Monday, October 31, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: God can work everything together for your good

Nothing Wasted
A devotional by Shirley A. Denson

“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together for good, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.” 
–Romans 8:28 TPT

Wasted can be loosely defined as “useless.”

Bearing that definition in mind, there’s no part of your story that God can’t use.

Why? Because everything is continually woven together for good! This means that the details of your life are always, at all times, working for good. Even when it looks/feels bad in the moment…it will end up good! Though the pieces may not look like they match up, and some areas of your life may still be up in the air, when it’s all said and done, God has a way of intricately weaving it all together to make sense.

To weave, two or more pieces of thread/yarn are interlaced at right angles to form fabric. So, when it seems as if your life is going in a different direction than what you planned/thought, just know that it’s part of the weaving of God. The method on how the threads are interwoven affects the characteristics of the cloth. So, no matter what the vicissitudes of life have thrown at you, the Master Weaver has been collecting every thread and weaving them together to form the tapestry of your life, and producing a fabric tailored to you.

Your cloth/fabric may not look like the next person’s, but that’s because it’s specific to your journey. Your friend may not have had to endure what you have, and that’s okay. Your story may be woven differently, but it will all work for good.

No matter how many detours or pitstops you make along the way, just know that no part of your story/journey is wasted. The depression, job loss, divorce, abortion, abuse, missing parent, repossession, etc. was undoubtedly hurtful at the moment it was happening. However, it’s not the totality of who you are, but it’s a thread in the tapestry of your life. By themselves, each incident may have been ugly…but, intricately woven with the other threads of your life, a beautiful piece is produced. Because you love God, your fabric will produce according to the purpose you’re designed to fulfill. Find the courage to embrace every portion of your life.

It’s working for good, and nothing will be wasted.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank You for being a God of perfect timing. Thank You for divinely orchestrating my life to fulfill the purpose you’ve designed for me. Help me to accept every thread that you’ve intricately woven through the tapestry of my life. I don’t understand it all, but I trust You! Give me the strength and fortitude to hold on until I see the good. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “For The Good (Lyrics)” by Riley Clemmons. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Shirley A. Denson is a native of Statesboro, GA. 

She found out at a young age that she had a creative mind and a way with words. Later on in life, she learned to cultivate her passion for writing as a budding author.

Shirley is very passionate about writing. Each book that she releases will be a product of God stirring and cultivating the gift He’s entrusted her with. She has won numerous writing awards/certificates, and is a published poet and blogger.

For the past six years, Shirley has worked as a professional ghostwriter, editor, and author. It is her joy and goal that through print, she might impact lives and leave the imprint of the King.

Visit her website to stay in the loop about her new book releases, current projects, and to read her blog posts.

Connect with Shirley:

Friday, October 28, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Scarlet Sins

When Our Sins Are Like Scarlet
A devotional by Wendy Wilson Spooner

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” –Isaiah 1:18b (NIV)

Have you ever felt hopeless or in the depths of despair because of your weaknesses?

Part of our life on Earth experience is to overcome sin. We all sin, and sometimes it’s rough to return to a place where we feel able to keep moving forward on any level.

Scarlet and crimson are red colors derived from certain dyes. In general, dyes were highly important in ancient scripture for sacred ceremonial reasons involving purification rituals or burial clothing (Leviticus 14:6-7).

One of the most important aspects of dyes is that they are permanent, or colorfast. They adhere to cloth and won’t wash away or fade. Crimson and scarlet are especially vibrant and stand out with a psychological effect on individuals that can be resonant with blood, which is sometimes a mark of guilt. Like crimson and red, our sins can be obvious and grievous at times.

In Israel, snow is a rarity but not unheard-of, and wool was the everyday textile in ancient Israel. To bring out a brighter and purer white before dying, wool was often washed and soaked in the strongest soap available.

The color white represents purity and is referred to in Isaiah 1:18 when he says the Lord can change our sins from crimson or scarlet to wool or snow. Isaiah is helping us understand that the Lord can do something impossible for us to do for ourselves, just as fabric that is dyed red, remains red. Regardless of our sins, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can make us pure again. We are all within the reach of His pardoning mercy—the grace of our loving God.

I have learned for myself that our Savior is eager and able to forgive us of our sins. There is no sin that can’t be forgiven. What an awe-inspiring privilege and opportunity for each one of us to turn away from our sins and to come unto Christ with Divine forgiveness waiting for us as one of the sweetest rewards from God.

Guilt and pain can be replaced in our hearts with joy and peace.

I can’t think of a better promise anywhere on earth than that one.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Father in Heaven, when we sin, let us remember to turn to You for forgiveness of our sins. Let us do it quickly, so we might return to joy and peace in Your love without remaining in despair for any longer than necessary. And help us to turn away from our sins and make a choice every moment of our life to follow You and do what You want us to do. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” by Selah. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Wendy is a Genetic Genealogist by day, a writer by night, and an artist in between. 

Her love of what we can learn from history compels her to write the true stories she unearths because she’s found that truth is indeed much more exciting and inspiring than fiction.

Wendy writes about family, faith, grief, art, and overcoming obstacles in life by coming to know who we really are—the children of God, and the descendants of incredible people who paved the way for us—even if they really struggled. Wendy believes in learning from our ancestors, honoring them, and then standing on their shoulders to become a better generation.

As an award-winning family history writer, Wendy’s debut novel, Once Upon an Irish Summer, released April 3, 2020. This book is a dual timeline historical fiction novel about a young, gifted artist suffering from debilitating grief, who finds healing and inspiration in her Irish ancestry, and goes on to paint a masterpiece.

The sequel, Celtic Winter: Eliza’s Story, released November 5, 2021. The storyline goes back in time to the little sister left behind in Ireland to keep her family alive, woven with present-day Beth’s continuing story as she races the clock with the young man she loves to find the only person who could save his mother’s life.

When Wendy is not researching or writing, she hikes, paints, loves being a church youth leader, binges on epic Bollywood movies, and hangs out with her greatest loves—her family.

Connect with Wendy:

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: When you are called to serve your enemies

Serving Judas
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” 
–Matthew 5:44 (KJV)

How did Jesus manage to not only eat supper with the man who would betray Him, but also kneel down and wash his feet?

I have heard people marvel about how Jesus ate supper with Judas, but Judas was still there when Jesus performed the servant’s task of washing his disciple’s feet. Jesus was all-powerful, but He was also completely human. How could Jesus so humbly kneel before Judas and wash his feet, knowing that he planned to betray Him that very night?

I think we can all agree that there are some people we do not necessarily get along with in our daily lives. There are some people who are rude and some that drive us crazy. There are certain people we always avoid when we see them in the grocery store. These people do not hate us or persecute us, and yet, we do not treat them half as well as Jesus treated Judas. Why is that? What mindset was Jesus in as He served Judas? What are we missing?

Thankfully, the apostle John explains exactly what Jesus’s mindset was in this moment. “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God” (John 13:3 KJV). Simply put—Jesus knew what He had, where He was from, and where He was going.

So, what do we have as Christians? We have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7). We have an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). We have the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We have God’s love (Ephesians 2:4). The list goes on. Because of Jesus, we are now adopted by God and enjoy countless blessings as His children.

Where are we from? Though we all have different stories, there is really only one place we are from. We are from a life of sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (KJV). We fall short. We are human and we are broken because of sin. We must know accurately who we are if we are to serve as Jesus did. We must acknowledge who we used to be and praise God for interceding and making us new.

Lastly, where are we going? As children of God who have accepted the free gift of salvation from Jesus, we are all going to the same place (Heaven). Each of us will spend an eternity with Jesus, which is the greatest and most beautiful hope that we have here on earth. No matter what happens today or tomorrow, we are traveling upward the whole way. Heaven is our final destination.

Once you know what you have, where you are from, and where you are going, you can find true humility. I think humility is best described in this quote by C.S. Lewis: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Once you know who you are, you no longer need to think of other people’s opinions, how you appear, or how you want your life to turn out. You can stop thinking about yourself altogether.

Our confidence comes from who we are in Jesus Christ. We are given everything in Him. We were saved by Him. We will spend eternity with Him. Christ is who we should be centered on. Simply know, dear reader, who you are in Him.

Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your servant’s heart and example of true humility. Please help us to remember who we are in You so that we can live out each day as Your faithful servants. Grant us the humility to kneel before the Judas in our own lives and serve them as You would so that Your goodness and mercy is revealed through us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Remember Who You Are” (song) by Crystal Lewis. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Tessa Huckstep grew up in rural Illinois to Christian parents and has known Jesus personally since the age of five. 

She is currently attending community college and majoring in elementary education. In the future, she plans to teach in the public school, hoping to bring the love of God with her.

God’s dream of Tessa becoming a writer was revealed to her at the age of sixteen and she hasn’t been able to stop since. Though she has not yet been published, Tessa enjoys writing historical romance novels and speculative fiction.

Tessa believes God loves stories, and through her writing, she wants to reveal the happily ever after God dreams of for each of his daughters—one where Jesus is the knight in shining armor.

Tessa loves all things Georgian/Regency, needlework, and dainty teacups of every size. When she isn’t writing or studying for exams, Tessa can be found in the kitchen with more flour in her hair and on the floor than in the mixing bowl, though the mess is always half the fun!

Connect with Tessa:

Monday, October 24, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Time

Marking Time
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” 
–Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

Recently, I was preparing for an annual family reunion and pheasant hunt with my husband’s extended family. It is a tradition for us to gather from all over and descend upon a campground overlooking the beautiful Missouri River where we eat, laugh, hunt birds, swap stories, eat, snack, and then eat some more. My husband has memories of this time as a child, and now my children know nothing other than the fact that the third weekend of October is always time for The Hunt.

As the years have passed, we have added to the family numbers through marriage and birth, and as is part of life, we must now lovingly remember those who are no longer with us. They are still part of the stories and the laughter and the memories. As we celebrate together and watch our family grow and change, these events become a way for us to mark time.

Our God is not only outside of time, He created time itself. God chose to place us in bodies that feel the passage of minutes, days, and years. But even though He doesn’t age, He began the practice of marking time by creating day and night (Genesis 1:5). He gives us the beauty of a sunrise to mark the promise of a new day, and each night He paints sunsets across the skies to give us an opportunity to slow us down. He gave us six days to work and one day of rest (Genesis 2:3).

All nations, communities, and families have celebrations and holidays that help them share in life together and remember days both good and bad. In the United States we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July as a way of honoring the unique founding of our country. On Memorial Day, we pause to remember those Americans through the years who have died while serving in the military. Jews today celebrate the same feasts that their ancestors did, such as Passover (Exodus 12:14), as a beautiful continuation of the worship of God and the remembrance of His faithfulness to generation after generation of His people–first the Jew, then to all of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior.

How are you celebrating what Christ has done for you today? Have you taken a moment to thank Him for what He has done, not only in your own life, but in the world? As the headlines become increasingly dark, seek out stories of God’s grace and share them with others. Stay in community with believers in your church and faith circles. Share the good moments with joy, and be a shoulder in the moments of sorrow.

God knew we would need each other. He knew we would need shared moments to make us a stronger community. Find a reason to celebrate with someone today, whether it’s a small victory or a huge accomplishment. Have a meal, invite people to share it with you, and make it an annual, monthly or weekly event. It’s a great way to mark our time on this journey, and you never know what lasting event or new tradition you might start!

Let’s Pray:
Dear Jesus, remind us that we need each other. You have called us to be in community together, loving each other, praying with each other, and encouraging each other. You have asked us to go out into the world and bring others to You. Give us the strength, the motivation, and the power to do all of those things. In Your precious 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 college-age children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting.

Connect with her at @beckerglynis on Instagram or @GlynisBecker7 on Twitter.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Be a voice that takes a stand for Jesus Christ

A Voice or an Echo?
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”—“a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” And so, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” 
– Mark 1:1-4 (NIV)

In the first chapter of Mark, we meet John the Baptist. He was the appointed messenger who was spoken of in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah. John’s role was to herald the coming of the Messiah—to prepare the way for the Lord. His voice was heard loud and clear after 400 years of silence and lack of prophecy to the nation of Israel. 

He was called by God to come out of the wilderness to preach and to teach. His message was clear: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7-8 NIV)

The past few years have been particularly noisy ones in our world, filled with many voices clamoring for attention and wanting to be heard. Voices shouting for equality, for unity and reform in our government, for answers in our global health crisis. Like John the Baptist, those voices had a message to proclaim.

We as Christians need to be concerned about equality in our nation. We should seek a government that works together and for the benefit of all people. We long to be free from the effects from the pandemic. However, I have found it hard to hear those messages above all the noise. It has become an “I can’t see the forest for the trees” kind of situation for me as they were drowned out by all the clamoring.

Social media has made it difficult to sort the voices that need to be heard from those that are echoes. The news channels seem to share those voices that are the loudest but are not always the ones with a true message of hope. We are wandering in the wilderness. We are confused by what we see and hear. We don’t know who to listen to or whom to trust. 

Facebook is filled with echoes—posts being shared without thought—just for the sake of “likes”. Instagram is filled with influencers who live for those clicks regardless of what harm their posts are causing. What the world needs is not more of those echoes; but rather, more voices that can be heard above all else. Voices that stand up and declare what is right. Christians are called to be different and not to echo what the world is sharing.

John the Baptist stood out. He did not follow “social media” to decide what to wear, what to eat, what to say. He was different and because he was different, people listened. He used his own voice to proclaim the good news.

The true message of who Jesus Christ is as our Lord and Savior needs to be heard. We are called to be a voice not an echo.

Let’s Pray: Lord, fill us with the desire to share Your message with everyone. Make our voices loud and clear enough to be heard above the noise in our world. We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather we are to proclaim it to all the world. Open the ears of those who need to hear Your Voice through us. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “I Am Not Ashamed” (song) by Heritage Singers. 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 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.

Kay recently completed a Copyediting certificate program and is currently pursuing a Creative Writing certificate. Her leisure time is spent with her married son and three grandchildren or in writing, reading, or trying new recipes.

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

Kay is active member of Victory Lutheran Church in her hometown of San Diego, California and she enjoys writing devotions to be shared on the church website as well as on her personal social media.

Connect with Kay:

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we need to spend time with God

The Fine Art of Tuning into God's Frequency
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
—Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

Last week I tuned into my favorite Christian radio station, and instead of a worship song, I heard rap music playing on the same frequency. The raunchy lyrics and deafening beat reminded me how many things can interfere with my desire to listen to God.

When I get out of bed each morning, I fully intend to have my quiet time, but after I pour myself a cup of coffee and pull out my study Bible, my attention span gets hijacked by the notifications on my phone, the neon pink post-it notes on the table, my to-do list, and…you get the idea.

Friend, the enemy of your soul knows how threatening you are when you tune into God's Word, so he works overtime to put one distraction in front of you after another. You are of no use to God's kingdom when you have one foot in Satan's territory, tuned to one of his frequencies.

In today’s passage, God called Joshua after Moses died to lead His people into the Promised Land. But Joshua knew he would not have victory unless he meditated on the Word of God day and night. The same applies to us. We won't have victory over the challenges we face if we allow distractions to steal the blessing of spending time with God. Five minutes a day doesn't satisfy our need for His love, comfort, guidance, and peace.

That's why having a practical strategy gives you the best opportunity to eliminate unnecessary distractions so that you can make the most of your time with Him.

Here are some suggestions you might find helpful: 
  • Find a prayer closet, a quiet place in your home where no one will disturb you.
  • Ask a trusted friend to check in with you periodically and ask what you're learning.
  • Try using a prayer journal, a devotional coloring book, or a Bible app.
  • Subscribe to a devotional magazine or buy a devotional book.
  • Find a podcast, a radio, or a television show that inspires and encourages you.
  • Appreciate your efforts, however small at first. If you set the bar too high, your expectations can cause you to get discouraged and give up.
  • View your time with God as your most important appointment and the best part of your day. Remember how much God loves you, and allow His grace to release you from the burden of perfectionism.
In our fast-paced culture, the distractions we face are endless, but with some practice, we can gradually put these strategies into place so that spending time with God no longer seems like an impossible feat.

The next time your feet hit the floor in the morning, my friend, remember you're not on this journey alone. God will help you redirect your attention so His frequency will be all you hear.

Let's Pray:
Father God, thank You for giving me Your Word so that I have victory over every challenge I face. As I walk through this day, help me set aside distractions and tune into Your eternal truths. In Jesus's name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Part of Your Story” by Cheri Keaggy. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Sarah Cole’s interest in writing began in grade school when her poem was published in the local paper. As she got older, her mother’s chronic illness inspired her to design a line of greeting cards.

Since then, she has written for her college newspaper and two community newspapers where she wrote restaurant reviews and articles for their “Best of” spread.

Her experience as an administrator in the marketing field gave her the opportunity to write ads for a local business journal.

After a 20-year detour and a three-year season of adversity, God reignited her passion to write. Two divine appointments later, the short story she wrote about her father appeared in the St. Paul Almanac, and a short story about her cocker spaniel Gigi was published in Guideposts (magazine) Mysterious Ways. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

During this year (2022) and the next (2023), Sarah’s devotionals will be published in The Secret Place by Judson Press, as well as David C. Cook’s Devotions and The Quiet Hour. To this day, she smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watching cooking shows, designing cards and mugs, and taking day trips.

Connect with Sarah:

Monday, October 17, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Grace is available for all humankind

The Gift of Grace
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 
–Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)

One of the areas with which some people struggle during their Christian journey is the concept of grace. The Bible very clearly indicates that grace is a gift from God. 

This gift is available the moment we believe and receive Jesus in our hearts. It is not something that we can do for ourselves, nor can we take any credit for it. It is actually very simple, yet we tend to make it so very complicated. Perhaps many of us are accustomed to earning everything in life, and so it becomes difficult to just accept this gift.

Grace is the power of God that enables us to be free from whatever is holding us down or preventing us from moving forward in life. God wants so badly for us to experience the freedom found in His grace. Even though we do not deserve this and many of His wonderful blessings, He still covers us in grace every day of our lives.

To counteract grace, the enemy offers us disgrace. Many of us readily accept this, not even realizing just how harmful it is to our very being. Disgrace shames us into thinking that God would never love us or accept us after what we have done or what was done to us. Disgrace presents itself in so many ways including the negative self-talk that brings us down. We dislike ourselves, reject ourselves and then convince ourselves that God feels the same way about us.

But we can be sure of this one thing: The blood of Jesus Christ washes us clean from all wrong. When Jesus wraps us in His robe of righteousness and presents us faultless before the throne of God, our Heavenly Father (God) looks at us and sees His Son (Jesus) standing there in our place. Regardless of how we feel about ourselves, God still loves us and showers us with grace.

Although by ourselves we may not be worthy of God’s grace, we can still accept this gift by placing our faith in the One who freely gives it to us.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, we cannot thank You enough for Your grace. Please help us to grow into an understanding of righteousness through the blood of Jesus. May we never take advantage of Your grace, but may we be grateful that grace saves us through our faith in You. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Were It Not For Grace” by Larnelle Harris. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Angela Anderson was born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in NJ. She found her love for writing when she was in elementary school. She continued writing through high school, college, and into adulthood.

Angela is the author of a devotional book titled, Just When I Thought I Knew God, and a children's book that is not yet published.

In 2021, Angela started writing articles for an online magazine called Christian Women Living, where she focuses on writing messages for mothers and sharing advice on parenting. In addition to this, Angela wrote a devotional that is featured in a book published by Proverbs 31 Ministries. The book title is Hope When Your Heart is Heavy.

Angela has a passion for inspiring and impacting others through her writing as well as speaking. She is the co-founder of Anchor Moms, a ministry to cure loneliness in Motherhood. Currently, this ministry meets via a group on Facebook.

Angela has been married to the love of her life, Duane Anderson, for 17 years. Together, they have two sons: Thomas (age 9) and Ryan (age 4). 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, October 14, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: When God gives you an unexpected gift of grace

An Unexpected Gift of Grace

A devotional by Karen Marstaller

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”—Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

He was just a little guy, but he sure made a lasting impression. Dressed in slim jeans, cowboy boots and hat, a tucked-in T-shirt, and a belt, he was in front of me to get his ice from the drink dispenser. I thought he was finished and started to fill my glass when I noticed he was waiting.

“Am I in your way?” I asked.

“Oh, no, ma’am,” he said with a boyish grin.

After filling my cup, I sat down on a bench to wait for our take-out order at our favorite chicken salad restaurant. Suddenly, he stood in front of me. Straight and lean, he looked me in the eye and gave me a beautiful smile. Then he did something I haven’t seen in a very long time. He took off his hat, held it several inches above his head and nodded at me before smiling again. This young man waited until I acknowledged his old-fashioned greeting, then he darted over to his family.

My granddaughter, my husband, and I saw them again as we went to sit outside, a little farther from where they were sitting. We’d just asked God to bless our food when he appeared at my elbow. “Look! Look!” he said as he held out his little shirt. “Do you see it? It’s a butterfly!” His eyes were shining so brightly that it seemed as if his whole being was aglow.

The tiny creature seemed perfectly content with its unusual resting spot, and all of us admired the lovely colorings as it slowly opened and closed its tiny wings. “You have a way with little critters,” I said.

With a joyful nod, he told us all about ladybugs and dogs, goats and chickens, and even his adventure with a snake. My granddaughter and I shared a little smile because she also loves all kinds of God’s creatures. We listened carefully. He had our full attention.

The butterfly fluttered to the ground, and with infinite care, he knelt and nudged it back on his finger. “I gotta go,” he said. We watched as he hurried back to his family.

He was watching us when we left, and we waved good-bye. His face lit up again with a big grin and he eagerly waved back.

Our busy day, filled with lessons and schedules, and surrounded with prayers for our friends and family in the path of a dangerous storm, was illuminated by a brilliant display of God’s extraordinary grace in the shape of a little seven-year-old cowboy with a gentle touch.

That’s how God works sometimes. In the busyness of our very ordinary lives, we’re given a glimpse of His glory. On this day, for me, God provided an encounter with a little boy who has an absolute delight in the world around him. He shared a few moments of his joy with us, complete strangers. He did it deliberately, wholeheartedly, and without the least shred of personal gratification. And in his usefulness to God, he became an emissary of the love of Jesus.

I’m thankful for another lesson in God’s grace and feel compelled to search my heart for the application. When was the last time I shared a joyful discovery with someone else? Have I simply laughed together with a person I may not even know? And am I willing to step into the life of another human being with no other reason than to be a blessing?

I call him “my little gentleman cowboy” since I don’t know even know his name. And he has made my heart rejoice. His unexpected appearance in the middle of a busy day was a gift from our “Father of lights” (James 1:17 ESV). His joy of life stays with me, a fragrant offering of hope sent from the Lord.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord of Heaven, Earth, and of little boys with gallant hearts, we ask You to help us become like little children in the way we come to You. May we rest joyfully in Your perfect presence, and may You fill us in order to lighten and to brighten the lives of others as You have done for us. In the magnificent name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Karen Marstaller is a retired high school teacher who spent most of her career challenging creative students to write. Her heart is for her readers. 

She writes to encourage them, to make them laugh, to show them that life is a beautiful journey, and regardless of their past, to show them that there is joy ahead if they will just keep looking.

Karen and her husband live in central Texas in a sweet little home that they completely remodeled. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven precious grandchildren.

Most of all, Karen writes in obedience to the command to love your neighbor, to offer a cup of water to those who are dying of thirst, and to comfort others with the comfort she has received.

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address:

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Putting our faith in a God who knows everything

We Have Access to an All-Knowing God
A devotional by Dr. Jessica B. Turner

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
—Proverbs 2:6 (ESV)

We live in such a time where a question can be asked and within seconds an answer is dropped into your hands. Literally.

It’s hard to truly grasp the depth of knowledge we have within our fingertips with all the technology we have. The advancements that have been made since I was a kid are mind-blowing! No longer are the days of going to the library and checking out books to expand your understanding of a particular topic.

I was reminded of this as I re-entered motherhood after an eight-year hiatus. Long gone were the days of searching for answers concerning sleep training and colic remedies. They had since been replaced with questions concerning how to raise girls in this day of age.

Overnight, I found myself bombarded with questions regarding the well-being of my son. While many things were trivial, others were a real source of anxiety to our family. At which point was a particular issue worth pursuing? Which specialists should we see to further explore the concerns we were having?

I would like to say that my first response to so many unknowns was turning to my Heavenly Father, but it wasn’t. Sadly, I became very good at scouring all the mommy sites for solutions. It was only after being overloaded with more information than any one person could process that I brought God into the equation.

One of the many nights when I sat rocking my little one to sleep, God gently reminded me of this scripture (Proverbs 2:6 ESV) that says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

In the midst of my sleep deprived state, I had forgotten that there is only one source of knowledge I need to rely on during this season and any season: God. After all, He is all-knowing.

God is familiar with every inch of my son. He understands the intricacies of his body and holds insight as to what is best for its development. He doesn’t have to comb through articles to get the latest and greatest treatment options. He already knows everything, and He was patiently waiting for me to recognize that.

I think all too often we forget this characteristic of God. Or we remember but feel as if our questions are more of a burden than a welcomed invitation to draw closer to Him.

When we turn first to our Lord for answers, He not only saves us time that would otherwise be wasted, but He also covers us with His peace in the process. By trusting Him, we are taking the pressure off ourselves to get it right and placing our confidence in the One who created all things. I can’t think of anything more comforting than that!

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, Maker of the Heavens and the Earth, help me to see that You are the only source I need when I am faced with unknowns. While there may be a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips, You have the answers to the things that concern me. All I have to do is ask and You will open Your mouth! I love You and I trust You. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Jessica B. Turner is a wife, mom, and LSU graduate with a degree in veterinary medicine.

After practicing small animal medicine for six years, she traded in her stethoscope to become an online wellness coach, motivational speaker, and writer with a passion for mental health advocacy. This major life change was sparked after Jessica struggled with postpartum depression soon after she birthed her twin girls.

Along with Jessica’s career change came the discovery of who Jesus Christ really is and how He was the missing piece for her to be able to move forward from past trauma that she had suppressed for decades.

Jesus walked alongside Jessica as she underwent a transformation like none other. God transformed Jessica’s life from a broken mom who struggled with depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and PTSD from witnessing an attempted suicide, to using her experiences to make her a powerful vessel for Him. To this day, God enables Jessica to touch the lives of others through her often unfiltered, yet inviting, form of storytelling.

Throughout this process of refinement, Jessica has shared her life story with the world through her social media platforms, in-person events, blog posts, and podcasts. She values the gift of transparency and has discovered that what so many people need to know is that they are not alone. Jessica has walked in their shoes, and she wants the world to know that Jesus is walking with them as well.

Connect with Jessica:

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Movie Review: Nothing is Impossible

My Review of Nothing is Impossible movie

Today, I have another movie review for you and a giveaway contest at the end of this post! In case you didn’t know, Pure Flix is like the faith-based version of Netflix. It works the same way the difference is in the content that points you back to Jesus Christ and shows you how much The Creator of the Universe loves you!

Pure Flix is a one-stop shop for faith and family-friendly movies and shows where you can confidently stream in your home with the entire family. With new premium and exclusive original entertainment choices every week, Pure Flix streaming service has the largest variety of high-quality, curated, positive, encouraging, wholesome movies, series and kids' content in one service. Pure Flix is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment, alongside AFFIRM Films.

Pure Flix VIP Ambassador program asked me to review the movie Nothing is Impossible. I watched this heartwarming movie twice in the month of October 2022 because it was that good even though I think this story had a slow start. I’ll talk more about that in my review below. First, I’d like to describe the storyline in the words of talking points from Momentum (PR for PureFlix) then I’ll share my thoughts (review). 

Here’s what they had to say: 

“Nothing is Impossible” teaches us that times of uncertainty are when we should lean into our faith and trust God has a plan for our lives. Here’s the main story: Down on his luck, Scott Beck gets a second chance at his dream career of being an NBA player. After much loss, pain and regret, Scott Beck begins to seriously doubt his trials and tribulations are worth it. But now he has a second chance at both love and life. Will his dreams be realized? Can he let go of past pains and open himself to God’s purpose? Or will new challenges keep him from the future he always hoped for?

Scott was a high-school basketball star with dreams of playing in the NBA. Fast forward 20 years and he’s a janitor at the high school where he once played. Ryan, Scott’s high school girlfriend, is now in charge of her father’s professional basketball team, The Silver Knights. Financial woes leave her no option but to host open tryouts to attract media attention and bring new (and cheap) talent to the team. Nick, Scott’s best friend, coaches the high school basketball team and has dreams of being a pastor. He tries to mentor his friend who is stuck in the past instead of looking toward the future. Scott’s father needs a heart transplant but won’t quit drinking and doesn’t go to his doctor’s appointments.

As you can see from the summary above, life hasn’t been easy for the hero of this story—until life presents a surprising turn of events and opportunity for him! Get a clue when you read my review below...

My Review:

I think this movie had a slow start. I was ready to stop watching it after the first 10 to 15 minutes. But I hung in there and I’m so glad I did because after that 15 minute mark, the movie really captivated me and the story became very intriguing. Just like staying up late at night to finish reading a book because you cannot stop turning the pages, this movie kept me wanting to know what happens next! The actors did a splendid job of portraying the characters! I especially enjoyed the chemistry between Scott and Ryan. They really played their love interest role well. I found myself invested in the characters and their happiness. I was concerned about their health and well-being and I really wanted everything to work out for the good of these people. And every time the chaplain or pastor prayed over the basketball team in this movie, I found myself saying “Amen” because I was that into this movie! It was almost as if I were on the sidelines in this movie, rooting everyone on as they journeyed toward their dreams. Such a good film.

Here's a bit more from Momentum about the themes of this movie:
  • “Don’t be afraid of losing because winning doesn’t teach you anything.”
  • Despair causes us to distance ourselves from God.
  • Don’t let the past dictate your future, trust in God’s timing, not your own.
  • Dreams and aspirations, with prayer and discernment, can be messages from God on what our lives are supposed to be.
  • You can’t blame God for your choices.
  • We aren’t promised an easy life, free from trouble, failure or worry. We’re promised that we have God to lean on when troubles arise – our sufferings aren’t meaningless (Read the book of Job in The Holy Bible for a prime example of this point)
  • God is faithful! He’s still working on each of us. We have to be open to the possibilities He has in store for us.

My Closing Points

I think that a lot of people can relate to this movie, especially if you’re older than age 30 and the dreams you had for your life have not yet come true.

Nothing is Impossible is a movie that will introduce you to Pure Flix, prompt you to join and watch it again and again! And once you’re a member of Pure Flix, you’ll find more content to view that will encourage your heart. So don’t delay, join today!

See the movie trailer for Nothing is Impossible here:

Before you go, enter this contest for your chance to WIN one 3-month Pure Flix subscription!

Please note: This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. The giveaway starts today and ends on October 18, 2022.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Disclosure: Many thanks to Pure Flix for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own. If you're participating in the giveaway for Nothing is Impossible, please note that we cannot accept winners that have won a Pure Flix subscription in the last six months.

#NothingIsImpossibleMIN #MomentumInfluencerNetwork

Monday, October 10, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Hold On

Why We Need to Hold On To God
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.”–Deuteronomy 13:4 (NLT)

In various countries in South America, Africa, and Asia, natives have devised a very effective method of trapping monkeys. The plan is deceptively simple. A hole is drilled in a gourd or similar object that is just large enough for a monkey’s hand to pass through. Extra weight is added to the gourd with sand or pebbles, and then a nut or piece of fruit is put inside where a monkey will find it.

When the monkey comes along, he thrusts his paw inside to get the food. However, the opening was just wide enough for the monkey’s paw to fit in, but not quite wide enough for his food-filled fist to come out. With the object too heavy to be carried away the monkey now has a dilemma. Because the monkey will not let go of the food, he becomes trapped. He gives up his freedom for a small piece of food. Even as the trapper comes out of hiding to capture him, he refuses to let go of what will ultimately place him in bondage.

While I've read many variations to this story, its lesson is universal. Sometimes we grip too tightly to things that are not good for us. Perhaps you too can relate. It’s easy to see how foolish this is, yet I have been that monkey more often than I care to admit. But, with the wisdom of God’s Word as our guide, we believers should be able to avoid falling into such traps. We should be able to understand the danger of holding on to things that aren't beneficial for us or that can harm us. We should be able to recognize when we are creating traps for ourselves or being lured by the bait of our enemy.

Sadly, many traps we fall for in our lives are ones we create for ourselves. We hold on for dear life to things and people that aren’t right for us and rationalize away the red flags God throws up. We hold on to past mistakes when God has placed them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We cling to the need to be right when God says we should “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14 ESV). We won't let go of anger or resentment, becoming bitter and cynical. We become attached to material things that are of no eternal value. We put the importance of our possessions ahead of our own well-being. And the list could go on.

Other traps are deliberate attacks from a deceiver who prowls around looking for someone to devour and we happen to be the target of the day. We forget that greater is He (God) who is in us than he (Satan) who is in the world (1 John 4:4) and we succumb to the trickery and tactics of the tempter. But this needn’t be the case.

Often what we are holding fast to keeps us stuck or holds us back by keeping our focus on the wrong things. The only thing we should be clinging to for dear life is our Savior and He can be trusted to care for us even better than we care for ourselves. When we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ we won’t be led astray by bogus blessings. Let’s commit to letting go of those shiny objects that look appealing “in the now” but may prevent us from reaching what God has next for us. 

If we can remember that according to Jeremiah 29:11, God has plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future, then we can forego the tiny morsels of counterfeit blessing and wait for the abundant overflow of our Heavenly Father. 

Doesn’t that sound like something worth clinging to?

Let’s Pray:
Breath of Heaven, thank You for giving us clear guidance in Your Word and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Help us recognize the traps we encounter, whether by ourselves or the enemy, and be quick to turn from them and to You. Prevent us from settling for chains disguised as blessing, clinging instead to You and the full favor that comes from being a chosen and cherished Child of God. May we always be willing to release our hold of anything that will lead us away from You. In the matchless name of Jesus we ask this. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “He Will Hold Me Fast” by Keith & Kristyn Getty. Listen to it here.

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 on Instagram:

Friday, October 7, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Self-Talk

What Did You Say to Yourself?

A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” –2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

I had been a pastor for nine years before I learned how to practically apply this simple Bible verse. I understood it. I had used it as a springboard for many sermons. But I didn’t get it until I was in the U.S. Navy Chaplains School.

While there, we had a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant as our physical trainer. He took a special interest in me, since my first duty station was going to be with the Marine Corps. I was overweight and did not run fast. He told me that he would get me in shape before I left for Okinawa. That meant I would get slimmer and be able to do at least 60 push-ups, 60 sit-ups, five pull-ups, then run three miles in less than 24 minutes.

I am healthy, but why would I want to run three miles? These were my private thoughts but my trainer sensed it passing through my mind. He said, “When you became a Navy Chaplain, you became something that you had never been and these are the new requirements. The guy you were before has passed away and you are a new creation. So, you must see yourself differently and talk to yourself with new language. Your old language was self-limiting. Your new language must become challenging and affirming. Isn’t that scriptural Chaplain?”

Then he gave me two lines to rehearse. He guaranteed me that if I recited those lines when we were working out and running, I would get better and stronger than I had ever been. The lines were: “You can do more than you think you can” and “It is easier to keep going than to stop and start again.”

In eight weeks, I shed 20 pounds. I could do 90 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 8 pull-ups and I ran those three miles, on varying terrain, in less than 24 minutes. It made me feel good be physically fit and it boosted my confidence when I saw that I looked good in my Marine Corps uniform.

Here is the point: Living the new, saved, sanctified life requires that we perceive ourselves differently. We must sing new songs and encourage ourselves. The Scripture 2 Corinthians 5:17 is the micro statement of the expansive theme of the Gospel. It expresses the death of old, limiting mindsets and self-images. The newness suggests a clean slate, new horizons and opportunities for success. That “behold” part, means that the new you must be visible, apparent, remarkable and memorable.

When you are living your new life, speaking to yourself with encouraging, challenging and affirming phrases, this will cause people to marvel. Therein lies your victory!

Believe it! Tell yourself this new truth repeatedly! If you catch yourself resorting to old self-talk, check yourself by speaking, “What did you just say?” Remind yourself that negative self-talk is like grave-digging. It can destroy you. Instead, make a daily effort speak words of life to yourself. Learn how to see yourself how your Creator (God) sees you! He says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) in His image (Genesis 1:27)!

Encourage yourself that you have buried your old self, ways, thoughts and speech. You are living and carving a new lifestyle with new visions and goals. Speak words of life and faith into your new existence. Your dream and goals may not exist yet, but faith and faithfulness please God and Divinity is the catalyst that makes the unseen visible and the impossible, reality.

My prayer for you today is that you will monitor your thoughts and speech today. Inject the Gospel into your saying and doing. Affirm your newness! Assert your possibilities by talking to yourself in positive terms. Check your negativity and pray for the power of God to deliver you from evil and deposit you on the shores of your dreams.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord of our lives, fill us with your Holy Spirit today. Guide us into the experience of dying to and burying our limitations. Give birth to the purpose for which you allow us to live. Let your voice of encouragement be what we hear that catalyzes our actions and successes. As we live through this day, may those around us see your impact within us. Give to us divine validation and grant us your peace (Philippians 4:7). In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Choose Life” (song) by Big Tent Revival. Listen to it here.

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, October 5, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: How to find strength in the storms of life

Strength in the Storm
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.” –Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)

A few years ago, my husband and I planned on going on vacation during the month of August.

When people heard where we were going and the time of year, they remarked on the fact that we were going during “hurricane season”. I’m not a weather specialist but I was not overly concerned. Depending on where you are in the world some parts are prone to stormy weather, especially if you are going on a cruise and passing through the Caribbean regions during this time.

The word ‘storm’ means something different to us living in Southwestern Canada, who have only a faint idea of what it means to board up windows, run in the basement and buckle down for cover. How do you not curl up in a ball knowing winds could beat the window frames in? How do you not crumble under the terror of the winds? How do you find strength to stand in the storm that could possibly take you out?

Jesus Christ and His disciples were journeying in their boat when the weather became stormy. Let’s read about this in Luke 8:23-24 (KJV): “But as they sailed, he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.”

While the storm was happening, Jesus was asleep. The storm didn’t disturb Him. His disciples had to wake him up. The storm scared them, but it wasn’t strong enough to jolt Jesus awake. When Jesus arose, He rebuked it. Mark 4:39 (NIV) says, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” God created everything that exists, so we have to trust that He knows how to manage His creation. While the disciples were fretting (as most of us would too), Jesus remained asleep. He literally was having a siesta while those onboard were fighting for their life!

Jesus was able to sleep because His perspective on the storm was different from the disciples. He was in control. He had authority over the storm. Jesus knew who He was in relation to the storm. The question for us is: How do we perceive the storm we are in?

You might see the storm as an in interruption to your life. Maybe you’re becoming fearful because storms bring noise and can possibly cause damage. We all need strength to face our storm. We need strength to discern the direction it is going so we can ensure we are not in its path. Ultimately, we pray for strength to survive it. We want to still be standing after the winds and rain cease.

Remember where Jesus was in the boat. He wasn’t on the deck trying to steer the ship. He was in the bottom having a good rest. Jesus knew who He was, and He knew He was in control. God has given us Holy Spirit to draw strength and courage to face the winds of worry and fear. We have access to this power to not only face the storm but survive them when they surface.

Take courage my friend, nothing has changed. God knows the storm that we’re in or will enter into. He knows when they are coming. He has the final say on how hard the storm hits. I believe His desire is that we know Him in such an intimate way that we trust Him to protect us as He protected His disciples. Jesus wants us to copy His behavior by taking courage and resting till the storm passes over.

Draw strength in knowing that Jesus has us covered, protected and safe—even when the storms of life rage all around us. We are safe in Him.

Let’s Pray: Father God, we draw strength from You. Thank You for covering us and protecting us from the strong winds of fear. Thank You for the comfort of The Holy Spirit to give us peace until these storms pass over. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Into the Sea (It’s Gonna Be Ok)” by Tasha Layton. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Patricia is an encourager. She passionately uses her gifting as an author, speaker, pastor, recording artist, worship leader and coach.

Stronger Resilience: Stories to Empower the Mind, Body & Spirit (a book that she wrote) was an Amazon Bestseller in October 2020.

Patricia sings! She has released two CDs titled Draw Me Nearer and Lord I Trust You.

She also travels to speak to audiences internationally.

When she is not ministering to save souls in God’s Kingdom, Patricia enjoys reading, writing and connecting like-minded people who can sharpen each other in the journey to their dreams and goals.

As a two-time breast cancer overcomer, her desire is to coach others to live life to the fullest by understanding their gifting from God and using it.

Connect with Patricia:

Monday, October 3, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: God is the Ultimate Author of Redemption

Nature Finds a Way, but God is Still in Charge

A devotional by Jessica Brodie

The forgotten house stood there in the field, its clapboard siding missing in some places, and in others barely hanging on. Vines and small trees grew up, over, and within it, to the point that the house looked like it had almost been swallowed by Mother Nature. It was beautiful, and with the right lighting I would’ve taken a picture, maybe tried to paint it. We passed it on our drive back from camping last weekend, and there are many houses just like it. We often see them dotting the countryside, often on rural back roads, someone’s forgotten home overtaken by time.

It’s almost sad even in its beauty. To think—someone once lived there, laughed there, perhaps birthed children or even died there.

Sometimes I imagine walking into a house like this, trimming back the leaves and clearing out the clutter, sweeping the dirt from the floors and patching it up. There I’d live in my tidy little nature-home, secluded in the South Carolina forest. Of course it probably doesn’t have running water or electricity, way too rustic for my modern tastes, but in my fantasy that never matters. I live at one with nature, tending a garden and digging a well as people did for century upon century.

It’s funny how we humans feel like we have so much control over everything. We are intelligent, God-created beings, and when we cooperate, powerful things can happen. We build roads, install water systems, invent medicine, and educate the masses. We spread the gospel from one corner of the earth to another … even as we create complex political systems or go to war with the neighboring countries. We do so much good in the name of the Lord, yet we also do evil that is rooted in our own selfish drives and motivations. We mow our lawns and trim back trees and clear roads and build skyscrapers or condos in marshlands and forests. We live there, among the trees or near the water, an interesting symbiotic relationship.

And yet no matter what we do, if we stop our efforts for just a couple of days, look what happens. Lawns quickly become straggly and unkempt, and eventually overgrown. Trees creep in and block pathways. Erosion and storms dismantle roads and other human-made systems

Nature reclaims itself. It’s silent and patient but so persistent, working always in the background, striving to live and grow once more.

I bought a T-shirt this weekend, mostly for my husband, because he loves the Jurassic Park movie series. It says “Nature always finds a way” and has a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur skeleton on the front. It’s a reference to the movies, which if you have not seen them are basically about how scientists have figured out a way to bring dinosaurs back to life, which (as you can imagine) causes lots of death and destruction.

But the saying doesn’t apply just to dinosaur movies. Nature usually does find a way. Things shift into sudden motion sometimes, much like a marble we’ve dropped at the top of the hill. It’s almost impossible to stop. It will roll and roll, gaining momentum. What happens is beyond our control.

Sometimes we find ourselves in catastrophic life situations. Maybe it’s generational poverty and believing society’s lies about how credit cards will solve all our problems, and we wind up in massive debt. Maybe it is major depressive disorder or some other mental illness that has grown so big you cannot see your way out.

That’s where my daughter is right now. While she’s just trusting God will make a way, she herself cannot see an end to this. It’s hard not to feel hopeless in situations like this, isn’t it?

Sometimes situations do spiral out of control, or at least far beyond our control. And sometimes, left unattended, these problems grow so quickly, like trees and vines and leaves and grass overtaking an abandoned house somewhere in the South Carolina forest.

Yet God is the ultimate author of redemption.

I love the scripture in the Bible where the prophet Ezekiel is talking to God about dry bones coming to life. Can you imagine? Read Ezekiel 37:1-14 for the full power of the verse, as God shows Ezekiel a valley filled with dry bones and urges Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones: “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4-6 NIV).

God does indeed do just this, and the bones come to life before the prophet as God promises He will do the same for His people Israel.

What is hopeless to you is not hopeless to God. Life happens. Nature happens. Sickness happens. Our own actions cause consequences, and others people’s actions do as well.

But our God is the God of Noah and Esther and Ezekiel and Saul-turned-Paul. He is the God of redemption, breathing life where life was once gone. God raised Lazarus from the tomb, and Jesus, raised Adam from the dust, and God can raise us, too. He can make miracles happen at any moment.

So today I invite you to keep your eyes on El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty. Know that you belong to Him and you are safe in Him, for He loves you now and always.

Let’s Pray: Lord, as even dry bones can come to life in You, help me remember You can salvage even a sinner like me. Thank You for Your compassion, mercy, and great love. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“In Your Arms” (song) by Meredith Andrews. Listen to it here.

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. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at

Jessica has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.