“…And He Tells Me I am His Own”

by Sandi Banks

I lift my fingers from the strings of Mom’s grand old concert harp. The lilting strains of the beloved hymn “In the Garden” linger in midair, as I wipe fresh tears with the back of my hand and breathe a bittersweet sigh. How I miss her.

Memories flood my mind, as the lyrics soothe my soul:

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.” Without warning, my mind punches “rewind,” to a day long gone: August 20, 1956. My 10th birthday.

Our family was in crisis since Daddy had left several months earlier and Mom had moved her three daughters to Denver. A difficult transition. But on this day, I bubbled with excitement at the thought of having friends over.

We cleaned house, picked fresh roses from our garden, and began greeting our guests. Instantly, all seven girls gathered like magnets around Mom’s harp and begged her to play.

So, there in the living room of our tiny duplex, Denver Symphony’s harpist gave her daughter a beautiful gift: a mini concert for her new little friends.

They were awestruck. I was overjoyed. “Thank you, Mommy,” I whispered. “My very first slumber party! It’ll be so much fun!”

In her warm and winsome way, Mom welcomed everyone and began presenting the party plan. “After dinner, we’ll play games and open presents, and—”

“Hey, where’s your daddy?” my new best friend Sheila interrupted, facing me squarely. “Oh … he’s … he’s working,” I lied.

“Where’s he sleep?”

“Umm … in there.” I pointed to Mom’s closed bedroom door.

Sheila burst into the room, the others trailing behind. A single bed; flowers and lace. “This is your mommy’s room. Where’s your daddy sleep?”

I felt my face burn red hot. A lump formed in my throat.

“Well, see, Daddy works really hard and comes home really late, and he loves us so much, he doesn’t want to wake us so he … umm … sleeps downstairs.”

No sooner had the words tumbled out my mouth than The Sherlock Seven, relentless in their pursuit, descended the basement steps, only to find a wringer washer and a pile of old newspapers. The truth became painfully clear to them all.

Incensed, Sheila strutted toward me, knuckles on her hips, eyes ablaze. “You don’t even have a daddy, do you!”

Her words pierced my heart. I burst into tears, raced upstairs, locked myself in my room, and made Mom send all the girls and their gifts back home. I sobbed into the night.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own …” Slowly, I lower the harp to the floor. It’s been over fifty years since that day, yet the sound of Mom’s gentle voice through that door remains a poignant memory.

Oh, Mom, I never considered what you went through that night. I only knew my pain. Now I understand, and I love you all the more.

“Where’s your daddy?” I answer now with a grateful smile, pointing to my Heavenly Father. The day I finally did open the door—the door to my heart— a few years later, He came in and drew me close. I embraced His truths and became His beloved daughter.

The love of a mother. The love of a Heavenly Father. Priceless.

“And the joys we share ,as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” Those joys, His promises, give us all hope:

“For God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you….’ ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5,6 GNT).

“Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love…revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39 NLT).

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

About the author: Sandi Banks is an author and devotional writer for numerous publishing houses. As a storyteller, she draws upon her years of ministry and travel in 40 countries, living abroad, leading Bible studies, and hosting Summit Ministries’ worldview conferences. Her passion is bringing the hope of Christ to hurting women through writing, speaking, and mentoring. Find her at sandibanks.com

Join the conversation: What promise of God gives you the most hope?

When God Feels Distant

by Crystal Bowman

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NKJV

Life is hard sometimes. For many, life is hard most of the time. Being a Christian is no guarantee that we get a free pass from pain and hardship. Just look at the stories in the Bible. Joseph spent some dark moments in a pit, was sold as a slave, and just when things were improving, he ended up in prison because of a woman’s lie. For 40 years, Moses led the grumbling, complaining Israelites through the wilderness on their quest to the Promised Land, and then he only got a sneak peek of the land from a mountain top. Do I even need to bring up the name Job? Probably not.

In the New Testament, many of Jesus’s followers were beaten, imprisoned, and experienced violent deaths. The suffering we see in the pages of Scripture is more than enough to understand that life is hard. And sometimes, in the midst of our pain and suffering—in the midst of wondering how life got so messed up—we wonder where God is.  

Do you ever feel distant from God? If we are honest, most of us will say yes. But just because we feel distant from Him, God is never far from us. Whether we feel close to God or not, it doesn’t change who He is. God loves us with an everlasting love. He is with us wherever we go, and His Spirit lives within us. In Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV), the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That about covers it, right? Nothing can separate us from God! And here’s the thing—it doesn’t matter what we feel. It matters what we know. Feelings can be unpredictable and unreliable. Feelings can come and go like the wind. When we base our beliefs on what we feel, we will be tossed to and ‘fro, like the waves on the sea. Rather than letting your feelings determine your closeness to God, cling to what you know and believe. Do you know God is with you? Yes. Do you believe He will never leave you? Yes.  Do you know and believe He loves you? A thousand times yes. 

Whenever I feel distant from God, I know that He isn’t the one who moved. And so I seek Him though reading Scripture, through worship music, through prayers, and through looking at His creation. Psalm 95:4-5 (NIV) says, In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. And Psalm 19:1 (NIV) says, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

If you want to feel close to God, just open your eyes. Do you see the sky? God made that. Do you see trees, rivers, or mountains? They belong to God. Do you see birds and squirrels? God feeds them. Do you see flowers? God makes them grow. We are surrounded by God’s creation that speaks His name.

Psalm 100:4 (NKJV) gives us clear instructions on how to draw near to God: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

If you are feeling distant from God today, follow the advice of the Psalmist. Thank Him. Praise Him. Enter His presence. He is waiting for you with open arms, and nothing can separate you from His love.  

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What do you do when you feel distant from God?

Peace Like a River

by Lane P. Jordan @Lane_Jordan

For thus says the Lord, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river. And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. Isaiah 66:12, ESV

Oh, that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Isaiah 48:18 ESV

I just got back from a reunion at my childhood camp. It is my favorite place in all the world. I’m not sure if I love it so much because it’s located on the top of a beautiful North Georgia mountain, or because the food is so good, or the activities stupendous, or just because my memories cannot be daunted.

Either way, I love, love this camp and try to get to the reunion each year. At this year’s get together, we of course sang around the campfire with the standard songs sung every night, ending in a tight friendship circle.

And one of the songs we always sing is “Peace I ask of Thee, O River”. I thought, “How can a river give peace?

And then I remembered. There are verses about rivers in the Bible!

The source of a river, typically small mountain streams, depicts the beginnings of life, and its meeting with the ocean symbolizes the end. The river is also used as a metaphor for both boundaries and roadways. In the first Scripture above, I believe God is saying that His peace is as gentle as a slow-moving river, but as strong as a river with a swift current. Its never-ending movement pictures the kind of care and presence He will always provide.

But if we don’t follow Him and seek other places in which to place our security, we cannot rest in His peace. We may waver, but our God will never change. He and His peace are always there for us.

I love Romans 8:38-39. Paul explicitly says that nothing will ever be able to separate us from God’s love: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NIV

That makes me want to jump for joy! These promises are so rich and so large—how could I ever not have peace in my life?

God loves us so very much. And He wants to give us His peace for every second of every day until we are with Him in His eternal home. That is why Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you: My peace I give to you.” John 14:27

Don’t you just want to have this peace too?

Peace Like a River – encouragement from @Lane_Jordan on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lane Jordan - High ResolutionAbout the author: Lane P. Jordan is a writer, best-selling author, international motivational and inspirational speaker, singer, artist, Bible teacher, and professional life coach. She lives in Frisco, Texas with her husband who partners with her in ministry and waits impatiently for daughters and granddaughter to visit!  Lane’s desire is to encourage, support, and motivate women of all ages to be better wives, mothers, and women of God by organizing their lives and time. You can find her at: http://www.LaneJordanMinistries.com and her blog at http://www.PathwaysToOrganization.com.

Lane’s book, 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman, is an invaluable resource for every woman–from soccer moms to single grandmoms. It combines practical information on managing a fast-paced life with biblical wisdom and assurances that even when life seems overwhelming, the Lord is our keeper, our father, our husband, and our shepherd.

Join the conversation: What does God’s peace mean to you?

All We Need is Love

by Karen DeArmond Gardner

The moment revelation hits you. You didn’t see it coming, which makes the impact more powerful.

I’d been doing life with bits of whining and complaining, wondering why others were moving into some great destiny while I wasn’t. Then my pastor’s words stunned me: “Millions of people die every day without ever reaching their destiny.” How can that be? And, oh my word, that’s so true.

He continued, “We were designed to be satisfied in God’s love, not anything else.”

I knew he was right. Only God can give me lasting satisfaction. With Him I can be content where I am, even if my circumstances never change. As his words continued, I came to the realization that I’d made an idol of my hopes and dreams.

God created me to be satisfied in Him alone, not my calling or accomplishments. It’s not about things, circumstances, or age. Just because I am now 65 (did I just say that?) doesn’t mean I will realize every goal that I have.

Hard words. True words. Words to bring me to my knees.

The only thing that truly matters is that I am a beloved daughter. He loves me just as I am. And just where I am. He loves me naked, wrinkled and gray, even the gray hidden beneath the red. He likes and delights in me. I have no need to prove myself to Him. He has already forgiven all my past and future mistakes. He thinks I m completely adorable.

Just as I am.

Just as you are.

He doesn’t care that I’m not perfect. Why? He knows me inside and out. All the striving I’ve done in my life to present a perfect image was for naught.


A few weeks after this message I am purposefully dwelling in the presence of God before church begins. The Holy Spirit says, “Whatever Pastor Nancy asks you to do, do it. Without hesitation. Just do it.”

“Have you given your whole self to God?” I knew this was the question as soon as I heard it. And I knew the answer was no. I hadn’t. I’ve held back parts of myself from everyone around me, including God. The next question was obvious, “Will you give your whole self to Him now?”

Just as I am.

Naked, wrinkles, gray and all I think I’m not. Laid bare and open for all to see. Here you go. All of me.

Just as I am.

Maybe you have lived your life watching others get what you want? If only I could be like her. If only I was a better writer, speaker, or artist. If only I had thought of her idea.

Never enough.

Do you remember pulling the petals off a flower while chanting, “He loves me, He loves me not”? But God isn’t playing that game with us. Though I thought He did. I thought He was keeping score.

He loves us. He loves us. He loves. Us. You. Me.

No check marks. Just love. Let that sink in.

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

Nothing. Absolutely nothing can separate us from His love. His love is our source of contentment.

Grasp the truth of His unrelenting love for you even if your circumstances aren’t what you’d hoped. And know you are completely loved and adored by your Heavenly Father.

All We Need is Love – insight from Karen DeArmond Gardner on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

karen dearmond gardnerAbout the author: Karen DeArmond Gardner is a 30-year survivor of domestic violence. She has spent 15 years on her own healing journey and nearly that long helping others find freedom, restoration, and redemption.

Karen is a facilitator in Freedom Ministry/Sozo and directs the Women’s Ministry at Catch the Fire DFW Church. She also facilitates Mending the Soul, a group that leads women through the trauma of their past into healing and wholeness. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arukah House, a transitional home for women coming out of sex trafficking and abuse.

Karen blogs at Crack the Silence and can be found at her Crack the Silence Facebook page. She continues to be a helpful contact and resource for abused women in her church and community.

Join the conversation: What causes you to be discontent? How can God meet that need?


Sensing God’s Love

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. Psalm 42:11 NASB

For years, Jean struggled with feeling God’s love and presence in her life. But, because she was looking for something tangible, something emotional, she continued to feel unloved and alone. Then one day, another woman showed Jean the facts from Scripture about God’s love for her. One of them especially resonated with Jean’s heart:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10 NLT).

Today, when Jean begins to doubt her Savior’s love, she turns to the hard evidence found in God’s Word and focuses on those facts, rather than on her feelings which can fluctuate from day to day.

Sometimes, like Jean, you and I don’t feel God’s love, either. But those are the times we need to rely on facts, rather than feelings. God presented the facts – evidence of His love for us – in Scripture.

The facts are:

  • God loved us so much He sent His Son to die in our place (1 John 4:10).
  • There is nowhere we can go where His presence is not with us (Psalm 139:7-11).
  • Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

Scripture says “it is impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, we are not to rely on feelings, but to have faith in the facts.  Feelings change depending on our circumstances, our moods, our hormones. Facts stay the same, regardless. When faith comes first – “I will believe it because He said it”– the feelings sometimes follow.

The Bible says not even “death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

We can add to that list: neither fear nor doubt, neither uncertainty nor unbelief, neither guilt nor shame, neither insecurity nor a sense of worthlessness will be able to separate us from the love of God.

Can you focus on the facts today and let them determine whether or not you feel loved?

Maker of my Heart, thank You for not only telling me in Your Word that I am Your beloved, but showing me, through Your actions. No greater love exists than the love You had and demonstrated for me when You gave up Your life for me so that I could live eternally with You. On days when I don’t “feel” loved, help me to remember the facts about what You have done on my behalf.

Sensing God’s Love – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Recapture the romance of a relationship with God with When God Pursues a Woman’s HeartWithin the heart of every woman is the desire to be pursued, cherished, and loved. There’s only One who can lavish such love. Join Cindi as she takes you through the Bible to discover how God offers a relationship like no other.

Join the conversation: What fact about God do you turn to when you are not feeling His love?

What Fills My Emptiness

by Janet Perez Eckles

Getting rid of junk is so liberating. The other day I got busy, I rolled up my sleeves, and began with closets, then drawers. As I tossed out jars of who-knows-what in my bathroom drawer—old tubes of lipstick, creams that probably ended up there since I was a teenager—to my delight, I found the little bottle of perfume I’ve been searching for months. It was my favorite for its delicate, yet delicious scent.

Without hesitation, I popped the glass lid off, brought it to my nose, and the scent was, well, blah. How could that fancy bottle of perfume have lost its fragrance? Well, it was like many things in life—a new car, new house, new career, and even new relationships—all eventually losing their zest over time.

Have you been there? At first, they shine with promises and fill that part of us that hungers for satisfaction and fulfillment. But then something happens—a misunderstanding, bad decisions, wrong path taken, or mistakes that lead to regrets.

Before you know it, the luster fades. Expectations turn to disappointment. and the scent of  happiness evaporates.

We handle most of this. But when that which we held so dear, when something we counted on or someone in whom we trusted lets us down, we are disappointed. Disappointment turns to grief as the hurt remains. The fragrance once sweet is now gone, and the smell of heartache fills the air instead.

Oh, how I wish to tell you I’ve not known that kind of grief. But I have. And when empty boxes of tissues fill my trashcan, I hold on to the one thing that remains, the only thing that will never disappoint.

What still holds the fragrance of hope and of comfort is love. But not the love of a friend or family member. It’s the love of Christ. The love from which we can never be separated. It’s the love that promises to ease loneliness, bring back joy, and fill the emptiness disappointment has left behind.

Christ’s love contains all we need. It’s available. It’s free, and it’s ours.

The Apostle Paul was convinced of this. . . and we should be too. He wrote: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).

Surrounded by His love, saturated by its fragrance and relishing in its power, no matter what rejection, cruelty of life, or pain of broken dreams we experience, we’re loved, truly loved. That reality will always remain.

Father, how foolish of me to trust in others for security and love. Remind me, Lord, each moment that your love is more than enough, it’s sufficient. And I can trust that it never loses its promise of protection, reassurance and comfort.

janet perez eckles

About the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker and author of four books. Her best-selling release, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta invites you to experience the simplicity of finding joy even in the midst of hardship, broken dreams, and sorrow. With engaging stories, Simply Salsa gives practical steps to overcome fear and celebrate life once again.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced a time when your fragrance of joy was replaced by sorrow? How has the love of Christ made a difference in your life?

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash