Food for Praise

by Rhonda Rhea

Kids have super weird yet extremely discriminating palates. I know this to be true. I raised five of them. I’m telling you, I remember toddlers completely snubbing dinner, then half an hour later eating a dirt clod and washing it down with bath water.

It’s not like I don’t get it on some level. Not on the dirt clod/bath water level or anything. But believe me, there are parts of this concept I completely understand. The things I know I’m supposed to eat? Sometimes I just don’t want to. Forget your kale. What even is tofu?

Then there are the things I’m not supposed to eat. On that topic…well let’s just say if my husband put my favorite gemstone in a lovely ring setting, that gem would probably look like a chocolate truffle. By “look like” a chocolate truffle I mean it would be a chocolate truffle. And then there would just be an empty setting where the truffle used to be. I’m also not entirely convinced that my birthstone is not a tiny cinnamon roll.

Keep your carats. And your carrots.

I know I’m supposed to be a grownup. I’m supposed to say some yesses to kale and no to dirt clods and jewelry you eat. But what are we supposed to do, even as grownups, when we just don’t want to?

When we hit difficulties in life, sometimes praise can become more challenging. Instead of singing His praises, often in those times all we want to do is cry to Him, “Get me out of this!”

I’ve heard people say it’s hypocritical to praise God when we’re just not feeling it, and I would never suggest we pray things to God we don’t mean. He knows our hearts inside and out anyway. I would suggest all day, however, honestly recounting who He is.

It’s during our struggles that we do well to remember we’re praising God, not the circumstances. Praise doesn’t even require being at peace with the circumstances. It doesn’t necessitate understanding them either.

As a matter of fact, praise isn’t so much about our need to understand what God is doing. It’s really more about recognizing that He’s bigger than our understanding. And that He’s better than our best, most enthusiastically optimistic idea of how good He is.

He’s also completely aware and in control of our trials. He’s not uncaring. He’s loving and kind and good. He’s big, He’s powerful, He’s holy, He’s omniscient, He’s…everything. Praise isn’t for us, but still, it’s in our praise that we become all the more aware of who He is.

We can’t begin to even scratch the surface when it comes to understanding His greatness. David wrote “His greatness is unsearchable” in Psalm 145:3 (HCSB). Praising Him, though, reminds us to search anyway. To get our focus off ourselves and the temporary struggles of this life and to place that focus on the eternal God who is ever-worthy. The first part of that very same verse celebrates that “Yahweh is great and is highly praised.”

Sometimes when I need some food for praise, I hang out in the entire chapter of Psalm 145 for a bit. Or Psalm 8 or 111. Or the joy of Psalm 100 or the music of Psalm 150. So many more. They’re food for praise despite our troubles.

And with or without our truffles.

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 is your food for praise?

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“Have a Nice Thanksgiving Life”

by Christina Rose

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.                                                                                         Psalm 100:4 NIV

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.                       Psalm 95:2-3 NIV

 My dad was a dreamer and had big plans for his family.  While working for the government in Washington, DC, one day he noticed a job posting to enlist in the foreign service.  I had just finished sixth grade when he came home from work and announced that we would be moving to Bogota, Colombia. Our family of six was so excited. Within a few short months we were embarking on a life-changing adventure.

We spent six exciting years traveling throughout South America. Our three years living in Rio de Janeiro were the most memorable. We lived in a beautiful home on the water and went to the International School, where we met students from all over the world. Rio has many spectacular beaches; surfing after school was our favorite pastime.

After graduation, we returned to the United States, but my brother Chuck could not forget Karla, his high school sweetheart from Rio. He drove an ice cream truck for countless hours and saved every penny to join her in Colorado where she attended college.  They were married shortly thereafter. Then an unthinkable tragedy struck.  Karla’s brother Brek, who had recently married, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Brek was a handsome, blond, blue-eyed soccer star who was loaded with optimism and love for Christ. Shortly after the diagnosis, it was discovered that Brek’s wife was pregnant with what would be their only child. As Brek’s condition worsened, his daughter was being formed in her mother’s womb. Beautiful little Keah came into the world nine months later.

For more than 15 years Brek’s wife Kim devotedly assisted her husband as his body deteriorated. By the end of his life, he was confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak, walk, talk, feed or bathe himself. He was fed with a syringe of blended food through his stomach, yet through it all he never complained. His unwavering faith inspired all around him.

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”  (2 Corinthians 4:15-16 NIV). 

A friend rigged a keyboard so that he was able to use his computer with a muscle in his left leg. “Brek’s Briefs” were newsletters about his life. When I consider the many hours that it required to painstakingly type each brief, I am in awe of his perseverance.  Every brief was insightful and encouraging. They reminded us to approach every day with gratitude, knowing himself that any day could be his last.  He closed each brief with “Have a nice Thanksgiving life.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

The last time I saw Brek was a few years before he passed. We both attended a large family wedding full of dancing and celebrating.  Brek could only look on in silence with his devoted wife by his wheelchair. He glanced at me for a moment and instantly I could see that sunny, blond kid with the big grin from my childhood days in Rio. He seemed to smile at me while the steadfast light of devotion streamed from his eyes.

In his memory, I pray that all of you will “Have a nice Thanksgiving life.”

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV

TWEETABLE
“Have a Nice Thanksgiving Life” – insight from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: How had God refined your faith lately?

She Prayed

by Crystal Bowman

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generation. Psalm 100:5 NIV

We celebrated Mother’s Day with the baptism of our newest granddaughter, then later that evening my ninety-seven-year old mother quietly slipped into heaven. And that’s how she lived—never wanting to be the center of attention. She let my son and daughter-in-law have their moment of joy in the morning before going home to meet her Savior face-to-face.

The following week, family members traveled by car, motor home, and plane to attend her funeral which she had planned. She had chosen three of her adult grandchildren to share thoughts of remembrance, which they did with eloquent tributes. One of my nephews summed up her life in one sentence:  My grandma prayed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by name every day.

My mother lived an active life after my father passed away in 2006. Still healthy and alert, she would drive her widowed friends to the grocery store and church meetings. She played the piano during lunch at a nursing home where many of the residents were younger than she was. She volunteered at local schools that offered after school Bible clubs, and she attended sporting events to cheer for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But as the years passed, she gradually lost her physical abilities and independence, and she  moved into an assisted living home. Even there she continued to serve others. She made friends with a blind woman and helped her navigate the exercise bike in the fitness room. In the dining room, she would look for someone sitting alone and sit next to them. But as more years passed,  she lost her ability to walk on her own and care for herself.

One day when I was visiting her, she was depressed about her dependence on aides who had to dress her and bathe her and help her go to the bathroom. “I’m no good to anyone,” she lamented.

“You can still pray,” I reminded her. And she did. She made a list of her children and grandchildren, all their spouses, and twenty-one great-grandchildren. She prayed for each one by name every day.

It would be impossible to list everything she prayed for, but she prayed. She prayed for safety and protection, for careers and future spouses, for marriages, for physical healing, for salvation and spiritual growth. And she prayed a miracle baby into my daughter-in-law’s womb.

My mom loved the Bible verses that spoke of God’s blessings to the next generation, and she knew her prayers made a difference. These verses not only motivated her to pray, but also to speak God’s truth into the lives of her descendants. She often shared these Bible verses with me since they gave her so much purpose and joy:

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:17-18 NIV).

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18 NIV).

“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. . . so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children” (Psalm 78:4, 6 NIV).

“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise” (Psalm 79:13 NIV)

These Bible verses are a reminder to me, that now it’s my turn to carry on the legacy of prayer my mother exemplified. I pray that her legacy will live on through her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I also hope that someday one of my grandchildren will be able to say, “My grandma prayed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by name every day.”

TWEETABLE
She Prayed – thoughts on a life well-lived from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for KidsM is for Mangerand Does God Take Naps? She is a mentor for MOPS and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. She lives in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best), and travels often to get hugs from her grandchildren.

Crystal’s latest release, co-authored with her daughter-in-law, is Mothers in Waiting, Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. Do you or someone you love struggle with infertility? In this book you will find 30 hope-filled stories of women who received the same diagnosis and experienced the heartache. You do not have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: What legacy do you hope to leave for your children?