Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Life Lessons learned from Jesus Christ

Learning from Jesus

A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 
–Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

Many times, the promise of Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:28 (ESV) comforts us during rough patches in our lives. He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

These beautiful words lift our trembling hearts and fainting limbs when we face fearful circumstances or difficult decisions. We cling to Christ’s promises to provide rest and peace in the storm. He is right there with us.

The next two verses of Matthew 11 continue His directive. In verses 29-30, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Wait a minute. A yoke? Seriously?

When studying westward expansion in the United States, it’s easy to imagine the Conestoga wagons that transported half a nation across the lonesome prairies.

Teams of oxen, mules, and horses pulled each wagon. The success or failure of such a move depended upon the strength and stamina of the beasts that were yoked into the harnesses and hitched to the wagons. As the great migration headed out, the animals strained against the weight behind them until the bulky wagons began to roll. Uphill or down, the long string of emigrants moved farther from their original homes to the places that awaited them at the end of the endless journey they dared to undertake.

If the animals in the trains were yoked properly, they moved unrelentingly west. If they were mismatched, or if the yokes were rough or misshapen, the wagon had to stop. The animals, injured or afraid, simply could not continue until the problem was remedied.

Now let’s go back to Jesus. He tells us to slip into the harness with Him. Walk step-by-step with Him unswervingly; obediently putting one foot in front of the other as we work in tandem with the Lord. Along the way, we learn how to live abundantly. We discover how to let Him lead us, how to grow in faithfulness and love, and how to keep our eyes focused on our ultimate home in Heaven.

Jesus then refers to Himself as “gentle and lowly.” Jesus, the King of all creation, the promised Messiah, the Lord of Lords, and the Savior of the world didn’t pursue fame. His promised rest for His children began after His death on a rough and misshapen cross. After His resurrected body could no longer be contained in a tomb, He rose again! Jesus is Alive! His sacrifice bought our salvation—His gentle rest for our souls. He won the battle over sin and death, and now He calls His believers to “yoke up.”

An “easy” yoke isn’t fluffy; it’s one that fits well. When we take on the yoke of Jesus and go through life beside Him, He uniquely shapes His yoke to fit us. When it’s perfectly suited, whatever work He gives us to do becomes lighter—easier. It’s manageable, and with His help we become productive children in God’s kingdom.

Today, in the middle of our worldwide pandemic, Christ’s call to us is vital.

As we slip into a side-by-side relationship with our Lord, the work that we do becomes more meaningful and more relevant to the hurting ones who surround us.

People everywhere need the rest that Jesus promises, and He allows us to share His gift of hope with them. Yoked with Jesus, He multiplies our frail efforts. We begin to listen with His ears, and to see with His eyes, and to show His love with our hands and our hearts. And always, we focus on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

What is my response to His yoke?

Let it be, “I’m in, Lord Jesus! Hitch me up!”

Author Bio:

During this time of quarantine, Karen enjoys reading, writing, and connecting with friends and family via phone calls, texts, emails, blogs, live-streams, and video conferencing. 

She is grateful that the Lord has provided so many ways for humankind to stay in community, even when we are all hunkering down in our homes.

Karen says, “In this unprecedented time, we know that He has prepared us for such a time as this! To God be all the glory!”

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address:

Monday, April 27, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Faith

Legacy of Faith
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” –Psalm 78:1-4 (NASB)

So many of us, especially at this moment in time, are craving conversation and fellowship with others. Even those of us who are homebodies and introverts are yearning to talk and laugh with those we miss. So, as imperfect as it is, aren’t we all grateful for technology that can help bridge physical distances and give us a connection with those we love?

My own extended family is separated by many miles. For several years, my family has had an ongoing video chat using the Marco Polo app. Some days that chat is quiet, and some days it’s busy, but most often it’s just a few people checking in with what the weather is like and what’s on the schedule for their day. Sometimes we ask for prayer for ourselves or others. We talk about things we would talk about if we were sitting around drinking coffee and chatting. I love it.

When my grandmother, in her 90s, came on and gave her Easter greetings recently, she reminded us why Easter is the best holiday of the entire year and what a wonderful gift Christ gave when He conquered the enemy, once and for all. I absolutely agree with her, of course, but her sweet video reminded me of another beautiful gift God has given me: a family legacy of faith.

I have been in church nearly every Sunday since the Sunday I was born. My parents both grew up in Christian homes. Their parents all grew up in Christian homes. My family has never been shy about talking through matters of faith: truths we learn in the Bible, how to apply these things to our daily life, the lens through which our beliefs allow us to see the world, who we can help, how we can love—all of these things have been in our regular, everyday conversations for my entire life.

I feel very fortunate to have had family members who passed down their knowledge and wisdom, their stories, their experiences of what Jesus means to them and I realize how important that is to share with others. We see time and time again in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, the commandment to “remember” or to “share” or to “tell.” The people of God were told to build altars and celebrate feasts, all in an effort to continue the story of His faithfulness throughout each subsequent generation. We also see how one or two generations of forgetfulness can cause a lot of brokenness.

Does your family have a legacy of faith? There’s no better time than right now to say ‘thank you’ to those members of your family who have led you in wisdom and faith. Make a point of continuing that legacy with the children in your own family.

But if you’re reading this and wishing that you had grown up in different circumstances, just remember that every legacy starts somewhere. By God’s grace you can be the one who changes your family tree, so rejoice in the opportunities He will give you to pass on what you know.

Each new day becomes a choice. What will our legacy be?

Let’s Pray: Today, Lord, give me opportunities to share you with my family, my friends, and people I meet. Help me choose to make my legacy one of faithfulness, mercy, love, and kindness. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:
Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume.

She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.

Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two teenage children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting. You can find her at

Friday, April 24, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: The difference that praying to God makes

Praying Makes A Difference
A devotional by Amy Odland

“David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.” –2 Samuel 24:25 (NIV)

Do you find your levels of persistence in prayer lagging now and then, ebbing away as the days of seemingly unanswered prayers stretch out behind you? You ask for family members to find Christ, for healing from ailments, for thorns to be removed...for good things that should be His will. But you hear nothing and wonder if it even matters if you pray or not.

What differences do our prayers make? Could the prayers of the saints stop the Coronavirus pandemic of today if we dared to ask?

There are many instances of God “changing” His mind because of prayer. I want to look at two very briefly.

The first happened in Exodus 32:11-14, when Moses interceded to stop God from destroying all of Israel while His anger burned toward them after they’d made the golden calves while Moses was up on Mount Sinai getting the scoop from God for the tablets. Verse 14 says “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”

The second occurred in 2 Samuel 24 when David took a census of the people of Israel, when he knew he wasn’t supposed to, and God gave him three choices for the punishment for all of Israel. Aka, the whole country was going to pay for the sin of their king. The “three days of plague” began and 70,000 people died the first day. David built an altar to the Lord at the place where the angel’s hand had stopped. He offered sacrifices there and his prayers were answered, according to verse 25, as shared above.

Maybe you haven’t experienced this, but I have been up and down in my own prayer life. At times I’ve felt like the persistent widow in Luke 18 who wouldn’t quit until she got a yes. Other times I’ve felt like the disciples who failed to pray with Jesus the night of his capture in the garden ... I’ve been unable to see the urgency and unable to stay alert.

Examples like the two I shared above remind me that although God is omniscient and omnipotent, He wants to hear from me. He created man (and woman) in His image. He knew how this was all going to end, but He still walked in the garden with Adam and Eve because He wanted relationship. He wants relationship with ME; He wants relationship with YOU.

Do I alone have the power to change things? Most likely not if I’m praying for selfish reasons, but definitely not if I don’t even pray at all. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson says:

“You'll find a number of writers that seem to imply that prayer doesn't change God, it changes us. While, no doubt, the process of prayer does change us, nevertheless Exodus 32 clearly indicates that Moses' prayer changed God's  proposed actions. If this is true – then prayer is powerful, since by prayer we  an appeal to and induce God to do something he otherwise would not have done. That's the basic premise that underlies a prayer of petition or intercession.”

Keep praying, friend.

If you pray for cancer to be cured in ten of your friends and only two are healed, how thankful will those two be that you prayed? Should you have not prayed at all because only two were healed? YOU make a difference; don’t give up on prayer even when things feel hopeless.

Be encouraged by this verse found in Micah 7:7 (NIV): “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

Do you want to know more about prayer? Explore this link to Dr. Wilson’s article on prayer for further reading:

God bless you!

Author Bio:
Amy Odland has been serving in church ministry as a volunteer leader for over 16 years, in various worship, prayer and women’s ministry roles. 

Her passion for helping women stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow the Lord in 1994.

Amy’s priorities after her faith include her family — husband Rick, and their four kids — as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she’s made over the years.

In addition to a love of teaching and helping her husband with the bookkeeping for their many businesses, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home work to include leading author’s book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, and Lifeway.

She also enjoys teaching new authors about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing.

Connect with Amy:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Trust

Trust Without Borders

A devotional by Julia Wilson

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” 
–Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

As I write this devotional on March 25, the world is held in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic. People are naturally fearful because we have never been here before. But there is One who knows the end from the beginning. We can trust Him with all our heart. In fact we must trust Him with all our heart.

As The Passion Translation of The Holy Bible says in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in God completely … with all your heart rely on Him to guide you and He will lead you wherever you go.” Whatever we face in life, whatever surprises us, we can trust God because nothing surprises Him and He always has our back.

For us as a family, we have had a situation that has required us to lean fully on God and to trust Him completely. The situation was completely out of our hands. We had nowhere else to go but to trust and to turn to God in prayer. James 5:16 (TPT) says, “For tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer.”

And believe me, we have pressed into God, believing that He would hear us and that He would answer. I have trusted with all my heart and as I write this, God has answered and performed many miraculous signs. But there is still a way to go, and so I hold on to Him, trusting for that light at the end of the dark tunnel.

We all trust in something … We trust that a chair will hold us up, we trust that gravity will keep our feet firmly planted, we trust that Australia exists. Why? Simply because we have been told or we have experience of these things. So why do we find it so hard to trust God for our family, our finances, our jobs etc.?

We have been told of our faithful God over and over again in the Bible. I think we like to be in control but there are times when we simply have no control. It is in these times that we turn to God and we trust Him completely because there really is nowhere else to go.

What would our lives look like if we trusted God always? God urges us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV). As we pray, we join with God. When we pray, we must not worry, for if we worry it would be like saying to God that we did not trust Him to move. Prayer goes hand in hand with trust, not worry.

When I was a child I trusted (and I still do) my Dad completely. He said he was always there for me and he was. (I do realize that some will not be as lucky as I was). God says “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV) and yet we do not always believe Him. The promises God makes, God keeps, so why do we not trust Him always?

I absolutely love the worship song “Oceans” by Hillsong. It is a song that I have been singing a lot in recent weeks.

Allow me to paraphrase some of my favourite lyrics from the song that I love: The singer asks God’s Holy Spirit to lead her to a place where her trust in God is without borders. She asks God to help her walk upon the water (like Peter did in a Bible story). She asks God to help her trust Him to lead her and that she will answer His call and follow Him. She asks God to take her deep into her faith journey with Him. She trusts God to take her places that are greater than her wildest imagination. She asks God to strengthen her faith as she walks with Him. She feels blessed by the presence of her Savior (Jesus Christ).

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, in these turbulent times, help us to learn to trust You completely. Please bless us with a trust that is without borders. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

My name is Julia Wilson but I also go by Christian Bookaholic.

I live with my husband and five cats in a small town in Worcestershire on the banks of the River Severn (England). We have four grown up children and three granddaughters.

I have always loved reading and have always been surrounded by books. I used to work as a teaching assistant for special needs in the local high school. Ill health forced me to stop working in December 2015. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (known as M.E.) and fibromyalgia. I now have plenty of time to read and review books!

Our eldest son set up my Christian Bookaholic blog. I review every book I read. I read over 300 books a year. I read Christian and mass market. I prefer stories set from 1850 onwards. My favourite type of books to read is stories set in WWI and WWII, and Russia under Czar Nicholas II.

I am a historian, having a Combined Humanities degree where I majored in History and minored in English. I also love swimming. I only learned how to swim in 2017 and go swimming four mornings a week for 90 minutes before breakfast, it keeps my joints going.

I am also a crazy cat lady. I absolutely love my cats. I have grown up with cats and cannot imagine life without them. My dream is to own an old fashioned seal point Siamese … but not while we have our young rescue cat as she hates other cats!

I love God and love going to a large lively church called Lifecentral. I cannot imagine life without God. He gives a peace even when life does not. He guides my life. He is my Rock.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Remembering and celebrating Easter

Celebrating the Hope, Love and Joy of Easter

A devotional by Malinda Fugate

Key Scripture:
Hebrews 12:1b-3, 1 Peter 1:3-4a, 1 John 3:16 (NIV)

Easter isn’t over.

Yes, the date on this year’s calendar passed. Our celebrations sorely missed the community of church in person. The candy has been discounted and pretty much all that remains on the shelves are brightly colored marshmallow peeps, pushed to the corner to make way for fun in the sun merchandise. But, despite the lack of publicity, Easter remains.

This is because Easter is ever-present. The resurrection happened once, centuries ago, but the earth-astounding miracle was so great that it reverberates through the centuries. The effects ripple through each generation as that single act from the cross to the vacated tomb was for every soul that steps foot on planet Earth.

Perhaps it is fitting that the date on which we celebrate the holiday shifts each year, because it is impossible to tie down an occasion so holy, so impactful, so worthy of awe and wonder.

Because of Easter, we have joy.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1b-3

The cross was difficult. Death was painful. The ordeal was so traumatic that Jesus prayed that, “the cup would pass from Him” if God the Father was willing, yet ultimately He prayed that God’s will be done. Hebrews tells us that the coming joy was the reason he endured the torture of the cross, and we know that the love of God is so immense that He would do whatever it took to reunite us, His beloved yet sinful children, with Him eternally. That is the best news imaginable, the kind that inspires the greatest joy! And since there is nothing that can undo the miracle of Christ’s resurrection, our joy is lasting, withstanding any circumstance this earthly life tries to throw at us.

Because of Easter, we have hope.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
– 1 Peter 1:3-4a

We know how the story ends. Once we accept salvation from Jesus Christ, we are securely with Him through eternity. Viewing our circumstances through this big-picture perspective reminds us that our troubles today are temporary.

Our God is the giver of good gifts, and if He would give us His Son, there’s nothing He would withhold if it were for our benefit (Romans 8:32). He is a God who keeps His promises, and He promised to work out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. That’s us. We can believe that and trust it at all times.

Because of Easter, we have love.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16

The love of our Heavenly Father is too much to measure. He demonstrated that through Christ, offering saving power and a legacy of love for us to live out. Each day, we can abide, rest in, soak up, and swim in the thick of His love. We experience love between ourselves and God, and it overflows from our hearts onto the people around us. There is no greater gift than God’s love, and it takes a lifetime to uncover the treasures wrapped up in it. He constantly reveals everlasting love and new mercies each day!

So Happy Easter, dear friend. 

Jesus Christ is risen and our hearts will never cease the celebration!

Author Bio:
Malinda Fugate writes from the heart.

Though she serves full time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California, she is also a crafter of words published in books, including The Other Three Sixteens (May 2020 release with Ambassador International), Bible Time for Active Kids, which is an activities-based devotional that is available for purchase on Amazon, and The Pen and the Sword: Connecting With the Word of God, which is an interactive creative writing journal.

Malinda earned a communications degree with a theatre emphasis from Azusa Pacific University, then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA.

Her writing includes children's faith resources, commercial copywriting, and various faith-based stage and screenplays. Malinda lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi.

When she's not writing or working at church, she might be creating art, reading, or exploring the many adventures to be found in the Los Angeles area.

Connect with Malinda:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Safety

God is our safe place
A devotional by Alexis Newlin

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run to it and is safe.” 
– Proverbs 18:10 (ESV)

Do you have a need to feel safe in your life? Is that need preventing you from taking steps of faith in your Christian walk with God? Here’s how I handled one aspect of this need to feel safety in my life.

I struggle very much with the fear of being hurt by another person, whether it be a friend, spouse, sibling, stranger…I do not want to get hurt. Because of this fear, I often try to put myself in situations where I won’t experience hurt and I won’t try to connect with a person unless I can feel completely safe with them.

I told one of my friends this while out to lunch one day and she told me these wise words:

“That’s a lot to put on a person – feeling safe with them. It’s an impossible request to meet. Only God is your safety. No one on this earth can fulfill that. You may need to repent to God for this, for seeking safety in someone other than Him.”

Bam! My eyes were opened. SAFE. That’s it! Not feeling safe was the root of my fear. If I didn’t feel safe, there were a lot of things that I would refuse to do outside of this situation.

I had to feel safe and secure before taking action in many areas of my life. So after realizing this, I took this new information to God. We went on a journey to find out where my holding on to safety higher than anything else came from. This is what we found:

As a child, my environment was unpredictable. It was not always safe. As I grew older, I vowed to always have a safe place and have those around me that I considered safe. It became an idol. What I called being cautious was actually me being fearful. Yikes.

God then had me look up the definition for safe from Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Here is what I found to define the word safe: free from harm or risk : UNHURT 2a: secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss 3: affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty 5a: not threatening danger : HARMLESS 6a: not likely to take risks : CAUTIOUS b: TRUSTWORTHY, RELIABLE.

I look at this definition and to me, being safe on this earth almost seems impossible. We encounter things and people that could harm us every single day. There is no way that we can go one day without encountering some sort of physical, emotional or mental harm.

I was honest with God, telling Him: “I am trying to grasp the concept that you God, are my safe place. That you will protect me and keep me from harm. Many painful things happen every single day. How are you keeping me safe if I get hurt?”

It is so beautiful when God answers.

This is what He said to me and it redefined my definition of safe:

I use your pain to grow you. The injuries you encounter help you grow stronger and stronger each and every day. How do you grow without trial?

A flower must work in order to bloom. It must break its way out of the seed, and then plow through the soil to get to the water and sunlight it needs just to bloom. When it blooms, behold, there is all manner of things that can and will destroy the flower – too much rain, not enough water, too hot, too cold – yet it still blooms.

You are to bloom no matter what you encounter. When trials come, when you feel afraid or face danger, when you feel unsafe then I, God, will be there. I will be a safe place. I will stand beside you; hold you up so you do not fall.

Despite what comes, I am your safe place.

This sent me on a quest to study everything the Lord says about His safety and protection. I found so much. I keep finding verses that show how He has protected us and continues to protect us. Words like, refuge, stronghold, strong tower, shield, shelter, secure and fortress describe our Father and the beautiful things that He does for us if we run to Him. Some of my favorite verses from this study are:

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run to it and is safe.”

Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song, I will praise him.”

This has been such a beautiful journey to take with the Lord and a journey that I am still walking. It was hard to admit that at times I do not feel safe with the Lord. But, had I not admitted it, I would still have this barrier between God and me. God will do anything to let us know how much He loves us and cares for us.

Although there are times I don’t feel it, it gives me comfort to know that His protection and love for us is splashed all over the pages of His word. God is, and will always be, my safe place.

Author Bio:

Alexis is a 36-year-old lover of Jesus, loose leaf tea, roller coasters, writing stories and going on adventures. Originally from Marietta, GA, Alexis now resides in Fresno, CA. 

You can always find Alexis outdoors enjoying a walk in her neighborhood, scoping out the newest food truck, hanging out with friends or planning her next trip.

Her church, The Revival Center, and family mean the world to her. They have supported her through the loss of her mother and her own cancer diagnosis.

Alexis enjoys encouraging others by reminding them not to look at what they see, but to always look to God, who is working in the unseen.

Alexis currently writes for several online ministries and launched her first podcast – The Brave Podcast – in January 2020.

Connect with Alexis:

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope for your heart in troubled times

Hope in Desperate Times
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

How are you holding up these days?

As I write this, the world is in the midst of a pandemic. My husband has been furloughed from his job, and at mine, my staff has had their hours cut and the administration has let me know that I will likely be next.

Our family is facing the fear of illness and death as well as a financial disaster, just like so many others. Those are the plain facts. But it’s also spring, my favorite time of the year. I’m a gardener, so these weeks ahead of summer are all about preparing and working for the future. It’s hard not to be cynical and fearful of the days ahead right now. It has been a struggle to keep ahold of the joy this season usually brings.

Planting a garden is an act of hope. Every year I am amazed at what comes from the tiny seeds that I stick in the dirt, hoping for the best. I have trays of seedlings sitting next to me now, stacked on shelves in a window, straining towards the sun. That sight usually fills me with an expectant joy. But this week I had read too much of the news and started to feel hopeless, that the virus would eventually reach us no matter how hard we’re trying to keep it at bay and that I’d die before I could see them transplanted in the ground. I let fear take over completely and drag me down with it.

Normally, I’m a practical person, and when it comes to things that scare me I like as much information as possible so I can make the best decisions. Like so many others, I want to know what the worst is so I can prepare. Typically, I find some comfort in that. Not this time. It might be because I was already dealing with a number of crises in my extended family and stress has been my constant companion since November. Perhaps I burned through whatever reserves of calm and rationale I had. Hope is already an audacious thing in this broken world, and it seems impossible in times like these.

After days of struggling with flashes of panic and hopelessness, I realized where I went wrong in all of this. There’s no plan I can make, no human power I can access, no steps I can take to save myself or my family. I am not in control. But, if my control is an illusion, and if my strength is gone, that’s okay.

God is in control, God gives us the strength it takes to live, one day at a time, moment by moment. For those who place their faith in Jesus Christ, hope abounds. The real stuff, too, not wishes or dreams. Hope of Heaven, secure in the knowledge that this time of suffering is God’s will and whatever happens and however it ends it will be for the good of those that love Him.

We persevere, bringing the Gospel to the world around us, serving others as we are able in the time and place that He has given us. Not despairing, not tiring, but pressing on in hope.

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Author Interview with Lindsay Harrel about "The Joy of Falling" (book)!

Dear Blog Reader Friends,

Today, you're in for a special treat!

My author friend Lindsay Harrel is here to talk about her new novel, The Joy of Falling. See the book cover above. Isn't it gorgeous?

Now here's what's in it for you (besides getting to know an awesome author): Lindsay is going to giveaway ONE signed paperback copy of her book to the winner of the book giveaway contest (enter via the Rafflecopter widget toward the end of this blog post)! This book giveaway contest is for U.S. residents only because shipping books internationally is expensive.

I hope that you will enjoy getting to know Lindsay and learning about her book baby, The Joy of Falling!

God bless you.


Interview with Lindsay Harrel about her book, The Joy of Falling:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Lindsay: I wrote this book for the same reason I write in general—I want to bring hope to people. Grief is such a difficult topic, and everyone experiences it and reacts differently to it. But regardless of our different experiences, I believe that hope can always be found, and that’s what I wanted to illuminate in The Joy of Falling.

Alexis: What was your inspiration for this story?

Lindsay: Grief is a topic that is deeply personal to me, since I lost my mom at the age of 19. But I recognize that my own journey is not the same one others have taken, and that led me to write a book about the different ways that people handle grief. That got me thinking about how two people might react to the same incident in various ways—one too busy to deal with it at all, another consumed by it so completely she can’t move forward.

Alexis: How did you research the international locations described in this book?

Lindsay: I mostly used the Internet, including various blogs, tourism websites, etc. Because this book features an ultra-marathon in New Zealand, I actually found a real ultra-marathon website and followed the marathoners’ journey across the country to infuse real places and moments into the story. Also, I asked a friend who lives in New Zealand to read an early draft of the book, and she was able to give me a lot of insight into things that the Internet didn’t.

Alexis: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this story? Why?

Lindsay: Honestly, it was just putting myself through the emotions of grief once again. Remembering how it felt to lose my mom, asking myself the tough questions that don’t really seem to have an answer—those things gutted me emotionally.

Alexis: What was your most memorable moment as you created these characters?

Lindsay: I was actually doing revisions and trying to rewrite the entire first act. I needed to figure out Eva and her motivations a bit better. And I rewrote the first line: “Once upon a time, color had dominated Eva Jamison’s days.” I still wasn’t sure I had gotten it right, but not long after, I received an email with the cover of the book—which is bursting with color. I immediately knew that this theme of light and darkness, colors and grays, was the perfect metaphor for Eva’s life before and after her husband’s death.

Alexis: Tell us about Eva and Angela. How do they know each other? What do they each want out of life? What is their greatest joy and deepest pain? Explain.

Lindsay: Eva and Angela were both married to the Jamison brothers, who died in a scuba diving accident fifteen months before the book begins. Before their deaths, Eva was living her best life as a florist/artist, fully enjoying her marriage and all that awaited them in the future. Angela, on the other hand, was a wife and mom of three kids, and while she hadn’t pictured her life the way it had turned out, she found she actually enjoyed homeschooling them. When their husbands died, though, Angela had to quit homeschooling and start working two jobs to make ends meet. And here’s the other thing—Angela is mad at her husband for dying. So how is she supposed to process that?

Alexis: How do Eva and Angela process the grief of losing their husbands? In what ways do they grieve the same and in what ways are they different?

Lindsay: Eva is kind of stuck in the grief. She lives in it, because she’s afraid of forgetting her husband if she moves forward. And with raising three kids and working two jobs, Angela doesn’t have time to grieve at all.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the men in this story. What can you tell me about Marc and Simon without giving away the plot? Describe their looks and personalities too!

Lindsay: Aw, I just love these guys! Marc was Brent Jamison’s best friend and business partner, and he feels really guilty for not only still being alive—he was supposed to be on the ill-fated scuba diving trip with his friends—but also for having feelings for Eva (now, after Brent is gone). Marc is Italian American, so he’s got darker features and an amazing smile.

Simon King is a New Zealand reporter who is also a widower with children, so he is someone Angela finds herself able to relate to in a way she hasn’t connected with anyone else. Simon is in his early forties, and he’s broad shouldered with an athletic build. He’s such a family man and I just loved writing him.

Alexis: In what ways does the concept of hope play into this story?

Lindsay: Like in all my stories, I want readers to come away with a sense of hope. Just because our circumstances might be worse than we can possibly imagine doesn’t mean we can’t have hope for a future.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about The Joy of Falling?

Lindsay: I want them to remember how they felt as they read it. I hope that they see themselves in the characters, even if they’ve never experienced the loss of a husband.

Alexis: Now for the fun questions (in italics):

How do you take your coffee? 
Uh, not at all! LOL. I prefer iced tea. ;)

What is your least explored hobby? 
I love to sing and wish I had time to be in shows like I once was. But with little children, that’s not happening right now.

Who is your favorite author?
Explain. That’s a really impossible question to answer! If I must pick one, I’d say Jane Austen. But if we are talking someone in more recent times, I’d say Lisa Wingate. Her book Before We Were Yours inspired me to go even deeper with my writing.

Who in your personal life do you look up to the most? Why? 
I have a few mentors who pray for me regularly and are very generous with their time and encouragement! They love the Lord and they love people, and those are two things I strive to do better.

What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?
I love Philippians 1:6: “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I feel like it’s such a good reminder that even when we don’t see the WHY of something, we can trust the WHO.

Cake or Ice cream? 
Always and forever ice cream.

Netflix or Hallmark movies? 
Ah, that’s hard, because I don’t have access to Hallmark movies. I’ve enjoyed both!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Lindsay! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Lindsay: Thanks, Alexis! Happy to have the opportunity to share about The Joy of Falling!

About the Author:

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. 

She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. 

Connect with her at and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.

Blurb for Lindsay's book, The Joy of Falling:

Eva and Angela must learn to live again. One step at a time.

It has been fifteen months since Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident. Both women are trying to navigate their way through the grief, but neither one is making much progress. Angela is barely making ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Meanwhile, Eva is stuck, unable to move forward after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.

But then Eva gets a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they had signed up for a race of a lifetime—an ultra-marathon in beautiful New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place, and Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband's choices.

Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who is covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela must ask themselves questions that they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?

*United States residents ONLY may enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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Monday, April 13, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Flowers

Comfort Flowers
A devotional by Wade Webster

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

“Keep them coming.”

“Please keep them coming.”

This has been the most popular response to something I've been posting on Facebook recently. I knew it would help folks get through this virus quarantine. That's why I do it.

Most of these friends are either family members or folks I went to school with in Michigan. Winter is depressing enough. Early spring isn't much better. When my mom was alive she said April was her least favorite month because the snow melt leaves everything dirty until things begin to grow in May.

I moved to Texas to get away from the long, cold days that seemed to never end. October was my favorite month to drive in Michigan because of the abundance of color on display from the fall foliage. April is my favorite month to drive in Texas because of the incredible wildflower show on the roadsides.

We had a mild winter this year with plenty of rain. That makes for an especially vibrant flower show So now I stop when I safely can and take pictures of these marvels of God's creation. People are now longing for my next exposition...even Texans who are cooped up in their homes.

As a truck driver, I get paid to get out to see this color show. I know I shouldn't hog it all to myself, especially with the technology available to me these days. There were too many times in my youth I longed for a camera. Now I have one built into my phone that I carry with me. Life is good.

I know how therapeutic the flowers are to me so I share it to apply 2 Corinthians 1:4 in a very real way. God comforts me with His beauty. I then in turn comfort others with the same flowers.

This is only one way this verse can be applied. There are several hardships we endure that give us an audience that will listen to us only because we've gone through the same thing they're going through.

I'm in a couple of Christian divorced groups where I can encourage others going through this same life stage that we never expected. My encouragement is accepted because of the stories I share about my divorce.

Nothing is wasted in God's economy. God will use your pain to comfort others after you learn to trust Him more. Jesus Christ’s disciples were only beginning to grasp His resurrection the day after it occurred. Their stories now inspire us in remarkable ways.

Find those who need to hear what you've endured. You can help build their faith now.

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father help us pass along the hard lessons you taught us through this life. Don’t let anything go to waste. In Jesus's name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Wade Webster lives with his best friend (Jesus Christ) in Plano, Texas.

He attends Stonebriar Community Church and derives most of his income from driving 18-wheelers.

He enjoys running, dark chocolate and being in nature...but not necessarily in that order.

He's the author of 100 Prayers of a Writer and blogs at

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Sunday: Priceless (a devotional)

A devotional by Alexis A. Goring

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NIV)

One beautiful day in April 2020, I was looking up information on Google about my favorite Hollywood actresses and actors.

I noticed that one of the search results asked the question about their net worth. When I clicked on it, I saw the answer (millions of dollars). I also saw the same question popped up for several more actors. Each question was clickable with a drop down menu that revealed how much each actor (male and female) was worth financially. It awed me to know how much money these celebrities made just by their famous careers on the big screen.

Before I could go too far and become completely consumed by the lifestyles of the rich and famous, God placed this question on my heart, “How much is a human worth?” And to that, He answered, “Priceless.”

The Creator of humankind is the Eternal King of the entire Universe and He is also our Heavenly Father (God) who loves us with all of His heart. In fact, He thinks that we’re worth dying for so He sent His only Son (Jesus Christ) to save our life! Read John 3:16 for details.

Thanks to Him, we have hope. Thanks to Jesus, we have a chance at eternal life! All we have to do is accept His free gift of salvation that He carried out when He died for us on the Cross. But Christ’s death was not the closing act! After three days, He rose again on a Sunday, which is now celebrated by Christians around the world and listed on calendars as “Easter Sunday.”

Thanks to the life and resurrection of Christ, all who accept Him into their heart and follow Him know that one day He will return to take us home to Heaven. Until then, we need to live for Him and be encouraged by the fact that He died to save us and He’s coming again. The Bible says that, “God is not a man, that he should lie” (Numbers 23:19 KJV). So we can trust Him when He says that He’s preparing a place for us in Heaven (John 14:3) and that He will return to take us to be with Him there forever.

Meanwhile, as we journey through this Earth and experience all the highs and lows that life brings, we need to remember this precious truth:

Famous or not, we are all precious and priceless in God’s sight. 

We are completely loved by Him.

How does it feel to know that the Creator of the Universe knows you completely and loves you unconditionally?

Author Bio: 
Alexis A. Goring, founder of "God is Love" blog, is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts about Jesus Christ as our Messiah

“I Thirst”

A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” –John 19:28 (KJV)

This simple verse of scripture is full of wisdom, spiritual depth and assurance.

It first speaks of Messianic fulfillment. Jesus Christ became Messiah to fulfill the law and to be the typological fulfillment of the visions that the prophets of old intoned. Jesus may well have been quoting Psalm 69:20 where the psalmist was beseeching the Lord to hear of his plight and intercede in his behalf, with his marauding adversaries. Under real persecution the psalmist says that the enemies had reproached and dishonored him.

Reproachment comes in many different ways. Subtle marginalization, economic distancing, othering, then physical assaults. The psalmist pled his case before God: They have broken my heart, depressed my psyche and left me pitiful. They served me soured mush made with bile. When I thirsted they gave me vinegar to drink. It was so bitter that my head shook reflexively in disgust, and they laughed at me.

When Jesus hung, crucified, dehydrated, bruised and helpless, His persecutors treated Him with disdain and reproachment of historical reflection. He was reminded of the psalmist cry. Bearing the sins of the world and making right the wrongs of sin, he even took on that burden and said, “I thirst.” They lifted a sponge to His mouth after soaking it in a vat of cheap wine mixed with vinegar and water. When He took it, He carried the pain, shame and inequities of life for every one of us, all the way to the cross.

Christ fulfilled a prophecy showing that He knows where we are and what is going on around us. He fulfilled a prophecy assuring us that He can fulfill the purposes that were coded into our DNA.

The second concept is that because of the brutality that he had endured, Christ was physically parched and thirsty. There is no physical need that is more compelling than thirst. You can be hungry and last awhile without food. Your other sense may at times cry for fulfillment, but none will drive you quite like thirst.

In your thirsts, know that there is no temptation, no unmet need or desire that Christ has not felt (1 Corinthians 10:13). He feels what we feel and have felt. He knows how compelling loneliness can be. He knows about physical pain and desire. He knows about emotional distance and isolation. He knows about unmet expectations and unfulfillment. He carried that to the cross too, yet without sin!

Take hope and be encouraged by Christ that you too can overcome the world, including your own body, and be victorious through Christ who strengthens us.

Through it all, God was with His Son Jesus Christ. You can have that same assurance that God is with you and you can come through the challenge victorious. It may involve pain, isolation, or deprivation, but on the other side is validation, vindication and salvation.

I would like to think that when Jesus shouted into the swirling winds of dark, demonic presence as He hung dying on the Cross, He was declaring His victory over sin, death and the grave. He was claiming his victor’s cup and taking to himself the bride of Christ, His church of which we are members.

Christ’s words, “I thirst” were the intonation for all time that Jesus won and has redeemed us, not just for yesterday, but for tomorrow, and for all time and I just want to say, “Thank you, Lord!”

Let’s Pray: Thank you Lord for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making me whole. Thank you Lord for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich and free! To God be the glory! In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Chaplain 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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Service

Washing Feet
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” –John 13:14-15 (ESV)

This devotional is being written as I prepare to leave India, traveling home at a time of crisis. My husband and I have been on a two-week tour seeing and experiencing the great history and culture of this country. Our itinerary has not only covered great sites like the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, but included visiting families choosing a more “primitive” lifestyle, homesteading in the country. We peeked into yesterday’s grand India while walking in today’s culture.

When meeting our Tour Director, I expected a guide with great knowledge and an energetic personality, but Mr. Kohli’s demeanor surprised me. He was highly educated and polite, yet reserved. In hindsight, I understand his decorum was appropriate, however initially I was skeptical thinking he was stand-offish.

With only four in the group, it was really more of a private tour. My husband and I were joined by a Canadian woman and her special needs adult child. Our group dynamic was a complete twist from what I had anticipated. Special needs require special attention.

As we traveled from city to city, touring monuments, memorials and museums, the days were long and full. The energy of crowded streets and minimal regimen created a sensory overload. The stress proved difficult, not just for us, but especially our fellow travelers. The growing coronavirus pandemic rolled in like an ominous bank of storm clouds, adding temptation to worry.

It was Mr. Kohli’s calm confidence that made a successful trip possible for us. Had he been one to ride on adrenaline, we’d have been in chaos. This man was our North Star in many ways. He was a teacher. He was an authority. He was our protector. But overall, he was a servant.

Sometimes I have difficulty relating to the stories in the Bible to my everyday life. Are you like me? Jesus Christ’s last supper act of washing feet is hard to identify with because we don’t practice that service in the western world. Remaining focused on that fact, I lose the meaning of what Jesus was conveying.

In a time of great personal distress, Jesus took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves and served. He asked his followers to do the same. Don’t let this timing be lost on you! Jesus was moving toward suffering and death, and yet, he bent low, washing foot after grimy foot, leaving out no one.

Mr. Kohli, though not of Christian faith, has diligently served the four of us foreigners in a time of significant worldwide stress. He has gone above and beyond with our awkward group. He has washed my feet.

As I wrote this devotional, I was preparing to board one of four flights to return home. Each of those planes has a crew whom are not flying home during crisis. They are washing my feet.

I cannot know what will be happening in future weeks, with respect to the Coronavirus pandemic, but I know the position I must take: that of washing feet.

I am not immune to the temptation to worry or be swept up in speculation, therefore I must be intentional in keeping my mind set on the examples of Jesus and those following his example.

Whose feet are before you?

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior. 

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: God's love that was shown through a family cat

What our family cat taught us about God’s unconditional love
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“You were my second mommy, the sweetest girl ever, and I miss you so much.”

The words, scrawled by my daughter in a tear-stained letter to our late cat, Teetee, broke my heart.

We lost our kitty-daughter, Teetee, a couple of weeks ago after her short battle with cancer. She was old—almost 17—and her passing was relatively quick and in the night at our home, a blessing for which I am grateful.

Still, our home is not the same. I still imagine her in the shadows, out of the corner of my eye as I walk from the bedroom to the kitchen… still envision her lazing happily in her favorite sunshine spot, still expect her to come prowling when I get out the cheddar cheese—her favorite snack—for breakfast.

Teetee was the absolute best cat ever—not a pet, in truth, but the Real Mom of the House. The kids might call me “Mom,” but Teetee and I knew she was really the one in charge of everyone’s welfare. After all, she was the one who knew when someone was sick, often even before we did. She’d sense the illness and come to sit by us, try her best to sleep on our head, even, if we’d let her.

If someone was sad, or worried, she’d scooch close and snuggle in, like she could somehow send her “everything will be fine” state of mind directly into us.

And she’d been with us through so much!

I found Teetee at the adoption center of a pet store back in 2003, shortly after my kitty Roxanne passed away. I was brokenhearted back then and certain I wasn’t ready for a cat for a long, long time … and then I happened by Teetee, a tiny calico relaxing among the other, more antsy felines. I couldn’t resist asking to hold her, and she came to me willingly, sniffed at me curiously, turned in a circle in my arms, and promptly fell asleep. (In other words: She picked me.)

Teetee sat with me as I sobbed during a long period of infertility; it felt like she was saying, “I understand. I can’t have babies either. Everything will be fine.”

Then, after my “miracle son” was born two years later, she’d watch me nurse, change diapers, and rock my little one long into the wee hours. We’d exchange knowing looks, Teetee and I—“We’ve got this,” we’d think at each other.

Two years and another baby, a daughter, later, and Teetee and I had settled into a pattern. She’d watch them carefully, look at me mournfully when one was wailing or tugging at her tail. We’d commiserate, mom to mom; the toddler phase was tough! She’d let them do most anything to her, too, tolerating my son’s heavy pats and allowing him to lug her here and there. She’d let my daughter dress her up with princess cloaks and baby blankets and push her around in a baby stroller.

She was with me again as I’d despair on lonely nights, through an out-of-state move, through the dissolution of my marriage and a period as a single mom, through times when I’d wonder how we’d all eat or get through. “Everything will be fine,” she’d tell me in her kitty way. Of course, she was right.

When Matt and I fell in love and planned to marry, and he came over one night to watch a movie, she claimed him as part of the family, too. She leapt onto the couch, bypassed me, and settled right down on his belly, placing one paw delicately on his chest. “You’re in,” she was saying.

As the kids went from toddler to elementary-age and now young teens, she handled their mood swings far better than I, cuddling with my daughter when my daughter would get furious with me over some perceived slight, calming her with her kitty “everything’s fine” vibe.

Now, all these years later, she’s gone, and the house feels so empty without her. I miss her cuddles and purrs, the way she’d meow “helllloooo” in the early mornings trying to wake us up, her peaceful basks in sunny spots, even her cat hair that covered every surface like putty.

She loved us fiercely. And we loved her.

Looking back, I see the love of Jesus Christ shining throughout her whole life… the way she was always there in our toughest moments; the way she never, ever left us even when we wailed or acted sassy; the way she kept us focused on the after, letting us know everything would be fine. Now I realize what she was saying: Relax. God has you, sweet angst-filled human. Don’t fuss or fear.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).

Rest in peace, sweet Teetee. Thank you for your love, for always being there in the toughest moments, and for showing us the unconditional love of Jesus in the way you loved us.

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

Friday, April 3, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Balance

Balancing life with God
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (ESV)

I am blessed to be close to my sister. Most people are surprised we are six years apart. In our younger days, we were compared like twins. That comparison caused me to want to be more like her and as I grew older, I observed and analyzed things she was doing – some I agreed with, others I did not. Later, I realized that because of how much I had been concerned for her choices, I had developed some internal (unspoken) criticisms against her that had taken root as a judgement in my heart.

We are still similar in looks, but individually we both developed through very different approaches to life. My sister is laid-back and enjoys pleasing others. I am independent and carefree. I like writing, and she likes crafting. We look like the same flower, but it felt like we’d grown up in two different gardens.

How often do you unintentionally criticize those you love in your heart? It’s easy for thought or observation about someone to become a judgment root. It can sprout in a moment of disagreement or anger, or from a verbal and emotional comparison. As I watched my sister face life’s difficulties, I compared her reactions and choices to my own; to the way I would have done it, and more honestly, to the way I thought she should have done it.

It wasn’t until after I experienced the biggest event of my sister’s life – her wedding day – that God tugged on my unexposed judgment root. Both of us were older than we expected, and I had prayed a long time for this gift of happiness for her. At the time of her marriage, everything was going great in my life, but very shortly after everything fell apart. My career tanked, and my finances plummeted. I had to move back home, and I grieved my losses. I also felt left behind, primarily because of my sister’s newfound happiness. It wasn’t at all how I had imagined my life to become.

God spoke to my heart with this thought, “What did you expect?”

God showed me my sister on a tightrope. She was wobbling, as we all do at the beginning. I wanted to help her find balance, but I watched as Jesus Christ gave her His tools instead: an umbrella, with which she moved farther along, then a tricycle and she rode further still. Lastly, He placed a long balance pole in her hands, and she made it to Him waiting on the other side. I immediately knew what each tool represented from 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV), “So now faith, hope, and love abide...” He gave her an umbrella (faith), a tricycle (hope) and a balancing pole (love). She was welcomed at the end into His open arms because “the greatest of these is love.”

He showed me my tightrope, cluttered with items I had placed before me and those I had used behind, barely staying balanced on the line. They were all the choices, excuses, and deflections I had used to get this far on my own. Of course, God had walked with me, but I had chosen my own tools to do things my way, the way I thought others should. Had it been up to me to guide my sister, I might have cluttered her lifeline like my own.

I asked God to forgive me for not making Him the complete Lord of my life (and not trusting Him with the lives of others). As He removed my judgment root, everything fell off my tightrope, and instead of waiting on the other side for me to cross, He zipped down the line to stand before me so nothing else was in view. He offered me His hand. As I took it, He turned and raised a lantern to light a pathway instead, and my spirit rejoiced at the promise that filled my heart, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105 ESV). Yes, God, not my way, but yours alone. There is no greater balance in life.

Do you need such balance in your life today too? Is there a stumbling root in your heart that God can remove? Pray and seek Him. He’s waiting at the other end of your tightrope to make your way clear and straight into His arms of love.

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.

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