Seasons of Life, Jumping to Conclusions, and Worry

by Ava Pennington

When we relocated from the northeast to Florida, one of the things we missed the most was the change of seasons. Native Floridians quickly advised us that, instead of winter, spring, summer, and fall, our seasons are snowbird, love bug, summer, and hurricane.

While the calendar tells us March 20th is the first day of spring, depending on where you live, your weather may not get the message. Like me, you may have to look for signs of spring in other ways.

One of those ways appeared in my own backyard a few days ago.

We have a pair of sandhill cranes who frequent our backyard. They must have a nest nearby, although I haven’t been able to locate it. A couple of months ago I was heartbroken to see one of the cranes without his mate. Sandhill cranes mate for life, so I grieved for this majestic bird and hoped the missing crane was only tending her nest.

She was. This week, we saw the whole family foraging for food: daddy, mommy, and two precious sandhill crane chicks that appeared to be balls of fluff with legs.

When I first noticed the single crane, I had assumed the worst, that his mate had died, and he would be alone for the rest of his life.

Why do we do that? Why do we jump to conclusions and assume terrible things before gathering all the facts? We allow ourselves to become anxious over what appears to have occurred, only to discover they have not happened. In the end, we prove the adage by author David Mamet, “Worry is the interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes due.”

I know better, yet I can fall back into old patterns of behavior. Uncertainty is an opportunity to trust my heavenly Father. But my actions don’t always reflect what I claim to believe. I need to be reminded of rock-solid truth when the future appears to be sinking sand.

The Bible has much to say on this subject. Perhaps these verses will be as helpful to you as they are to me: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

Good words. But if they are to help me, I must do more than just read them. I need to own them. Remind myself of them daily. Process them so my understanding and application is more than a mere academic exercise. I need to live them.

It’s not always easy. And I expect there will be times I’ll regress. Still, I’m grateful my heavenly Father does not give up on me. He provides reminders that during seasons of change I don’t need to jump to conclusions or expect the worst. His Holy Spirit encourages me so that I don’t have to respond to uncertainty with worry.

And, occasionally, He sends me a family of sandhill cranes to remind me that He’s still in control.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. –Matthew 6:33-34 ESV

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

About the Author: Ava Pennington is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher. She’s also a freelance editor, and a certified coach for writers and speakers, and she teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. Ava is the author of Reflections on the Names of God: 180 Devotions to Know God More Fully (Revell Books, 2022), an abridged gift book edition of the one-year devotional, Daily Reflections on the Names of God. Three devotions for each name/attribute explore who God is, and how this changes us and our relationships. Visit her at www.AvaPennington.com to learn more.

Join the conversation: How do you handle uncertainty?

Three Steps Ahead

by Doris Hoover

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Luke 12:25 NIV) I know I can’t.

Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:26) That’s a good question.

You’d think I’d learn, but at times, I still churn with worry. The Lord has to continually teach me the same lesson over and over.

God is always three steps ahead of me in His teaching. He knows how my mind works, so He teaches me lessons in advance. Then when my worry flares up, He reminds me of what He just taught me.

I write devotions, and I’ve learned that almost every devotional I write is first a lesson for me. I recently wrote about a tranquil sunset being God’s reminder that we can sleep without worry. The Creator of sunsets has the ability to attend to all the details of our concerns, so we can relax into a peaceful night’s rest.

Two nights after writing that message, I tossed and turned with anxiety until I recalled the devotion and the Scriptures about worry. The Lord had prepared that lesson in advance because He knew I’d need it.

My worries stemmed from a long-awaited prayer request. My husband and I had been searching for a small Class C motor coach. The kind we wanted was so scarce, that as soon as one appeared online, it sold immediately. We were giving up hope of ever finding one when God placed one in our path. It was parked directly across from our car in an event parking lot. We happened to be the first people to call about it. While we waited for the owner to arrive, several other people showed interest in it.

We didn’t have cash for a down payment. and it was Saturday of a holiday weekend. Banks wouldn’t open until Tuesday. We had to go to a local Publix supermarket and make four separate purchases in order to get enough cash back to seal the deal.

Then more complications arose. The seller was co-owner with her cousin, who was recently deceased. The seller couldn’t afford the loan payments on her own. But the title couldn’t be released until the loan was paid off. After consulting with numerous agencies, we realized the only way to move forward would be for us to pay the loan and wait until Motor Vehicle processed the clear title. That was the source of my anxiety.

But God was three steps ahead. Once we wired funds for the loan, our bank wrote a letter that DMV would accept. They gave us a temporary title which allowed us to take possession of the rig.

Not only was God three steps ahead in answering our prayers, He was three steps ahead in answering the seller’s prayer for financial relief. The transaction blessed both parties.

Are you worrying about a matter? I encourage you to trust God with your concerns. He is already three steps ahead.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 GNT)

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

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Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: How does God’s unrelenting grace impact your life?

4 Reasons We Still Worry

by Cindi McMenamin

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

Let’s admit it. We know we’re not supposed to worry and yet we do. We worry about finances, our health, and the health of those we love. We worry about what’s already happened and about what hasn’t yet taken place.

There’s a myriad of reasons why we shouldn’t worry. Worry causes stress which prematurely ages us, gives us wrinkles, and wreaks havoc on our health. Worry negatively affects our relationships with others who don’t want to be around a worry wart.

But what if I told you the real reasons you and I worry have more to do with our relationship with God than the people and situations we’re worried about? The reasons you worry probably aren’t the reasons you’re thinking, but as soon as you know them, you may be able to convince yourself to stop.

Here are four primary reasons you and I worry and how to stop it right now.

1. We worry because we forget God is all-powerful.

We worry because we forget about God’s power. We forget what He’s capable of and we start to believe we must take care of things ourselves. We start panicking that we’re on our own, and we might not be able to handle it. You know what? We can’t handle it. It’s why we need Him. God wants us to realize and admit our weakness so He can be strong on our behalf.

God often wants to do through us, what is beyond us. So when you’re faced with a situation in which you feel weak or powerless, rather than worry, call upon the Only One who take care of the situation. His power is available to you for the asking. James 4:10 says: “ Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

2. We worry because we’ve forgotten His presence.

One of the first things that causes us to worry is the fear that we are alone. But when we do that, we’ve clearly forgotten God’s presence – that He’s right here with us, going before us, walking alongside us, and watching our backs.

In Psalm 139:7 David asks “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee your presence?” And then he answers his question by explaining the staying power of God’s presence. Read it. Highlight it. Believe it. And ask for God’s power to live it.  When you’re tempted to fret that you are alone in your worrisome situation, remember His presence. And start talking to Him as if He’s right here. Because He is.

3. We worry because we try to control our lives and the lives of others.

It is in our human nature to try to control our lives and the lives of everyone else around us.  We believe, at times, that it’s up to us to right all wrongs and fix all things broken. But only God can restore the broken, heal the hurting, and bring ultimate justice.

After a season of life in which he was convinced he had no control over what God had clearly allowed, Job said: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (42:1). And in case God’s people became prideful and started to think their victories were at their own hands, the Psalmist corrected them when he sang: “It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them” (Psalm 44:3 NIV). 

Worry dissolves as you surrender to God and admit you are not in control of anything– He is.

4. We worry because we don’t really believe God is good.

God is good … all the time. As the perfect parent, He wants only the best for His children (Matthew 7:11). God is good because He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). So trust His goodness. He wants for you what will shape you for eternity. That means you don’t need to worry about what happens around you. Nothing can come close to you that hasn’t first passed through His loving hands (Romans 8:38-39).

Can you surrender your worries to the Only One who can work all things out according to His good and perfect plan?

For help battling the worry bug, see Cindi’s books, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, and Women on the Edge.

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

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 150,000 copies sold),  Find out more about her speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.  

Every woman, at one time or another, has felt as if she’s “on the edge.” She has felt unappreciated, unsupported, and weary. Such frustration can drive her away from God or toward Him. In Women on the Edge, Cindi shares how women can thrive even in the hard times and learn to live with joy, as they pursue God in exciting new ways.

Join the conversation: Can you find the reason you are worried right now in the article above?

Packing for the Journey

by Virginia Grounds

And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money, and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.”  Luke 9:3 NKJV (emphasis added)

Summertime – my favorite time of year. It is a time for break from the everyday routine. For many, it is a time for vacation, fun, relaxation, and family gatherings.

Summertime is also a time of church mission trips and conferences. Packing for a mission trip can be a challenge, as there are normally limits on how much luggage you can take. How to squeeze a change of clothes for each day into one small bag is an interesting experience. And we cannot forget about all the incidentals including mission gifts.

Several years ago, I went on mission to El Salvador. The message God gave me to the women there was about the rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ. I had this great idea to take some polished rocks and markers for each woman to write the scripture reference on that most spoke to them through the message. When we arrived at the airport, my luggage was overweight. I had to open it right there at the check-in counter with the eleven other women around me and distribute bags of rocks to each one. How embarrassing! From this experience I learned an important lesson. What we take is not important; the message and the mission is our purpose.

When Jesus sent His twelve disciples out on mission, His instruction for their travel was quite different than what we are inclined to do as we prepare to travel. He told them to “take nothing for the journey”, not even a change of clothing! They were not to take a suitcase, food, or money. Can you even imagine leaving on a mission trip with only the clothes you are wearing?

No purse full of stuff, ladies. No briefcase of work to do as you travel, or technology. No snacks. No cellphone. Nothing.

As I read the Scripture, I thought perhaps the journey was a short one, and they would not need provision. However, the words of Jesus dispute that claim by showing their need for housing. Therefore, I believe the message Jesus is teaching them is to trust God to provide as they carry out the mission for which they are sent. A change of clothes for everyday is not to be the focus. Worrying about food and housing was not to be the focus. Their mission was to preach the kingdom of God for salvation to all who would hear. Jesus would inspire others to house and feed them. The disciples were to be dependent on God to provide.

The Lord, who knows all things, sent them out knowing that provisions would be made for them, as they obeyed what was asked of them. He had given them the power to do so. When Jesus empowers and we respond, He provides. That is a trust building truth you can count on.

When it seems the provisions in your life journey are not what you wanted or hoped they would be, Jesus provides what is needed. He tells us in Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV) not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. Just take care of today for tomorrow will worry about its own things.

He applied this same message to sending the disciples on mission, and it applies to our lives as well. Focus on the moment. Don’t worry about what will take place there, just do what we are sent to do. Trust God to provide.

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

About the author: Virginia Grounds is a speaker, author, Bible Teacher, former radio host, and effective communicator. Her love for women’s ministry and passion for God’s Word have been an important part of serving for more than 30 years in ministry in one of the largest churches in America. Virginia served with her husband in full-time ministry

Rock Solid Trust: Trusting God When Life Is Hard by [Virginia Grounds]

helping to meet the needs of hurting people. This motivated her to write her first book, Facing Fears, Quenching Flames, a devotional book for overcoming fear and anger.

Virginia writes to grow women in their faith and teach life lessons for survival in today’s world. She is married with three adult children and grandchildren. Her ministry website is majesticinspirations.com.

Join the conversation: What do you prioritize when preparing for a trip?

Follow Andrew to Freedom

by Deb Hackett

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). John 1:42 NIV

I remember when I was offered writing mentorship. I was at lunch with a friend, and we were working on an upcoming presentation she was giving. Once we finished, it happened. She looked across the table at me. and I got that feeling. You know the one. That feeling. Halfway between nauseous, rabbit in headlights, and so excited you can’t sit still. The spirit was up to something.

“Tell me again what you write?” she asked sweetly, and sipped on her coffee. I politely explained that I was working on a contemporary romance. She expressed disbelief at not knowing my genre. But I’d been deliberate about that. I didn’t want to be ‘that friend’ who always had writing questions. It seems the Lord had other plans.

And so, a day later she was yelling down the phone at me to send her the chapters while I resisted. What I actually wanted to do was completely rearrange the refrigerator, closets, garage, hide under my desk, and throw up.

Have you ever been in that position? Where you’ve been working at a dream, maybe for years, and at the first sign of forward movement you want to run in the other direction? Perhaps you’ve been asked to serve in a particular ministry or offered a new role at work. Then on the eve of fruition, you’re too scared to act.

Or how about this, you take the opportunity, only to be assaulted by crippling doubt. I was privileged to serve on my previous church’s worship team for six years. But even into year six, I battled the voice that whispered I wasn’t good enough, and routinely fought the urge to quit, despite loving the people and the role.

Andrew was the first disciple to be called by Jesus. (Some accounts have him recruited with Simon, but John’s Gospel says Andrew was first). What did Andrew do next? He went and got his brother and brought him to Christ (John 1:40-42). Then a little later in Scripture, some Gentiles come to see Jesus. They approach Philip, but instead of Philip taking them to Jesus, he talks to Andrew, and then they both introduce the visitors to the Lord (John 12:20-23).

In a third instance, Jesus has been preaching to thousands of people, it’s late, and folks are getting hungry. The disciples suggest he send the crowd away, but Jesus tasks them with finding food for them. They are nonplussed. Andrew comes across a small boy, who had five loaves of bread and two fish. Without hesitation, Andrew does what has by now, I think, become second nature. He brings the boy to Jesus. And the rest, is one of the most beloved Bible stories of all time (John 6:1-14).

What we don’t see in any of these events is Andrew second guessing. He doesn’t second guess what he’s got to offer, he doesn’t second guess what people will think, and at no point do we see him worrying about what will happen next.

Andrew knew. He knew two vitally important things. One, that Jesus loved him completely for who he was. And two, that all he was called to do, was what he was called to do. What happened after that wasn’t on him. We never see Andrew worry about the result of his actions.

Imagine if we practiced that discipline. If we took the talent we’ve been given, used it the way we were called to, and did so without being paralyzed by what the outcome might be. It’s our job to bring the offering, and the Lord’s to use it in His way.

Allow that truth to seep into your heart and live free, because Christ has set you free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 1:5 NIV

About the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives in England with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What paralyzes you?

Changing of the Guard

by Michele McCarthy

The ambulance was already headed to the hospital when he called me. He pressed me to go get his car. Only dad would be more concerned about his car than the fact he was in an ambulance. I assured him I’d retrieve his car, but right now I needed to know the hospital to which he was headed and why. He told me he’d fallen at a restaurant, and when he saw the angle of his foot, he knew something was broken.

An unexpected call from your elderly dad from within an ambulance is a tad unnerving! Yet I felt the peace of God settle over me. We had grandbabies for the weekend. My husband took over their care as I punched my sister’s number and headed out the door. Even as I drove to him,  I prayed for Dad’s healing and cast my cares on the Lord.

Dad had fractured his hip, and surgery was scheduled for the next day. His surgery went well. But the medicines wreaked havoc on a man of 89, who rarely took a pill his entire life. From his recovery forward, he had fits at night, believed he was being held captive, and was tormented with foot cramps.

During his eight days in the hospital and three weeks in rehab, he only managed to take a few steps. Progress hadn’t come as we thought it would.

In a matter of minutes on that fateful day, I had been thrust into being responsible for the man who parented me well. The changing of the guard. Roll reversal. My highly active, rental-property-working dad needed significant help. It is a situation most of us will face at some point in our lives, but not easy for either party. I was determined to remain a child who honors her parent.

Since he wasn’t walking yet, after rehab, we transferred him to an assisted living facility. His mind never seemed to recover from the trauma or the meds. He talked of his childhood hometown and a Mexico work facility. He thought he saw his great grandmother and wanted to introduce my grown boys to their great, great, great grandmother.

He hadn’t been there but a few weeks, when I felt the Lord tell me to bring him back to his home. The calm and peace I felt assured me it was the right decision. After phone calls, meetings, and paperwork, we brought him back to his freshly scrubbed, rearranged, and restocked house. Happy to be back in familiar territory and in his own chair, he seemed like he was on the road to recovery. He was less confused and making progress.

Everyone faces the unexpected. Many face far worse than an elderly parent’s broken hip. In fact, we are promised there will be troubles in this life. But when we put our trust in God, when we trade our yoke for the one Jesus gives, we find rest (Matthew 11:28). Fear and worry have no place in a heart that trusts God.

Before I understood my identity in Christ, my full inheritance, and the abundance of His love and goodness toward me, finding rest and peace felt elusive. They felt more like a denial of reality. But now peace is a place where I dwell—anywhere and anytime. Like Jesus, I can sleep through the storm and proclaim, “I trust you Jesus for direction and answers. Thank you for the good You will bring out of this situation.”

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NASB

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

michele mccarthy

About the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

In Michele’s new book Aunt Ida Clare, Rosalina is not quite sure what to think of their new babysitter. Aunt Ida is quite the sight. Rosalina’s Daddy calls her flamboyant. Aunt Ida Clare shares the purpose behind speaking life-giving words to an unsuspecting brother and sister. She is positively the best thing to happen to these impressionable children.

Join the conversation: Have you learned to trust God in other kinds of trying situations?

Giving God My Anxiety

by Cindi McMenamin

There was much on my mind and I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing through all that had happened that day, all that I needed to do the next day, and all the possibilities of what might happen if I couldn’t get it all done.

I got out of bed, grabbed my Bible off of my nightstand, and went into the other room, where I turned on the light, so I wouldn’t disturb my sleeping husband.

I turned to the Psalms because I remembered they were songs of human emotions written by songwriters who felt many of the same things I do. Did they ever worry? Did they experience sleepless nights? Did they understand worry and even bouts of anxiety?

As I searched through the songs in Scripture that night, I learned that those songwriters indeed experienced anxiety and worries. But instead of lying awake at night, trying to work through their concerns, they recounted Who God is and applied it to their situations. I learned from them that:

  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation” and the “stronghold of my life.” Therefore, whom or what should I fear? (Psalm 27:1 CSB).
  • “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them” (Psalm 34:7 CSB), so I can sleep, knowing I’m in His protection.
  • As I “take delight in the Lord,” He will give me my heart’s desires. As I commit my way to Him and trust in Him, He will act (Psalm 37:4-5 CSB).
  • Although there are uncertainties in this world and everything is constantly changing, He is my “rock of refuge…where I can always go” (Psalm 71:3 CSB).
  • I can rest and trust that the Lord will accomplish what concerns me (Psalm 138:8 CSB).
  • In vain I rise up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food and work everything out because He gives such things to His beloved in their sleep (Psalm 127:1-2 CSB).

With those comforting truths, I was able to return to bed and sleep soundly, knowing my Heavenly Father is the One who “gives sleep to the one he loves” (Psalm 127:2 CSB). God already knows what’s on my mind, but as I give it to Him each night before laying my head on my pillow, I can be certain His peace will not only guard my heart and mind, it will help me sleep better, too.

What tends to keep you awake at night? Is it something God can take care of? Give it to Him daily so you aren’t carrying the burden yourself. Psalm 4:8 CSB assures us: “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety.”  

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

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and the author of 17 books. For more on sensing God’s presence and listening for His voice, see her books: God’s Whispers to a Woman’s HeartLetting God Meet Your Emotional Needsand When Women Long for Rest. You can find out more about Cindi’s speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and resources to help you grow in your walk with God, your marriage, and your parenting at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What keeps you up at night?

Let’s Play “Name That Problem”!

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Mark 5:15 ESV

From a human perspective, facing thousands of demons controlling one man would propel us to run the other way screaming in terror. But in the story of the demonized man living in the tombs, Jesus calmly, confidently and accurately responds to this man … repeatedly.

That’s what surprises us. We aren’t surprised Jesus tells the demons, “come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” (Mark 5:8 ESV). What surprises us is that the demons didn’t leave immediately until Jesus asks, “What is your name?”

The reply? “My name is Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5:9 ESV).

In the Roman army, a legion can have 6,000 men or more. Since we know the outcast demons inhabit over 2,000 pigs, we know there are indeed many of them.

The verb tense used in the story suggests Jesus “was saying” for the demon to leave, indicating ongoing instruction. We don’t know why the spirits don’t leave immediately but we can surely relate.

When you and I are bombarded with an ongoing problem, we might begin to think God’s power has been depleted or He’s waiting around for replenishment. Of course, in our minds we know that’s not true, but our hearts are impatient, and we begin to feel hopeless and overwhelmed. That’s when we need to remember what Jesus did… Jesus asks for the demon’s name.

I remember a time in my life when I felt like I couldn’t begin to name all the problems I faced. Yet during prayer, I felt led to begin writing them down. I began and then couldn’t think of that many. “But God, I feel like there are so many, yet I can only identify five.” Once I’d written down the five and put them on the altar before the Lord, they didn’t seem as paralyzing. I was shocked.

Sometimes we need to play “Name That Problem!” Worry often overwhelms us because the swirl of uncertainty, panic, and helplessness is unidentified. We need to clarify what is bothering us by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the lies we are believing about the problem and then counter it with who God is. Then we can combat the lie by identifying the characteristic of Jesus’s nature which will strengthen us to trust him.

We can remind ourselves Jesus is faithful, powerful, wise, attentive…so many to choose from.

As we think back to the story, the air is filled with tension and people’s doubts. (Sound familiar?) Then the impossible occurs. The man is delivered! Even though the townspeople have tried to contain this dangerous man with chains and shackles that have proved powerless, Jesus persists and overcomes the demon with the intimidating “name.”

Throughout all of this, Jesus doesn’t have a single moment of confusion, doubt, or troubling thought, even when the demons resisted Him.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, identify the problem(s) and the lies bolstering the panic. Call upon the ultimate Name of all Names, your Lord Jesus Christ. Whether you have one problem or a “legion,” they can be brought into submission, like the demon-possessed man, “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15 ESV).

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to share the truths of Scripture with practical insights giving glory to God. She is the author of over 55 books and a speaker who has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US states. One of her many books is

Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries. She married her high school sweetheart, Larry, in 1970, and they have two children and two grandchildren, and live in Southern California. Kathy and Larry often minister together in their writing and speaking. Reach her: https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What lies about your situation have you believed in the past?

The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30 NLT

Four baby barn swallows peered over the edge of the mud nest on a wall in a corner of our patio, eagerly waiting for their mother to return with breakfast. I had a really good view of the feathered family from my bedroom window. “This is going to be great,” I thought. “I can watch them grow, learn to fly, and leave the nest.” Like my own empty nest, the experience would be bittersweet, but exciting.

Then I remembered the beast. Our ninety-pound yellow lab dominates the back yard. Did the baby birds have a chance against a dog that pulls trees up by the roots? Maybe it would be better for the babies to never leave the nest. The mama bird could continue to feed them. Of course, the daddy bird would have to build an addition to the nest…

Two days later I stood at the bedroom window again. One baby clung to the edge of the nest and one was perched beside it on a brick that jutted out from the wall. It was time for flying lessons! Mother Swallow called to them from atop a blade of the patio ceiling fan about five feet away.

The beast lay on his side by the back door seemingly unaware of the unfolding drama. The baby on the brick hopped off into space, untested wings flapping. He dipped low, coming within eighteen inches of the ground. I held my breath. The beast slept on. Then the baby’s wings caught air, and he awkwardly joined his mother on the fan blade. Whew! One down, three to go.

Within a few days, all four baby birds had successfully learned to fly. At first they only flew to the ceiling fan, then back to the nest. As the days went by, they became a little more adventurous, visiting the roof and the large tree beyond the patio. Then one day they were gone. The nest stayed empty. Their mother had done her job, and they were on their own.

All three of our babies have tried their wings and left the nest. Even now, I worry about what could happen to them outside the nest. Will they watch out for those “big yellow labs?”

Now more than ever, this world is filled with things we could worry about. Most of which we have absolutely no control over. But the glorious thing is, I know someone who has full control, absolute sovereignty. The Creator is still and forever on His throne.

As Jesus reminded us in Matthew, nothing happens to a single sparrow without God’s knowledge. If He cares that much for a sparrow, how much more does He care for my children? For yours? They are worth more than many sparrows.

Summer is a time of transition. It’s filled with transitions like graduations and children planning to leave the nest. Give your worry to God and cling to His promises. Then watch from the fan blade with squawks of encouragement.

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The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest – encouragement from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy Howard

About the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Is there a transition going on in your life? How are you doing with it?

Look Up, Child!

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head.                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 3:3 NASB

I was having trouble sleeping at night. Over the past several weeks, the world had become a very dark place. Headlines continually warned of thousands dying and the crumbling economy. Anger aimed from one side of the related issues toward the other was rampant all over the internet. How would this all end?

At one point in his life, King David struggled with grim circumstances. His son, Absalom, had staged a coup in an effort to take the throne. He’d rallied tens of thousands of citizens to his support and was now a viable threat to David’s reign and life.

Upon hearing the news, David gathered his household and fled the city. Among them were the Levites, carrying the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle.

When they came to the natural border at the Brook Kidron, David sent the Ark back into the city. The rest of the group passed over the water and started up the mountainside on their way to the wilderness, where they would go into hiding and wait for word from sympathizers remaining behind.

Upon seeing David’s entourage pass by, a man named Shemei came out of his house, shouting curses and throwing stones in disgust. “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless scum! The Lord has returned on you all of the bloodshed you caused the house of Saul and has given the kingdom into the hand of your son. You are only getting what you deserve!” (my paraphrase of 2 Samuel 16:7-8).

David no longer had the Ark, the physical representation of the presence of the Lord.  The malevolence of his son (whom he still loved), the rejection of his countrymen, and the loss of his throne was completely devastating. David and his entourage wept in despair as they continued to trudge up the mountainside, with heads covered and feet bare.

He was sick with grief and fear. In desperation, he called out to God with Psalm 3. “O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:1-3 NASB)

As David looked around at ground level, there was no hope to be found. His adversaries were increasing. People were saying that God was not on David’s side. But that was only what David could see. So he called to the Lifter of his head.

In response, God lifted David’s gaze to the many times He had previously come through for David. Many times in the wilderness, God had protected him from King Saul, who sought to destroy him. He’d rescued David from invading enemies during his reign as king.

it was a needed reminder: God blesses the people who take refuge in Him.

As David raised his gaze, he also remembered the character and power of God. With that reassurance, he then knew there was no reason to doubt God now. So on that terrible night, as he lay down his head, David was able to sleep in peace.

As I struggled to sleep, I thought about Psalm 3. I decided to make a list of the things I continued to fret over while in quarantine, things I had not yet surrendered to God. When I did, I found every item on my list of concerns was fear-based: insecurity about family members and their situations, money issues, concern about the future of our country and way of life. How could I let it all go?

I needed to appeal to the lifter of my head. And put my gaze where it belonged. Not on what I could see, but on the unseen powerful and merciful God.

What is keeping you up at night? Covid-19 fears? Insecurity about your financial future? Concern for the health and safety of your loved ones? What do you think the Lord would say to you?

Look up, child. When we look up, we remember what’s temporary and what eternal glory we will one day see. We remember a God who is powerful, working every situation to further His plan for the world. We remember the big picture.

We don’t need to fear. We just need to keep looking up.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB 

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Look Up, Child! – encouragement when life is hard from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What is weighing you down today?