matter where I was, that same angelic offer from Lisa, a friend—an angel—came at the precise moment.

During conferences of life, the treasures are often brought about by challenges and even trials. That’s right, adversity was what opened my eyes to see what compassion looks like. Tough moments gave me a glimpse of the features that describe kindness. And moments of uncertainty revealed the certainty of God’s provision.

When my life had been undisturbed by trials, I’d been blind to the beauty of God’s love. To the goodness that often has wings. And sadly, I’ve been deaf to God’s voice that whispers the way.

All that changed. With a new tone of gratitude shining in my soul, and a spirit of thanksgiving swirling in my heart, confidence trickles in. Reassurance repeats: God goes before us, guiding, showing and protecting.

When using the white cane to navigate through life, we might lose our direction. Heartache might jar our senses. Disappointment might bring gloom. And financial crisis might darken our days. But God will send an angel to nudge us and point to His Word: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you With My righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV).

The certainty of His word gives a new meaning to each morning. Puts a new song into my days. And with thanksgiving painting my world, I dance with expectation in my soul.

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

TWEETABLE
Dancing with Expectation – encouragement from Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez eckles

About the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker, author and founder of J.C. Empowerment Ministries. Through her books and conference messages, she empowers thousands to overcome fear, conquer worry and live triumphantly.

Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: Is there someone in your life who has expressed love through their service?

Angel in a Pickup

by Penelope Carlevato @TeaTimePen

Being a tour guide on my Taste of Britain Tea Tours is one of my greatest joys. I escort women on ten-day tours throughout England, experiencing the glory of England and afternoon teas in many different venues. The first day is always the toughest, getting everyone settled in their hotel rooms, converting their dollars to British pounds, and explaining English terms.

On one of my tours, we had the privilege of seeing Queen Elizabeth twice on our first day. The ladies were thrilled at the chance sightings, and I knew it was one of those “God things”. It was their first trip to England, and I wanted it to be perfect.

That evening, relaxing in the tub in my London hotel room, I decided it was a good time to catch up on my Bible reading.  A verse grabbed my attention…”Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

Why was it so important to me that this trip be perfect? Was it so everyone would have a good time, or was I trying to make myself look good? I wanted everyone to believe I had it all together. I didn’t want to be thought of as a failure when things didn’t go as planned. I realized I would be walking on eggshells during the tour if I didn’t trust God with these women and all the details of the journey. I turned it over to Him, as I had done my homework, and now I needed to rest in his goodness and provision.

At the end of our ten days in England, I was pleased that everything went so well.  No injuries, illness, or complaints. God was in control, and it had been the perfect trip – up until we traveled to the airport.  We were late.

As we left the motorway and entered the roundabout leading to Gatwick Airport, our van suddenly stopped dead…right in the middle of two exit lanes.  We were blocking traffic at rush hour. Drivers began to blast their horns and shake their fists at us. I immediately went into panic mode instead of trusting God to take care of the situation. But one of our sweet ladies in the group suggested we pray. What a brilliant idea! 

We prayed, “Lord, please send us an angel to help us in this situation.” 

As we concluded our prayer, a small pickup pulled in front of our van. A tall, good-looking man in a dark blue uniform jumped out of his truck and came to our driver’s window. “Oh no,” I thought, “a traffic warden (the English name for a policeman) is going to issue us a ticket. Just what we didn’t need! We’ll miss our flight home for sure.”

He came to the driver’s window, and instead of issuing us a ticket, asked if he could help pull our van off to the side of the road. He used a tow rope he had in the bed of his pickup and pulled us out of traffic.

Walking back to our van, he peeked his head inside and asked, “Which terminal and airline, ladies?”

All of us shouted over the head of the driver, “South Terminal – British Airways to Denver.”

“Great,” He replied, as he tipped his cap, “I’ll see you on board. I’m your pilot.”

God whispered in my heart, “See? I am in control. Trust me. I’ve got this.”

We all cheered like a bunch of teenagers. In a short while, the Automobile Club arrived to help us with our van. We had a broken gas gage. We had run out of gas!

I learned a great lesson on that trip.  God went before us, and He was in control. It wasn’t a coincidence that our British Airway’s pilot passed us on the roundabout at that exact time. We made our flight on time, and once onboard, the pilot gave us all an exclusive visit to the cockpit.

This Scripture is not just words on a page, but God’s promise to us:

So not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Penelope Carlevato -5About the author: Penelope Carlevato is a Christian author and speaker and a contributing author for numerous compilation books. She serves as a regular columnist for Leading Hearts, the award-winning magazine for Christian women, and also writes for Innovative Health and other medical and wellness magazines. You can find out more at PenelopeCarlevato.com

Penelope has written several books: Tea on the Titanic, First Class Etiquette, The Art of Afternoon Tea: From the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic, Tea Lover’s Journal, and Happy Family Tea Time. Whether planning a Birthday Tea, a Christmas Tea, a Christening Tea or even a themed DownThe Art of Afternoon Tea: From the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic by [Penelope Carlevato]ton Abbey Tea, the pleasures of sharing tea time come alive as Penelope shares her enthusiasm, knowledge, and inspiration. 

 

Join the conversation: Has God ever rescued you from a difficult situation? Please share!

Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I’m not going to lie, I allowed my kids to make a few bad hair decisions as they were growing up. I did it for two reasons. 1) I knew I would be able to show them the pictures years later and tease them mercilessly, and 2) if everything was all hair perfection for them growing up, how would they ever learn to be funny?

May I say now, “well-done, me.” Because I have pictures. And the laughter is very satisfying. And also, all my kids are hilarious.

I’m also big enough to admit that sometimes when we look at those pictures, the bad hair is mine. I’d rather call it a bad mousse day. Or as I’ve come to more often refer to it, “Serendipity-Do”—since I never knew exactly how that hair would turn out. Or how the gel would come off.

When I say that I’m big enough to admit it, sometimes I mean my hair was big enough. Big enough for whatever. Oh my, the sheer “bigness” of that hair. I look at the photos of those three-story bangs and wonder how it all held up without girders and trusses. I think the highest hair stood with a lot of teasing, spraying, wishing and even more worrying. Plus another jar and a half of the gel-mousse-plaster-of-Paris of the day.

Back then I also worried on windy days that those bangs might accidentally achieve enough thrust, drag, weight, lift and hairspray to fly me a couple of counties over. Oh the worries of heavy-duty aerodynamic bangs (hair-o-dynamic?). It’s enough to…well…make your hair stand on end. Or turn it gray.

Worry in all aspects of life can be as sticky as cheap mousse. It’s even sneaky. I often convince myself that worry works. After all, most of the things I worry about don’t happen. Doesn’t that mean it’s working?

Even in all its slick sneakiness, there’s something we can do with worry. When we feel we’re coming unglued (not a hair reference), and we don’t know what to do, we have a choice. We can trade in that worry. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (Philippians 4:6, CSB).

Trading worry for prayer, petition and thanksgiving? It’s the most amazing exchange. And you’re not even going to believe what comes along with it. A gloriously unexpected peace. We’re told about it in the very next verse. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, CSB). A heart-and-mind-guarding peace straight from Jesus Himself!

Seeking Jesus—heart and mind on Him—is the key. He said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow.” He preceded that command with, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33, CSB). When His peace rules, the fears that seem three stories tall one minute, appear appropriately minuscule the next. Is there any worry—anything at all—that can stand up against the perfect peace of God?

God’s peace has proven its ability to stand up against the biggest heartbreaks, the highest life-threats, or even the smallest and goofiest hair events—even events with pictures.

On the pics topic, I’m backing off my kids a hair. Possibly because for every shot I take at one of their styles, they can always pull out a Glamour Shot of mine.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.                                                                                                 Isaiah 41:10 NASB

TWEETABLE 
Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head – Encouragement from @RhondaRhea (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout 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 just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-CaffeinatedWhen 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: What do you do to keep your worrying under control?

 

My Heart’s Desire

by Christina Rose

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 NIV

After 22 years in the family home it was time to sell. I dreaded it. The house seemed so quiet and empty after my two daughters left for college, yet it was filled with joyful memories of new babies, holidays, birthdays, love and laughter. I never wanted those days to end. Now that my husband was living nearby with someone new, I felt more lost and alone than ever. I was on the verge of sliding into a serious pity party, and there was only one thing to do. I put on my hiking boots and headed out with the dogs to call on my Father.

My home was at the base of Ring Mountain, a beautiful nature preserve that overlooked San Francisco bay. Each day I hiked and prayed and found my peace.  Today I needed it more than ever. I looked to the sky in prayer and heard, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.

The Lord spoke these words to His people in exile, spread all over the known world to give them hope. While things were grim at the moment, they were not to fear. The Lord would uphold and restore them. He never forgets His own.

Peace began filling my spirit and answers flowed. I was guided to call an old friend who had a beautiful historic home with a few rental cottages in the nearby town of Larkspur. His 100 year- old home sat on a hill in the middle of a redwood forest with spectacular mountain views and was a short drive to the beach. While I had not spoken to my friend in years, God’s message to call him was insistent. He was now living a few hours away and offered me the main house for a reasonable rent. He was in bankruptcy which meant if he lost the house I might have days to move out if I moved in. This was a huge financial and emotional risk. Again, I prayed on my mountain and the guidance to make this move was clear. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

I lived in paradise for three years. My daughters and their friends loved to visit. The stained glass windows, high beamed ceilings, decks, views of the mountain, lush garden in the redwoods with visiting deer, hummingbirds and butterflies were heavenly. Each sunrise and sunset I prayed on the top deck. In the evenings the fog from the ocean would roll over the mountain refreshing the air. A cottage became vacant and my sister and her kids spent the summer with us. A niece came by with friends on their way to a Bible retreat. One morning as I was watching the group praying in the garden, I thought, God’s plan is so much bigger than our own if we would just ask for his help and trust him.

The three years I spent in Larkspur were so blessed, and I am beyond grateful. My leap of faith was rewarded in ways that were far greater than I could have ever imagined. But I learned the true desire of my heart was not Larkspur. My true heart’s desire was to have comfort in knowing how much our Father loves us and how much he wants his best for us.

If we will just turn to him and trust him he will astound us with his mercy and grace. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

TWEETABLE
My Heart’s Desire – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout 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. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, 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 and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: When has God blessed you beyond what you had hoped? How did it increase your trust in Him? 

My Heart’s Desire

by Christina Rose

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 NIV

After 22 years in the family home, it was time to sell, and I dreaded it.  The house may have been quiet and empty after my two daughters left for college, but it was still full of joyful memories: new babies, holidays, birthdays, love, and laughter. I had never wanted those days to end. Now my husband was living nearby with someone new, and I felt more lost and alone than ever.  I was on the verge of sliding into a serious pity party and there was only one thing to do.

I put on my hiking boots and headed out with the dogs to call on my Father.

My home was at the base of Ring Mountain, a beautiful nature preserve that overlooks San Francisco bay.  Each day I hiked and prayed and found my peace.  Today I needed it more than ever.  I looked to the sky in prayer and heard, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

Peace began filling my spirit and answers flowed. I was guided to call an old friend who had a beautiful historic home with a few rental cottages in the nearby town of Larkspur. This 100 year old home sat on a hill in the middle of a redwood forest with spectacular mountain views and was a short drive to the beach.  While I had not spoken to my friend in years, God’s message to call him was insistent. So I did.

I discovered he was now living a few hours away. He offered me the main house for a reasonable rent. But he was in bankruptcy, which meant if he lost the house, I might have to move back out with a few days’ notice. It was a huge financial and emotional risk. Again, I prayed on my mountain and the guidance to make this move was clear. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

I lived in paradise for three years. My belongings fit perfectly, which made me feel at home immediately. My daughters and their friends loved to visit. The stained glass windows, high beamed ceilings, decks, views of the mountain, lush garden in the redwoods with visiting deer, hummingbirds, and butterflies were heavenly.  Each sunrise and sunset I prayed on the top deck. In the evenings the fog from the ocean would roll over the mountain refreshing the air.

A cottage became vacant, and my sister and her kids spent the summer with us. A niece came by with friends on their way to a Bible retreat. One morning, as I was watching the group praying in the garden, I thought, God’s plan is so much bigger than our own if we would just ask for his help and trust him. “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”  (Ephesians 3:20 KJV).

The three years I spent in Larkspur were so blessed, and I am beyond grateful. My leap of faith was rewarded in ways that were far greater than I could have ever imagined.  But I learned the true desire of my heart was not Larkspur.  My true heart’s desire was to have comfort in knowing how much our Father loves us and how much he wants his best for us.  If we will just turn to him and trust him he will astound us with his mercy and grace. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).

TWEETABLE
My Heart’s Desire – insight from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout 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. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, 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 and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What desires has God placed in your heart (and fulfilled)?

Password: Truth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Password anxiety. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing. You’re compelled to choose seven un-guessable characters, throw in some capital letters, add the name of a dead pet, sprinkle in a few lower-case letters, include some numerals, and, on the whole, the password should eventually grow and evolve into an even better password. Essentially, it should ultimately be able to beat up all the other passwords—make them run crying from the yard.

Anytime I have to choose a new password, my fingers hover over the keys for a solid five minutes. My sweaty fingers. Though I do try to hide any fear. Because I’ve heard the most evolved passwords can sense it.

It’s not that I’m a fearful person. Okay, as a child I might’ve been the only kid whose blanket fort had a panic room. But as an adult, fear isn’t such an issue.

Maybe that’s because as a follower of Christ, I know the password for conquering fear. Truth. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what you capitalize or how many numbers you add. Anytime we’re afraid, we find strength as we remember what is true, and by faith we hold onto that truth.

Isaiah 41:10 holds the no-fear message: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (HCSB). The truth is, God gives us the strength for no-fear living as we remember and believe that He holds onto us. Combine the password of truth with faith and trust, and then fear? It runs crying from the yard.

David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4, HCSB).

Fear, worry, anxiety. They’re emotional responses. Our emotions can be sneaky. It often feels impossible to reason with the rascals. And they’re insistent. It’s not like we invite fear to take us over. It just does. But our emotions must be taught the truth. By faith, we must believe that despite what our emotions are telling us, the indisputable truth is that we don’t need to fear.

Think of the things that cause you anxiety. Is there anything you’ve thought of that’s too big for God? Anything that’s too hard for Him?

Financial stresses? He owns everything. Health issues? He knit your body together. Too much to do? He holds time in His hands. Whatever the source of your stress, the Father loves you and it’s His loving desire to shoulder your burden and squelch your fear. “Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5:7, AMP).

Our mighty God, the One who lovingly cares for you, is bigger than anything you could ever fear. He is the firewall of all firewalls, as it were, protecting your soul. Wrapping our minds around that truth in faith will delete fear every time. By faith, remember, understand, believe the password:  Truth.

As for your other passwords? You might as well also understand that when you finally choose one that’s remote enough to be secure, the chances of you remembering it are even more remote than that.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.                                            Philippians 4:8 HCSB

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Password: Truth – insight on #followingGod from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: With what fears do you struggle? What truth can help you overcome that fear?

Guilted by the Shoulds

by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty

The dental hygienist fixed her accusing stare on me after a not-so-stellar appointment. “You should floss more,” she leveled. “What are you doing to clean your teeth daily besides brushing?”

“Um …” I groped for something. Anything. “I use the doggie biscuit technique; I chew on extra crunchy chocolate chip cookies.”

She was right. I really should floss more. But sometimes should is a dangerous word. It’s a stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver. It ruthlessly inflates the bulk of a woman’s to-do list, often crowding out healthy sanity-essentials with guilt-induced clutter.

  • I should go to that meeting; they really need my help.
  • I should cook a big dinner every night like my mother did.
  • I should clean my house so the kids won’t write notes in the dust.

Seems there’s always something more we should be doing.

But as every woman struggling to squeeze into last year’s skinny jeans knows, more isn’t always better; sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. You know, my friend, we can be whelmed without being overwhelmed. Whelmed is livable; overwhelmed is strangling.

So how do we shush that should guilt threatening to overwhelm us? Here are four suggestions that work for me:

Be stress-smart. When you’re slammed into a stress mess, sit yourself down with a calming cup of your fave hot beverage. I’m talking five mere minutes here, not five hours. You can afford it. Close your eyes. Tune in to Papa God’s loving presence … His heartbeat … His peace. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NIV).

Avoid BOOP (Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon). BOOP is one of my Coty Near-Facts of Science (theories not yet proven by actual scientific studies but nevertheless known by women to be true). I postulate that women are like pots of oatmeal; at the beginning of the day we simmer – little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and harmlessly pop. But as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils everything around it with a nasty, ugly, sticky mess. The key to avoiding BOOP is to know when to remove the pot from the heat. And speaking of burners …

Promote yourself off the back burner. Don’t argue girl, just do it. You may sacrificially place yourself there routinely, but your Creator doesn’t. You’re a front-burner person to him. He wants you to enjoy this marvelous gift of life He’s given you, not sludge through it. So it’s time to add a little fun to your day.

Write yourself into your schedule for an hour of something you really enjoy a minimum of twice a week. Walk in the sunshine, bike a woodsy trail, sing opera, join a roller derby team, boogie your bad self down, get your nails done – hey, whatever tingles your toes. Put the beautiful smile back on your face. Your fam will be ever so grateful.

Be a dipstick. The Lord puts only enough fuel in your daily tank for you to arrive safely at the destination He’s routed out for you. All the detours you add will either run you out of gas or land you in a ditch. Check your tank, review your destination, and then engage in the Three Ps: Prioritize, Plan, and Pace yourself.

Achk, I know. So many things we must do. A few things we want to do. And countless things we should do. We just have to recognize that we have the power to choose which shoulds are potential coulds … and then unapologetically embrace the woman our choices make us.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.Isaiah 41:10 NASB

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty. Used with permission from Barbour Publishing.

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Guilted by the Shoulds – tips for coping 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 www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses 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: What stresses you out? How do you give yourself a break?

Blazing A Trail

by Sheri Schofield

Sometimes, finding God’s will for our lives can be confusing, because sometimes God asks us to do the unusual. What we perceive is  a well-mapped path may not be where God is taking us. Maybe He wants us to blaze a trail for Him where others have not yet traveled.

That was what happened to me. A few years ago, I had gone with our missions team into Mexico. We were in drug cartel territory helping small churches in the Sierra Madres, the beautiful mountains of north-central Mexico. During that trip, one of the Mexican women who worked in children’s ministries told our pastoral team, “We have no curriculum. Please help us!”

Though it took me some time to understand what God wanted of me, I recently returned back to Mexico, bringing a book I had written and illustrated on the plan of salvation with them in mind. It was not yet published in Spanish, but I had supplementary materials in Spanish, in notebook form, and had brought along the illustrations. I also planned to teach a children’s ministry seminar on multi-sensory methods, showing the assembled pastors’ wives how to effectively communicate Bible lessons to children.

I had written this book particularly for the church in Mexico. Many of the people from those towns were featured in my illustrations. It was an exciting time! They were thrilled to see familiar faces in the illustrations — some of their own children, some of their leaders. This book was theirs!

After the first class, we all went outside for a break. Suddenly, a big boom followed by the noise of heavy machine gun fire filled the air. A battle was being fought about four blocks away. This town was situated right on the line between La Linea Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel, and it was ground zero for warfare.

We went back inside, where thick, adobe walls offered protection. When the machine gun fire drew near and the battle raced up and down the main street only a block away, we paused to let the noise pass, then returned to our lessons.

We later learned that La Linea Cartel had ambushed a state trooper vehicle with a grenade launcher and machine guns. State troopers swarmed the town and were in control by the time we left. Their pickups had machine guns mounted in the back, manned by police wearing black hoods and body armor. They were rolling out to battle the cartel. That day, five cartel members died.

Throughout the turmoil, I was totally at peace, for I knew God had brought me to that place. I trusted that whatever happened, I belonged to God, in life or in death, and I was not afraid.

I am not young. I know the dangers of this ministry. But there is something freeing about being in the center of God’s will, following His plan for my life, going where He leads me. My friends and I are blazing a trail for Him in Mexico’s cartel country, where evil dominates. I have found God’s will, and I am not afraid.

King David, a man of war, knew the security of being in the center of God’s will. In Psalm 23:3,4 he wrote, “He (God) renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me . . .” (NLT)

When I follow God’s will, my safety lies not in time, but rather, in eternity with God. I am content with that.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

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Blazing A Trail: finding peace and courage when God calls – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years,  Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: Where is God taking you?