Monday, June 21, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Promises and His Perfect Timing

It’s On the Way
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” 
–Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

It was New Year's Day. I just received the news that my friend had given birth just a little earlier than her due date. The baby was healthy and my friend was doing well. She was relieved that the delivery was over. My friend and I went through the ups and downs of our pregnancies together.

We both experienced morning sickness and all of the special conditions that pregnancy had to offer. We encouraged each other through the process and we both wondered if we would make it to 40 weeks. Well, her waiting period had come to an end. As for me, I was still pregnant and I felt like my waiting period had no end. Secretly, I wished that I was the one who had given birth on New Year's Day. I wanted this pregnancy to be finished and I especially wanted the delivery to be over so that I could hold my baby and then continue with the next phase of raising a newborn.

The doctor strongly suggested that I induce the baby. I really did not want to choose that option, but I was running out of time. I was 39 weeks pregnant, my due date was steadily approaching, and there were no signs indicating that I was close to delivery. This would be my second child and I was getting uneasy about the inaction. I had frequent check-ups and stress tests to make sure that the baby was alright. All of the tests results were fine, but why wasn't anything happening? At this point in the game, the baby was supposed to drop, I was supposed to be dilated, and there was a slew of other symptoms that I was anticipating. None of these things had taken place. I felt like I was in limbo. The uncertainty was excruciating!

I scheduled the induction for a very early Wednesday morning. The day before, a good friend who is also a midwife came to visit me at my home. She told me about a few natural formulas and strategies that would hopefully prepare me for the next morning when I would be induced. I still was not dilated and there were no changes from the previous week. I followed her instructions at the beginning of the day on Tuesday, and I continued the natural procedures all day into the evening. Still no change.

As I was making plans for the next morning, my friend suggested I soak in the bathtub to relax since it had been a long day. I soaked only for a few minutes when all of a sudden I felt movement in my abdomen. I got out of the tub, my friend took one look at me and then informed me that we would not make it to the hospital. The baby was coming now! Much to our surprise, my baby was born in my bathroom that Tuesday evening. Thank God my friend who is a midwife was there to help me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God for delivering a healthy baby boy safely into my hands!

And just like that, God's promises to you will be born. It may seem like nothing is happening and everything is at rest; but God is moving and He is working on the inside. Your talents, gifts, skills, and abilities may be laying dormant, but they are waiting to be set loose so that you may reach the potential that God created in you. It's like pregnancy. There is something growing and developing inside of you and at the appointed time, everything He promised will come forth and you will give birth to God's purpose for your life. In the meantime, you have to pay attention to the opportunities God brings to you and pursue His will for your life at all costs. 

It will be worth it in the end.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, we want You to fulfill Your promises in our lives. Help us to discover Your will and to follow Your purpose so that we can reap the blessings that You have in store for us. We love you and we thank you. In Jesus's Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Angela Anderson was born in Brooklyn, New York. She was raised in a Christian home in New Jersey. Angela dedicated her life to Christ and was baptized at the age of 12. 

As a child in elementary school, she developed a penchant for writing book reports and entering writing contests. By high school, she was taking advanced placement courses in English and Speech & Creative Writing. Angela’s love for journaling also had its beginnings in high school and it evolved into prayers journals and detailed notes for prospective book ideas. As a result, Angela is the author of a published 40-day devotional book titled Just When I Thought I Knew God. She also wrote a children’s book that is not yet published.

Although Angela wanted to somehow incorporate writing in her life, she is currently a Certified Human Resources Professional. Angela graduated from Rutgers University in NJ with a double bachelor’s degree in Labor/Employment Relations & Sociology. She also has an MBA from Strayer University.

Angela founded a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization called Head to the Sky, Inc. It was formed in order to assist those in prison with their transition into society and to reduce the rate of recidivism in the community. During this venture, Angela received a certification in grant writing from The Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College. Angela was very passionate about teaching, training, and sharing the love of Christ in this ministry; but she had to refocus her passion when she and her husband decided to start their family.

Angela has been married to the love of her life, Duane Anderson for 16 years. Together they have two sons: Thomas (age 8) and Ryan (age 3). Angela’s favorite pastime is journaling and she also enjoys spending quality time with her family. Her personal mission is to empower others to achieve their goals and dreams.

Connect with Angela:
Facebook fan page for her devotional book, Just When I Thought I Knew God:

Friday, June 18, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A Lesson On Childlike Wonder and Heaven

Releasing Your Inner Child
A devotional by Jessica Collazo

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 
– Mark 10:14(b)-15 (ESV)

My family and I recently visited Disney World.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of excitement leading up to the trip. As we spent the day at one of the parks, we entered an area dedicated to Star Wars. There was an experience that you actually had to register ahead of time to participate in, and well, my very determined husband was able to ensure that we secured a spot.

As we walked through the experience, my husband’s face lit up. There was an excitement and wonder on his face that cannot be described any other way than childlike. It was as if the little boy in him surfaced as he explored the exhibit. I took picture after picture of his reactions because there was a refreshing ease about him at that moment.

Without realizing it, the next day was my turn to have a similar experience. As we entered Magic Kingdom, and saw the Cinderella Castle, it was as if the little girl in me jumped out in excitement. There was a pure moment of joy that was unadulterated.

I reflected on those moments at the parks and felt that the Lord was reminding me to embrace that childlike excitement, but to focus it on Him. To allow myself to approach His throne with awe and wonder once again. Those moments at Disney were a small glimpse of reality for me. I was able to see that it is possible to allow my inner child to surface and experience God’s goodness in a pure simple way.

Life has a way of making us forget about the simple things that bring a smile to our faces. As kids, we are in a hurry to grow up, because we think that there is freedom that comes with adulthood. However, as adults, we tend to get bogged down with the troubles that this world brings us and we quickly lose the awe and wonder that we had as children.

If life has you a little uneasy these days or maybe even feeling a little hopeless, I urge you to pause and try to think about the last thing that took your breath away or brought you pure excitement. Think about something that made you remember God and His faithfulness.

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank you for the reminders all around us that you are a good Father. Lord, allow us to see things with childlike eyes, to look at you and your creation with awe and wonder, and to allow the child in us to believe in you when the troubles of this world try to distract us and keep us from you. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Jessica Collazo is a Chicago native with a heart that beats for Jesus.

Her passion is to challenge women to think differently, gain a new perspective and live confidently. Because she knows, it’s possible. 

Using God’s Word, a little bit of humor, strategic way of thinking and personal stories, Jessica offers a fresh take on where to go when women feel stuck, overlooked or overwhelmed.

Jessica’s greatest passion is to help women take off the identities they have been given by the world and realize who they are in Christ: known, dearly loved, set apart, and chosen.

Jessica is the senior manager of operations at Proverbs 31 Ministries who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, Jerry, two sons and dog, Sawyer. Prior to working at Proverbs 31 Ministries, Jessica has over 10 years of experience working in women’s ministry, marriage ministry and outreach.

Connect with Jessica:

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A day with Jesus can change your life forever

Where Do We Go From Here?
A devotional by Malinda Fugate

Key Scripture:
Luke 5:1-11, John 21:1-14, Ephesians 2:10

An ordinary day at the office can be the day that your life is changed.

When Peter, Andrew, James, and John began their usual night of fishing, they didn’t know that morning would bring an encounter with Jesus, a miraculous bursting-the-nets catch of fish, and walking away from their jobs to follow Christ. They didn’t anticipate the wild journey of the next three years as they witnessed healings, began to understand the kingdom of God, and learned how to be “fishers of people.” Nothing about them would ever be the same.

Suddenly, their world was turned upside down again. Their Teacher was brutally killed on a cross. Then, days later, He walked alive among them after defeating death. Life as they knew it was completely transformed. The challenge was that Jesus was not with them in the same way He had been the past three years. The rhythm of traveling, teaching, and healing had been disrupted. They were frightened of the officials angry enough to cause them harm. What were the disciples supposed to do now?

One particular night, they decided to return to what they knew: fishing. Unfortunately, even that was a discouragement as the sun rose over their empty nets. They saw someone on the shore and heard a voice cry out to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. With nothing to lose, those nets splashed into the sea. In a moment, they were filled with fish! This had happened before and they were immediately struck with recognition and familiarity. They shouted, “It is the Lord!”

Peter jumped into the water, eager to reach their beloved Teacher, even if it meant swimming. Soon, they were all reunited on the beach, enjoying the breakfast their Lord provided.

The repeat fishing miracle must have reminded the disciples of that morning on the Sea of Galilee when they took their first steps alongside Jesus. Here they were again—same body of water, same amazing catch, same Savior. Did they remember those words from years ago, “From now on, you will fish for people”? Did this clarify their direction, guiding them into their next steps of spreading the gospel? One thing was sure: They were never intended to return to their previous life of boats, nets, and fish guts.

Jesus Christ had changed the disciples from their initial encounter. And when we are changed by Christ, there’s no going back to who we were before. The disciples had a God-given purpose, and so do we. When we met Jesus the first time, He transformed our lives for good. We entered a journey alongside Him with many of life’s ups and downs. With every mountain and valley, we grew. Our faith was strengthened and everything about us matured, all with a purpose for our good and to bring Him glory.

The past year has been full of mountains and valleys, one after the other. We are tired, bewildered, and uncertain about the future. We might understand how the disciples felt post-resurrection – tired, bewildered, uncertain – but full of hope in Christ. They couldn’t go back to who they were and neither can we.

Through this year, God has refined us in the fire of difficulties, preparing us for where He will take us next. In Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). There’s no going back to old ways or even standing still in a life following Jesus. So what does going forward look like for each of us?

That answer may look different in our individual circumstances, but there is something we have in common with the disciples. We are intended to spread the gospel and bring glory to the Lord. We aren’t meant to quietly keep the good news to ourselves.

God has brought you to this point with purpose. Where are you planted? Who do you encounter daily, or who are you connected to that needs more of the love of God in their life? What skills and experiences have you gained this year? Give them to the Lord and seek what He has prepared for you.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10 (ESV), “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Remember where you’ve gone with the Lord and take the next steps with Him. This is a new beginning. The adventure continues!

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.

Her writing includes children's faith resources, commercial copywriting, and various faith-based stage and screenplays.

Malinda invites you to explore the various 3:16s in the Bible with her new book, The Other Three Sixteens (published by Ambassador International in May 2020).

She also invites you to read her previously published books: Bible Time for Active Kids, which is an activities-based devotional that is available for purchase on, 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, and then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA.

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

She lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi.

Visit Malinda online via

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Romantic Reads: Delayed Justice

The Story Behind Delayed Justice by Cara Putman:

If you've followed along with my writing for any length of time, you know I love writing. It's also one of the hardest things I do. Writing is hard work plain and simple. To give readers an emotional experience I have to dig deep. I need to cry. I'll want to chortle. For any emotion to resonate, I have to be willing to go there.

For some books that's relatively easy. I'm writing a book set in WWII on the home front. There's rationing. There's boys going to war. But there's also dances. And games. And the importance of family.

Then there are the books that require deep things from me. Delayed Justice was one of those books. Jaime Nichols was a character who was shy to make her story known. In Beyond Justice, she said a few snarky lines and gratefully slid into the shadows. In Imperfect Justice, she hinted at darker secrets, but kept her difference. But in Delayed Justice her story erupted. It oozed with pain and angst...and to get her to a point of healing and hope, I had to walk through the pain, too.

That meant I had to research the lingering effects of childhood abuse on adults. I had to explore the trauma's impacts in emotional and physical ways. I had to talk with survivors and read their stories, so I could honor their experience in the telling of Jaime's. I also wanted to write the story in a way that conveys hope without triggering those who may have experienced the painful realities.

To do that I balanced Jaime's journey with her stand-offish cat Simba and a lovable Golden Retriever named Aslan. The two of them provided comic relief and a mirror for the growing friendship between Jaime and Chandler Bolton. The animals also reflect the shifting nature of Jaime's spiritual journey. I also surrounded Jaime with friends, and made sure she couldn't escape one. It was impossible for her to continue to hide behind a mask when Caroline is around. We all need friends like that, don't we?

The other element that made Delayed Justice a challenge to write is that Jaime doesn't know God as her personal Father. She's heard about Him from her friends, but He's not good and He's not safe. If He were, He would have protected her. As I was writing Delayed Justice I was wrestling with those questions in a very personal way. I'll be writing more about that in the coming weeks, what God's been showing me and what I'm trying to learn.

God actually used the writing of this story to allow me to wrestle with some of these hard questions. Where is God when things don't go well? When we obey and follow Him and He drops us off the cliff? Where is He when we're hurt or abused? How do we reconcile that reality of living in a fallen world with the truth that He is good?

These are hard questions. They don't have easy answers.

And Jaime wrestles with them, just as I wrestle with them. Maybe you do, too.

Isn't that what a faith journey is about?

Some days we are running down the path God has in front of us. The path is clear. The light shines brightly and I can see Him. I can see His smile. I can feel the warmth of His love.

Then there are other days, weeks, and months, where the path is shrouded in fog and darkness. In those days my journal is filled with questions. God, where are You? What did I do? What am I supposed to learn? Help me follow You when I can't find You or see You. These are the days that faith is hard. Some days I have wrestled to continue believing what I know is true, when my heart is broken and hurting.

But I'm finding after the deconstruction comes reconstruction. It's hard work, but God meets me in it. Jaime gets to discover some of that truth too.

Book Blurb for Delayed Justice:

Jaime long ago gave up the desire to be loved. Now she only needs to be heard.  

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

You can learn more about Cara at

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

Connect with Cara:


Monday, June 14, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Way

My Way or The “Most High” Way?
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing Him and what he does.”— Romans 4:16 (MSG)

I keep a journal where I write down what I study in the Bible, how God speaks to me, prayer requests and sometimes even my prayers themselves. Sometimes I like to go back to my journal and read the things I've written, specifically the prayers I've prayed to see if and how God has answered.

Do you ever read back through your journal and see a pattern of you asking God for things for yourself and others? Do you see yourself asking God to bless your plans and ideas? I would be lying if I said I didn't. How often do we ask God what His plans are for us? If I were to read back over the last couple months of entries, I might be disappointed in myself to see how few times I asked God what He had planned for me or what Kingdom work He had going on that He wanted me to be a part of.

While God wants us to be productive, He is far more concerned with whether we are walking in our purpose. He places passions and desires in us, but their main purpose is to be used to further His kingdom and bring Him glory. God created us for a purpose, and we will be happiest and feel most fulfilled when we are pursuing that purpose. Our job is to get on board with what God wants us to be doing and how He wants us to be doing it. Our best efforts are useless if they are not aligned with the will of the Father. And God (our Father) tells us this, more than once, in His Word.

Have you heard the saying, “It’s my way or the highway” yet? The Bible tells us in Proverbs 14:12 (NLT) as well as in Proverbs 16:25 (NLT), “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” All of a sudden “my way” doesn’t sound so appealing, does it? 

I have known God to repeat a recurring theme or topic to emphasize its importance. I have even seen in the Gospels where exact words are repeated as different writers recounted the same story. But I don’t recall many times where the exact same words are repeated in two different places within God’s Word (The Holy Bible), were completely unrelated to each other. Seeing these two verses that read exactly the same makes it pretty clear God doesn’t want us to miss this. I’m also pretty sure He knew we’d need to hear those words more than once.

One of the many things I love about God is that He doesn’t place expectations on us without giving us the means to fulfill them and usually examples of how to carry them out. This topic is no different. Romans 4:2-3 (MSG) states, “If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”

We see here that “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him” instead of asking God to enter into what Abraham was doing. How many times have I tried to write a “Cyndi story” with God’s stamp of approval on it? Far too many times, I can assure you. And I love that we see here that “God was doing something for Abraham”. When we align our plans with God, He will not only work with us but also for us. That’s when we tap into the full power of the living God.

This verse also tells us Abraham "trusted God to be right" and set him straight "instead of trying to be right on his own". Does that feel like a Holy Spirit punch to anyone else? 

So often I think I know what’s best for me and my life only to find out over and over again that God’s ways are not only higher than mine, but far better (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Often, I think I am working so hard to accomplish something for God and yet it feels like I’m swimming against the current. Usually, I discover I am trying to bring God on board with my plans, plans I wasn’t called by God to carry out. Instead, I should be trying to do something with God and then He will do something for and with me.

Romans 4:16 (MSG) above makes it clear that if we want to experience fulfillment of God’s promises then we have to trust Him entirely and then embrace Him and what He does. We have to decide, daily, that even when things seem hopeless, we are going to live on the basis of what we know to be true about God, rather than what we see or feel in the natural. This is the “Most High way” and it’s so much better than our own way! 

Let’s Pray: Gracious God, we know Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts and Your ways are higher than our ways. Yet we still often try to take control of our lives usually leaving a mess in our wake. You are always faithfully waiting to pick up our pieces and lead us back into Your will and Your ways. Help us to more consistently seek You first and to always be on the lookout for the Kingdom work going around us that You prepared in advance for us to be a part of. It's our heart’s desire to walk confidently in the path and purpose You created us for. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

Connect with Cyndi:

Friday, June 11, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Don't Quit!

Get back up, again!
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” –Proverbs 24:15-16 (ESV)

I have learned that failing and falling are essential to excellence. When I learned to ride a bicycle, I fell. Several times. When I learned to skate, I fell, several times. When I became more confident and began learning tricks on the bicycle and my skates, I fell again, often. But, I fell with a bit more grace and with determination, then I got back up and tried again.

In karate classes, one of the first and most important lessons is how to fall, how to roll and how to quickly recover. When learning to play scales on my flute and cello, I did not get it right. As I practiced, over and over, my hand placement and breathing became synchronized with the notes on the sheet music. Pretty soon, instead of noise, I was making music.

The text above is one of 30 wisdom sayings found in the middle of the book of Proverbs. The first of them is in Proverbs 22:17. They are what I call a compendium for character development. They were written in Hebrew, but they seem to reflect a similar collection of wisdom sayings from Egyptian literature, attributed to the philosopher Amenemope. This may suggest that character and faith development is similar in every culture.

The development of a person’s character demands repetition in failure. The repetition creates confidence. Confidence leads to mastery. In the process of falling, failing and recovering, grit and determination become a part of our personality. The fundamentals of success become automatic.

In contrast, when a person does not fall, fail and learn how to recover and try again, there is less confidence. Fear, unwillingness to persevere, closed mindedness, shortsighted pessimism and lack of adventure are traits that accompany those who will not risk falling or failure. These are those who are overwhelmed when they meet crisis and calamity.

By the time I was five years old, I was riding my bicycle without training wheels. Since then, I have almost always owned a bicycle. Last year, while following my son who was also riding his bicycle, I fell, again. We were about two miles from home. As life had taught me, I got up, mounted the bike again and rode home.

The gospel singer, Donnie McClurkin, popularized this concept with his song “We Fall Down.” He said, “We fall down, but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up.” Falling is not failure and failure is not fatal. Failure in deeds are lessons learned. Failing to try is failure indeed.

As you rise and meet today, do so with the confidence learned from the times in your past when you fell or failed. You are still here. You know what did not work. Get back up, again. Do it, again! Instead of being bitter, get better!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for today. Please unfold Your desire for me. Put within me the grit, discernment and desire to grasp what you have placed out there. Help me to use Your mercy and gifts to be all that I can be and to help others. Make me a blessing in the path of someone else. If I should stumble and fall, if I should fail in some endeavor, please make me rise. Make it so that when I rise, that I learn, that I grow and that I thrive. Be with others who like me have fallen or failed. Put within them the buoyancy and resilience to get back up again. As they do, let them see success and be successful, for your glory and according to your will, I pray. 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.

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Obedience

Worship in Obedience
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17 (NIV)

As parents, when we give instructions to our children, obedience is the expected response. But how often do we hear “Why” in reply? Children do not always find rules easy to follow and we, as adults, can find them hard at times as well.

Psalm 119:33-34 (TPT) says, “Give me revelation about the meaning of your ways so I can enjoy the reward of following them fully. Give me an understanding heart so that I can passionately know and obey your truth.” This verse encourages us to enjoy following God’s ways and to walk in obedience to His truth.

In the Bible book of Daniel, we find a perfect example of how obedience and worship go hand in hand. Daniel was a Jewish prophet in the Old Testament who was gifted with the ability to interpret dreams. He was living in exile in Babylon but was well-liked by the king due to his gift. The Babylonians did not worship God and at the urging of some of his trusted officials, the king outlawed worshiping any god other than the idols of their culture. Anyone caught doing such would be put to death in the lion’s den.

In direct disobedience to the king’s decree, but in obedience to God, Daniel knelt and worshipped the Lord three times a day. He knew the ultimate consequence could be death but his love for the Lord ruled his life. He did not veer from his principles. Due to those actions, Daniel was condemned to death by the king.

We can learn four life lessons from Daniel’s obedience:

Lesson #1: Daniel was in the habit of prayer. Daniel 6:10 (NIV) says, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daily prayer was a pattern in Daniel’s life and not just in times of crisis. God knew the sound of his voice.

Lesson #2:
Daniel trusted in the sovereignty of God. He bent down on his knees to pray—reminding himself of the authority of God as he bowed before him.

Lesson #3: Daniel gave himself entirely to God. He knew he did not have the strength on his own to walk this path, so he prayed for God to give him strength.

Lesson #4: Daniel asked for God’s intervention. He may have asked for the edict to be overturned or possibly for God to be glorified in his death. God did not deliver help in the way Daniel expected but rather He sealed the mouths of the lions and Daniel was spared.

In Colossians 3:17 (NIV) we read, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” When this is how we live our lives, we give honor to the Lord, and we acknowledge that He alone is worthy of our worship and praise.

The One who calls us to obedience gives us everything we need to obey Him (2 Peter 1:3).

Theoretically, we know this to be true but do the Lord’s commands bring you joy? Do you accept that they are for your good? If we are honest with ourselves, we often balk at following His commands despite having all we need to live a life of obedience. Obedience begets worship. It is the outward result of a heart that is unimpressed and uninterested in anything but God.

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, despite what you were facing at Calvary, you humbled yourself and became obedient to the Father’s will. We do not face death each day, but we ask that you bestow on us that same spirit of humbleness and obedience so that you are glorified in our actions and in our words. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Kay’s devotional today reminds me of the song “Pray On” by Babbie Mason. Listen to it here

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Kay:

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Romantic Reads: Borrowed Lives

Book Spotlight on Borrowed Lives by Carol McClain:

Today, we're shining the spotlight on a book about issues that people may struggle with in real life. This will be a short post filled with food for thought!

Book blurb for Borrowed Lives:

Distraught from recent tragedy, Meredith Jaynes takes pity on a young girl who steals from her. 

Meredith discovers “Bean” lives in a hovel mothering her two younger sisters. The three appear to have been abandoned. With no other homes available, Social Services will separate the siblings. To keep them together, Meredith agrees to foster them on a temporary basis.

Balancing life as a soap maker raising goats in rural Tennessee proved difficult enough before the siblings came into her care. Without Bean’s help, she’d never be able to nurture these children warped by drugs and neglect—let alone manage her goats that possess the talents of Houdini. Harder still is keeping her eccentric family at bay.

Social worker Parker Snow struggles to overcome the breakup with his fiancĂ©e. Burdened by his inability to find stable homes for so many children who need love, he believes placing the abandoned girls with Meredith Jaynes is the right decision. 

Though his world doesn’t promise tomorrow, he hopes Meredith’s does. But she knows she’s too broken.

Author Bio:

Carol McClain 
writes novels about the redemption of the unredeemable. Even her most serious works are laced with humor.

She is a consummate encourager, and no matter what your faith might look like, you will find compassion, humor, and wisdom in her complexly layered, but ultimately readable work.

She is a past president of ACFW Knoxville and its current treasurer/secretary. She facilitates Postmark Writers, an offshoot of the LaFollette Art Group. She teaches online courses and is a clinical supervisor for WGU.

In addition to the above, she’s served on the Board of Connections To Recovery, an organization dedicated to keeping addicts sober. She’s mentored recovering addicts, and at one time, had been a foster mother–the complexity and difficulty of that calling proved she was better off writing about it than performing it.

Aside from writing, she’s a skilled stained glass artist and a budding potter.

Carol lives in Tennessee with her husband, kitties, and Springer spaniel, and soon will own a passel of Nigerian Dwarf goats.

Buy Carol's book, Borrowed Lives, on Amazon

Connect with Carol:

Monday, June 7, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Depression

Four key ways to love people with depression
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 
–John 13:35 (NIV)

Have you ever tried to love someone with depression but it feels like there’s a wall between you? Or maybe it’s you who has depression, and while your heart longs to love well, the depression feels like a barricade so thick and high you can’t possibly overcome it.

I’ve shared before that I have a number of close family members with depression, and there have been seasons in my own life when I, too, struggled with depression. It’s a rough situation—sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes it’s because of a tough situation (such as mine, after my divorce), and sometimes it’s a combination of these. Sometimes someone’s depression responds to medication or other aids, and it’s manageable—you can reasonably function in the midst of the dark spell, even though you are at an emotional low. Other times, you’re on the wrong depression medicine for your body, or your medication stops working or you can’t afford it anymore, and you spiral ever downward until you fear you’re headed toward rock bottom.

If you have depression and you are struggling to love your people well in the midst of it, please know your efforts and your suffering are seen and appreciated. Understand you are like a battery that has run out of a charge, or a cup of water that has been emptied. You need to be recharged to run again, or filled back up with water again in order to pour out that love upon the world. Accept the grace God’s love gives you in this time. Love is, whether we can show it or not.

If you love someone with depression, here are four key things that can help:

1. Love with acceptance: Depression isn’t something you can “get over.” It’s not a choice or a mindset, and it can be paralyzing. Like diabetes or cancer, it can be largely invisible, and it’s nobody’s fault. Often it’s inherited. So keep this in mind as you interact with the person you love. Accept them as they are. You don’t need to take abuse in the form of verbal attacks, but do understand their low mood isn’t personal or something they can change. Love them anyway.

2. Love with grace. People with depression often feel lonely, hopeless, and isolated. Again, don’t take it personally if they push you away or stop calling. Let them know you care and that you are there when they are ready. Send a written note, text, or voicemail saying hi. Your loved one might be pushing others away, but they don’t necessarily want to be alone—rather, they often just feel alone. Help them know they are not alone.

3. Love with open ears.
Listening to your depressed loved one is often the biggest gift you can give them. You don’t need to offer wisdom or advice or even understanding. In fact, sometimes there’s nothing at all that can be said. But being a safe person, offering that place where they can talk about their feelings, can be exactly what they need.

4. Love with peace. Speaking to His disciples in John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The world can be a chaotic, troubled, terrible place sometimes. It is not heaven. Culture’s lies battle hard for our hearts and attention. People with depression are often very susceptible to this, and it can make them feel worse. But in Jesus, we can find peace. One way we can love people with depression is to show them that same peace, whether we introduce them to Jesus or simply model the peace of Christ for them, opening the door for the Spirit to move better within them.

These are just four ways to love someone with depression. And if you are that depressed person, know you can use these strategies with yourself, too. Be your own friend. Give yourself that same acceptance, grace, listening love, and peace you’d give someone else struggling with what you experience.

Your turn: Do you have any other tips to share? Any other words of wisdom to help loves others in the midst of sadness, anger, frustration, or despair? I invite you to share in the comments below.

Let’s Pray:
Loving God, please help me to know Your deep, vast love in the midst of depression. You know our hearts better than we do ourselves. Help us love and reflect You and pass on that love in ways that are sensitive and beautiful and fully led by the Holy Spirit that lives within each of us. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

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

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

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at

Friday, June 4, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson about just how much Jesus loves you!

Just for You
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.” – Matthew 18:12-13 (ESV)

As an introverted teenager growing up in church, the worst words I could hear on a youth group outing were “street evangelism” and “tracts”. This meant we had to pair up. Then, with an adult chaperone, we had to go out into the neighborhoods to knock on doors in order to share the love of Jesus Christ with strangers.

I hated street evangelism because talking to strangers terrified me. I was good with words on paper, but not delivering them in person. I finally confessed my fear to my adult helper, who took over with my partner while I watched from the sidelines. At first, I was relieved and then I felt guilty for not fulfilling “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-20). I felt like a failure.

What I didn’t know (or realize then) is that God gives each of us a different gift and talent in order to share His love. Just as not all of us are called to be athletes, doctors, or writers, not all of us are called to be evangelists or pastors either. And, contrary to some beliefs, not all of us have to have a theology degree to be worthy of furthering the Kingdom of God.

God made each of us different, and that means He has a plan for each of us with regards to how His love is shared around the world and in our local communities. He sends some people out to minister to the lost and the broken, and sometimes He sends the lost and the broken directly to us.

In college I choose the creative path of theatre, which forced me out onto the public stage, where I found my physical and singing voice, and the audience came to me. Once I earned the right to be in the spotlight, I felt God meet me each time. Eventually, He gave me unique opportunities to share His love with others. As I got to know people and they got to know me, relationship building led to Kingdom building. Under this principle there is a quote by Teddy Roosevelt that rings true: “People don't care what you know, until they know that you care.” I believe that’s why as a youth I couldn’t just share God’s love with a stranger. It had to mean something first, not just to me, but to the person on the other side of the door.

I have never felt a greater connection to the power of caring about such relationship, than the first time when God used my theatrical talent in church to write and direct an Easter passion play. In doing so, I had to fully rely on God’s Spirit not only to write about His life and death, but to bring it to life on the stage by guiding and directing volunteers from our congregation. People with some – or very little – experience decided to trust me to mold and guide them, and then put the spotlight on them to tell God’s story to an audience that had been sent to receive it.

The first night of a performance I felt as nervous as I did on the days of my old evangelist youth outings. What if I didn’t do enough, God? What if no one comes to the Cross to receive salvation? As our pastor called for the lost and the broken to come forward, no one moved. I felt the walls closing in, but then I remembered that Jesus would have died on the Cross if there had only been one, if there had only been me. That’s how He sees each one of us. That one sheep that broke away from the ninety-nine. He would give everything to go after it. After me. After you.

I felt it in my spirit, God asking me, “Would you do all this for just the one? Put all of yourself out there to bring but one into my kingdom?” I felt the “yes” response to Him in my heart. Suddenly, the audience stirred, and I saw a small boy walking toward the platform. He came up to the cross and touched it.

I fell to my knees and wept with great joy. You see, I didn’t need to bring people to God. I only needed to be available to God right where I was, where I am, and because of Him people will come to His light that shines each time I step out, or sing a melody, or write words to be printed a page or acted out on a stage. Like me, He has a plan for you, to use you right where you are to touch that one who’s searching for their way back home.

Let's Pray: Dear God, you created me for a purpose. Thank you for making me unique and giving me special gifts and talents to use for the furtherance of your Kingdom. Grant me the courage to be your willing vessel. Thank you for using me to show your love to others. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen. 

*Note from Alexis: Mirachelle's message reminds me of the song "Just for Me" by Donnie McClurkin. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

Connect with Mirachelle:

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Everything can and will change but God ...

Does anything stay the same?
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
–Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)

All around us things are changing faster than we can blink. You know this because the rules on what you can and cannot do keep changing in this era of pandemic.

We have had to stay alert, listen and learn a lot about what it is to make changes with very little time and very little notice. I know that for most of us it has been frustrating and we have truly had to rely on the strength of the Lord to bring us through. So how are you doing? Are you still enjoying little makeup as you don your mask and walk into public arenas? Am I the only one who misses walking in a mall versus curbside pickup? It’s been a lot of change, I know.

Back in the day when I used to play basketball, the word “pivot” was part of our language in the game. There was a drill we did where you stood with one foot anchored, holding the ball and shifting quickly on a different angle in an effort to either make your shot for the basket or toss the ball to a nearby team member. It was an exercise that you had to become proficient in because you would definitely use it at some point in the game.

You were doing several things at one time and you had to be quick! If you had a clear shot of the basket, you had to pivot and make the shot. The other option was to quickly hand off the ball before another player intercepted your pass. You had to stay alert to the game, to shift and adjust your game plan as needed. Sometimes it could become frustrating because of the constant changes you would be forced to make. However, that is the nature of playing basketball.

If there is one thing that we can be assured of it’s the fact that God remains the same. He doesn’t shift or pivot, nor is he surprised by anything. God is the same as He was from the beginning of time. He will not change. How comforting is that to you and I? How much does that bring us reassurance in the midst of turmoil?

Weather changes, gas price changes, people’s loyalties and your weekly grocery bill … everything can and will change. My husband remarked at the number of dandelions that have popped up this year. They have doubled between the time he mowed the lawn from one day to the next. Now I can’t say that I have stopped to count them but I’ll take his word for it. The neighbors agree with him. Like I said, everything changes!

If you have ever read the Bible from cover to cover, you notice God’s constant reassurance of His love for us and his commitment to us. 
Let’s look at an example of this beautiful truth in Isaiah 49:15-16 (NKJV):

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me."

In Malachi 3:6 (NKJV) we also read: “For I am the Lord, I do not change.”

The Great I Am, always will be. He has made a commitment to us and made it clear that it is possible for a mother to forget her child (I know that sounds impossible). But God says that we are so important and so dear to Him that we are permanently printed on the palms of His hands.

I don’t know about you, but for me the love of our Heavenly Father is a deep commitment that is comparable to none. There is no human being, no mother or father whose love for us is comparable to His. Does this give you confidence? Does this give you hope? In the midst of a changing world we can rest assured that we serve an unchangeable God who loves us with a never ending, never changing, unconditional love.

Let’s Pray:
Father God, I am so grateful for your love for me. Thank you for reminding us that while everything around us is changing, you remain the same. I stand in that confidence today, regardless of what I face tomorrow. Thank you for your faithfulness to us. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Patricia:

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Romantic Reads: Rayne’s Redemption

Story Behind the Story: Rayne’s Redemption
A guest post by Linda Shenton Matchett

Twins run in my family, and I’ve always been fascinated by them, especially how vastly different their personalities can be. For Rayne's Redemption, I created twin sisters Rayne and Jessica Dalton to explore what it would be like for a non-believer to pose as a believer to get something she desired, in this case, a marriage.

Would she have feelings of guilt or would she be unaffected because she thinks the ends justify the means? Would she succeed with her deception? How would the subterfuge affect those around her and would there be any consequences?

I had great fun creating Rayne because of the challenges associated with her character. In some sense, she is the villain of the story, but in another way she is a victim of her circumstances and her own belief system. She needed to be a difficult personality, yet likable. Strong-willed, yet not rigid.

For her “foil” I decided to use an Englishman for several reasons. First and foremost, I’m an Anglophile. I love all things British and most of my WWII books are set somewhere in England. My last few releases have been set in the western US during the 1800s, and I’ve missed my English characters, so I decided to drop one into Rayne’s Redemption. Having a character from a foreign country also allowed me to use the fish-out-of-water concept, one of my favorite types of story. I enjoyed including contrasts in the characters’ cultures too.

I love to seek my readers’ input on stories, so I polled the followers in my Facebook author page about where they’d like to see a story located. They not only selected Wyoming, but also made suggestions about the name of the town which ended up being Rocky Mountain Springs.

A lot of mail-order bride and western stories tend to have a farmer or rancher as the main male character. I decided to take a different route by having him fail in his attempts to work the land which added to his personal “baggage” of being a second son and feeling like he’d already let down his family. Flynn purchases a mercantile, an important business in western towns not only for the products made available from flour and coffee beans to patent medicines and dry goods, but for the opportunity to gather and catch up on the latest news.

General stores were nothing like our modern shops. The shelves would have been crammed with merchandise, crates, barrels, and boxes. With the unpaved roads and walkways, customers would have tracked in dirt and other waste from outside, and during the winter the stove would have left a fine layer of soot on everything. Mercantiles would also be very fragrant, and according to social historian Gerald Carson it was a “well-dug-in odor...a blend made up of the store’s inventory, the customers, and the cat...with ripe cheese and sauerkraut, sweet pickles, the smell of paint on new toys, kerosene, lard and molasses, old onions and potatoes, poultry feed, gun oil, rubber boots, dried fish, and ‘kept’ eggs. Makes my nose wrinkle just thinking about it!

What is something you learned about by reading a historical novel?

Author Bio:

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by.  

A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is a former trustee for her local public library.

She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry.

Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

Blurb for Rayne’s Redemption:

Will she have to lose her identity to find true love? 

Twin sisters Rayne and Jessica Dalton have been swapping places their whole lives, so when Jessica dies on the eve of heading west to become a mail-order bride, Rayne decides to fill her sister’s shoes. The challenge will be faking Jessica’s faith in God. Can Rayne fool her prospective groom without losing her heart...or her soul?

Flynn Ward fled England to escape his parent’s attempts at marrying him off, but locating a woman to love in the Wyoming mountains is harder than finding a hackney in a rainstorm. Then the Westward Home & Hearts Agency offers him the perfect match. But when his prospective bride arrives, she’s nothing like she seemed in her letters. Is he destined to go through life alone?

Can two desperate people overcome their differences to find common ground ... and love?

Buy Linda’s book on Amazon

Connect with Linda:
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Monday, May 31, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Pride

Pride is an Enemy of Love
A devotional by Gena Anderson

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” –James 4:6 (NKJV)

I once prided myself on being my family’s chief financial officer. When I began struggling to maintain, I first attempted to fix our finances by myself, then conceal them, and later blame them on my husband. Like a pudgy dog trying to jump on the couch, the weight of the struggle became too much, and when I fell flat on my face I was forced to see how low my pride had sunken me. Finding humility, I asked God and my husband for help.

Barely making ends meet, buried in debt, my husband and I worked together to rebuild and submit our money to God. I created a tight budget that fit like my Spanx, and prayerfully followed a plan to get into the black. After months of chipping away at bills the time came to revisit the budget and make use of some newfound wiggle room. Reworking the numbers, I yearned to use the new surplus on something indulgent, perhaps a night out or pedicure, but I knew what took priority.

From my view at the bottom of the financial ditch I saw the root issue: tithing. We were giving a comfortable amount, but God wants us to give freely and generously, promising abundance in return as He says to us in Luke 6:38 and Proverbs 11:24. In my realization of complete humility I had asked God to help me increase our tithe to an amount unimaginable in our broken state, and committed to getting there. This was the first opportunity toward generous giving, and I was ready. I allotted almost half of our long-awaited gain to tithe, knowing that investment would pay better dividends than a meal at Chilis.

Later that week I revisited the budget and realized I had miscalculated. Missing a monthly deposit, I undercalculated our income. We actually had a surplus double my original figure. After all the financial stress and penny-pinching this find was a God-sent gift, and I heard God’s message loud and clear: His ways are superior, and we benefit more by submitting and giving to Him than we do by withholding. I learned to love God instead of money and shed the weight of pride, gaining a pressed down, shaken together, running over gift that remains still.

James 4:6 says God resists the proud but blesses the humble beyond what they deserve. Reading that verse, I wondered what God finds so detestable about pride that he resists the prideful. Then I remembered, my pride led to financial destruction and sin, and humility was what ignited reparation. I believe that pride is more divisive in the church than adultery, murder, abortion, and any other headline issue, because it is the fuel behind all of those things and the root of selfish desires.

Pride is . . . trying to do it all and not asking for help . . . putting today’s achievement over eternal investment . . . finding satisfaction and pleasure in self over God . . . wanting to be saved without admitting the need for a Savior.

Christians like to hide our dirty laundry. The world needs to see our brokenness in order to witness God’s work in our lives and know they aren’t the only ones struggling. James reminds us God resists diving into our stinky pile of dirty clothes as long as we hide it, but brings powerful, heavenly-scented detergent to clean it all up when we release pride.

Christians sometimes struggle to work together, taking God’s design of a servant heart and twisting it into overbearing church volunteers that seek control and offer criticism. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says our gifts and talents are useless without love. The humble love of God and others over ourselves is one that collaborates with and offers praise to their brothers and sisters.

People who love others as Jesus loves them (John 15:12) sift out and remove pride. This is not a call to shame, but to repentance. Tara-Leigh Cobble said on The Bible Recap, “confident humility is when you’re not building or beating yourself up.” God loves us enough to forgive and forget any sin that’s confessed and turned from.

Humility is the elevation of God, more than it is the lowering of self, and what is the church if not adept at raising up the name of the one we claim to praise? Ask yourself and God today how you’ve let pride overshadow love. Humble yourself so God can exalt you (James 4:10), and be filled with a love so great it will spill out to the world.

Let’s Pray:
Lord, you are the only one who can be and do it all. Open my eyes to see where I’ve allowed pride to divide and destroy my life. Forgive me and help me to do better. Thank you for your never ending love and patience with me, help me to offer the same to those in my path today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Gena Anderson is a Jesus-lover, writer, nurse practitioner, and blogger who loves to share wellness information and inspiration with the world around her. 

She is the author of The Well Woman: A Journey to Wellness Through Loving Jesus, which is available on

Gena proudly holds the title of wife, mom, and the world’s most average CrossFitter. She loves writing, reading, traveling, and brownies. She's working on that last one.

Gena lives in Hutto, Texas with her husband and two children.

Connect with Gena:

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Podcast interview with Ginny Owens

Listen to this episode of the Ready to Thrive podcast, featuring Christian music recording artist Ginny Owens! It will inspire and encourage your heart. God loves you, dear heart!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Focus

Where is Your Focus?
A devotional by Tema Banner

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
 –2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NIV)

Whatever consumes your every thought, therein is your god and the very thing that will pull you away from God. Our generation has never seen a world more battered than now. On every front we are stressed: marriages, children, finances, the list is endless. The devil uses these situations to pull us away from what is most important. This is nothing new, it is what he has always done.

He can be subtle. You might not initially see the things he uses to pull you away: politics, business, the cares of life, health, even church activities. The devil will use everything that is going on in the world today to get your attention and make you worry when God has told you not to worry about anything, but to take everything to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6). As Christians, we love to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, but if you read verse 13 you will see that it is speaking about a country being bombarded by pandemics and famine. Sound familiar?

There really is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Instead of only quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14, why not live it out in our own lives every day? Take our eyes off those things that bring fear, distress and confusion into our lives. It may be the news, strained relationships, children dealing with school issues or addictions, failed finances, an unknown future. The devil deals in fear and confusion, God does not. When you see the world in confusion and when you see yourself being pulled into confusion, realize it is the work of the devil, the one who hates God and hates us. Turn your eyes back to Jesus Christ who is the lover of your soul.

Perhaps you have gotten away from reading scripture, maybe you are focused on watching TV and the most recent news report. The news is the same day in and day out. Instead of watching TV, turn it and social media off. Take that time to open your Bible, read a devotion, pray with a friend, sit in silence, and ask God to speak to you. There is nothing He desires more than to communicate with us. He created us to have relationship and to glorify Him. We do this when we sit in His presence.

It is not always easy to be still. I find it difficult because I allow other things to get in my way: washing clothes, cleaning the house, walking the dog. I make excuses for things that need to be done instead of being still and knowing that He is God and experiencing Him.

The world tells us that we must be busy all the time, but that is a lie. What we need more than anything is to be like Mary and to sit at Jesus feet instead of like Martha – busy and worried about things that are unimportant. (Read the full story in Luke 10:38-42). I can say this because I am a Martha, always thinking I must fill every minute of every day with activity and feeling guilty if I am not industrious all the time.

What I need is to hear Jesus speak to my heart to remove the confusion and stress of a world in chaos. Remember all the gifts God has brought into your life, think of the beauty of His creation, rejoice in the salvation He has provided by the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. Know that He loves you deeply and no matter what the future holds, He will be with you every step of the way.

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank you! Thank you for your never ending, unstoppable love for your creation of which I am one. Thank you for the blessings you daily shower on me. May Your Holy Spirit fill me with greater love each day for you and those you put in my path. Keep my eyes and heart focused on you, let my ears be attuned to your voice so that I will not fear or be confused. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Writing stories that take the reader on a journey to parts unknown has been a lifelong love for Tema. She enjoys all history and continues daily to hone both her knowledge of history and her writing skills.

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 an active member of her local RWA chapter, Carolina Romance Writers.

Tema has served as past President and Secretary as well as holding various chair positions 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, May 26, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Friendship

A Sweet Friendship
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice."
–Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)

The Bible talks about different types of relationships: marriage, parental, and friendships.

It talks about the importance of each one and how the structure should be. We don’t choose our family members, but we do choose our friends, and I want to say that friendships are meaningful relationships in our lives.

We make friends in different stages of our lives because we meet people everywhere we go, but some of us are blessed enough to have one or two friendships that have gone through almost all stages of our lives. And I’m blessed to have a friendship like that.

The friend I’m talking about (I won’t mention any names) I met in middle school, and I want to say we instantly bonded, but I don’t quite remember now how exactly we became friends. I do know we played sports together, all through middle school and through high school. We were always at each other houses, and we spend almost all of the summer vacations together. She was someone who was always there for me in a time of need, to wipe my tears or make me laugh. I felt like I had a personal counselor because she always knew just what to say.

When I found out I was pregnant, at the age of 20, with no stable job and no place to go, she opened up her home to me. Although it was a small house, a little crowded with all of us there, she still welcomed me and gave me a roof over my head. That is something I will never forget, and I will forever be grateful to her. God places people in your lives for a reason. Sometimes it’s just for a season, but sometimes it’s for longer. And I am so thankful for my friendship with her.

I value our honest relationship, and I’ll never take it for granted. We may not talk every day, but when we do, it’s like nothing has changed. Of course, we’ve had our disagreements just like any other relationship has, but we always find a way to forgive each other and move on. And although we live in different states, the distance has not mattered when it comes to our friendship; it is as strong today as it was back when we met in middle school.

We aren’t meant to walk alone in this life. I mean, yes, God is always with us, but He created us for community and for relationships. God created us to be together. Today, I want to honor those special friendships I have in my life and for you to do the same. Think of someone who has been there for you through really rough times, someone who knew the right thing to say to make you feel better, or someone who was there in a desperate time of need. Let them know that you are thankful for them. Let them know that you value them and that you love them. 

In closing, please open The Holy Bible and read Proverbs 27:9 (NIV) because this verse is a beautiful reminder of how beautiful friendships can be.

Let’s Pray: God, thank you for the friends you’ve placed in my life. Thank you for the memories I’ve created with them, and thank you even for the ones who are no longer a part of my life now but once were. Because at one point, I needed those people in life for a reason. Lord, I trust that the friendships I have now will continue and stay true until the end of time. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Hello, my name is Heidy (Reynoso) De La Cruz.

I am Dominican-American and I’m passionate about writing! I write poetry, encouraging blog posts about personal experiences and any message that God has stored in my heart. I am working on publishing my first poetry book.

First and foremost, I am a daughter of Jesus Christ. I am also a wife and a mother. I have my master’s degree in Healthcare Administration through Belhaven University’s online course. I have my bachelor’s degree in Science with the concentration of Psychology and Healthcare Administration.

I currently work in the medical field as a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, and I’ve been in the medical field for the last six years. I love my career!

My hobbies include writing, reading, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, traveling, and spending time with my family.

Connect with Heidy:
Read my poetry on Instagram: