True Love

by Melissa Heiland

As I was walking on the beach one morning, I saw someone had written in the sand in bold letters for everyone to see, “I love Rachel.” This touched my heart and I thought wistfully, I wish someone would declare his love for me in such a public manner. The Lord quickly spoke to my spirit and reminded me, “ I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16 ESV). Oh, the love of the Lord, that He would engrave our names on His hands!

Everybody loves love. Most of us think of romantic love when we think of true love. The Hallmark Channel is a favorite because of its portrayal of love. Sweet woman meets strong guy and we know from the first scene that the story ends with a promise of forever and a kiss. Fairy tales often consist of the prince marrying a girl that no one had previously noticed, and they live happily ever after.

It is also very popular to talk about self-love. Programs that teach us how to love ourselves abound, assuring us that the most is important love is love of self.

Although these concepts have some appeal, they fall hopelessly short of true love. Happily ever after only happens in fairy tales. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce and even healthy marriages have struggles and pain. And if I had to believe that the truest form of love came from myself, I would spend a lot of days very discouraged.

True love comes from our Heavenly Father to us. The love God has for us is perfect and unconditional. God’s love, unlike these other forms of love, is not dependent on my looks, my behavior, or my moods. God’s love is unending, without restriction. His love is pure.

God’s love is enormous, without bounds. Psalm 36:5 ESV says, “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Throughout the Bible, God’s love is described as steadfast. Steadfast means immovable, not subject to change, firm, or loyal. This is the love our hearts long for, a love that never ends regardless of circumstances. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV).

God’s Word clearly tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We have all experienced the loss of love from someone who promised us forever. The pain is deep and can leave us afraid to trust again. But God’s love is unfailing. We find peace and comfort in His promise.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38, 39 ESV

Dependence on love from other people and even from ourselves can leave us feeling stressed and insecure. Hurts from our past arise in our minds causing us to doubt and fear. But when we put our hope and trust in the love of the Lord, we will never be disappointed. We will never be left wanting. Our longing for true love is only satisfied in our God. He is the only One who is unfailing, the only One who keeps every promise. Our hearts will be at peace as we rest in the love of the Father.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

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

About 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.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: Are you able to rest in the love of the Father?

A Beautiful Reminder

by Melissa Heiland

This morning, I went down to the beach to worship and study and spend time alone with my Jesus. It was very early, and I listened to the crashing of the waves as read and pondered and worried. Disturbing thoughts came unbidden to my mind bringing feelings of sorrow.

I thought about friends who had left without warning or explanation, family members who seemed uncaring. My mind was racing thinking about all the things that were on my list and all the people I wanted to please. I was listening to whispers of the enemy telling me that I was alone and unloved.

And then I looked up.

Sitting very still and incredibly close, was a beautiful snowy egret, a shore bird, spectacular in her beauty and glorious in her nearness to me. If I had extended my arm, I would have touched her.

In that moment, I remembered. I remembered the nearness of my Lord. He is always near, always close, always loving. In that moment, everything changed. My heart and mind were flooded with peace at the nearness of my Savior. How marvelous that my Jesus would love me so much, to send a bird to remind me that He is always with me.

All the issues that were consuming me still existed, but there was a shift in my spirit. In Psalm 46:10, we are told, “Be still and know that I am God.” When I am still in my heart and my mind, I can focus on the love and power of God. He sees me, loves me, and will take care of me. All my fretting is futile and even harmful.

1 Peter 5:6,7 teaches us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” We can cast all our anxious thoughts on Jesus because he cares for us. We do not need to hold them, to nurture them, to replay them endlessly in our minds. We have a Savior, a Savior who cares enough to die on the cross for us and to send me an unexpected messenger as a reminder of His love and care.

In John 14:27, we read, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Peace is a gift given to us. Today, and every day, I want to live in His precious peace. I pray that you and I will be still and know.

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

About 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.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: What do you do to bring down high anxiety?

Only One Thing

by Melissa Heiland

How I love Christmas! I love the essence of Christmas, which is the birth of my Savior. I love the precious time spent with my family. Everything that represents Christmas brings me joy—the tree, the lights, the gifts, the traditions. And yet, as the days draw close, I admit that I also find myself with a pit of dread in my stomach. These traditions that bring me so much joy, require so much time in my already too busy schedule.

My mind is drawn to the story of Mary and Martha. When Jesus came to the home of these sisters, Martha worked hard (cooking and cleaning, I imagine) preparing for Jesus, while Mary sat at his feet listening to what Jesus was saying. I confess that I identify most with Martha. I have often thought that if Mary would have just helped her sister, Martha would have been able to sit at Jesus’ feet too.

But I am wrong. Jesus commended Mary and corrected Martha. I need correction too. Like Martha, I get worried and upset about many things. In his words to Martha, Jesus reminds us that only one thing is needed—to keep Him at the center of our hearts.

This year, I want to be different. I want to focus on the wonder and not the worry. Like Mary, I want to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. Christmas is a magical time, a time of wonder and joy. It is a celebration of life. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus came to give us abundant life. Abundant life is found, not in doing more, but in doing less.

Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her. Luke 10:41,42 NIV

In the flurry of all the activity, I want to be intentional, focused on one thing: worship. I want the cry of my heart to continuously be, “Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.” As I shop and bake and wrap and decorate (I will still do these things), I will worship. With God’s help, this season will be a time of sincere reflection of the miracle of God sending His Son to be born in a manger to save the world.

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NIV

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

About 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.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: How are you keeping Jesus at the center of your Christmas celebration?

Journey to Joy

by Melissa Heiland

If I’m honest, I’ll tell you, I still cringe a little bit when I hear the phrase, “joy in suffering.” The words just don’t go together in my mind, but I know they are paired in the Bible. And so, I pursue joy in suffering. I have not reached the mark on this. I am no expert, just a fellow-traveler on this journey to joy. I have searched the Bible for truth and guidance on how to experience true joy in the face of deep suffering. I have discovered eight practices that I believe are helpful for the journey.

Slow Down. Trauma has forced me to slow down. I simply cannot work at my former pace. I believe the Lord sometimes allows us to suffer, so that we will run to Him. There is healing in His presence. Spend time with the Lord every day. Allow Him to heal your wounds. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 NIV

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

Surround Yourself with Kind People. When you are suffering, people may say and do things that hurt you more. Ask the Lord to send you a friend who will listen to you and love you without judgment.

Be Kind to Yourself. When we suffer as believers, we often feel guilt for not feeling joyful and brave. Give grace to yourself. God loves you and He understands.

Have Fun. Think back to the things you enjoyed before the grief. Make a list of things that brought you joy in the past. Choose one each week. They can be simple things like reading a book or walking in the park. Make a conscious effort to do something that makes you smile.

Listen to Worship Music. Worship music can change your heart. Find songs and artists whose music touches your soul. Praise can be a sacrifice when your heart is wounded. Let Him heal you through your praise. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15 NIV

Be Thankful. When we are in the darkness, it is so difficult to find reasons to be thankful. Discipline your mind to find the good things in your life. Make a gratitude list. Each day, make a list of things for which you are thankful.

Keep Serving. Grief can be all-consuming. We may need to step back from serving for a while, but I encourage you to continue to look for ways to serve the Lord and others, even in your pain. There is healing in this sacrifice, as well.

Look to Heaven. As God’s beloved children, we know that our time on earth is short. We have a promise that joy is coming. Focusing on the future, which is full of joy, helps us to find joy on the journey as well. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7 NIV

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

Melissa heiland
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About 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: Have you ever found joy in suffering? Please share!

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.

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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?