A Good Father

by Candy Arrington

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 ESV

Recently, a cousin and I had a conversation about the blessing of growing up with good fathers. As adults and having interacted with many types of people with very different father experiences, we are reminded afresh what a gift it is to have had godly fathers.

Father’s Day is bittersweet for me. My father died thirty years ago this year. I loved him, and I miss him, but in many ways, he is still with me. I can hear his soft southern drawl, see his lopsided grin, and envision his strong hands. Daddy is with me most in the lessons he taught me about life and faith.

My father was a builder, and I often walked job sites with him. One of the first life lessons I learned is things are not always as they seem. During the “stake off” portion of building, the footprint of a house often appears smaller than its true size. The wooden stakes and ditches dug before constructing the foundation are somewhat deceptive in conveying the actual size of the house. Likewise, our view is sometimes skewed regarding people or opportunities. Only with wisdom, experience, and God-perception can we learn to see beyond appearances.

A second lesson I learned from my father was the importance of a level, firm foundation. Builders who don’t take time to do the necessary site work, wait for the dirt to settle, and pause to measure to ensure a level, plumb, straight foundation run into problems later in the building process. My father likened this  to building a sturdy faith foundation through prayer, Bible study, and spiritual growth.

A third lesson my father taught me comes straight from Scripture, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 ESV). I witnessed my father “do good” to the men who worked for him. I especially remember one hot summer day when he came home and took clothes and shoes from his closet and drawers and asked my mother what cooking items she could part with. When I asked Daddy what he was doing, he said, “The house of one of my men burned last night and he needs help.” Doubtless, that help also included financial assistance.

Following my father’s death, I heard many stories of ways he had helped others in need. His giving was practical, without fanfare, and service-oriented, like voluntarily re-screening a widow’s porch, or maintaining rental properties in town for missionary families overseas. Daddy’s heart for service taught me to notice needs and give graciously according to the ways God has blessed me.

Perhaps you do not have pleasant memories of your father or know him at all. If that is your experience, look to your Heavenly Father as your example for love, grace, forgiveness, and relationship.

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

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books),  When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back. Candy’s new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well, provides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: What lessons for life did your father teach you?

So Much to Live For

by Christina Rose

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV

When we have faith in Christ, we become a new creation, with hearts so filled with love that we feel called to share our blessings. We become a reflection of Christ who brings his Good News to the poor in spirit. Our desires begin to mirror his desires to spread His love throughout the world. Our deeds become a reflection of our hearts that are continually being transformed and renewed by God.

When my daughters left for college, life felt lonely, so I busied myself with finding a better job.  I prayed for a job close to home yet after months of searching, the only job offered to me was in San Francisco. This meant a three-hour round trip each day, which was challenging, but it was a beautiful office, and I enjoyed the daily ferry ride across the bay.

A few weeks after I accepted this first offer, I received a second offer just minutes from my home. I felt this was an answer to my prayers. I quit the first job and took the second offer. Within weeks, I knew I had made a serious mistake. The second offer close to home was a grueling sweatshop with constant overtime and explosive tempers.

One day, an attorney I worked for called me into his office.  He said, “I’ve just been fired, and I’ve been thinking about killing myself for a long time. When I do, I may as well take a lot of people out with me.”  I froze, yet had to think fast.  I knew I was on assignment and silently called for God’s help. I then stood up and commanded, “You’ll do no such thing! You’re going to dinner with me right now, and we’re going to talk you out of this nonsense. You have so much to live for.” 

This man had a 21-year-old daughter.  My father had taken his life when I was 21 over a despondent situation at work which devastated our family. I knew God was calling me to give this man the real deal of how hard his daughter’s life would be if he took his life and how much he would miss out on – weddings, grandkids, holidays. We sat at a restaurant talking for hours and I could sense he was starting to soften. He then lifted up his sleeve and showed me a tattoo, “Micah”, a prophet of the Old Testament whose name means “who is like God”.  I said, “You believed once, you can believe again – have faith.” He then made plans to move near his daughter and look for work there.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” ( Galatians 6:10 NIV).

The next day my daughters came home from college for the holidays.  I regretfully left for work, wishing I could stay home and spend time with them. When I arrived at work, I was given notice that I was being laid off with a full month of severance pay!  My co-workers were dumbfounded as I burst out laughing, “Wow, that’s awesome – Merry Christmas!”.  I had just been handed a month’s paid vacation with my daughters after completing God’s assignment.  Not only that, but the first job offered me my job back with a big raise which I gratefully accepted.

When God calls us to serve the task may not be easy, but he always equips us through the process and then shines his grace on us in gratitude. I went back to work in San Francisco. One evening we had a live hula show on the ferry while commuting home. A glorious sunset filled the sky as the sun set over the Golden Gate bridge. I watched the hula dancers gracefully swaying to the Hawaiian music and I then heard a whisper, “There is so much to live for.”

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV)

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

About 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. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, 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 is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God given you a hard assignment lately?

Accepting and Utilizing Your Gift

by Candy Arrington

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

Have you ever encountered someone who was hesitant to receive gifts? In my lifetime, I’ve known a few people who didn’t want to be given gifts. Initially, I thought being given a gift embarrassed them in some way, but later determined it was because they didn’t want to be obligated to the giver, feeling they had to repay in kind.

Years ago, my husband and I participated in an in-depth Bible study that included a spiritual gifts inventory. Not only did we each do a personal assessment, the group members also assessed each other. When I tallied my scores, and the highest was in the category of prophecy, I was upset. I was even more upset when everyone in the group also scored me in the prophecy category. When I heard the results, I looked around the room and said, “But I don’t want to be a prophet!”

The leader replied, “But you are. That is your gift. Receive it.”

Historically, prophets were unpopular. In Scripture, prophets were ostracized, criticized, and sometimes killed for delivering God-given messages.

Why couldn’t my spiritual gift be something happy and heartwarming like hospitality or mercy? Why was I given the un-fun, unwanted gift of prophecy?

At the time I took the inventory, I didn’t fully understand what the gift of prophecy meant. I envisioned standing in a group of people delivering messages about the future that no one wanted to hear. I didn’t realize God had other ways of using me to speak His messages.

Several years after I learned my gift, our group re-gathered for a retreat. Early the second morning, God woke me. Words swirled in my head, forming phrases. I got up and could hardly get my notebook and pen in hand fast enough to capture the sentences that were pouring from my mind.

Later, when I shared what I had written with the group, many asked for a copy of my words. That weekend, I began to realize how God planned to use my spiritual gift. I wasn’t supposed to forecast the future. Rather, I was called to write God-given words of hope, encouragement, and help for readers, right now.

Like me, perhaps you’ve been hesitant to use your spiritual gift. Maybe you don’t like your gift or feel uncomfortable accepting and implementing it. Don’t worry. The gift God gave you is uniquely designed for you. If you’re willing to accept it, God will equip you to utilize your gift for your benefit, the church’s benefit, and for his glory.

Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be use in the service of others. So use your gift well. 1 Peter 4:10 CEV

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

Candy Arrington

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: What is your calling?

The Science of the Servant-Leader

By Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who…by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity… Philippians 2:5-7 CSB

Did you ever get a note from your child’s school and secretly hope it was about anything but a project?

Minor behavior infraction. Please let it be a minor behavioral infraction.

Oh, that four-word note that casts dread deep into the heart of a parent: SCIENCE NOTEBOOK DUE MONDAY. Because bye-bye, weekend.

It’s funny how we try to convince ourselves that it’s NOT going to require more from parent than from child. Denial is interesting that way. I would eventually work through the stages and make it to acceptance. Acceptance that it’s a weekend of glue—and lots of it. And some researching, some clipping, some labeling and some Extra Strength Tylenol. Maybe also some crying. Not sure whose.

Those assignments do require much of us. But there’s a lovely science involved when we experiment, observe and conclude that in even the smallest life minutiae, as we lead responsibly, we’re teaching how to become responsible leaders. At the same time, as we serve well, we’re demonstrating how to be selfless servants.

How do we lead responsibly? The truth is, I can only lead well as I’m God-led.

How can we model servanthood? It’s an undeniable fact that I can only serve well as I’m God-empowered by my Servant-King.

Paul’s “schooling” in Philippians 2 has inspired and convicted me regularly since I was a teen (and working on my own science notebooks). “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” (vv. 3-4, CSB).

Everyone should look out not only for his own science notebooks…

I do think one of the best tests of how “servant-y” my heart is at any given moment is my willingness to lead in not expecting to be treated as a leader. By not insisting on status or recognition or payback or anything at all in return. By not asking for even a free weekend or an A+. The real question: Am I willing to serve when it’s probably going to cost me—even when it’s going to cost me deeply and dearly?

The next verses in that Philippians 2 passage reveal my assignment—my motivation and my empowerment. It’s all in Christ Jesus.

“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity” (Philippians 2:5-7 CSB). It was a servanthood that took a King all the way to a humiliating cross. And when I “adopt the same attitude,” and allow this glorious Servant-King to work in and out and through me, I can bypass the denial and the crying and any other misdirected response. Bye-bye, pride.

No hypothesis about it, in raising our kids, those times pride was in check, weekends were grand—project or no project. You should also know that I’m mostly kidding about the projects I did with my children. Because in the middle of a lot of tears, toil and Tylenol, we had concentrated time together on a project weekend we might not have had. In essence: Hello, weekend. We explored a sweet handful of topics together. I had five kids, so that does mean my fingers were a little bit glued together on a lot of Mondays. That’s okay. Especially since on that last science notebook, I got an A. I mean my son. My son got an A.

The Science of the Servant-Leader – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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 novel, Turtles in the Road, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. 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 lessons have you learned about leadership?

You’ve Been Served

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

If it hadn’t required law school and…you know…brains and whatnot, I would be a lawyer right now. Except I’d want to do it exclusively so I could someday say to a colleague, “See ya later, litigator!”

It’s all about the line! It’s probably just as well that I didn’t. For many reasons, yes, but also, some people might’ve considered it the wrong motivation for a career choice. But come on, the line! Plus, somewhere in the course of that long-term legal education I could’ve also used the line, “After while, legal file.” So—totally worth it.

The secret to motivating people. What is it? How many times do we offer forever-heaven-points, for instance, to get nursery workers? Or offer to wash people’s cars to get them to keep Sunday School records? Or pay for their kids’ to go to college, so they’ll help with the 7th grade boys’ sleep-over?

Guilting, bribing, manipulating, even brilliantly arguing that case…those don’t usually work for very long when we’re seeking to provoke people to serve. They don’t even work for me on myself.

Do you ever try to reason with your own motivation? “YEAHHHHH! I’m going to do that project right now! And clean my house! Do every piece of laundry! Paint the kids’ bedrooms! Paint the entire church fellowship hall!!”

Then, before you get to even the first project, your motivation sasses back to you, “Nah, just kidding, bro. What I meant was that I’m just gonna get on Facebook for an hour, and then take a little siesta.”

R.I.P., Motivation.

In Samuel’s final public speech—his “closing arguments,” as it were—he encourages his people: “Above all, fear the LORD and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you” (2 Samuel 12:24, CSB).

Anytime we’re interested in seeing motivation resurrected—our own or others’—considering our great God and all He’s done, is the perfect start. Real motivation to work/serve begins with an “all your heart” love for Him.

When people serve out of obligation, or feel used or manipulated, not only is the service half-hearted, but it’s not likely to continue very long. It’s exhausting, draining, often fruitless and can end in burnout.

Whole-hearted-service produces joy in jobs big and small. Our God notices that. “For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them” (Hebrews 6:10, CSB). The service described there grows out of love for the Lord—for His name. And it’s a service, implied by the last part of the verse, that keeps on giving.

As we focus on the amazingness of our infinite, all-knowing, all-loving God, who is worthy of our love and praise and service, that love and praise and service happens organically. He is our motivation, and it’s our joy. “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs” (Psalm 100:2, CSB).

So, we can weigh ourselves and others down with guilt and pressure. Or we can get free so that service is merely an overflow of joy-filled worship. You can’t even stop a worshipper from loving on those babies in the nursery or hanging out with 7th grade boys. They do it with dedication.

Not litigation.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.                                                                                                               Ephesians 3:17-19 NASB

You’ve Been Served – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: When have you found long-lasting motivation? What was it?

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.”

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?

Give Your Best

by Nan Corbitt Allen

A couple of generations ago, it wasn’t unusual that payment for goods and services was done in trade. In fact, I’ve heard that my grandfather, who was a pastor and a schoolteacher, occasionally got paid in chickens – live chickens. That tradition has pretty much since died out officially. (Now we have direct deposit and it would be hard to put live chickens into that scenario.)

However, several years ago, a pastor in Nova Scotia called us and asked for an accompaniment track to a song my husband and I had written. The man said that he led a small choir in a small church and that they didn’t have much money. My husband graciously offered to provide the track and told the pastor he’d send it at no charge.

The pastor was so grateful and humbled. He then explained that the church was in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia and that lobstering was their main source of income. That sounded interesting, and we could imagine that picturesque village with sounds of one of our songs being sung in the background. It was a humbling thought.

A couple of weeks later, a large package arrived at our door – a special delivery box from Canada that said “Live Lobsters” stamped on the outside. Yeah, we got paid in lobsters. We opened up the package that had been shipped in dry ice and found thirteen live, but a little weary, lobsters straight from the sea.

It was amazing! What a gift! We didn’t really know what to do: just how do you cook thirteen live lobsters anyway? We finally figured it out, extracted the meat, and froze it. Needless to say, we ate well for quite a while.

When I think back on that experience, I realize how important it is that we give the best that we have as offerings – the first fruits, if you will – to God, even if it means giving it to people in His name. I know He loves it when we do that, and this is how I know: King David had messed up – again. His subjects were being punished for something he did, and he asked God to ease up on the innocents and let him make atonement for his sin. God agreed.

David went to find a proper place to offer a sacrifice. There was a threshing floor nearby that would do just fine. As he was going to buy the threshing floor, the owner saw the king and his entourage on their way. The owner was humbled that the king would come to him, a mere servant. The man offered the king, not only the threshing floor at no cost, but his oxen and their yokes as wood for the fire – free of charge.

David could have accepted the offer and perhaps God would have accepted his sacrifice. Who knows? But David knew better. His absolute best was the only thing good enough. David’s answer to the guy always gets me. He said, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 2: 24 CSB).

We used to sing a hymn called “Give of Your Best to the Master.” The second verse goes like this:

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.

Anytime I think I can give an effort a “phone it in” – in my work or my service – I think of David, this old hymn, and how giving my best honors God. Then I start to crave seafood.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.  Colossians 3:17 NASB

Give Your Best – insight from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections, most of these works in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner for her musicals written with Dennis, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed across the U.S. and around the world. Throughout their writing careers together, Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan lives with her husband Dennis in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. Her literary works include two Christian novels and three nonfiction books. The Allens have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bible passages given throughout the book make this a book for all readers.

Join the conversation: What gets in the way of giving your best?

Sharing the Load: Now That’s Love!

by Deb DeArmond

“I can take care of your mom,” he said.

It took me by surprise—not because it was the first time Ron had offered his help, but because of the depth of care she now required. These were her final weeks. She was ready, unafraid. But my once fiercely independent mother now required support with even the simplest of life’s daily demands.

As a late-in-life baby, I learned to provide help to my aging parents as a pre-teen. The emergency room and ICU were familiar. I could recite medical histories for both parents by age 12 and knew what symptoms to watch for.

When Ron and I married, his caregiver education began. He learned about the world of late night calls and navigating hospital corridors, following ambulances to the ER and understanding how to interpret the ICU monitors. Ron was a rock and never complained. My mother loved him as if he was her own. It was a unique relationship.

When Dad died, he asked Ron to take care of “my Dottie.” Without hesitation, Ron promised he would. I’m certain he didn’t know at the time what that might require.

In the final weeks of her life, I struggled with caring for Mom and running my business. Yet, I wasn’t sure Ron would be able to step in as primary caregiver when he offered to do so.

“She needs help with everything, Ron,” I reminded him. “She needs to be fed, and she needs help in the bathroom. Can you do that?”

“I will if she’ll let me.”

My heart melted. “You know how I love your mom. I want to do this,” he said firmly.

His willingness to share this responsibility communicated his love for me as no bouquet of roses ever could. He offered practical assistance as he stepped in to honor mom and help her move from this life to the next. I can’t remember a time when I felt more cared for, more supported, more loved in my life. It changed how I saw him. It deepened my love for him in a way that’s impossible to describe.

We discussed it with Mom. Ron asked if she’d allow him to serve her when I was away. “I’m embarrassed to need the help,” she said, “but if you can live with it, son, so can I.” Never before, and rarely since, have I experienced the beauty of service as I did in that moment and in the coming days.

1 Peter 4:10 reminds us, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (NIV).

Some people have a gift for living out this Scripture. Others, myself included, have to work at it a bit more. It’s an awareness I am confronted with daily; there is no shortage of opportunities in my world. My plans for the day often come into direct conflict with my call to serve.

Yet service is essential if we are to emulate our Servant-Savior. Scripture is filled with this idea. For instance, in His Law (Deuteronomy 24), God charged His people to care for widows and orphans. Jesus instructed his disciples to serve the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, and the naked (Matthew 25:42-45). The Apostle Paul explained that our spiritual gifts are to be used to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). A servant attitude is integral to healthy Christian living.

I am privileged to live with a daily example of the word ‘servant.’ Ron became Jesus with skin on in Mom’s final weeks, his actions providing abundant evidence of his love for her.

And for me.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: What service have you received that has built you up in Christ?

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash