The Bee

by Andrea Tomassi

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. Psalm 94:18 NIV

Watching our tiny new friend, I heard my grandson say, “You can do it, little bee! I know you can. You have to believe in yourself, bee!” 

On a trip to the pool, we saw a bee struggling in the water. I quickly grabbed the top of my water canister and after a few attempts, I got him to a safe spot. “You did it, Mimi,” my grandson screamed. But the bee was barely moving. “Come on, little guy, MOVE,” my grandson cried out as the little bee struggled to extend his wings. “Let’s give him some space,” I said. The little bee started to walk right back to the edge of the pool. “No, no,” my grandson cried out. Sure enough, plop! We watched this happen several times while cheering from the sidelines. “No, no, go back! You’re going to fall!” Each time we scooped him up and placed him back on the concrete. When he finally flew away, we both screamed with excitement; I, too, was caught up in a six-year-old life-saving endeavor. “We saved his life! We saved his life,” we screamed while jumping up and down in the pool.

This story is unlike last summer when I rescued another bee from the pool. I placed his tiny body on the pavement, and my three-year-old granddaughter walked over and said, “Ewwwww, a bee,” then proceeded to smash it with her flip flop.

Like the bee, how many times do we go back to something God has asked us to stay away from?

We want to control things we have no control over, and we think we know better than God. Yet He shows up to rescue us and put us back on solid ground. And when we do fail, just like in Psalms, “when our foot slips it is His love that supports us,” He is there; lovingly as a devoted Father would be.When I am obedient and can walk away from something He’s asked me to, I imagine Jesus jumping up and down, waving His hands in the air, “Yes, Father, she did it!”

What do you keep going back to? What step of obedience can you take today to move in a different direction?  

About the author: Andrea Tomassi, also known as Andi, after decades in Northern California, moved to the Pacific Northwest and now calls Eagle, Idaho, her home. Tomassi is a businesswoman, award-winning author, podcaster, and motivational speaker. She shares her journey of betrayal and pain to help others navigate through their season of healing. Andi has a passion for music and loves to sing on worship teams in church, play her guitar, and write music, and says you can never have enough pens or journals, or boots. 

Join the conversation: What do you keep going back to? What step of obedience can you take today to move in a different direction?  

Walking in God’s Grace

by Marcia Clarke

Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the Lord says, O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful I will not be angry with you forever. Jeremiah 3:12 NLT

One of the greatest struggles of the heart is obedience. I recall a point in my life when I was making ungodly decisions. I didn’t take the time to check in or pray about anything I did. I simply move forward with my plans, and essentially lived in regret, because it never turned out as I’d hoped.

I recall studying for a degree in nursing when the Lord called me to teaching. Yes, I argued with God. But He relentlessly pursued me. Again, I refused to respond. Little did I know; God does not take no for an answer. But I began to face setbacks in way that I couldn’t imagine. As I turned back to Him, I finally fell to my knees and responded to the call.

The grace of God has given me new eyes to see my life from his perspective and not my own.

Looking further in the text on Jeremiah 3:16-18, my heart stirred at how God wanted his people to respond to him, to forget their old ways, and turn from the sins that beset them. He had great plans for them as a nation. He was just waiting until they acknowledged their sin and turned back to Him. “I will not look upon you with anger,” He assured them, “For I am gracious” (Jeremiah 3:12 NASB).

I have failed at responding to God’s command many times in my life. I have failed to let go of my old nature, old wounds of the past, and old mindset. It took some time for me to get it together and show up for what God want me to do. Like the Children of Israel, we can respond with a heart of disobedience towards God’s instruction. Yet even as we continue to sin against God and fail to respond to his command, God’s grace continues, and his mercy endures with us. God has a perfect plan for our lives, we simply must change our hearts and respond to his call.

What is your response to God’s command? Are you listening and responding to those whom he sends as messengers? God is gracious and reveals his will for our lives time and time again. He never gives up on us. He is forgiving and a God of second chances. His grace continues even when we disobey his command. He desires us to acknowledge our faithlessness and disobedience and respond to him. Whether it’s disobedience or sin, let us open our hearts to God’s grace toward us.

Father, we acknowledge that we are disobedient. We acknowledge that we walk in disobedience towards you. Change our hearts that we would return to you. Give us new eyes to see you clearly. We thank you for your amazing grace that continues in Jesus name amen.

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

About the author: Marcia Clarke writes daily encouragement for meditation and spiritual enrichment. Her greatest passion is helping people through difficult seasons by writing practical devotions at her daily blog, Today Is Sacred. She is the author of Journey to Abundance and her latest prayer book, Thirty Days of Grace.

Join the conversation: How have you responded to God’s call? Did you struggle to obey?

Are You Building an Ark or a Golden Calf?

by Amber Weigand-Buckley

“Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” Genesis 6:22 NASB

Have you allowed other people’s opinions to become idols in your life?

It may seem like a crazy question to ask. Yes, we all look for those who can give us sound advice and insight into faith or direction. However, are there areas where you’ve let those voices of influence overwrite the call God placed on you?

What would your shelves look like if you made little statues to bow to the negative influencers who prevented you from doing what God wanted you to do?

Maybe it’s that mission trip you didn’t go on because someone convinced you it’s not possible to raise the finances. Perhaps it’s that speaking opportunity that you turned down because you were told you weren’t qualified. Maybe it’s a book you keep putting off writing because you were told you shouldn’t take on another project.

I can’t help thinking back to Noah and the moment God called him to construct a colossal ark smack in the middle of bone-dry land.

And to top it off, Noah foolishly took on the job God had called him to do with no previous ark-building experience.

Then when Noah did all he could do, despite the opinion of others, God did all the rest as the animals came in from near and far.

Noah felt the confirmation of everything he’d been working on when the first drop of rain hit the land.

On the other side, look at what happened in Exodus 32 when Moses followed God’s call to meet Him for 40 days on the mountain. Back at the camp, almost everyone else joined the Let’s Build a Golden Calf party. It was then that Aaron bowed to peer pressure to appease the opinions of the majority, even though he knew God wouldn’t be pleased.

I read a social pin lately that said: “Not everyone will understand your call. It wasn’t a conference call.”

I had to chuckle because sometimes we wait for someone else’s opinion to determine God’s call in our life. And sometimes, sadly, that opinion overwrites our obedience to God.

I guarantee you being obedient to God’s call will not be comfortable, convenient, easy, and acceptable —and it’s not meant to be.

We must get to the place of realizing that God calls us as His children to do something doomed to failure without Him— and to do this we must stop embracing the idols of popular opinion.  

I pray God helps you prayerfully evaluate the things you have in your heart, hands, and on your shelves that are overwriting what you know God has called you to do. God wants us to embrace a new level of heart-wide-open, feet-ready-to-move, Holy Spirit-led mindfulness as you obediently build the ark and move to the next place He may be taking you.

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

About the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley is the Protégé Mentor and Brand Director for the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association as well as the Editor and Art Director for the multi-award-winning Leading Hearts magazine. Check out the latest issue at

Join the conversation: What is standing in the way of God’s calling for you right now?

Inking It In

by Rhonda Rhea

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season… Psalm 1:1-3 NASB

What do you do when you have a pen that won’t write? You sling it a few times in that stabbing motion, right? Hoping gravity will somehow jar the ink loose? Seriously, has that ever worked for anybody? After that, of course, you scribble. Then you scribble bigger and faster. You scribble hard and long. Then you scribble harder and longer. You scribble until you’ve scribbled a hole right through the paper. Then you stab the paper a few more times. That’s when you throw the pen.

You then look around to see if anyone saw you throw the pen. Then while you’re feeling silly for throwing the pen, you pick it up and put it in your pocket—as you pretend it slipped out of your hand. And flew across the room. Later when you get home, you find your pocketed pen leaked and left a giant splotch of blue on the front of your favorite shirt.

Argh, already. Pen! Why can’t you simply do your job? Consistently! Without making a mess!

I have to wonder if God ever asks that question about me. Is there such a thing as pen-hypocrisy? I’ll judge that pen all day for not consistently delivering. I’ll judge it for making messes. But if I get honest, I’ll admit there are entirely too many times when I’m not consistent in little steps of obedience the Lord has called me to walk out every day. And even though I’m not where I know I should be, or I’m not doing what He’s already shown me to do, I’m still fussing and scribbling because life isn’t unfolding the way I planned. What a mess. It’s a mess I’ve made with my own hands, mind you. I know that. The ink ends up everywhere except where it was intended. Not a pretty picture.

Life is much less messy when we stay consistent in His Word and consistent in what He’s called us to. I know, duh. No big revelation here. But sometimes it’s the simplest things that give us the most trouble. It’s neglecting those simple disciplines that can leave us frustrated at the end of the day—big ink stain and no eternal fruit. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work,” NLT.

So here are today’s lessons to live by. Lesson number one: Obey God. Number two is related: Stay consistent in doing what He’s told us to do in His Word. Then just watch. That mess you made? The hole in the paper? Confess and start again. He can redeem the mess. Even make it…art.  

Oh, and lesson number three: A cheap pen is—what? A buck? For crying out loud, just get a new one.

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

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

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: What are some of the little things that distract you from obedience?

Taking Our Thoughts Captive

by Chris Manion

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

The year felt hard. My work as an author overwhelmed me. My shoulders and spirit sagged under the burden of what I felt called to do. Long signs gave evidence my lungs needed air after my thoughts pressed it out of me. Christmas neared and my heart hung heavy, not like the light-hearted child of God I am.

God spoke to my heart through a friend. “Your body is telling you you’re doing too much. You need to rest.” I heard the truth and embraced it. I went to bed early and slept nine hours, more than I’d slept in one night all year.

I recalled my husband’s words as we looked at the flowering bush in our yard that December morning: “Praise you, God, for your daily encouragement. Praise you, Creator of all beauty and life. Praise you, O wonderful Counselor, for your wisdom and truth that blooms in my heart.”  The bush continues to bloom.

When I finished praising Him, I noticed I was smiling. My heart lifted like a joyful child. I analyzed what just happened. I’d been obedient to His word of truth spoken through a friend. I rested my body, the temple of the Lord. The morning light filled that temple with grace and beauty. My spirit sang its praise. The overwhelming exhaustion as well as my focus on my shortcomings disappeared with the dark of night.

This practice of obeying God as He directs my life confirmed Paul’s command to the Corinthians above. I also heard Isaiah’s proclamation in my soul: “See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV).

More Scripture verses bubbled up in my mind like sparkling water. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me” (Psalm 28:7 NIV).

His directive to rest my body shielded me from my burdensome thoughts and gave me strength for this new day. Praise God and His blessings! Once again, God had shown me my childlike need to trust and obey Him. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Dear God, help me to control my thoughts by obeying you and enjoying your gifts of peace and joy that continue to bloom. Amen.

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

About the author: Chris Sauter Manion loves to speak from her core Scripture verse: “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). She’s an award-winning author, leadership expert, and inspirational speaker who uses skills from building a $20 million sales organization to help people of all ages embrace the give and take of a deepening relationship with God. Chris lives with her husband of forty-plus years in Florida‘s panhandle where she kayaks and photographs the Gulf coast’s natural beauty. She is a grandmother of five wee ones and loses all sense of time when gardening, creating and cooking. Reach out to her at

Join the conversation: How do you attempt to control your thoughts?

The Best New Year’s Resolution

by Sandra Kay Chambers

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8 NIV

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions, hoping to change their lives for the better in the coming year. However, according to research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans make resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. The problem? Success or failure usually rests on self-will and self-discipline, which do not tend to get us very far.

In ancient times, New Year’s resolutions were about pleasing the gods. The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions some 4,000 years ago. A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome where people made sacrifices to the deity Janus, with promises of good conduct for the coming year.

For early Christians, the first day of the new year became an occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. *

Whatever our perspective is on making New Year’s Resolutions, there’s really only one path to guarantee success in the coming year, and that is found in God’s Word. Joshua 1:8 outlines three commands toward that end.

Keep God’s Law on your lips. God’s Word is our daily food, and like the manna God provided for His people in the desert, it needs to be consumed daily. Whatever we speak or write needs to be grounded in God’s Truth, for only His Truth will minister to others and grant us success in the ministry He has entrusted to us. “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12 NIV).

Meditate day and night on God’s Word. God’s Word is alive and active and breathes life into us each and every time we read and ponder it. As we come to God’s Word daily, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us, encourage us, correct us, and guide us. “But His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law. He meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2 ESV).

Be careful to do everything that is written in it. Most of God’s promises in the Old Testament were conditional—if His people obeyed and did what He asked, then they received what was promised. This was a part of the covenant He had with them. As a nation, they were assured blessing when they were faithful to Him. “…Because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers…You shall be blessed above all peoples…” (Deuteronomy 7:12, 14 NASB).

As individuals, keeping our hearts and minds centered on the Lord and His Word will enable us to ask within His will and in turn receive great blessing. Only through continual reliance upon the Holy Spirit —and not in our own determination and self-will—can we succeed in being faithful in the coming year. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  John 15:7 NASB

*Info on the history of New Year’s resolutions by Sarah Pruitt, History in the Headlines (2015).

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

About the author: Helping Christians develop a creative and joyful prayer life is Sandra’s passion. She has served as Prayer Coordinator at two churches, leads small group Bible studies, speaks on the topic of  prayer, and teaches an online class at based on her book, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet (How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life)available at Amazon at You can follow Sandra on her author website at  and her prayer blog at

Join the conversation: How important is God’s Word in your life?

Shine like an O Star

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

I love a clear night. 

The stars intrigue me. God’s speckled lights bring me joy as I admire how He orchestrated patterns for our enjoyment. The twinkle of a star is a God wink to me.

For fun, I researched star classifications. After all, God created them, and His Word states we will shine like stars: “…then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14 (NIV)

I love the thought of being light in the darkness.

I derived information from Atlas of the Universe: Stars are given classifications according to their surface temperature and brightness. The classes are O, B, A, F, G, K, and M. The O stars are the hottest, M stars the coolest. O stars are rare but bright. M stars are numerous but dim.         Our sun’s classification is somewhere in the middle.

I took the liberty and used these classifications to represent Christians as stars. Since O is the hottest and most rare, I classified it as Obedient. Complete obedience to God is rare—I know it is for me. Oh, to always be obedient to the Master, a bright light to lead many to righteousness.

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3 NIV).

The more numerous yet weaker stars are M-Mediocre. No one wants to be mediocre when serving God. Notice the word mediocre begins with the word “me.” I was a complacent believer focused on self. I chose mediocrity instead of obedience.

I knew God wanted me to call a friend to see how she was doing. I loved this girl and spent hours on the phone listening and trying to comfort her. I was tired and did not want to speak with her, because she complained and recited the same stories. Years with a counselor did not help her. 

Do you have a friend like that?

I sent an email instead of calling. An email was safe. You need to call her, the Spirit echoed in my head. I ignored his prompting. Call her!

“Lord, I don’t want to hear the same stories over and over.” A few days passed. Call her now! I said, “But Lord…”

The Spirit interrupted, I did not ask you to heal her, that is my job. Just listen, like I listen to you. I wanted to cry. I blatantly disobeyed and tried to justify my half-hearted attempt with an email. I remembered my pastor’s words, “Partial obedience is disobedience.”

I called.

She recited the same stories, but my attitude had changed. I wanted to listen to her like the Lord listens to me. God loved her through me, and she was thankful someone cared.

I prayed before all my conversations with her and the Holy Spirit empowered me with patience, kindness, and love. Complete obedience also brought peace and joy to my heart.

When it comes to serving God, I desire to serve with a wholehearted devotion and a willing mind, giving my best because he gave his best for me. I still fall short- I praise God for His grace and mercy.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my continued journey from mediocrity to obedience—the Holy Spirit gives the power to obey. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” 2 Peter 1:3 (ESV).

Now, when I observe the evening sky, I’m reminded the Creator of those stars loves me and empowers me to shine like an “O” star.

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

Shine Don't Whine

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: When has God called you to be a friend to someone?

Trust God’s Plan!

by Sheri Schofield

Twenty-six years ago, the Lord brought our family to Montana. While it is beautiful here, this is still cowboy country with old-fashioned views of the roles women can fill in churches. Although I was a trained director of children’s ministries, my church would not allow me to fill that position. I knew it was no different from the other churches in town in this regard, so there was very little point in changing churches.

I chafed at this restriction, for I wanted to start a children’s ministry program that would reach many children in our area. I felt restricted. Rebuffed. Disrespected. Not valued.

I asked God, “Why did you bring us here? How can I reach children for Jesus without the backing of my church?” He did not answer me. For years! But he did tell me to continue teaching the children. Each year, he would tell me which group he wanted me to focus on. So I did, even though the restrictions continued to bug me and I felt suffocated.

Eventually, the Lord told me, “If I wanted you to be the director, I would open that door. Trust me. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (See Hebrews 13:1, NKJV.)

I did not like what God was saying, but I trusted him and did what he told me to do.

In 2015, the Lord told me to use the teaching plans he had given me for leading children to Jesus. I was to write and illustrate a book on that topic. I did. The Lord provided money for us to publish it. When it was published in 2018 he said, “Sheri, you have been longing to reach the children of your town for Jesus. Now you have the tool to do so. Give the books away to the children.”

We have now given away nearly 5,000 books on the plan of salvation, fully illustrated, to the children in our city, our state, and some (in Spanish) to Mexico. Now the adult version of this book is going to start circulating here. I could never have reached this many people for Jesus if the Lord had given me what I wanted in those early years. My kingdom harvest is larger, because I followed his directions.

Sometimes the Lord gives us orders we do not understand or like. If we obey him, we eventually see the beautiful pattern he has woven into our lives, for his glory. God’s plan is always more beautiful than we could imagine! But if we want to receive that plan, we need to trust him and follow his directions.

David, whom Samuel had anointed to be king in Israel, did not receive the promise immediately. Instead, he spent many years hiding from King Saul, who wanted David dead. But David did not fight back. He avoided Saul and trusted in the Lord’s timing. Later he wrote these words—

“Trust in the LORD and do good…take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:3-6 NIV).

God rarely shows us the big picture of our lives. He simply asks us to trust and obey. Trust his plan!

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

Her first book on salvation, “The Prince and the Plan”, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, “God? Where Are You?,” tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: Has God surprised you with an unexpected plan?

Enlarge My Ears

by Deborah McCormick Maxey

Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.  1 Samuel 3:9 NIV

Please Lord, enlarge my ears, so I can hear you better!

Our house overlooks a lake. On any morning, in every season, we sit outside and listen to the bevy of bird songs around us. My goodness, they can be so loud! I especially love the jungle type sound of the pileated woodpeckers, and the melodious coo of the doves. There are tons of birds in our cove. Sometimes the “caw caw caw” of a murder of crows drowns out every other species when they begin to “scold” as something around them has been disturbed. At other times, a low ceiling in the atmosphere causes us to hear the sounds of large trucks on a distant highway or the lonesome sound of a train whistle that is even further away.  But I always go back to tuning into the sounds of the birds and watching which birds make which noise as they approach the feeders near our deck.

Tuning into birds is very much like tuning into God. We must turn down the other noises first to hear Him. Noises that tempt us to do something first, other than read His Word, pray, do acts of service, or go to church. Extraneous things sound loud at times. We reason or justify the noises that eventually drown out His voice. We didn’t sleep well, what if we fall asleep in church? Would it be better to just stay home? We feel a call to donate to a cause and start to rationalize: wasn’t that the same charity that got caught with their administration’s hands in the till just a few years ago?

Many noises can stop us from hearing. We set our priorities wrong, or we have a vain goal that we push towards and ignore the little urges and signs He sends our way to “hold up.” He wants us to do something different.  Ignoring our intuition (one way He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit) can often lead to calamity.

Maybe we would be more responsive to His warnings if we had Hollywood soundtrack music that rang in our ears. You know, the deep moaning tones they use in movies when trouble is afoot? Or upbeat music that signals everything is going great!

But the Lord does indeed use everything to speak to us. We don’t just use our senses to listen! And when we listen, we don’t always obey.

The Holy Spirit speaks, but we must train our brains and hearts to hear. And we must keep asking and listening because God likes diversity. He didn’t tell Moses to strike a rock the second time for water. Moses just took it upon himself to hit a similar rock in the same way, because, well…that worked the first time. But our precious Lord wants us to always be close and listen, to come to Him with everything, all the time. We can’t rely on a formula. What He instructed us to do one time may not be the route He wants us to take the next.

Take the manna from heaven, for example. What a fitting example! God told His people: I will provide for you one day at a time. Don’t try and outfox that.  So, when the Israelites tried to store manna, it became full of maggots and was not just inedible, it was disgusting!  That story highlights what a close walk God wants with us. He isn’t giving us a map, he’s asking us to use him like a GPS and hear Him while He guides us with constant direction, “Turn this way. Stop here. Watch out, slow moving traffic ahead.”

I marvel at this thought: I ask, and the author of my soul speaks. When I listen, I am connected to the Creator of the Universe, the Holy of Holies, Master of Everything! The Alpha and Omega is speaking to little ole me. What a miracle! I am more than a vapor on the wind to Him. I am important, and He wants to guide me!  I’m not insignificant or absentmindedly created, then put on a shelf until I yell for help. Our great omnipotent, sovereign God wants me to know He’s in every second of my life. Me!

And you!

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

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website that focuses on miracles.  

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, is available for preorder on Amazon, due to release (by Firefly Southern Fiction/Iron Stream Media) on May 11, 2021. Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: Have you ever “heard” from God? Please share your story!

Christmas and the Courage to Obey

by Jennifer Slattery

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. Psalm 143:10 NLT

Most often, pride is my greatest challenge to obedience. When operating in my own strength, I will go to great lengths to not look bad. I’ll avoid saying that truth, or initiating that conversation, or taking on that new role I might perform imperfectly.

Had I been Mary, I fear I would’ve argued some when the angel Gabriel appeared with the news I would soon have God’s baby. 

 I mean, motherhood was terrifying enough, y’all. But to bear the Savior of the world? That had to be completely overwhelming, and yet, that’s not the only thing I would’ve found difficult. Processing it all, my mind would’ve immediately thought of all of my friends and neighbors, of everyone in my faith community, who would see my growing belly and wonder … 

And gossip.

And whisper.

And maybe even turn away.

I was young, about 21, when I became pregnant with our daughter, and I looked even younger. People often told me, “You look like you’re in your teens.” They may have meant this as a compliment, but their words always brought me shame. We were living in a small railroad town at the time, one with long held traditional values–like when and to whom children should come. And not only did I look “much too young” to have a child, my hand was also too swollen for my wedding ring. As a result, I always felt judged, as if people had formulated an entire story surrounding my condition. 

I’m certain my feelings of shame were exacerbated by my less than glamorous past and all the inner lies I’d formed along the way.

As a result, though I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, I often felt the need to “explain”. I also took to wearing my wedding ring on a necklace. Remembering all this, I marvel at how readily Mary replied, in Luke 1:38 (NLT), “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

Keep in mind, the angel had yet to approach Joseph. Mary did not yet know that Joseph would believe her and stand by her. At this point in the story, his rejection was very possible, along with her parents and everyone else in her social circle. She wasn’t given any promises, no guarantees.

And yet, she replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

I want to respond with that level of obedience. The kind of obedience that says, “No matter what happens, Lord, I choose you. I choose to obey You, to honor You, to live for You, and most importantly, to trust You.” 

That can be crazy-hard to do sometimes, until I remember the character of the One who calls me to trust. He is entirely trustworthy. The Savior of the world, my Savior, will never fail. 

I don’t know what God is calling you to this holiday season. Maybe it’s to share the gospel with that sibling or to step across the street to invite that new neighbor to coffee. Taking that first step might feel frightening, but may God grant us the courage to say, “I am Your servant, Lord.”

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at, find her ministry at, and find her podcast at and other popular podcasting sites.

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting

Join the conversation: What is God calling you to do?