Friday, June 9, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Finding hope when you're in a dark time

Finding Hope in Dark Times
A devotional by Tema Banner

“For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.”
–Proverbs 23:18 (NKJV)

Some places I drive to in my hometown make me want to bawl my eyes out.

I had a charming, kindhearted, blue-eyed son whose mischievousness got him into hot water with his parents and teachers more than once in his youth. In elementary school, he was known to charm the little girls into doing his classwork, and old ladies in the grocery store could not resist his winsome smile and pleading eyes for fifty cents for a candy bar—much to his mother’s chagrin. Like his grandmother, Steven made friends with everyone he met and never had qualms about asking for directions or help to find items in the store.

That same personality put him in contact with some he should have given a wide berth. Since he chose not to, many years were spent in courtrooms, rehab clinics, hospitals, and eventually, an early rest in the cemetery. During those years of highs and lows, the Lord gave me hope through this scripture (Proverbs 23:18). The first time I read this verse it was in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, which reads: “There is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” I was convinced it meant Steven would overcome his addictions and be a powerful witness to others.

Standing by his grave, I was disappointed, confused, and a little mad. Other parents’ children had overcome, why had my son not? And what about the hope I was promised? Then I read the New King James Version (NKJV) of this scripture and the word “hereafter” jumped off the page. It was beautiful proof of God’s living word and His gentle reminder that Steven’s life will continue with Him. Because Steven had accepted God’s Son (Jesus Christ) as his Lord and Savior, I knew he had a future hope that did not end in that cemetery with a dash that indicates a life way too short. And because of my faith in God, I know I’ll see him again in Heaven.

The many places that I drive in this city bring reminders of my time with Steven. They are a mix of memories that make me smile and others with a depth of sadness that squeezes my heart and makes me want to cry—sometimes I do. But more often, I see the lives that were touched by my blue-eyed boy and the faithfulness of the God we serve.

There are times in all our lives when we face battles, sorrow, and hardships. We seek deliverance and I have seen miracles and answers to prayers that are everything prayed for, but I’ve also seen times when the answer is no. I recognize in those moments that we live in a fallen world that is often harsh. I encourage you to know that even in hard times, God is still good and He loves you.

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness. In our times of distress and doubt, Your Word is ever present to encourage and remind us that You are in control. Help us to remember that You have good plans for your children. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: "God Loves You" by Jaci Velasquez. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Writing stories that take the reader on a journey of discovery into a deeper relationship with God through His Son (Jesus Christ), has been a lifelong goal for Tema. She enjoys history and continues honing her knowledge of history and writing skills to create those stories.

God is her guiding light and the reason for every endeavor in her life. She is a member of the South Carolina ACFW chapter as well as a former member of her local RWA chapter, Carolina Romance Writers.

Tema has served as president and secretary of her local RWA Chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. She is the honored recipient of the Harold Lowery Service Award, presented by the Carolina Romance Writers.

God has gifted her with a loving husband, two children and four grandchildren who are the delight of her life.

In her spare time, she gardens and digs into genealogy for nuggets to use in her stories.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Being "on fire" for God and spreading His Love

Flaming Faith

A devotional by Casey Wayne

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.”—Luke 8:16 (ESV)

As we wrapped up dinner we gathered around the fire my husband had made in the fireplace. After allowing the kids to watch one last show, we transitioned into the bedtime routine. They ran to and from the living room and returned all the stray items. At one point I turned to catch my daughter getting dangerously close to the remaining burning wood. In response to my correction she argued that it could not hurt because it was so small. I found myself saying, “Just because a fire is small doesn’t mean it is not hot. Small fires can actually be very hot!”

In the moments following that conversation I reflected on how that applies to the impact we all have in our environment. We all have an impact on others. Ministry opportunities that God will ask us to follow in obedience. They will look different for each of us. Some are easily seen and large “fires”, producing big, broad impacting moments. Others will be small, intentional “fires” that will make an impact as it endures over time with spiritual discipline. God can and often will draw us to seasons of both, but it all has an impact. It all matters!

Maybe you will do missionary work, support local food pantries, or help couples have a foundation of faith in their marriage. God may lead you to serve faithfully in your local church or dedicate spare time to knitting hats for infants in the NICU. This is just a small list of ways we can partner with God in a variety of ways.

Individually and together we spread the love of Christ. Romans 12:4-5 (NIV) says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Our Heavenly Father grows our faith, encourages our souls and gives each of us gifts to obediently use to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 for details on this topic. Do not get caught up in the comparison game and allow Satan to convince you your “fire” is not enough to matter or too small to have an impact. It all matters in the eyes of God and for the hearts of those you reach. Remember, just because a fire looks small, does not mean it is not hot.

Let us commit to burning bright for Christ; to be a light in the darkness of this world. Matthew 5:16 (NIV) tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Seek the wisdom and discernment to step into whatever ministry God leads you to and the endurance to stay the course. Leave the results of its impact in the faithful arms of our loving Father who created you to be His ambassador to everyone in your reach (2 Corinthians 5:20) in the time and in the way He has for you.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you in the ministering of others in whatever capacity You ask me to. You faithfully provide for us and guide us so that we can be a light for your glory. Encourage my heart so that I may push forward as you lead and remind me that even if my “fire” looks different than someone else, it is making an impact for the purpose you intended.

In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “This Little Light of Mine” by Caleb + Kelsey. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Casey Wayne is a wife and mother of two children. 

She enjoys time with her family doing simple things like movie nights and cooking together.

As a devotional writer, Casey strives to share her story with relatable honesty, showing how God is faithful throughout the big and small moments of life.

She has a heart for encouraging the faith walk of other moms, praying they gain a deeper connection with our Heavenly Father.

Her family lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

Connect with Casey:

Monday, June 5, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Lessons my house under construction taught me

Loving the Work-in-Progress
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”–Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

Have you ever lived in the middle of a construction project? It’s doable but frustrating.

For the last six months, thanks to a frozen pipe at Christmas that burst above our master bedroom, my husband and I have been sleeping in the guest room.

As I write this, my dresser is in the dining room, my bathroom items are strewn across the dining table, my clothes are hanging in the laundry room, and my normally organized home office has been alternating between the couch and the kitchen table.

And me? Let’s just say my stress level is far higher than usual.

The repair work has taken a lot longer to complete than I expected, mostly because we were haggling with insurance over cost reimbursement, and while I was mostly at peace with things at first, by Month Five my patience had stretched thin. Thank the good Lord the work is just about finished, and we should be in our refurbished bedroom late this week.

Now, let me say I realize we’re blessed to have a house big enough for a guest room, and I’m grateful we have insurance that was able to cover the problem. I know this isn’t always the case.

But having to spend months upon end in a temporary, relatively chaotic living situation, while simultaneously working full-time, caring for our home, and tending to four kids, three cats, and a German shepherd, not to mention nurturing my marriage…Well, I’m ready for life to settle down and for everything to get put away in its proper place.

Part of this is just me and my own emotional baggage. I don’t like clutter or mess. I’m super-organized, and having to live longer than a few weeks with everything in relative disarray is far outside my comfort zone.

But I’m also well aware that maybe, just maybe, God has been teaching me an important life lesson within all this. Sometimes, it’s important to be uncomfortable. Sometimes, discomfort is where we learn the most. For it is in that discomfort that we learn to appreciate what we have, what really matters, and why we are here on earth in the first place.

I remember when I returned from my first mission trip, 11 years ago. Where we stayed in Zimbabwe, we didn’t have running water, flushable toilets, or hot showers. Water had to be drawn from a well. When I got home two weeks later, I was incredibly grateful for a myriad of creature comforts I’d once taken for granted.

Two winters ago, when our power went out for a few days, I gained a new appreciation for central heat, electric lights, and my microwave oven.

When I had the flu last year and finally recovered, I was grateful for a body that didn’t ache and for energy that didn’t peter out just from walking up the stairs.

It’s funny how a little setback can open our eyes. Many of us humans get extraordinarily spoiled and entitled about the way we live our lives, expecting things should always be “this” way (whatever “this” means to you). Then, when things go awry, we’re like helpless infants. Think about how we feel about ourselves. Have you ever known someone who can’t seem to love herself unless things are perfect? She’s either “put together”—the ideal weight, hair perfectly coiffed and nails trimmed, clear skin, and neatly dressed—or she’s “a total wreck”. There’s no in-between. 

Yet most of us walk somewhere in the middle, don’t we?

Why can’t we love the work-in-progress—the under-construction house, the slightly achy body, the partly frazzled real-life version of ourselves—as much as when things are “just so”? Does everything really need to be perfect to be lovable and right? To be worthy?

No, my friends. Not even a little.

Think about how God loves us. Not a single person on this earth is worthy of His love, yet God offers us salvation anyway. Whether you are living in a home-under-construction or not, let’s all pause a moment to savor where we are right now, at this exact minute. We might not be in our dream job, living our best life. But is that even necessary, or important?

What’s important is loving yourself, and living your life, right here and right now in the Lord. What’s important is stepping up each day and saying yes to God, carrying out the purpose He has for you in this world. What’s important is loving others and serving in mercy and compassion.

Nothing needs to be “just so”. We can still live, and love, in the in-between.

Let’s Pray: Lord, help me to be patient when things are not perfect or organized, or when things don’t reflect the vision I have. Help me to trust that You are the calm center even when everything else in life feels chaotic. Thank You for all the blessings You give us, and help me appreciate the messy, wild, unfinished work-in-progress just as much. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Pieces” by Meredith Andrews. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning journalist, author, blogger, editor, writing coach, and devotional writer with thousands of articles to her name.

Since 2010, she has served as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 123 journalism awards during her tenure. She is the author of Feed My Sheep: A 40-Day Devotional to Develop a Heart for Hunger Ministry (2019) and More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and the editor of a number of other books from her newspaper’s Advocate Press, which she helped found in 2017.

She has won more than 100 writing awards and is a seasoned speaker and frequent contributor to,, and, among many others. She has a weekly faith blog at and is part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries, with her work included in many of their devotionals and Bible studies.

Brodie holds a Master of Arts in English, and she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in communications/print journalism from Florida International University. Born and raised in Miami, Brodie now lives in Lexington, South Carolina, just outside Columbia. She has also lived in Ohio and in the mountains of western North Carolina. She and her husband, Matt Brodie, have a blended family of four teenage children and stepchildren.

Brodie has written several novels and is actively seeking publication through her agent Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her novel The Memory Garden won the 2018 Genesis contest for Contemporary Fiction from American Christian Fiction Writers, and her novel Tangled Roots won a third place Foundation Award in Contemporary Romance at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2019. She is finishing the third in the series, Hidden Seeds, now.

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Friday, June 2, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Life lessons on friendship and wealth that lasts

Using Money Wisely to Make Everlasting Friends

A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“And I tell you [learn from this], make friends for yourselves [for eternity] by means of the wealth of unrighteousness [that is, use material resources as a way to further the work of God], so that when it runs out, they will welcome you into the eternal dwellings.”–Luke 16:9 (AMP) 

Recently, I was conversing with friends who are wealthy. 

They had introduced and welcomed my wife and I to one of their new assets. They freely made it available for us to use. In fact, they insisted that if their friends did not access this property regularly, they would have acquired it in vain. In the conversation he referenced a text that I had read but never studied in depth. The text was Luke 16:9.

My friend said that "there is a responsibility that accompanies wealth". The responsibility is to invest some of their wealth in expanding the experiences, opportunities, and horizons of their trusted friends. In so doing, he said, we make everlasting friends.

In this conversation, I learned two things. First, having wealth that does not corrode the soul requires hospitable use of the resources. Generosity begets good friends. They become safe havens or metaphoric tabernacles where hopes, dreams, aspirations and even fears can be shared confidently and confidentially. The second thing that my study confirmed was the difference between eternal and everlasting. Divinity is eternal, having no end, beginning, origin or destiny. Everlasting is something that may not have existed in eternity past but will exist forever going forward. 

When people have experienced and enjoyed your hospitality, they are more accepting of the peculiarities of your faith. If your friendships are solid and the wealth you shared evaporates or loses relevance, your true friends will still be there to love you, nurture and encourage you.

The wisdom of Jesus Christ does not command that we buy, with opulent gifts, the presence and the loyalty of friends. Rather, He is saying that we should be judicious yet generous with our loved ones and friends. In so doing, barriers are bridged, memories are forged and hearts are bonded. I am reminded of a maxim from my grandmother. She said, “Pick your friends wisely and spend most of your time with people who push you to be better and to do better, because bad friends can cut your potential to shreds.” When you have chosen well and poured into your friends, they will always welcome, nurture and support you.

Who are some of your everlasting friends? Make a list. How have you invested in them? How have they invested in you? Who would you like to add to your list of everlasting friends? Let’s pray for your current and potential everlasting friends.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank You for those people in our lives who have become everlasting friends. Thank you for bonding us. Now, dear God, as we move into this new day of the new month, be with us as we consider our ways, our wealth and the responsible use of the money You have given to us. Help us to spend freely to help advance the cause of Christ and the work of God in the world around us. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Unexpected Friends” by Sandi Patty. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Paul Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps. 

Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address,

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: How to have faith in God and trust Him

Trusting God's Process
A devotional by Monique M. Anderson

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." 
–Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Before this season, no one could question my trust in God.

I would undeniably tell you, “I trust God.”

I could provide you with a list of past ways He came through for me. I could give you all the many names He has that prove His character: Jehovah Jireh (provider), Jehovah Nissi (banner), Jehovah Gibbor (mighty), Jehovah Rapha (healer), etc.

I thought there was no area of my life where I did not completely give God my all and fully surrender. I never thought I doubted Him nor feared whether or not He would come through. On the contrary, I was confident and sure of who my God was and what He could do in every situation in my life.

That is until it came to helping my teen through her growing pains. Of course, as parents, we want to protect our children from experiencing any pain or difficulty. It is our instinct to protect them. However, God has been showing me that His process for her healing will have trouble and some pain. This reality has been hard for me to process and give God full reign over her.

In this season of her healing, I realized I had not fully surrendered her to Him. I was not trusting her in His hands. I was not trusting the process she would have to go through for His will to be done. For the first time, I realized I had a gray area with God.

Anytime it looked like things were getting worse, I would question Him. I would question His tactics and reasoning. I knew He was there, but why does it look like this? One day, while I was journaling my feelings to God, He led me to Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV), “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

I have heard this scripture numerous times and referenced it often. However, this time it was different. The Holy Spirit led me to study it a bit deeper and not just look at the surface of the words. I decided to look up the word “trust” and was shocked at its meaning. The word trust in this scripture means to “lie helpless facedown” (according to the Enduring Word Commentary) or “to throw one down upon his face; lie extended on the ground” (according to the Blue Letter Bible). Bible Hub gives a depiction of being “a helpless infant”.

These definitions provided me with a visual of what trusting God looks like. It made me ask myself questions like these: Am I fully trusting God? Have I lied on my face helplessly in front of Him? Have I been as helpless as an infant? I considered an infant and how they cannot do anything independently. Someone has to do everything for them, even hold up their head. They must depend on someone to feed them, change them, and bathe them. Therefore, they are entirely in the care of someone else.

This is an example of how God needs us to trust Him. He needs us to remain entirely in His care. We need to allow Him to take care of all the needs we cannot take care of ourselves. We need to lay helpless in front of Him. We need to relinquish whatever control we think we have and let Him feed us, change us, and wash us clean. I realized this season with my stepdaughter is not just for her but also for me. Not only is God working on changing her heart, but mine as well.

Going deeper, I looked up the word “understanding” and found it means not to lean on your intellect and insight. We can't depend on what we think we know. Our intelligence, although given to us by God, cannot compare to His. Whatever we think we understand about a situation, our level of intelligence can never grasp what God is truly doing. We cannot lean on what we think we know or understand, or see. We could never comprehend what God does in the midst of our circumstance that we don't see. This is when we lay flat on our faces and let God be God.

In addition, we must acknowledge Him in all our ways by inviting Him into every area of our lives. Invite Him into every decision, even the most mundane things. Even in something we don't think requires God's approval and guidance, from the things we want to purchase online to where we want to go on our next vacation. Inviting Him into every space of our lives allows Him to direct our paths.

Once God revealed that I wasn't trusting Him with everything, I realized I had some work to do. First, I had to repent for my unbelief, fear, and rebellion. Also, I had to trust the process for my stepdaughter's healing. I had to rely on the bad days as well as the good. I had to trust Him when she would stumble or fall. I have to trust Him when things look like there is no improvement. I have to allow the pain and the struggle because endurance and character are built through the pain and struggle. She must go through God's process, and I must trust that.

I trust she will come out on the other side, beaming God's glory. I have to believe that she will come out looking just like Jesus Christ.

This is not easy. This is something that I have to work on daily. First, I wake up praising God for His new grace and mercies that are new every morning. Then I die to my own flesh and understanding, lay helpless at His feet, and give her to Him daily. It is work, but I am strengthened when I lay my burdens at my Heavenly Father's feet.

Whatever your struggle to hand over to God entirely, I encourage you to be as helpless as an infant with your Heavenly Father. Let Him hold up your head through whatever trial you face this season. Bring Him into every thought and every decision. Then and only then will He be able to direct your path.

Let's Pray:
Father God, I lay at your feet. I lay helpless, face down, knowing nothing. I let go of my own understanding and intellect to receive Your wisdom. Father, please hold my head up during this trying time. I need Your embrace and comfort, and strength. Father, I trust you now. I truly trust you now. Forgive me for only giving you parts of me. I relinquish all to you now. Do whatever you need to do. Whatever you want, Lord, I present to you. I thank you in advance for who I will become after this storm passes. I am grateful that I will look more like you, and I will be able to testify of your goodness. In Jesus's name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“God Will Work It Out" by Maverick City. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Monique M. Anderson is a writer, creator, wife, and bonus mom. She was born and raised in Mount Vernon, NY, where she still resides. She released her always present yet hidden talent of writing to the masses in June 2019. 

Monique always felt like God was chasing after her but was never ready to surrender. Finally, she reached a point in her life when things started going left, and she no longer felt in control. At this point, she was ready to hand over the reins to God. After forming her relationship with God, she always felt compelled to share the revelation’s that His Word gave her. She felt The Holy Spirit prompting her to write but was afraid of what people might think. So, her writing started in her journal. The journal turned into a book and the book into a blog.

Her obedience provided more opportunities. In late 2021, Monique became a partner with the notable YouVersion Bible App as a Content Creator. With her first Bible plan debuting in December of 2021, she will continue to provide content for the app as long as God allows her to.

In 2021, God revealed her prophetic gift and how He wants her to use it. Monique always felt compelled to pray for others but had no idea God would use her in this way. Through this gift as a prophetic intercessor, she’s not just writing about what God can do but showing what God can do.

Since God has shown her who He created her to be, she now feels it is her life’s work to help those taking their first steps in their walk with Jesus Christ. She is doing so through her blog, prayer, and soon-to-be-published works. She is excited to extend her reach to YouTube, podcasts, and speaking engagements soon.

Her blog is the stepping stone to fulfilling the vision God gave to her: “Sharing God’s revelations so we can all better reflect his image and fulfill His purpose.”

Connect with Monique:

Monday, May 29, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: God is still with you in the heavy seasons of life

God is There in the Heavy Seasons
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
–Psalms 147:3 (NIV)

The time in between August 2020 and March 2021 was a heavy grieving season for me. My grandfather died in August 2020, I suffered a miscarriage in November 2020, and my mother-in-law died in March 2021. Fortunately, if you can say that, this wasn’t my first season of grief. I learned the hardship of grief early in life. When I was only 23, my biological mother passed away suddenly.

You don’t think about the passing of your mother. Although it’s possible, you tend to think of her as immortal—someone who will always be there for you. That wasn’t the case for me. Everyone around me still had their mothers, so no one could understand my pain. They didn’t know the void in my chest that never leaves, the constant heaviness that hurt even to breathe. They didn’t understand that a part of me died and I would never be the same.

Since I had already endured the pain of losing a loved one, I thought I knew how this season of grief would be. However, I thought wrong. Each season is different because your relationship with each person is different. Losing a baby is another type of grief, but I’ll leave that story for another day. One difference in this season from the first was my relationship with God was stronger. I want to share three things that helped me in my most recent season of grief.

Point #1: Talking about my memories with my grandfather

My grandfather lived with us since I was 16 years old. We lived in a humble two-bedroom house. I slept in the living room while he slept in my room. My grandfather was involved in many milestones of my life. For example, I took my driver’s test with his car. He helped me purchase my first car. He was present for my high school graduation. When I was younger, I was told that he would go to a children’s boutique in the Dominican Republic to purchase a dress for me as a birthday gift. He did that for the first five years of my life. My mom would then get professional pictures taken of me in the dresses. To this day, I still have the pictures. Sharing all these stories and memories with whoever would listen was helpful for me.

Point #2: Going on a trip to the beach

My husband’s birthday is August 13. Hoping to celebrate, I planned a trip for us to Ana Maria Island. My grandfather passed on August 10—just three days before the trip. I was so conflicted if we should continue with our plans. I wanted to celebrate my husband’s birthday, but I didn’t want to seem insensitive to the situation. Since we couldn’t receive a full refund, we went for three instead of going for four days. I am so glad we went. It’s hard to continue your day-to-day routine when your heart is so heavy, and this trip helped us get out of routine. It gave me time away from everyone to process my feelings and distract my mind for a few days. Also, I feel the closest to God at the beach, which was therapeutic for me.

Point #3: Staying rooted in God’s Word (The Holy Bible)

As I mentioned above, you can’t do business as usual when your heart is heavy. So, your schedule and routine are all messed up. However, in this season of grief, I was intentional about continuing to read the Bible. I continued my daily Bible study plan and enjoyed reading the Bible at the beach. Listening to worship music while going through the miscarriage was comforting. During my mother-in-law’s passing, I signed up for an online Bible Study. Although I couldn’t log on to the calls, I continued to do the study. This helped me stay mentally and emotionally stable.

These three things listed above helped me during my heavy season of grief.

I know that everyone processes grief differently, and grief doesn’t look the same for everyone, but I hope my experience can help one person. If you haven’t experienced grief, I hope you save this message and use it as a resource to help you during that difficult time.

I want to leave you with a Bible verse that came up multiple times during this season and reminded me that God was with me. Psalms 147:3 (NIV) says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

God can heal your broken heart if you let Him. May His love fill the void in your heart.

Let’s Pray: Lord, I pray for anyone who may be going through a season of grief that they feel your presence. I pray they draw closer to you and feel your embrace. Please provide the comfort and strength you provided to me during my heavy grieving season to them. Thank you, Lord, for all of your blessings, in your name, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “He Will Carry Me” by Mark Schultz. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Heidy De La Cruz is daughter of Christ, a wife, and a mother. 

She writes poetry and encouraging spiritual blog posts.

Heidy shares her faith and life in hopes of encouraging women. She hosts the podcast, "The American Dream in The Eye of Immigrants" where immigrants share their stories about moving to the United States of America.

Heidy holds a master's degree in Healthcare Administration and bachelor's degree in Psychology. She works as a Medical Coding Specialist.

In her free time she enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, watching movies, and spending time with her husband and two kids.

Connect with Heidy:


Friday, May 26, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Safety

A Promise of Safety
A devotional by Essie Faye Taylor

“The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say concerning the Lord, who is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust: He himself will rescue you from the bird trap, from the destructive plague. He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord—my refuge, the Most High—your dwelling place, no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.” —Psalm 91:1-11 (CSB)

March 2020 was a time that paralyzed me with fear. 

It was a year filled with such uncertainty, tragedy and hopelessness. Thousands of people worldwide were diagnosed with COVID-19 with no solution in sight. The scariest thing for me was that the disease was airborne and there was no cure. Daily reports came in of people all over the world dying of this unknown disease. The world was in a frenzy. Schools, businesses and public places were closed indefinitely. The entire world was quarantined, to wait for the end, it seemed. My world, like that of many others during this experience, was rocked. I was shaken to the core. During this time—just like in other times of difficulty—my faith sustained me.

Life is filled with swift transitions. My experiences with COVID-19 was certainly one of those times. When the Coronavirus hit the scene, change was swift and startling. I was afraid and I questioned God. Where was God in all of this? Why had God allowed us to experience this sudden outbreak of disease? Why so many fatalities? What was God’s message in all of this? I had so many questions, yet no answers. In this state of fear, grief, and sadness, I fell to my knees and searched the scriptures for answers. I held to one truth: God is always present with us. Even in the storms of life that threaten to take us under, God is in control.

God promises safety, even in the face of grave danger. In Psalm 91 we are assured of God’s protection for those who trust in Him. Those who dwell in the secret place of God are those who live in His presence. Some would define the secret place as a place of prayer, a place of communion with God. In essence, the secret place is close relationship with God. Living under His shadow denotes following His ways. A shadow follows you because it is in close proximity with you. Your shadow is always with you, although it is only seen when you’re under the sun. These promises are for those in right relationship with God and those who follow His precepts, principles, beliefs and walk by faith with Him. The Bible says when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

God’s security is proactive. He will rescue us from things that intend to destroy us. He knows all and has the insight and foresight to rescue us from danger seen and unseen. He will deliver us from traps set by the enemy and diseases. He will be a protective shield against harmful actions, thoughts, and intentions. As we trust in His protection and provision, we can rest and let go of our fears.

God’s security is preventative. He will cover us with His wings. We can find refuge under them.

God covers us when danger is near. He gives His angels charge over us to keep us safe from evil. His angels have the responsibility to protect us from impending harm. God is in Heaven but closely watching over us here on Earth. He covers us and keeps us safe. He has also given us bodyguards (His angels) to keep us safe against diseases and all forms of harm. There is no need to fear the terrors of night, arrows that fly by day, fierce diseases that plague humankind because God is with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). We are safe in His care. Although we see danger on every side, it will not come near our tent because we trust in God’s promise for safety.

God’s faithfulness shields us from evil. He is on our side. We don’t need to fear, only trust Him.

Call to Action:
1. Confess your fears and give them to God. Receive His safety by faith. 
2. Let go of your fears, day by day. Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”. It brings torment. Release your fears and embrace faith in God’s promise of safety.
3. Practice walking in faith in God's Word by using affirmations from His Word.
4. Practice renewing your mind and thinking right. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). Fear that paralyzes us is not from God. He wants us to release the fear and embrace faith. We are to daily walk by faith as we follow Jesus Christ and rest in God’s safety. 
5. Remember: Our safety is secure in our relationship with God as we follow His precepts and principles in our daily living. He is faithful to shield us from harm.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your promise of safety. You have made provision for our safety daily. We are safe with You and You have promised to be with us always. You have also given Your angels the responsibility to keep us safe from dangers seen and unseen. Thank You for assuring me that I am safe. Help me to let go of my insecurities and fears. Show me how to receive Your promise of safety and walk by faith. Remove all doubt and increase my faith. Help me to rest in Your presence and in the knowledge that You are completely in control of every aspect of my life. Thank You, Father, for hearing my prayers and answering me. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “Psalm 91 (Live)” by Renew Collective. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2:
“Tabernacle” by Karen Clark Sheard. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Essie Taylor is an author, educator, minister, youth advocate, recording artist, podcaster, and improviser. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Rockford College. 

She is a veteran educator of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and Spanish Language Acquisition with National Board Teacher Certification. She is an advocate of lifelong learning, language learning, and multiculturalism.

Essie is the CEO of KenMar Press, an author agency, and The Essie Faye Collection. Essie is the author of Finding the Love You Deserve: 30 Lessons in Self-Love & Acceptance, and Finding The Love Your Deserve: A 60-Day Healing Journal For Women of Faith.

She is deeply committed to motivating minorities, women, and youth to pursue God while chasing their dreams and carving out their life’s path. She loves God, people, and helping others.

Essie has been a Christian for nearly all of her 39 years. She was born again at 15 years old. She has been a bilingual worship leader and interpreter for 10+ years. By the grace of God, Essie helped to establish bilingual ministries at five churches in her young life. She is a survivor of domestic violence (verbal and emotional abuse) and marital abandonment in a prior marriage.

Essie is a Chicago native. She lives in Chicago with her husband Donald Taylor II.

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