Philosophy

by Janet McHenry

My cousin Merry told me recently that when she was in high school, she had to write about her life’s philosophy. Isn’t that hilarious? As a former high school educator, I honestly can’t recall too many students who could have articulated a life philosophy. Hers was “eat, drink, and be merry.” I think most high school students would have agreed with that.

What might others say? I’m speculating, based on personal observation of teenagers for many years, but I think additional ones might be fair:

  • Work hard.
  • Be kind.
  • Enjoy life.
  • Take what you can get.
  • Figure it out as you go along.
  • Just do your best.

By the way, that last one I got from Merry, too. When I was teaching, I’d say, “As Cousin Merry would say, ‘Just do your best.'”

As I watched Olympics recently, I wondered about the philosophy those young athletes must have for themselves.

  • Work hard, then work even harder.
  • Show sportsmanship, whether you win or lose.
  • Learn something that will make you better each day.
  • Make sacrifices so you get better.
  • Do better today than yesterday’s best.
  • Just do your best.

It’s been interesting following the story of Simone Biles, the young gymnast who faltered in her vault competition and then withdrew from most of her events. She knew herself. She knew her body. She knew a weakness had crept in that could harm her. And so she sacrificed years of hard work for her life’s sake. She did her best, given all the circumstances of her health and wellness.

There are all kinds of ways we can get wisdom and gain perspective about how to best live our lives. We can read and research and observe. And we can have experiences. Personally, while I try to learn from the latter–experiences–I’d much rather learn from the former. From Simone I’ve learned that it’s not worth it to kill myself to get ahead. I can cheer from the sidelines . . . and perhaps even my sideline cheers are what God might prefer for me.

And what’s my life philosophy?

Mine stems from a directive that Joshua gave the eastern tribes after they had helped their brother tribes settle in the promised land—supporting them in battle. When things settled down, Joshua told them to observe and keep God’s commands, to love Him, to walk in His ways, to cling to God, and to serve Him with all their heart and soul.

I believe God has ordered my days. I tend to run to God when life’s situations are hard. When circumstances settle down, it’s easy to become complacent. In those times, if I step out, motivated by selfish ambitions, or if I ignore what I already know God has ordained for me, I won’t be doing my best. I want to follow Him at all times of my life.

So, since 1970, my life philosophy has been “Love God and serve Him forever.” I’ve tried other ways. They don’t work out well. So I’ll do my best, given the circumstances, and trust Him for the results.

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Joshua 22:5 ESV

The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What Jesus Prayed and How It Can Change Your Life Today by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is an international speaker, creator of the online course called Prayer School, and the author of 24 books—including the bestselling 50 Life Lessons for Grads. Formerly a high school English teacher, she still enjoys hanging out with young people when she serves as her school’s official basketball scorekeeper. Janet has recently taken up cheering others from the sidelines by coaching new writers and hosting the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat. She loves connecting with others on social media and through her website: www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: What’s your life philosophy?

Nine Things to Do While Waiting

by Janet Holm McHenry

You’ve heard of The Dating Game, right? How about The Waiting Game?

I’m terrible at waiting. Just one example comes from my early teaching days when I chaired our school’s accreditation review committee. If I delegated various writing sections of the report to certain teachers, I knew I’d have to wait until the last minute to put it together. Instead, I wrote those sections myself. Not good, because the report was probably not representative of our whole school.

Another example was from my role as senior class advisor. Many year-end activities fell on my shoulders–senior project presentations, senior trip, senior banquet, baccalaureate, and even the commencement ceremony program, practice, and its decor. Many details had to fall into place within a two-week time period at the time of the year when, as an English teacher, I was also grading final exams, essays, journals, and tons of makeup work.

Nonetheless, despite telling myself that I needed to let the senior class leaders take responsibility for making their activities come together, I often jumped in and put details into place. That meant for a frazzled me.

Unfortunately, I can do the same with God’s plans for my life too. Instead of waiting for Him to work or direct my steps, I jump in and manipulate a situation. Saul, the first king of Israel, did this too. Instead of waiting for the priest to offer the sacrifice, he decided to do it himself. He wanted victory against the Philistines right then and knew that giving the sacrifice was critical to having the Lord on his side. However, he had forgotten his role, which did not include taking over the priest’s duties. He wasn’t fully trusting God for the results but taking matters into his own hands (see 1 Samuel 13:1-14).

Waiting is not easy–whether it be for a phone call or while in a line at the grocery store or for news about a medical test. However, waiting teaches us to rely on God and his sovereign plan, which is always best.

There are ways to occupy our restless minds and fingers while we wait for an answer or for direction:

  • Research an idea for a project.
  • Start a much-procrastinated project. While I was waiting to hear back on a bunch of proposals, I decided to get certified as a life coach and am now finding great fulfillment in helping others move forward with their lives.  I also created an online masterclass.  
  • Clean. Do your spring cleaning.
  • Organize your desk, your filing system, your taxes, your closets, your cupboards, your drawers. Glean out things you do not need, and give them to charity.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member. Write a letter or give them a call or even visit. They actually might be waiting to know someone loves and cares about them.
  • Get some exercise. Get out of the house and go for a walk or hike.
  • Work on a craft project. I took up sourdough breadmaking this past winter, and it’s been a very therapeutic hands-on project that others are enjoying as well.
  • Text several friends and tell them you’re thinking of and praying for them.
  • Get some rest. Perhaps a daylong sabbatical is needed. Read a book. Play the piano. Take a drive to see something beautiful.

God’s answer may be just around the corner. As we wait for him, we are developing discipline, patience, and perspective in a looking up posture.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 ESV

PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is a multi-tasking maniac who is gradually learning that waiting can be a good thing indeed. A national speaker, she is the author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength and Discipline (WaterBrook/RandomHouse). She would love to connect with you on social media or through her website, janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you are waiting?

So Close Together

by Lori Altebaumer

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.  Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

In a year where we’ve been forced into isolation and distancing, I am reminded of a favorite Christmas memory. It was the Christmas our family of four spent living in a travel trailer. We had no room to spare, so I joked that everyone was getting gift cards for Christmas. They would be the only thing we could fit under the twelve-inch tree on the fold out table. I also wasn’t going to be preparing a traditional Christmas feast in that limited kitchen.

But on Christmas morning, as we sat scrunched together opening gifts, our son looked up and said, “This is the best Christmas ever.”

I didn’t think he was referring to the gifts he’d received. As gifts went, this was a meager Christmas. I asked him why he thought so, and his answer has influenced my Christmases ever since. “I guess it’s just because we are all so close together.”

Close together indeed. We were practically sitting in each other’s laps in that tiny little space. No fancy tree or decorations. No extravagant gifts or spectacular feast. Just four people who loved each other celebrating the birth of their Savior together.

I love the Christmas season. I love the decorations and lights. I love the music and festive feeling in the stores. I love the abundance of edible treats I know I shouldn’t eat but can’t resist.

But my heart does not belong to any of these things.

They are but a reflection of the love Christ has for us. Take them all away and that love remains. It inhabits the tiniest of living quarters and meagerest of circumstances. It shines in the faces of our loved ones and lives in sacred moments we spend together.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NKJV). With this statement, Jesus warns His disciples to be careful about what they choose to value most. The things of this earth won’t last. These are the things that “moth and rust destroy” or “thieves break in and steal” (see Matthew 6:19).

That Christmas, my son’s heart wasn’t on the gifts or the decorations or the food. It was on something far more valuable. What he valued most was knowing he was a part of a family who loved him, a family that chose togetherness over the ostentations of the season.

How much greater must God’s delight be in us when we choose Him over the extravagances of the holidays— when we value time with Him over fretting about holiday plans.

I don’t remember much about that Christmas as far what gifts I received or what we ate for dinner. But I will never forget the love. Moth and rust will never destroy it, and no thief can take it from me.

This year has been one of altered plans and missed events. It has been the fertile soil of confusion and fear where isolation, loneliness, and despair have taken root. The thief of COVID has stolen moments of celebration and replaced them with moments of sorrow. A contentious political election has had a rusting effect on our hearts, and the moths of hatred and division have swept in to eat holes in our sense of community.

Our earthly treasures have been proven the fragile and temporal things they are.

The holidays may look different this year. Perhaps for that we should be grateful. Maybe this is the year we put aside everything that stands between us and our loving Father. We choose our treasures wisely and we snuggle in close to our Father’s heart and say, “This is the best Christmas ever.”

And when He asks us why, we say, “Because we’re all so close together.”

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

A Firm Place to Stand by [Lori Altebaumer]

About the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. With her boots on the ground, head in the clouds, and heart in His hands, she is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart in search of life’s best adventures. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Her first novel, A Firm Place to Stand, released in January 2020. She also blogs regularly on her website www.lorialtebaumer.com. In between writing, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here.

Join the conversation: How has 2020 changed your perspective on Christmas?

The Stories Our Pictures Tell

by Melanie Coleman

This summer, my parents arranged for a beach photo shoot with the whole family. In between shots, some of us waited on the sand, until my nine-year-old nephew James came to inform us we were needed again. As I stood up, the rough edge of my beach-worn toenail somehow deeply sliced the top of James’ ankle with its jagged edge. He burst into tears and hysteria ensued. This one was a real bleeder; add salty sand to the trauma, and I knew I would be paying for James’ therapy in the years to come.

After that, things kind of went to worms. So much for our dreams of catching candid laughter and bonding on camera. Parents stressed, kids ran into the ocean fully dressed, and this auntie contemplated her new life as a very specific kind of assassin. We tried to salvage the session, bravely smiling and offering bribes to the kids in exchange for cooperation.

Let’s just say it wasn’t a banner event for the Coleman family.

No matter what we’d hoped for from our session that evening, the resulting library of pictures told an unfiltered story. Those of us who were there can plainly see the pictorial shift: when James was injured and when the kids hit their limit. However, when we each shared a selection of photos on social media, it was interesting to see how every story told varied according to our different perspectives.

Just like selecting which photos to share, we have choices in what stories about our lives we tell and in how we share them. What part of the narrative we focus on inevitably reflects our personal values and mission.

Paul lived a life full of experiences, one that told two different stories: his before and after. As a Pharisee, he earnestly pursued and persecuted Christians, fully convinced of his righteous passion. After a dramatic conversion, Paul’s mission shifted entirely: the Gospel he had once vehemently rejected was now his focus and calling.

So when Paul shared his story with others, how did it reveal his focus? Well, in his letter to the church in Philippi, we see that Paul eschewed his former accolades, pedigree, and title. Instead, his focus was solely on Christ. He wrote: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:7-8 NASB).

Paul took the pictures from his life and used them to show the story of how gloriously everything changed once he encountered Christ. He encouraged the church in Philippi to know God and pursue Him first. He went on to say: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NASB)

Just like Paul framed his story around the transforming work of Christ in his life, we too have a beautiful opportunity to see life and share it through the eyes of God’s redemptive grace. Through our experiences, He is constantly at work in us, teaching us and changing our hearts. When we share our story with others, we can use our pictures to reflect God’s grace and glory instead of our own plaudits.

And that is an album worth saving. 

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 NASB

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The Stories Our Pictures Tell – encouragement from Melanie Coleman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Melanie Coleman is a worship and youth leader at New Hope Chapel located in Arnold, MD. Her passions include bridging the gap between mental health issues and the church’s response, and helping young adults embrace their relationship with Jesus as their own as they experience His unconditional love and grace. She works as the administrator for AWSA and loves serving her AWSA sisters. On any given day, you can find her sneaking off to visit her various nieces and nephews, usually with Chick-Fil-A in hand. You can find her on Facebook and on Instagram as @elizmelanie.

Join the conversation: How does your story reflect God’s grace?

Citizens of Heaven

by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.” Philippians 1:27 NLT

Katie Davis, a vivacious, passionate young woman, was just eighteen years old when she first went to Uganda on a mission trip. While she was there, God called her to go back. Forsaking college, her parents’ plans for her, a long-time boyfriend, and friends who thought she was crazy, Katie settled in Uganda and began a ministry. She also adopted thirteen Ugandan orphans.

Katie told her story in the 2011 bestseller Kisses from Katie, a book which continues to inspire millions of people to say “yes” to God, just as Katie did–wherever it leads. She writes, “Human beings long for a place to call home, a nest, a sanctuary of their own. I have many and none…But God whispers to me that I really have only one home, and that is with Him. I will never be content on this earth. I will always be a nomad. It was meant to be that way. My heart was created with a desire for a home, a nest, a sanctuary, and that can only be found with Him in heaven.”

Katie’s dedication to follow God wholeheartedly makes me wonder if am too comfortable. Have I forgotten that my permanent citizenship is in heaven, and not in any particular country? And what would my life look like if I took that to heart, every single day? I bet I wouldn’t feel as anxious about my paycheck (or lack of it). Certainly, the small frustrations I encounter would be put into an eternal perspective.

Paul urges the Philippian church—and today’s believers—to conduct themselves as citizens of heaven; to stand together with one purpose; to war together for the faith. When we forget that God deserves our first allegiance, we let all sorts of opportunities slip by us, and we begin to focus on unimportant details instead of the big picture.

Our purpose is to live out our faith in such a way that glorifies the Father and draws others to a relationship with him. It surely grieves God to see Christians fighting with one another instead of together. He must shake his head in frustration when we let small problems rule our thoughts, instead of focusing on his grace and love.

I want to be more like Katie—and the Apostle Paul. How about you?

PRAYER: Lord, give me the perspective shift I need to remember that I am a citizen of heaven. Remind me continually, Lord, of your truth and majesty. And help me to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel—not on my own strength, but through yours. Thank you for the beauty of the earth and the joy that you give me through my family, friends, purpose, and accomplishments. But let me never forget that all of it is temporary. Creator of all things, I so earnestly desire to be more like you. But my humanity gets in the way. Forgive me for putting too much stock in earthly treasures, relationships, and status. And thank you for the forgiveness you offer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Citizens of Heaven – encouragement from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

dena headshot


About the author:
 Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Dena’s book, Grace for the Race,  uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled females. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help moms realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: How does being a citizen of heaven impact your life here on earth?

We’re all Connected

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.  1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV

I’m not sure what I did, but the doctor said I now have a bulging disc in my lower back. It hurts to walk, sit, stand, or do anything. Then, to make matters worse, and I have no idea how, I got a charley-horse in my calf. Maybe I was overcompensating for my back and overdid it that muscle, who knows? All I know is one day, I am on top of my game, and the next, I’m flat on my back unable to do anything, and everyone is taking care of me.

I’m one of those people who is always doing something. If I have nothing to do, I am looking for something to do. In fact, I kind of feel bad if I’m not working on something. I’m also the queen of multitasking. Going and doing is just in my DNA. I also have a tendency to move quickly—a perpetually, fast-forward kind of person. Grabbing this, tossing that, lifting and shifting is just part of my normal routine. So, when I somehow injured my back, life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.

But it’s interesting how restricted movement can actually be freeing. All the things that normally scream for my attention were silenced. I had to put aside things like laundry, running errands in town, cooking, and cleaning, not to mention computer work and anything requiring long periods of time sitting, standing, or walking.

But the good part of being restricted physically is that I got a whole new perspective of those around me.

My husband, some friends that were staying with us during this time, and the rest of my family all jumped in to do what I would normally be doing for them. They took up the slack when I couldn’t. And then as I healed and was able to hobble around better, they all counted my progress as a joint victory.

Through this whole incident, God gave me a good illustration of how the Body of Christ works. 1 Corinthians says; “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (12:26 NIV).

With this injury, I could not have managed by myself. And neither can we, as followers of Christ, manage alone in our walk with God, especially when we are hurt or going through a difficult time. We need each other. We need each other’s prayers, encouragement, biblical teaching, wise counsel, listening ears, and hugs. We also need to be there in a practical way for each other, just as my husband, family and friends were here for me when I needed help with doing things around the house.

I’m getting around better now, but I won’t soon forget how valuable family and friends are in time of need. Today, take a look around at your family and friends. You are the body of Christ. Is part of your body suffering? When one part suffers, the whole body suffers. Reach out and help.

“In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5 NIV). It is when we serve each other that the whole Church is built up and functioning in the way it was designed to be.

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We’re all Connected – 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: Have you ever been incapacitated? How were you helped by the people around you?

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?

My Tarnished World of Wonder

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

 When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind. 1 Corinthians 13:11  (VOICE)

When I was five years old, I had a front yard filled with wonderful secrets, like the enchanted oak tree. I discovered what looked like a tiny doorknob made of an old staple in the base of the tree. I spent hours imagining the tiny fairies using that doorknob in the deep of the night, so they could come out and dance on my lawn. Then there were the glorious azalea bushes that would burst forth in lush pink pedals just in time to celebrate the risen Savior and serve as the backdrop for my mother’s annual Easter photos. My front yard served as the setting of epic games of hide and seek, adventures of the walkie-talkie spies, and our amazing cowboy shootouts.

My old pit-pull dog ruled the yard, serving guard over us kids, and sometimes even killing the venomous copperheads that hid beneath the house. I marveled at the great oaks that stood like sentries after surviving many hurricanes in time. I’d often wondered if their old knotholes were scars left behind from the flying bullets of a Civil War battle waged a hundred years before I was born.

Not long ago, my husband and I drove through our Texas hometown and decided to drive past the old place that loomed so large in my memories. When we pulled up to the old house, we were amazed at how much remained the same. There, still intact, were the hurricane sentries, the old azalea bushes, and the front porch that the neighbor kids transformed into a stage for our talent ‘shows’.

However, the yard didn’t look as I remembered it. It looked small, shabby, and not at all like the place of wonder that I remembered.

My husband and I were taken aback. This was the cherished place of all of my dear, most precious memories?

Time has a way of tarnishing and shrinking the old places we idolized as children. My perspective had changed from that of a tiny child to the viewpoint of an adult.

Time may have a way of giving us new perspectives, but so does maturity in the Lord. For when we look at life’s disappointments, difficulties, and trials, our eyes may want to focus on the ugly pain and bitterness. But when we look at these same circumstances through the eyes of God’s love and grace, we will begin to notice His life-changing potential and miracles everywhere.

Paul wrote about a mature perspective in his letter to the Corinthians. “When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind” (1 Corinthians 13:11 VOICE). Knowing Jesus and the love of God gives us a whole new viewpoint on both our earthly home and gives us hope for our future in heaven.

May we continue to look at our world through the eyes of God’s love and discover His wonder on every face, difficulty and relationship.

Put the childish behaviors and attitudes away and grow into the wonder of God’s loving perspective of your life and world, and you will find awe in the beauty of his amazing care.

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My Tarnished World of Wonder – @LindaShepherd on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda evans shepherd

About the author: Linda Shepherd Evans is the president of Right to the Heart Ministries and the CEO of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), which ministers to Christian women authors and speakers. She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily. Linda is an award-winning author who has written numerous books. Her prayer books have sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies. She is an internationally recognized speaker.

Linda’s latest release, When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power, is a practical and encouraging book that explains what intercessory prayer is, how to pray as an intercessor, and how to experience victory. You’ll quickly find the specific help you need to pray for the needs close to your heart. You’ll also learn how to develop your own intercessory prayer battle strategy and to celebrate each victory with thanksgiving.

Join the conversation: When have you been able to adjust your perspective?

Christmas List-less-ness

by Rhonda Rhea  @RhondaRhea          

I was readying for a marathon Christmas shopping session when I suddenly felt noticeably…list-less. Not tired or disinterested or anything like that.

Not listless. List-less.

As in, we were into December and I hadn’t made the Christmas list. Hadn’t checked it once, much less twice. What was I thinking?

That list is usually taking over my life by early November, sassing me and hounding me and pitilessly bossing me around. A pushy little monster, that list. Every time I’d sit down to create it, I would start feeling a little Frankensteinian. Why would I purposefully create that beast? If I didn’t make it, it couldn’t bully me, right?

While I’m not necessarily listless around this season, now that my five kids are grown, I do sometimes get a little sentimental. I still grin at some of the outrageous want-lists I got from my kids. Sentimental now. More like “Santa-mental” then. What even were moon shoes? Just saying. Frankenstein’s monster would wear those.

Why is it so easy to get overwhelmed with the to-do lists and the Christmas lists and the monster lists of more monster lists in the season of giving? Shouldn’t I be feeling less Frankensteinian, more frankincense-ian?

I like thinking about the gifts given to Jesus, the gold reminding us of His kingship, frankincense of His role as Priest, and myrrh foreshadowing His death. If we listed other elements of the spirit of Christmas giving, I think we would top it with not only the three gifts to the Son, but:

  • The Father who gave the Son.
  • The Son who gave His life.
  • The Spirit who gives His constant presence.

Focusing on this triune “list” helps bring our other lists into perspective.

More people are depressed around the holidays than any other time of year. Many cite the stresses of the to-do-list-busyness. For others, it might be financial challenges or missing a loved one. Some have unmet expectations of that perfect holiday.

If you’re battling some lingering listlessness, try adding a couple of things to your to-do list:

  • Check the expectations. When we expect all our plans to come off just so and then they don’t, disappointment can become a monstrous joy-zapper. Not a single one of us can control every aspect of an event, and we can’t control even one aspect of a person.
  • When we’re joy-depleted, focusing on our King, our Priest, our Sacrificial Savior can miraculously bring joy back to life. Jesus said in John 15:11, “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (CSB).

Guess what. No more listing needed. That last one? That’s it! Complete!

David said, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4, CSB). David asks the Lord for one thing. One. David, what kind of list is that?

Lord, let my lists all boil down to this one thing: worship in Your presence. Oh the joy there!

I want to pray that prayer all season. All year. All always.

I should report, too, that I did finally make those lists. Then I tamed them by sewing them into one list and shooting electricity into it. Still not sure why I gave it neck-bolts.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.  Psalm 16:11 NASB

TWEETABLE
Christmas List-less-ness – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for the Messy to Meaningful series, with My Purse Runneth Over coming soon. Edie Melson and Rhonda have a new book as well, Unruffled—Thriving in Chaos.

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

Join the conversation: What is your greatest joy-stealer?

Where Are Your Treasures Buried?

by Kendra Broekhuis

I left my freshly baked cookies cooling on the kitchen counter, the windows slightly opened and the doors locked, so I could run a few errands with our toddler. The scent of peanut butter mingled with the early autumn breeze in a way that said both “delicious” and “welcome.”

Apparently it was too warm of a welcome, because I came home to find many of those cookies missing from my kitchen counter. I assumed my husband had stopped by and grabbed one or six, and reminded myself to flash my Annoyed Wife Eyes at him later.

I put the remaining cookies in a plastic container and brought our son upstairs to lay him down for a nap. At the top of the steps, I noticed a peanut butter cookie lying crumbled on the carpet, and another resting on top of our kids’ bunk bed. I had the eerie feeling I wasn’t alone. My heart pounded as I kept my eyes peeled for anything else out of place. I turned the corner into another bedroom and squirrel. There was a squirrel in my house, stealing my peanut butter cookies and hiding them all the way upstairs.

I ran to get a broom to shoo it out of our house – all the while frantically demanding the mute creature to tell me his secrets: “How did you get in here?!” I chased it downstairs and watched it weasel its way through a hole in our window screen it had chewed for entry. I slammed the window shut and let out a breathy chuckle of relief.

A further investigation would reveal the pesky intruder had stashed cookies all over the house, including in my husband’s stack of t-shirts. Though my neighbors and I joke that our squirrels are possessed by demons, this behavior comes quite naturally to them. Squirrels prepare for winter by storing their nutty treasures all over their domain. What this squirrel got wrong, in my slightly biased opinion, is where he decided to store his treasures.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, besides remembering to replace nylon window screens with bite-proof steel. Jesus encouraged His disciples to make sure they were storing their treasures in the right place:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” {Matthew 6:19-21 ESV).

Jesus wants us to examine where our heart’s focus lies. Do we think of our work and possessions in light of the fact that our lives on earth are as fleeting as a mist? Do we obsessively accumulate stuff, always seeking the next purchase we think will make us happy? Do we constantly worry about the future we know that God has already planned for us? Do we work for our own glory instead of praising Jesus for the good things He has done for us?

When we change our perspective from “for now on earth” to “forever in heaven,” we can learn to hold loosely everything we can see, taste, and touch, knowing it could all be taken away in a moment. We use our earthly possessions to love others and work to glorify God’s name over our own. When we store our treasures in heaven, we value our relationship with the One who has promised us the gift of eternal life with Him – above all else.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

TWEETABLE
“When we store our treasures in heaven, we value our relationship with God . . . above all else.” Kendra Broekhuis on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kendre BroekhuisAbout the author: Kendra Broekhuis is an author, speaker, and intentional neighbor living in the city of Milwaukee. For her day job, Kendra stays home with three of her children and misses her fourth in heaven. She recently launched an online community called Mourning Companion where people can safely lament their sorrow and see their grief articulated. To read more, follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @kendrabroekhuis and @mourningcompanion, and at www.kendrabroekhuis.com. Or grab a copy of her book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor.

Join the conversation: How do you store your treasures up in heaven?