Take the First Step

by Paula Jauch

O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live! Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; it is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back. Isaiah 38:16-17 NASB

I truly believe in my heart that we all deserve to find freedom, healing and recovery in this life, but I’ve also learned that not everyone is willing to do the hard work. I don’t want you to think I have all the answers, but what I do know through my own experience of suffering and healing is that God was able to do for me what I was not capable of figuring out for myself.  

Let me explain what I mean by that… For many years I was struggling with so many issues from self-hate, an eating disorder, drinking alcohol, relationships, and financial problems all while going to church. I tried so many things to change or get free—even to the point of going to the altar every Sunday to get prayed over.

What was wrong with me? Why was God not healing me? It didn’t matter how many times I went to church or what I learned in Scripture; I still kept struggling. I was exhausted from wearing a mask and pretending I was okay.

What I eventually learned, as simple as it sounds, was that I had a lot of wounds from growing up with addiction and abuse that needed to be healed. It was going to take a lot more than getting prayed over.

I needed help. I found a trauma therapist, went to recovery programs, and spent time with God. God also brought safe people into my life to love me where I was at in my journey and support me through the healing process.

I needed to surrender all the hurt that I was hiding inside of me and give it to God who was patiently waiting for me to trust him…

I had to learn how to trust God, because with all the people who hurt me in my life, it was hard to believe that God even cared, or that He had a plan for my life.

I had to learn to feel my feelings, even the feelings of anger, and start trusting God with those feelings. It’s about knowing we are not alone anymore, and that we don’t have to walk this journey by ourselves.

I want to encourage you in your faith, to know that you will be able to trust God enough to surrender every area of your life to Him. Please remember it is a process and change won’t happen overnight.

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). When I learned this Scripture, it gave me so much hope. For the first time in my life, someone was telling me that God didn’t want to hurt me.

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

About the author: Paula Jauch is a speaker, Selah Award finalist, AWSA Golden Scroll award-winning author, and podcaster. She is the Founder of the non-profit organization, Paula Jauch International. Her organization supports those who have been affected by trauma and addiction. She speaks from a place of brokenness and healing. Her book, Cross Addicted: Breaking Free from Family Trauma and Addiction offers a hopeful path to recovery for those who are hurting and traumatized. Her other projects include Letting Go of Family Trauma and Addiction devotions on the YouVersion Bible App, and “Exposing Family Secrets,” a chapter in She Writes for Him: Stories of Living Hope. To learn more, follow her on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @paulajauch and at www.paulajauch.com.

Join the conversation: What are you struggling with today?

Pause to Refresh

by Nan Corbitt Allen

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him. John 7: 37-38 CSB (emphasis added)

The little South Alabama town where I grew up in the 1960s has a natural phenomenon that was responsible for some of my most delicious memories. The story is that around the early 1920s some speculators believed there was oil hiding under the town’s surface. In drilling for oil, however, they discovered an enormous artesian well (definition: an underground spring that naturally spews to the surface without a pump).  At around 1500 feet below, a subterranean spring began to spout 100 feet into the air and has continued flowing until this day—producing 1200 gallons of water a minute. A new above-ground lake was born on that day. But someone had the forethought to harness some of that naturally flowing water and funnel it into an enormous swimming pool. It was in that pool that I learned to swim.

The water was cold, even in the long summer months. Since the water came straight out of the ground through a large pipe, and then into the pool, the water was always fresh. And it was recirculated by leaving the main pool, flowing into the “baby pool” and then into the lake.  The main pool emptied and refilled itself every two hours. The pure H2O contains 27 nourishing minerals which are beneficial to life.

The whole Lake Geneva complex, with dance floor, snack bar (and even a cage for a pet monkey) was privately owned and immaculately maintained. I can still feel the shock of jumping off the diving board into the water below. It almost took my breath away. And on those hot, humid southern days, the temperature contrast was even more pronounced…and welcome.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if those drilling for oil had actually found it, pumped it out, and sold it. Somebody (or their heirs) would now be counting their money and the whole town’s economy would have taken a different path. I also imagine the disappointment that the prospectors had when that drill hit water instead of oil. The use of fossil fuels has come under fire in the last several decades, so one can only speculate that the boom would have died out at some point and the dream of prosperity with it. 

However, what riches we’ve enjoyed for a century all because of a failure to achieve the initial goal!

That’s the point here. The “weeping prophet,” Jeremiah, was God’s mouthpiece to the ancient Israelites, mostly with warnings of gloom and doom. Here, however, is one of his more positive prophecies:

“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 CSB.

Maybe I’m reaching (or digging) for a metaphor here, but the memory of the artesian well keeps coming back to me in fresh ways.

Isaiah, my favorite prophet, reported that God said. “I will open rivers on the barren heights, and springs in the middle of the plains. I will turn the desert into a pool and dry land into springs.” (Isaiah 41:18  CSB)

I’m thankful for the well-spring that one beautiful excavation mistake created for me. I’m looking forward to how God will unearth deep-flowing truths to me, and to all of us, that will bubble to the surface.

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: Has the Lord unexpectedly moved you away from a goal you had? How did that work out for you?

Embrace the Crawl

by Ashley Lane Jones @BigSisterTweets

My son Gordon refuses to crawl. He’s a healthy, chubby baby nearly nine months old, and he’s plenty strong enough to push himself up and crawl around. I’ve figured out the problem, though: he wants to move while sitting up. He’s so proud that he can sit up all by himself, and he loves being “up high,” so to get down on his hands and knees and scrape along the floor…no thank you!

 Instead, Gordon has mastered what I call the “roll and flip.” He starts by sitting up, then he lays down briefly, rolls over a bit, and then flips back up. While he can move some distance in this prairie-dog fashion, he doesn’t have much control in the direction he’s going.

While playing with Gordon the other day, I got down on my own hands and knees to show him how it’s done. That’s when I began to empathize with his plight, for I didn’t want to crawl around on the floor, either. Sitting is so much easier and more comfortable!

I realized the same can be said for our spiritual lives. When we get saved, we become enamored with such lofty things as worship, fellowship, and community. We love nothing more than to sit and bask in God’s presence.

As wonderful as that is, God doesn’t want us to spend our lives sitting on the sidelines.

God has unique plans for each of us, to give us “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB). But every plan of God involves two things: salvation and sanctification. While our salvation is a gift we receive from God, sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus as we grow closer to Him.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3a NASB).

“… sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15 NASB).

Over the course of our lives, God will work with us to sanctify our hearts, often through prayer, Bible study, and the repentance of sin. These may seem like simple steps, but they aren’t easy. We all know we should pray and study God’s Word, but it’s hard to get up early in the morning, and we’d rather watch TV than read our Bibles. We desire to follow God, but it can be quite painful to admit our sins, ask God for forgiveness, and then choose the better path that He has laid out for us.

Sanctification is never flashy or glamorous. No one will stand up in church and praise you for your efforts. You might even feel self-conscious as you leave your cushy spiritual seat to scrape along on your hands and knees.

But don’t lose heart! There will come a time when the crawling leads to standing and then to walking—not on your own volition but in the power of the Lord. The time spent alone in prayer and study, and the lessons hard-learned, will all bear fruit and prepare you for the steps ahead.

If you’ve been sitting in church for awhile, ask God if it’s time to start crawling. If so, then humble yourself and get on your spiritual (and maybe even your physical) hands and knees before the Lord. Don’t “roll and flip” around, worried about what other people are doing and saying. Your time to walk will come soon enough. For now, embrace the crawl.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NASB

Embrace the Crawl – encouragement from Ashley L. Jones, @BigSisterTweets on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://courtneywahl.pass.us/jones-familyAbout the author: Ashley L. Jones uses her Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies to write articles and books that help others see God as alive and relevant to their everyday lives. The first book in her faith-based children’s series, Big Answers, will release in Fall 2020.

Ashley’s debut book, Modern Cast Iron: The Complete Guide to Selecting, Seasoning, Cooking, and More, is available on Amazonashley lane jones book now for preorder. Chock-full of stories from Jones’s own childhood growing up with cast-iron meals, as well as recipe after tantalizing recipe, Modern Cast Iron explores the countless ways that cast iron benefits health and happiness. For more information, connect with Ashley at www.BigSisterKnows.com.

Join the conversation: Have you sensed God working on your sanctification? Please share!

Winter Has Arrived!

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

My back yard is blanketed in white and the cat’s water bowl is frozen over. I don’t need a weather report to tell me winter has arrived. Sometimes I find it hard to adjust to the changing seasons. I want it to stay warm a little bit longer. But after the first frost hit, I knew it was time to pull out the heavy coat, sweaters, boots and gloves, and put away the sleeveless shirts and shorts.

Seasons change and we have no choice but to go along with them. In life, we go through seasonal changes as well. In fact, I’m going through one right now, and there’s nothing I can do about it. My dear friend just moved away—nearly 1,000 miles from here. She and her husband moved to be near their three daughters and grandchildren. Having my own family around me is one of my greatest joys, so I completely understand and I’m happy for them. But it doesn’t make the season any less cold.

Nancy and I have known each other for decades and have traveled across the globe many times together. She knows my bad habits and I know hers—and we’re fine with them. We talk easily about just about anything; family, ministry, missions, cultural challenges, or family. Of course every conversation was always over a steaming cup of tea—some we brought from other nations. My husband jokingly calls us tea snobs, and we’re okay with that too. A friendship like ours is a gift.

Seasonal changes occur in everyone’s life from time to time; job changes, loss, divorce, remarriage, retirement, caring for aging parents, health challenges, and good friends moving away. But God is there for us in every season. I love the picture of comfort and protection Psalm 23:4 paints for us: “Even when I walk through the darkest [or coldest!] valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT).

We can be encouraged by the fact that we are on God’s mind. Jeremiah 29:11 (AKJV) says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I love that God is thinking good thoughts toward us, thoughts of peace. He’s not trying to pull the rug out from under our feet—even when it feels like it.

For me, this season feels as cold as the frosty air outside, but I am confident that it is just a season, and seasons change. Spring follows winter. I’ve had many winter seasons in life, some colder than others, but God always brings an unexpected positive end. The key is in bundling up in the warmth of His love, meditating on the promises of His Word, and in taking just one day at a time until you begin to thaw.

It’s like a good book: as one chapter ends, another begins. Each chapter builds upon the last until the whole story is told. If you’re feeling the chill of a winter season in your life, be encouraged, fix a cup of tea, and warm up in the love of God.

Winter Has Arrived! – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: What season are you in right now?



I Don’t Do Drama!

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

I’ve often found myself saying– or thinking–  I don’t do drama.

Yet, as much as I’d like to shut the chaos, confusion, and cattiness out of my life and convince myself I don’t do drama, it has a way of creeping into my life anyway.

Recently, the drama was a complete downstairs remodel of my family’s kitchen and living room as a result of a repaired water leak under our kitchen slab. There was plastic sheeting all over. Dust was everywhere, too. Our cat, Mowgli, was crawling into – and getting stuck inside – holes in our drywall! Nothing was where it should be. It had the potential to make me crazy!

Drama happens when unexpected circumstances hit, and we are unprepared to handle them. But a concept I had to keep in mind was that the drama in my living room was not unexpected to God. And He was perfectly prepared and able to handle it.

As I took my household drama to God, He laid upon my heart, once again, that it did not take Him by surprise, that He was in control, and that I could get through the drama as I trusted Him in the midst of it.

Every circumstance you and I encounter is meant to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).  Once you and I consider this, we can relax and realize God knows what He’s doing in whatever He’s allowing. And we can focus on passing the test, rather than failing it through unnecessary drama.

Just as I was practicing trusting Him, in spite of the mess in my house, I learned we would get a complete downstairs remodel for just the cost of our insurance deductible. Before long, we received a brand new kitchen and living room floor, a new paint job, and even nice new granite counter tops to replace the old, worn out tile and grout   We never could’ve afforded a remodel had we not experienced a water leak under our kitchen slab. God knew what He was doing in the midst of the drama. And He often gives us more than we expect when we simply trust Him.

Lord, why would I ever doubt You when You know the plans You have for me – plans to prosper me and not harm me, to give me a future and a hope? Thank You for being in control of all that happens and having a better plan for me– every time.   

I Don’t Do Drama! Insight on #FollowingGod from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You, upon which this devotional is based.  For more on her books and ministry, or to see if her coaching services can help you write your next book, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: When was your last encounter with drama?

Peace in the Process

by Ashley Lauren McClain

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

This has always been one of my favorite verses. God first said those words to His people, who were living in exile in Babylon as a punishment for turning away from Him to worship idols. He said them to give the people hope: their exile would not last forever. In seventy years, He would bring them back to their homeland. “I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back… For I know the plans I have for you…they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

The same God who promised good to His people, even while they were in the middle of experiencing His judgment, is the God I serve. He loves His people perfectly and will never abandon us, and always has our good in mind. This thought fills me with so much hope and excitement that this big dreamer girl’s heart has taken and run with it!

But in the process of sprinting ahead, I have sometimes found myself exhausted and disappointed. Why? I believe I have finally figured out two answers to that question.

The first is in the very first words. The Lord says He knows the plans HE has for us. He is not confirming the plan we have for ourselves. Nor are His intentions determined by the expectations others have on us. God’s plans are exceedingly and abundantly greater than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

Again, my big dreamer hearts loves this…but there is a second caveat. God also has His own time table for when He will bring those plans to fruition. His timing is perfect, which means often we find ourselves impatiently waiting for Him to act.

Not yet. Those two words are the source of so much struggle and angst in my life! Not yet. After getting myself in line with His agenda, finally being willing to lay down my plans and go with His, the only thing I hear is Not Yet. Seriously?

But when I finally decide to end the personal pity party, I remember that He most often works through a process, a much-needed process, which will grow our faith and bring us to maturity.

And if we can walk with Him in the midst of that process, we can find peace.

Peace in the process also comes from understanding that there is no title, job, or calling that will define us. The Lord alone defines us. Our greatest joy and highest calling in our lives is to follow Christ and share His love with others. I need to come to a place where I desire His name to be known more than mine.

I have learned that if I will determine to trust Him for my life, even though it may look totally different than what I thought it would be… I can have peace knowing it will be so much more fulfilling and better than anything I could have dreamed of for myself.

As you begin your day today, join me in laying down those unrealistic expectations. Rather than striving and chasing, concentrate on walking with Him, and truly live the peace-filled, abundant life that He has planned.

Peace in the Process – insight from Ashley Lauren McClain on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Ashley McClainAbout the author: Ashley McClain is a girl with big dreams and a blog to encourage women in their journey through this life we have been given by the greatest Gift Giver there is! She loves to read, write, drink coffee, and spend time with the hubby & puppies! Connect with Ashley on her website ashleymcclain.org. She would love to hear about your journey too!

Join the conversation: Can you recall a time when you experienced peace in the process? Please share!

Don’t Judge a Plan by Its Cover

by Alice Murray @Dawgatty 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29.11 (NIV)

The small green lizard perched on the top of a picture frame on my office window ledge. His gaze was focused outside where bushes, trees, and grass beckoned to him. The poor creature had been camping out in my office for a few days. I had originally spotted him on top of my filing cabinet, but he had disappeared behind my computer desk without reappearing until now. His little had was cocked to the side as if he was thinking, “I can see where I want to be, but how do I get there?” The lizard’s plight touched my heart, so I resolved to set him free from his office prison.

Cautiously I approached the window and picked up a glass bowl beside the picture frame on which the small creature was sitting. I gently moved the picture frame to knock the lizard down to the ledge where I could trap him under the bowl and take him outside to freedom. My efforts terrified him. His tiny clawed feet skittered around the ledge as he attempted to avoid the large glass object coming down on top of him. Once trapped underneath the bowl, he ran around the edge of the bowl looking for an escape. Gently, I slid a clipboard under the bowl and carried the trapped lizard out the front door of the office where I set him free in the big outdoors he had longingly gazed at out my window.

The poor lizard just did not get it. If he looked up at me as the bowl was descending over him, he saw only a giant bent on doing him harm. But my trapping him did not spell the lizard’s doom. It may not have been pleasant to be under a bowl for a brief time, but his capture allowed the lizard to achieve his greatest dream—to be outside where he was meant to be.

Aren’t we like that poor little lizard? Sometimes God has great things in store for us right up ahead, but we cannot see beyond our difficult circumstances–the scary glass bowl descending from above.

Earlier in my life, I lost a job I really needed to support my family. But because I was trapped in that difficult position, I sought and began the job of my dreams. Once I looked past the descending glass bowl of my job loss, I recognized that the giant placing the bowl over me was my loving Heavenly Father. That bowl was a part of His plan to put me in the position to give me a wonderful future, i.e., a job I longed to have.

Humans tend to focus on the cover of their current circumstances. We need to move beyond that cover and look into the Good Book itself. It assures us that our Heavenly Father is in control and has a plan. He is not bent on doing us harm; He only wants to give us hope and a future even if we cannot see that blessing beyond the glass bowl of our current situation.

Don’t Judge a Plan by Its Cover – Alice H. Murray, @Dawgatty, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

alice murrayAbout the author: Alice H. Murray is a Florida adoption attorney by profession and a writer by passion. Alice writes a weekly blog at www.aliceinwonderingland.wordpress.com, is a staff writer for www.adoption.com, has had her work appear in the compilation Short And Sweet book series (available on www.amazon.com), and has been published in a Chicken Soup book. In her “spare” time, Alice volunteer teaches ESL as a church outreach ministry.

Join the conversation: Has there been a time in your life when you could not see past your circumstances? How did God work things out for you?


by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

“Being ran over by a donkey isn’t as much fun as you think.” I tried to set the record straight with my kids. Three wide grins told me they thought otherwise.

I confess, I have a problem. I expect I can do things I really can’t do or fix things I just can’t fix. I try anyway. Because I can already feel the winds of success blow across my shoulders and finger through my hair. Without tangles even. I imagine everything is great and good and happy. It’s funny though, some things never quite play out how I’ve pictured in my mind.

Like when Virelle Kidder and I both spoke at the same woman’s conference at my home church a few years ago. The leadership team needed a fun video of a donkey smiling—so I volunteered. I can help, I thought. I imagined that I know stuff. Not donkey stuff—but some stuff.

I reported the whole disaster to my family a few days later at dinner: “You remember how I was supposed to go on a donkey excursion today?” I watched my daughter’s spoon drop and her peas bounce to the floor. “Well, it didn’t go as planned—can someone please pass me the bread?”

What happened this time? my husband’s smile said as he handed me a roll.

“Anyway…Maryanne said she knew a donkey-guy. So we took carrots. Jumped a fence.  Walked up to this “tame” donkey. And I talked to him while Maryanne taped. Suddenly, he laid his ears back and smiled. Not a nice smile though, more like a ‘I’m going to eat you, and I’m very glad to do it!’ type-grin. Then it yelled ‘Get out!’ put his head down and chased us across the pasture! We were almost trampled when our feet tangled in the tall grass—but we distracted him with girly screams. Yep. Maryanne got the whole thing on tape. We can all watch it later if you want.”

“COOL, MOM! Do donkeys head-butt like our goats?” My son wanted something National Geographic worthy—but there was nothing worthy, only meatloaf.

“How did the video turn out?” My husband’s question highlighted the one bright spot in the I saw the whole thing going differently loop playing in my head.

“Well—it’s hysterical.” I admitted. “Although it’s nothing like we thought it would be, maybe even better than we expected!”

And that’s what I remember when life seems off track and the opposite of what I’ve dreamed up in my head. On chased-by-a-donkey-type-days, I have to fasten expectation to God’s hope and allow His happiness to happen instead. However. Whatever.

Especially when what I’ve imagined wraps around reality and leaves me in a knot. Or this time of year, when resolve turns to “Not EVER gonna happen!” I tend to get myself in quite a tangle.

But we can trust His truth to untangle us.

“For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). I guess if I know some stuff—it’s that these two ties: the hope of eternity and the promise of perfect, loosened the jumble of sorrow and famine and captivity for the Babylonians’ reality. We don’t have to be tied to all we’ve imagined, when we can have the freedom of God’s perfect hope. Forever.

So, if you’re having a chased-by-a-donkey-type-day, remember this single strand of truth: God’s plan is infinitely better than you could ever dream up! Ever. Happy New Year, friends! And may your future be great and your donkey…tame!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23:6

Untangled by God’s truth when life gets tricky – thoughts from @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

beth duewel (2)

About the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their first book, Fix Her Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God Renovated Life!  And now you can catch Beth & Rhonda’s soon to release, Fix Her Upper 90 Day Devotional , (Bold Vision).  Start off the New Year with this Devotional, Journal, and Coloring Book in one! https://www.boldvisionbooks.com/shop/. Use the link to pre-order their new book now!

Join the conversation: Have you had a donkey-type-day lately?


Hope for the Holidays

by A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

This has been a tough year for a lot of reasons, and Thanksgiving only made it tougher. My grandpa died in March, and for the first time in my life, he wasn’t sitting in his place at our table. I cried as I made his favorite pumpkin pie and remembered he wouldn’t get to eat it.

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time of celebration. It’s Jesus’ birthday, for crying out loud. Light the candles and drink some eggnog, right? But it’s not so joyful for everyone. Depression is often at its highest during the Christmas season. Some days are just a battlefield.

It’s difficult to be joyful when I miss people who aren’t here anymore. It’s a challenge to keep moving forward when all of my dreams are still on hold. It’s hard to hope when my circumstances tell me that nothing is going to change.

Then I remember Jeremiah 29:11.

Many believers know the verse, but it’s really powerful when we remember to whom it was written: God’s people while they were in captivity. Let me tell you, I don’t think Americans understand that level of loss and hopelessness. How could we? We’ve never been in captivity. We’ve never even been invaded.

But Israel was. They were invaded and captured and carted away into slavery and obscurity. And then God sends the prophet Jeremiah to give them this news: “I’ve got a plan. It’s a good plan too.” If I were them, I’d laugh in Jeremiah’s face (actually, I think they probably did, and then they threw him in jail, but that’s another story).

I mean, there they were, enslaved and terrified and grieving the loss of their home, and God has the nerve to tell them that He’s got a plan?

The word our English Bible uses for know actually means to see, as in God knows what’s coming because He’s already seen it. He lives outside the confinements of time. The word we translate as plans is almost like the word engineer. It’s complex. It has lots of moving pieces. And it’s always in motion.

When you read it that way, this isn’t God spouting platitudes. He didn’t send His prophet with empty words to bring temporary comfort to anyone who’d listen. This is God making a promise—that He knows the future, because He’s seen it, and it’s a good future. This is God telling His people that’s He’s got this. They may be in captivity now, but they aren’t going to stay there. He’s got a plan, He’s working it out, so His people should have hope.

And if captive Israel could have hope, so can I.

I miss my grandpa, but I know where he is, because my grandpa knows Jesus. My dreams may be on hold, but God will finish what He started in me. And through God’s power, I am an overcomer, so my circumstances can’t dictate my success.

Those are God’s promises, and He always keeps His promises. So no matter what happens, I can choose to hope, because God has a future for me. He’s seen it. And it’s so good.

Hope for the Holidays When Sadness Settles in – A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williamsAbout the author: A.C. Williams is an author-preneur who weaves fantastic tales about #AmericanSamurai and #SpaceCowboys, and she’s passionate about helping writers master the art of storytelling. A quirky, coffee-drinking, cat-loving thirty-something, she’s on Finding Firefliesa mission to help authors overcome fear and live victorious. Join her adventures on social media (@free2bfearless) and visit her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: What are your hopes for the holiday season?

Abandoned, Alone, and Sad?

by Yvonne Ortega 

Have you ever been overwhelmed by grief? That’s how I felt eight years ago when, three days after Mother’s Day, my only child died. My mother had died before Mother’s Day of that same year. The sadness was so great, I wanted to die myself so I could join them in heaven.

That may have seemed logical to me at that time, but God had another plan. My coworkers stopped by to comfort me with compassion and concern. The phone rang non-stop, but one of my coworkers answered each call until 6:00 pm, when a friend from church came to spend the night with me. A friend from North Carolina drove to Virginia for the three-day weekend. We talked non-stop from the time she came until she left.

When I went to my son’s Celebration of Life Service, one of his friends picked me up at the airport. He’s a hair stylist and fixed my hair every day I was there. Another friend arranged for me to stay with someone I hadn’t even met.

More friends joined me at my son’s Celebration of Life Service. The next day, another group of supporters came to the cemetery for the burial service.

Thanks to those brothers and sisters in Christ, I felt supported and loved through those terrible days. I felt sad that my son died so young. I felt sad that I would never be a grandma and have a grandma’s brag book. But looking back, I could see that God never abandoned me nor did he leave me alone.

Even now, eight years later, there are still overwhelming moments of sadness when I think of my mother and my son. However, I would never wish them to leave their heavenly home to keep me company. They are happy and lack nothing. One day, I will join them.

But in the meantime, God’s continues to unfold His plan for my life. I left my job to become a full-time speaker and author. I prayed and fasted off and on for six months as I wrestled with that decision. Many people supported me at that time in prayer. Even my dad encouraged me to make the move, the man who normally focused on security, benefits, and a pay check.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV)

He has given me many opportunities to share his unfailing love, mercy, and peace. He allowed me to become a published author and a speakers’ coach. I have the security, benefits, and paycheck my father so valued!

Hope? Yes, God gives me hope because his Son Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God interceding for me. A future? Yes, God has allowed me to help others in ministry and has given me the privilege in teaching Bible classes and pray for those in need.

Life may not turn out the way you planned, but you don’t have to feel abandoned, alone, or sad. Even when you can’t feel Him, He is by your side.

“. . .Lo, I am with you always. . .” Matthew 28:20

yvonne ortegaAbout the author: Yvonne Ortega speaks with honesty and humor as she shares her life and struggles to help women find comfort, peace, promise, and purpose. As a counselor, she brings a unique perspective into the heart of women. She is the author of four books: Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief, Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer

Join the conversation: What gives you hope?