Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Worship


Everyday Worship
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“… But the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool. What sort of house will you build for me? says the Lord, or what will be my resting place?” 
–Acts 7:48-49 (CSB)

The word “sanctuary” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the most sacred part of a religious building” or “the room in which general worship services are held” or “a place (such as a church or a temple) for worship.” We may hear church sanctuaries referred to as “houses of worship” as that is where we expect to go to honor the Lord through song and prayer. But is that the only place where worship can take place?

When you think of worship, what setting comes to mind? Are you in a majestic cathedral with a massive pipe organ? Maybe you are in a little country church with wooden pews? Or are you standing in a homeless shelter serving soup to hungry families?

Worshipping the Lord is not confined to the four walls of a church building. It can happen as you are standing at the kitchen sink washing dirty dishes, or in the quiet of the night while feeding and soothing a hungry infant, or when hammering the shingles on the roof of a “Habitat for Humanity” project. According to Mark 10:45, we are called not to be served but to serve. This is not meant to be obligatory service but rather should be a deep-down-from-the-heart prayerful outreach.

What does this kind of worship look like? Envision it as embracing interruptions in our day when an opportunity to serve presents itself. See it as bravely praying God would send someone our way who we can share His love with. Picture it as asking Him to reveal opportunities to worship Him through service—service that helps us embrace the uncomfortable and not shy away from that call due to fear of the unknown. Believe that it is connecting to God in the whole of our daily life.

Worship is showing reverence and adoration for God. When we reach out to serve others, we are demonstrating our love for Him in a very tangible, practical way. In John 13, we read how Jesus modeled servant behavior by washing the dirty feet of His disciples. Note Jesus’s words in John 13:16-17 (CSB): “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

The idea of worshiping God throughout the week might feel somewhat intimidating as I suspect it is easier to think of worship as something we do for an hour a week within the four walls of our church buildings. But consider how we can honor God by the way we act among our families, friends, and co-workers—how we can worship Him through offering every action to Him. Billy Graham said: “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.” Let us praise God today by seeking out opportunities to serve others.

In closing, I’d like for you to listen to this song “Heart of Worship” by Hillsong United.

Let’s Pray:
Help us, Father God, to find ways to worship you in our daily activities…from caring for our own families to reaching out to those in need. May we learn to worship you each moment of every day. Teach us to see our whole lives as one great worship service, in which we honor you through every word, every thought, every deed. Open our eyes to those in need of your love. Show us ways to serve in the same manner as Jesus served. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Learning to read as a young child opened a world of adventure for Kay Pflueger. She came to realize that words can have a unique power and beauty.  


Choosing to share those words in her devotional writings has become a joyful and rewarding experience for her. As a widow, she feels a special affinity towards those who are grieving or experiencing loss.

When she is not spending time with her married son and three grandchildren, she is either reading, cooking, writing, or working on pursuing her Copyediting Certification.

Kay is an avid baseball fan who looks forward every summer to following her favorite team, the Chicago Cubs. 

Kay is an active member of Victory Lutheran Church in her hometown of San Diego, California. 

She enjoys writing devotions to be shared on her church’s website and personal social media.

~*~
Connect with Kay:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kay.m.pflueger
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/irishsweetpea/

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Romantic Reads: Imperfect Justice


The Story Behind Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman:

When I envisioned the Hidden Justice series, I knew that each of the women in the cohort of four would get their own story, but I didn’t know exactly what those stories would be. 

Hayden’s Beyond Justice became based on juvenile immigration issues.

Then I turned to Emilie, Hayden’s roommate, and started thinking about issues I’m passionate about and would resonate with who she is. I was sitting in Siena at our apartment (I was teaching there for Purdue) and saw a headline about a domestic violence situation in RomHouston and my mind began to spin what ifs. Emilie’s story, Imperfect Justice, was born.

Because of my work with a local domestic violence shelter, this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Add in experiences walking a friend and relative through similar situations, and I know how real domestic violence is and also firmly believe we need more empathy and understanding. Add in two compelling leads and I love this story.

Emilie Wesley is an attorney and part-time journalist who’s lost her superpower of words.

Reid Billings is alone and wondering if he wants to stay that way.

~*~
Book blurb for Imperfect Justice:

The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they? 


To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police.

Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

~*~
Author Bio: 

Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, was history. 

There she met a fellow Indiana writer Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara’s been writing award-winning books. She is currently writing book 35 and dreaming up future books, not hard when she sees what-ifs everywhere.

Cara Putman is an active member of ACFW and gives back to the writing community through her service on Executive Board. She has also been the Indiana ACFW chapter president and served as the Area Coordinator for Indiana.

Cara is also an attorney, full-time lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women's ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is.

She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!), George Mason Law School, and Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management.

You can learn more about Cara at www.caraputman.com.

~*~
Buy Cara’s book:
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ CBD ~ Target ~ Walmart ~ Cara’s website

~*~
Connect with Cara:
Website: http://caraputman.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cara_putman
Facebook: http://facebook.com/cara.putman
Instagram: http://instagram.com/caracputman
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cara-putman
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/939004.Cara_C_Putman

Monday, May 10, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Discipleship


Delving into Discipleship
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19 (NLT)

Maybe you’ve seen the adorable video online that opens with an adorable puppy, Daisy, at the top of a flight of stairs. She is scared and apprehensive about going down the stairs.

Despite the encouragement of its owner, this sweet puppy paces across the landing anxiously, unsure of itself. Her whimpers of fear squeak out and this fear keeps her at the top, desperately wanting to join her owner at the bottom of the stairs yet not ready to tackle the mountain of stairs before her. Next thing you know, her older canine brother Simon runs to join her at the top and then bounds back down the stairs, showing her how easy it is. Yet, Daisy still isn’t brave enough to take the steps needed. Her brother runs back to the top of the stairs to show her again. This time, he waits until she takes her two front paws and places them both solidly on the first step. Then he runs down the steps again to show his sweet sister how to take the next steps.

Daisy remains at the top of the stairs, awkwardly paralyzed with her two front paws on the first step and her two back paws still safely planted on the landing. Simon comes back up the stairs and stands in front of her, staring her in the eyes as if to say, “Keep your eyes on me. I’ve got you.” Daisy turns her head and looks back, contemplating just going back to what’s familiar, the safety of the landing. And then she steps back up, just not ready to move forward. Simon bounds back up to the landing with her, not willing to leave her there. After a few more ups and downs, little Daisy finally dares to take one step, then the next, then the next. Simon stays by her side until she is all the way down, and cheering ensues from her family waiting at the bottom for her.

When I first became a Christian I felt a bit like Daisy – scared and unsure of taking steps away from what was familiar. It made no difference how messed up my “familiar” was; it was my comfort zone and I had learned how to survive in it. But God didn’t create us to remain in our comfort zone and He certainly didn’t save us to just survive. His goal is for us to thrive, to give us “more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), “to prosper us and not to harm us” (Jeremiah 29:11). But how was that going to happen for this newly-saved babe in Christ?

While we are guaranteed the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, it helps. But let’s face it, it’s a must to also have fellow Christians to share our walk of faith with. That’s where you and I come in. At some point we were all a Daisy. But God wants and expects us to move into the role of Simon at some point. We need to be an encourager and leader and show a new believer how to take their first steps down the road of faith. We should “think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

Matthew 28:19 tells us to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” The dictionary defines “disciple” as “a follower or a student of a teacher or leader”. When we put our faith in Jesus, we are saved; but to become His disciple we need to start following His example and studying His teaching. Matthew 28 continues on in verse 20 to encourage us to “teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you”. While we are to introduce unbelievers to Jesus, we are also called to link arms with new believers and help them to take their first steps on their faith journey. In fact, we may have to walk with them for a few months or even years until they are ready to walk on their own. Then they too can move from being a Daisy to a Simon.

Where are you in your faith journey? Are you a Daisy – stepping gingerly into your newfound faith? Do you have a Simon in your life – a Christian mentor who can show you what steps to take and how and when to take them? If you need a mentor, start praying and ask God to reveal who that might be for you. Or have you moved out of your Daisy phase and are now ready to become a Simon to someone?

Can you think of someone in your life that needs to meet Jesus? Invite them to church with you. Do you know a new believer who might not yet have a mentor? Consult God and ask if you might be the one He has in mind to step into that role. No matter what stage you find yourself in, you have a role to play and a purpose to fulfill. Doing your part for God’s Kingdom will help others do theirs. And in this way we live out being the body of Christ!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, help us to remember that our primary call while on Earth is to lead others to you and then help them take steps forward in their faith. As followers of Jesus, let us live our lives in a way that makes you attractive to others (Titus 2:10), giving them a desire to get to know you. May the example we set always demonstrate the love and grace that you freely extend and lead others to a deeper, more personal relationship with you. In Jesus’s mighty name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Cyndi Staudt is a Jesus-loving, adrenaline junkie who is devoted to living her life for Jesus Christ until the day she is living with Him.  

With a passion for cultivating a craving for God’s Word, her devotions and Bible studies are saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways.

Through her writing she hopes to ignite your desire to read God’s Word, invite your heart to experience God’s love, and inspire you to live your live life “souled out” to the One whose love has no limits.

~*~
Connect with Cyndi:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/souledoutcyndi/

Friday, May 7, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Life Lessons from the kitchen and dish duty


Strength in Weakness
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
Therefore I will boast more gladly of my weakness, 
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ 
–2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Have you ever considered your greatest weakness could be God’s greatest strength within you?

As a child, one of my key strengths could also be my binding weakness. I was the youngest of my siblings and fiercely independent. I preferred to do things by myself. Case in point was during the nightly duties after dinner when I was to help my older brother and sister clean up the table and the kitchen. I would pick up my dishes and utensils from the table and carry them to the kitchen sink, but beyond that I milled around and eventually left the kitchen. My siblings would complain that I wasn’t helping them or doing my part. I would get mad, they would retaliate, and yelling would ensue.

One night, my wise mother decided to assign me the entire kitchen clean-up. To do it all by myself. After all the dishes were brought in, she tied an apron around my waist, stood me up on a stool in front of the sink, and let me go to town cleaning up everything, even the pots and pans. Much to everyone’s surprise I wore a huge smile on my face and cleaned with glee. There is even a picture of me to commemorate the event that is in our photo album to this day.

Rather than scold me or let my frustrated siblings accuse me of wrongdoing, my mother found a way to empower my independent nature. She knew I wasn’t being willful, that I could and did want to help, I just didn’t know how to contribute when there were too many people in the mix. I wanted to be the cook, and there were literally too many cooks in the kitchen. In order for me to succeed and not offend, I would have to learn how to use my independence wisely and carefully.

The apostle Paul represents a strong character with an independent spirit. One that God had to tear down and build up again by placing a thorn in his side because Paul was a persecutor of Christians before he became a believer and follower of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, Paul pleads for the thorn’s removal, but God tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God knew Paul’s potential and endurance even though most would have perceived his past as a disqualifier for him to author a majority of the New Testament. It was because of his confessions of weakness and desire to know and be one with God that he became known as a champion of Christ. God uses Paul’s weakness to show us an example of His great love and forgiveness of sins, but also to show us the full strength of someone’s character when he is fully reliant on God.

I am blessed to say that I eventually learned how to use my independence to benefit others rather than go it alone all the time. It can get very lonely on an island by yourself. Yet, like Paul, yielding my independent nature to God has also allowed Him to take me places I never could have imagined and further than I ever dreamed. According to 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV): But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

Yielding our weaknesses to God opens the doors wide for His strength to be made complete in us. In this His love, power, and grace we can know no bounds. And like a proud parent, He will smile upon us as we do His will with freedom and glee.

Do you have a strength that others may perceive as a weakness?

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord, I thank you for my uniqueness and how you have created me differently for your purpose. I count it a blessing that you have put a specific character trait in me that is made strong even when I am weak. Guide me and my giftings with your love, power, and grace. That in all I do, I will honor you and who you created me to be. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Mirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer from Northern Virginia, where she teaches television production at her high school alma mater. 


She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Script & Screenwriting from Regent University and is an alumnus of Act One: Hollywood Film & Television Writing Program.

Mirachelle is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, American Fiction Writers Virginia Chapter, The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, and Your Novel Blueprint.

She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel set during WWII.

~*~
Connect with Mirachelle:

Website: www.mirachellecanada.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mirachellecanada/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/miracan

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Mentors


Mentors Wanted

A devotional by Patricia Russell

“Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?” 
–Luke 1:43 (NLT)

Growing up, we often heard a song on the radio, which spoke about the fact that at some point in life we will all need someone to lean on. The words are all true, accurate, and I can almost guarantee we’ve all needed someone to turn to in times of uncertainty. A voice to cheer us on. Someone who has gone before us. Someone we can turn to for advice and support. We call this person a mentor. Mentoring is not something new. Over the years, we have become more aware of how important this is to our personal growth and in all areas of our lives. 

When I was growing up, the older women in our church family were the ones we looked to for wisdom. Most times they gave unsolicited wisdom, but looking back, it was valuable and encouraging. There were moments when one would encourage and pray with me about my gifting. They would speak life into me. I watched many of these women, whom I considered superheroes because of the things I saw them do while working, raising their own families and still reaching out to others in need. They were mothers and grandmothers, women of faith. They had walked through deep struggles and knew what it was to persevere. I watched and naturally mirrored much of their behaviour when I grew up. They loved people through action as much as words. They looked beyond people’s faults and saw their needs.

In Luke 1:39-56
, we see two women model what it is to be a mentor. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a mentor as: a trusted counselor or guide. Elizabeth was a mentor to Mary. Though their interaction appears briefly in scripture, the depth of their companionship can teach us lessons today. Elizabeth was older in age. We understand she had passed the age of childbearing, but she had not passed the age of nurturing. The angel told her husband (who served as a faithful priest) that they would become parents. Let’s be honest – if an angel appeared to you in your 50’s or 60’s and told you the thing you had dreamed of all your life was about to come to life, you would have been shocked as well. I know my jaw would have dropped, and I certainly would have asked, “How on earth is this going to be possible?” 

Elizabeth was not present at the time the angel announced the pregnancy to her husband. By the way, he lost the ability to speak until the baby was born because he did not believe. Elizabeth, I think, still secretively held out hope of the possibility of becoming pregnant. Her response was:

“How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.” (Luke 1:25 NLT)

Fast forward six months, and the same angel makes a visit to Mary and informs her of God’s favor on her life. He tells her not to be afraid. Mary’s response was one of shock but also one of submission to receive and accept the promise told her. In fact, she rejoiced!

Mary went to visit Elizabeth (her relative) who gave her the encouragement she needed. This, my friend, is what we call mentoring. When someone has gone before us in life and can extend a hand, and offer them hope. This, I believe, is the heart of God for us to not only lead but lift those coming behind us. Jesus prayed a heart-wrenching prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that we would be one. He prayed we would be united as He and the Father were one. We would be ‘one’ when we can talk with each other, encourage and empower each other to live and walk in the purposes that God has set before us.

This is what I see in these two women and this is what I pray for you. God’s desire is for us to be conformed to His image. We need each other for this to happen. Have you ever considered mentoring someone? It’s an opportunity to empower someone else and bless you also.

Let’s Pray:
Father God, thank you for the people you have brought into my life to help me become what you have purposed for me. Help me to be open to being a source of encouragement and uplift to others so they too can become like you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Patricia Russell is a speaker, worship leader, author, certified life coach and songwriter.


Her gifts have been shared internationally with audiences to encourage, empower and share life lessons through words and songs. She has sung on national television broadcasts and shared the stage with several respected speakers. Over her 30 years in ministry, she has been a featured artist in musical cantatas locally and the United States of America.

Patricia had the honour of leading worship at the kick-off event for the 2006 the “Just Give Me Jesus” Toronto Revival with Anne Graham Lotz who is the eldest daughter of Billy Graham, a well-known American evangelist.

Patricia serves in ministry along with her husband Rev. Wayne Russell. Together, they have served as guest hosts on a local early morning call in program called “Nite Lite Live” that formerly aired on the CTS Television Network. They have two adult children: Raquel and Benjamin.

Patricia has recorded two CD’s: “Lord I Trust You” and a live recording “Draw Me Nearer.” She is also an author. Her first book is titled Lord I Trust You: Words of Encouragement. It is meant to further encourage and share life lessons as a result of her cancer journey. She is a co-author of a #1 bestseller book titled Crushed Diamonds Still Sparkle, and she has compiled the recent #1 bestseller book titled Stronger Resilience.

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Connect with Patricia:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patrussellsings/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/patrussellsings
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patrussellonline/
Email: patrussellsings@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Romantic Reads: Let It Be Me (Misty River Romance) by Becky Wade


Interview with Becky Wade about her book, 
Let It Be Me (Misty River Romance, Book #2):

Congratulations on your new novel that releases today (May 4, 2021)! 
Happy BOOK Birthday! Let’s talk about it…

Alexis: Why did you give Leah a career as a high school teacher? What subject does she teach?

Becky: The heroine of Let It Be Me, Leah, was a math prodigy as a child. She was so extraordinarily gifted that, at the age of eighteen, she was offered a scholarship to Princeton to pursue her PhD. It was a dream come true for her ... that she had to turn down because her mother signed over custody of her younger brother to her. Dylan was just seven at the time and raising him became the most important priority in her life.

In order to support herself and her brother, Leah took a job as a middle school math teacher. Later, when Dylan started veering down the wrong path, she moved him to the town of Misty River (where my series is set) and accepted a position teaching the high school's most advanced math students.

Alexis: What draws Sebastian and Leah to each other?

Becky: Emotionally, Sebastian and Leah are drawn together because they're both very intelligent, high-achieving, straight-forward, hardworking, and independent.

Plot-wise, Sebastian and Leah are drawn together when Leah receives DNA results indicating that her parents are not biologically related to her, as she'd always believed them to be. Because Sebastian is a pediatric heart surgeon, he's able to help her navigate the world of hospital records when she begins her search into the secrets surrounding her birth.

Alexis: Why is Leah the one woman who Sebastian wants but cannot have?

Becky: Sebastian is attracted to Leah from the moment they meet. But he can't have her because he soon finds out that she's the woman his best friend, Ben, set his heart on years before. Ben has been nothing but loyal and supportive of Sebastian since childhood. Sebastian would never betray him.

Alexis: How does Sebastian’s past as a foster kid affect his relationships today?

Becky: Sebastian spent the bulk of his childhood in foster care. To this day, he struggles to trust. He allows very few people into his heart. He's afraid of loving and then having those he loves taken from him the way that his mother was taken.

Alexis: What are the themes of this story?

Becky: The theme of Let It Be Me is God's sovereignty. I really enjoyed exploring that topic as it relates to family bonds and the events of our lives ... both joyous and heartbreaking. At the end of the day, God is sovereign over all. Which is just as it should be. I truly hope that this story will bless and inspire readers.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Becky! Do you have closing comments?

Becky: Thanks so much for interviewing me on your blog, Alexis!

~*~
Author Bio:

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas with their three children and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. 


She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance! 

She’s the Christy and Carol award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, the Bradford Sisters series, and the Misty River Romance series.

~*~
Book Blurb for Let It Be Me:

The one woman he wants is the one he cannot have. 


Former foster kid Sebastian Grant has leveraged his intelligence and hard work to become a pediatric heart surgeon. But not even his career success can erase the void he’s tried so hard to fill. Then he meets high school teacher Leah Montgomery and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop. He falls hard only to make a devastating discovery — Leah is the woman his best friend set his heart on months before.

Leah’s a math prodigy who’s only ever had one big dream—to earn her PhD. Raising her little brother put that dream on hold. Now that her brother will soon be college bound, she’s not going to let anything stand in her way. Especially romance… which is far less dependable than algebra.

When Leah receives surprising results from the DNA test she submitted to a genealogy site, she solicits Sebastian’s help. Together, they comb through hospital records to uncover the secrets of her history. The more powerfully they’re drawn to one other, the more strongly Sebastian must resist, and the more Leah must admit that some things in life—like love—can’t be explained with numbers.

~*~
Buy Becky’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

~*~
Connect with Becky:
Website: www.beckywade.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorbeckywade
Instagram: http://instagram.com/beckywadewriter
Twitter: http://twitter.com/beckywadewriter
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/beckywadewriter/
Blog: http://inspiredbylifeandfiction.com/blog/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5298259.Becky_Wade
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/becky-wade

~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of Becky's book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 3, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson on exercise and God's love


How exercise helps me love myself as God loves me
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

A few months ago, worn down by tension headaches, I was frustrated. Nothing brought relief—not medicine, sleep, or even massage. I was desperate for relief. I decided to try an experiment: do some simple stretching exercises daily for a few weeks and see what happens.

After a week, my headaches were much improved. One afternoon after a hard deadline on my newspaper, a headache began to rear its ugly head. I slipped into something comfy and started my routine. Within five minutes, my headache was gone.

I kept my stretching up daily, and soon I noticed more than just headache relief. I was becoming more in tune with my body and more appreciative of it. I was learning to focus on deep breathing and allowing myself grace. I was calmer, happier. I felt stronger, too. Soon, I added back in a daily walk, another something I’d let slip. This week, I’m adding in some arm weights and pushups, too.

For I’ve noticed something significant: All this attention I’m paying to my physical body, the care I’m giving myself through stretching and other exercise, is helping me grow as a Christian, too.

See, part of what I enjoy about exercise is its focus on centering myself in the now and appreciating the moment and the body I’ve been given. As a driven, type-A personality who loves a plan, I can get so focused on the future, on results, that I zip on by the “journey” part of life. I like to have a “job,” a task, something to focus on, and admittedly have a tough time relaxing.

Yet the Bible verse from the first half of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God” (NIV), began calling to me some years ago, beckoning me to sit and rest at God’s feet and know in my soul that He has it all under control. Doing things in nature, such as hiking or photography, help me do just that—be. Be still. Be still and know, truly know, that the Great I Am has His infinite hand upon me now and forever.

Still, I’m a busy working mom and wife jugging what can feel like a gazillion priorities. And most days—while I want to relax, to be a “Mary” from Luke 10:38-42 sitting rapt at Jesus’s feet—I’m going ninety miles an hour, barely stopping to sit down for lunch.

When I do take that time to slow down, I’m better for it, both as a person and as a child of God.

That’s what daily exercise has been helping me understand. Taking the time to breathe, to stretch, to feel the glorious wonder of muscles and tendons and skin all working together in a beautiful dance of flexibility and rhythmic movement, is a beautiful reminder of the blessings God has given us. As Psalm 139:14 (NIV) reminds me about the Lord, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Remembering that, remembering the omnipotence and glory of God and my place in His creation, is an important aspect of my faith journey. When I’m rushing here and there, never stopping or slowing down, I’m focused on the world, on doing, on me—not on God or love or peace or anything of the things He wants me to care about.

But that’s one critical thing we are offered in Jesus: Peace. Rest. Reprieve.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) tells us we are to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

And Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) says we should not be anxious but instead turn it all over to God, for when we do that, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

And as Romans 12:2 (NIV) urges, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

For me, exercise gets me to that state of renewal, that reminder of the importance of fusing mind, body, and soul in unity with God. You might run, or nap in a hammock, or spend the day in a canoe fishing—whatever it is you do, prioritize that. Know that rest, refreshment, and renewal is important in our spiritual walk, no matter how culture tries to convince us otherwise.

Comment below—what do YOU do to find renewal?

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, thank you for the body You have given me. Help me appreciate it, knowing I am created by You to be a beautiful masterpiece, a magnificent creation. Help me to know I am wholly and fully loved now and always. In Your name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden


She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team. 

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.