Sunday, December 31, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: New Year 2024 edition with new writers!


Dear Reader Friends,

Tomorrow (Jan. 1, 2024) marks the start of a New Year! It also begins another part of our devotional journey! I am excited to announce that this year, we have a total of 27 writers who have agreed to write devotionals for my blog's tri-weekly series, “Devotionals for the Heart”!

This is the introduction post. 

As always, we have writers who will contribute original devotionals on a monthly basis and a quarterly basis. We also have a team of backup writers who will fill in when one of my regularly scheduled writers cannot meet their deadline on time. Scroll down to see pictures of ALL of my writers (new and old) then read their author bios and starting on the first Monday of January 2024, read the first NEW devotional for this year!

God-willing, a new devotional will be published every Monday/Wednesday/Friday of every week for all of this New Year 2024. I hope and pray that God blesses you this New Year with His Peace, Hope, Joy and Love!

May this devotional series bless your heart too.

Love,

Alexis A. Goring, MFA 
Founder of "God is Love" blog

~*~
Read on for the author bios and photos of my NEW monthly devotional writers for this year...

Author Bio:

Dr. Gladys Childs is an author, speaker, religion professor, pastor's wife, and mom who helps others be F.R.E.E. to Thrive© for the abundant life God has for them. She serves as Chaplain at Texas Wesleyan University and the Women’s Director at LifePoint Fellowship. She brings 25 years of experience and knowledge to her ministry. 


Gladys is frequently called authentic, witty, and candid as she shares her journey through life’s ups and downs. Her passion is meeting people at the intersection of faith and life’s difficulties. No stranger to heartache herself, she grew up in a non-church-going family with an alcoholic mother and is a trauma survivor.

Gladys holds a Ph.D. in Foundations of Education, a Master’s in Religious Education, a Master of Divinity, and a B.A. with a double major in Counseling and Psychology. Also, she is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church.

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Author Bio:

Joy Beless is a worshipper of God and lover of people.


A practicing Spiritual Director, she is a speaker for retreats and conferences and facilitates guided solitude retreats at the family ranch in North Texas.

A seasoned worship leader and songwriter, she frequently weaves worship, God’s Word and spiritual practices together. She is a chapel provider for a shelter for the houseless and a certified Grief and Trauma Healing Facilitator. Serving at global retreats for Kingdom-minded women delights her soul.

She has written for Global Trellis and Missio Nexus. She connects God’s Word with the reality of our daily in all the ups and downs.

Joy is married to Roger. They live in Coppell (Texas). Joy is called "JoJo" by her nine adorable grandchildren. She enjoys the outdoors and encourages flowers to grow in the Texas heat.

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Author Bio:

Lavonda McCullough is a Christian Life Coach, Author, Speaker and Pastor who specializes in women empowerment with Christian-based approach.


Since 2012, Lavonda has coached countless women into compete freedom, teaching them to enhance their spiritual practice. Through one-on-one Coaching, Bible Study, Prayer Walks and retreats (Joyful Journey RefresHER retreat) she teaches women how to reach the divine power within and discover their purpose.

With the foundation of her personal practice the discipline of a Daily Quiet Time, she works closely with those she coaches to develop their own intimate relationship with God. Always using a spirit-led approach, she focusing on the whole person: mind, body, and soul. Lavonda values providing a safe, loving and nurturing environment that allows those she works with to tap into the divine and commune with God themselves.

Lavonda has a deep understanding of healing though intimate relationship with God due to her personal experiences with shame, trauma, loss, and depression.

She is passionate about helping people find freedom and joy in their journey though the cultivation of spiritual practice.

Originally from North Carolina, Lavonda has traveled throughout Europe and Africa speaking about healing through the power of prayer. She has lived in Germany since 2012, where shares her life with her husband of 33 years.

Lavonda and her husband have three children.

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Author Bio:

Peg Arnold is a Speaker/Author/Teacher and a Drama Queen for Jesus.


Her vibrant, interactive, and soul-stirring messages encourage all to embrace their God-given value. As a mom, wife, nana, and mentor with a master’s in counseling, Peg connects on a personal basis by sharing her joys and challenges of many life experiences through her dramas, messages, and witness. Whether talking with a friend over coffee or addressing hundreds of people at a conference, her passion for equipping women is contagious.

She has published devotions on YouVersion and in the Upper Room. In addition, she has contributed to two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, three anthologies, numerous articles, and blogs. Her devotional, Devotions for the Distracted Heart, received a 2022 OASIS Award. 

Peg desires all to know that their story is important and has a purpose. Growing up in Michigan and raising her family in Maryland, Peg and her husband relocated to Colorado to live close to their family.

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Read on for the author bios and photos of my returning (old) monthly devotional writers for this year...

Author Bio:

The only child of a single parent, Aubrey Taylor filled her younger years by creating characters and writing stories. This ended around age sixteen when music, friends and part-time jobs began to fill her time. After that came college, work, marriage, and children.


It wasn’t until the world was beginning to come out of the COVID pandemic that God led Aubrey back to her love for writing, coupled with a passion she’d always had for history. It was time to start a new adventure!

Along with writing devotionals, Aubrey is the author of the German-perspective 20th Century Fiction series, Gott Mit Uns. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing or taking care of her home and family, she enjoys singing and dancing with friends from a German choir and a Bavarian folk dancing group.

Aubrey is also a lover of Jesus Christ, The Holy Bible, history, German culture, tea, and cats!

~*~
Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson is the Director Emeritus of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries for the North American Division. In this role, he was the friend, advocate and gatekeeper for the profession of chaplaincy among Adventist pastors.


Chaplain Anderson’s new mission is to specialize in personal and personnel development coaching. He journeys with and guides clients—personal and corporate—as they define their goals and grow into their full potential.

His pastoral career began in the Allegheny East Conference where he was ordained. Subsequently, he served in the Potomac Conference at the Sligo and Seabrook churches. His professional dream was to be a chaplain in the United States Navy. He got to live that dream and achieved the rank of Commander before retiring from Naval service in 2015 with 26 years of service.

He has earned four graduate degrees: Master of Divinity Degree was earned at the seminary at Andrews University. He earned a Master’s of Education from the University of Maryland and a Master’s degree in Sacred Theology from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

Chaplain Anderson and his wife Debra have been married for 41 years. They have two healthy, saved and well-adjusted, adult children who picked good spouses and delivered four grandchildren.

Adventures through traveling, reading, praying, preaching, teaching and writing are the avenues of ministry and self-care that define his now and his destiny.

~*~
Author Bio:

Cherie Mendez is a New York-based actress.


Her passion is to help women understand their true worth and walk in their God-given purpose. After many years working as a Christian in the entertainment industry, she is thankful to be able to share all her learning experiences in her blog posts and on Instagram.

Some of the topics Cherie loves to write about are: “Coping with rejection”, “Finding your purpose and using your talent for God’s glory”, “How God always looks at the heart and the meaning of inner beauty” and “Understanding that we are all a work in progress and God is not done with us yet”.

Cherie’s TV credits include The Equalizer, Bull, and Blue Bloods (CBS). She also appeared in the Pure Flix film Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider.

Cherie and her husband Jimmy live in New York City. They are thankful to have been married for 30 years. In their free time, they enjoy traveling, photography, and movie night.

~*~
Author Bio:

Essie Faye Taylor is a woman of faith. She’s a bilingual author, educator, speaker, psalmist, and interpreter.


Essie is the author of the “Finding the Love You Deserve” series for women and teens. She is deeply committed to motivating minorities, women, and youth to heal themselves, love and accept themselves, and pursue God while chasing their dreams and carving out their life’s path.

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

~*~
Author Bio:

Hannah Benson is a Jesus-follower who’s passionate about sharing the love of Christ with others. 


From the time she could hold a pen, she was writing. But it wasn’t until she was sixteen that she began to follow God’s calling to pursue writing seriously. Hannah is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). In addition to fiction, she also writes devotionals and has been published on websites including The Rebelution. Her prayer is that her readers leave deeply encouraged and more in love with Jesus.

When not writing, Hannah also enjoys being involved with local theater companies, with a primary focus on Biblical theater. She wants to show the love of Jesus through the creative arts.

You can read more of Hannah’s writings on her blog or on her Instagram where she strives to write content that leaves others feeling encouraged.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


Since 2010, she has served as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 123 journalism awards during her tenure. Her latest book is Preparing Our Hearts: An Advent Devotional to Draw Closer to God at Christmas.

She has won more than 100 writing awards. Jessica is a seasoned speaker and frequent contributor to Christianity.com, BibleStudyTools.com, and Crosswalk.com, among many others. She has a weekly faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com and is part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries, with her work included in many of their devotionals and Bible studies. Jessica also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

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

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

~*~
Author Bio:

Mirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer currently residing in Northern Virginia.


She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Script & Screenwriting from Regent University and is a member of Act One: Hollywood Film & Television Writing Program, ACFW, ACFW Virginia Chapter, The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, and Your Novel Blueprint.

Mirachelle is passionate about awakening creativity and the gifts of God in everyone. Her first historical fiction novel is set during WWII, inspired by her time studying theatre education in London, England.

She loves horses, cats, dogs, and all things peppermint!

~*~
Author Bio:

Sarah Cole’s interest in writing began in grade school when her poem was published in the local paper. 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 Mysterious Ways (a publication by Guideposts). 

Sarah believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her. Her hobbies include dog sitting, watching cooking shows and taking day trips.

Her devotionals have been published in David C. Cook’s The Quiet Hour and Devotions, The Secret Place by Judson Press and Pray a Word a Day by 
Guideposts. Her short story will be featured in Too Amazing For Coincidence by Guideposts. 

To this day, she smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

~*~
Read on for author bios and photos of my quarterly writers (new and old) this year…

Author Bio:

Hi! I’m Kayla de Jong! I’ve lived in Indiana my whole life and was blessed to have been raised in a Christian household. I have an associate degree in library science and have worked in various libraries for over six years. I love reading and writing!


I have mostly written poems, some of which were published in the compiled works of a local writers guild. I am in the middle of seeking a new career. I would love to be an author, artist, or journalist. But most of all, I would love to be a stay- at-home mother someday.

~*~
Author Bio:

Heidy De La Cruz is a published writer/author and podcaster.


She writes the weekly newsletter “Into My Thoughts” on Substack where she shares personal development content, life experiences with life lessons, and faith-based encouragement posts.

Heidy is the host of “The American Dream in The Eyes of Immigrants Podcast” where immigrants share their stories about moving to the United States. She is also a podcast coach and helps those who desire to host their own show launch.

Heidy holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration and a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She works as a Medical Coding Analyst.

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

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

Tessa enjoys being active in her local church. She serves as a co-teacher for the two-to-five year old class where there is never a dull moment.

It is Tessa’s passion to be a girl after God’s own heart and through her studying of God’s Word, Tessa longs to draw closer to her Savior. Through her writing, she longs to take others with her on this journey of faith.

Tessa loves all things Regency, needlework, and dainty teacups of every size.

When she isn’t writing or studying for exams, she can be found in the kitchen with more flour in her hair and on the floor than in the bowl, though the mess is always half the fun!

~*~
Read on for author bios and photos of my backup writers (new and old) for this year…

Author Bio:

Cyndi Staudt, founder of Walking the Walk Ministries, is a Kingdom-focused writer, speaker, and coach, passionate about helping women worldwide awaken their hearts to see their God-given purpose and thrive in their walk with Christ. 


With a desire to cultivate a craving for God's Word, her writing is saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways.

Through her writing, speaking, and coaching she hopes to ignite your eagerness to pursue God passionately, invite your heart to experience God’s love personally, and inspire you to live your life “souled” out to the One whose love has no limits.

Cyndi lives in Central Florida with her two kitties. She is a Jesus-loving, adventure enthusiast devoted to living her life for Jesus until the day she is living with Him.

~*~
Author Bio:

Janis Van Keuren is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years of experience.


Her feature stories appeared monthly in company journals, newspapers, an airline magazine, and Christian publications. With her expertise as a journalist, Janis has crafted inspirational articles and devotionals for various Christian media. Recently, her feature story, “A Doctor-Approved Miracle,” was published in the Guideposts compilation, Divine Interventions: Heartwarming Answers to Prayer.

Janis and her husband, Tom, make their home in the majestic Saguaro-lined desert of Southern Arizona. They enjoy hiking in the springtime along paths through the Catalina Mountains. These same mountains provide the splendor of Autumn foliage and winter snow to play in. Janis and Tom have two adult sons and a daughter-in-law nearby.

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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.

~*~
Author Bio:

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and a multi-published author of historical Christian romance. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). 


Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She’s in the grip of God’s grace and is a fan of the three C’s: cats, coffee, and chocolate.

Kathy is mother of three children. She is also a former homeschool instructor, mild-mannered dental assistant, and new Community Bible Study Children and Youth Director. Kathy lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of many years, and two sweet cats who found a home in their empty nest.

As an author, Kathy is represented by Linda S. Glaz of the Linda S. Glaz Literary Agency.

~*~
Author Bio:

As a wife and Marmee to three adult children and one brand new daughter-in-love, Kerry Sue’s life is very full. She met her husband in college and served in the mission field with him for a few years before settling down back in the United States of America to raise their family.


Kerry Sue’s family was a homeschooling family for 20 years and they enjoyed it immensely. For the last 23 years they have lived on a small farm in Northern California where they have raised many farm animals, along with growing and preserving their food. Kerry Sue’s family farm has been a great source of enjoyment and a place to host many family gatherings. She maintains an open-door policy for dear friends—old and new.

Following and serving Jesus Christ is an integral part of Kerry Sue’s life as well as her family’s.

Whether it’s singing in our church choir, teaching children or leading and lecturing at a women’s Bible study, Kerry Sue loves to demonstrate her love for Jesus by giving to Him in service. She’s been a blogger for more than eight years, a Bible study writer for two years, and a devotional writer for about one year.

Kerry Sue writes about finding God’s Sovereignty in our pain and suffering.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

Identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she’s served, Sharon sees the great need for encouragement and connection. Within ministries served, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and building cross-cultural communities has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys nature, deep conversations, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children.

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, writing devotionals for other websites, and is working on a nonfiction book titled The Whole-Of-Us: Putting Church Back Together.

~*~
Author Bio:

Annawin Barrios is a dedicated public elementary school teacher with nine years of experience, currently pursuing her master's thesis in guidance and counseling.


As a loving mom of one, she brings her nurturing spirit to both her family and students. In addition to her teaching role, Annawin has been discipling people in her church for fourteen years, providing guidance and encouragement for those on spiritual journeys.

Beyond these roles, Annawin extends her reach through the digital realm, managing two impactful Facebook pages: "Letters of Annawin," where she writes letters of hope to those who are weary, and "Momma Win," where she shares insights and encouragements on motherhood and parenting.

Annawin's journey is a testament to the power of connection, nurturing, and expression, leaving a positive imprint on the hearts of her son, her students, the members of her church, and the virtual community she cultivates.

~*~
Author Bio:

Pam DePuydt is a spinal cord and brain injury survivor, inductive Bible study leader, mother of three and grandmother of eight.


She is married to Tim, who deals with sports-related post-concussion syndrome.

Pam writes to biblically encourage spouses and family members whose lives have been altered due to these often-undiagnosed maladies.

Pam and her husband are full-time RVers, spending winters in the southwest and traveling during the summer.

~*~
Author Bio:

Leslie Bake grew up Lutheran in Des Moines, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with an undergraduate degree in English, and with a new understanding of what a relationship with the Lord could look like.  


She spent a few years reporting and editing in small town journalism and then began a master’s degree at Iowa State University in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Then marriage. Then a divorce, which deepened her relationship with God and transformed her life.

She taught ELL for three years at Kansas State University, then returned to writing and earned a master’s degree in creative non-fiction in Pittsburgh. Her memoir that details the process of how the Lord created beauty from the ashes of divorce, will eventually be published.

Pittsburgh is also where she met and married her second husband. They are now the parents of two wonderful children, one in fourth grade and one in kindergarten, and they make their home in West Des Moines.

Leslie now maintains a monthly blog and is working toward expanding her writing ministry. The deepest desire of her heart is to help others connect with God through writing.

~*~
Author Bio:

Patricia is a worship leader, songwriter, speaker and compiler of her 2020 bestseller anthology Stronger Resilience: Stories to Empower the Mind, Body and Spirit, as well as Lord I Trust You: Words of Encouragement to encourage readers and share life lessons during her cancer journey. 


Patricia writes, speaks, and teaches on the power of God’s Word to heal and empower you to become all that you are purposed for. She has traveled internationally and shared her gifts with audiences to encourage, empower and share life lessons through word and song. Patricia has sung on national television broadcasts and shared the stage with several respected speakers including Anne Graham Lotz and Pastor E.V. Hill.

Her greatest joy is being married to her husband, Wayne, for 34 years. Together they serve the community through their local congregation as well as providing premarital and marriage coaching. They have two adult children: Raquel and Benjamin. As a two-time breast cancer overcomer, Patricia coaches others to develop resilience and live life to their fullest.

Patricia has released two gospel music recordings: “Draw Me Nearer” and “Lord, I Trust You”. In March 2022, she launched her podcast, “Becoming Resilient”, which can be downloaded wherever you get your podcasts and also seen on YouTube.

When not reading or studying, Patricia loves to eat Thai food and spend time with Lucy—her daughter’s Yorkie-poo that has taken up room in her heart.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jamie De Silvia is an author and speaker from Southern California with a passion for helping women connect with the heart of God.


She hosts the “Pressing In” podcast and has authored two devotional books: Come Hear the Song of the Shepherd (a 30-day devotional journey through Psalm 23) and You Shall Be Praised (a 40-day devotional offering a fresh perspective on Proverbs 31). You can find Jamie on Instagram and Facebook daily, offering encouragement to help you draw closer to Jesus Christ.

Jamie is married with two adult daughters and a teenage son. She is also a homeschooling mom who enjoys oil painting, playing games with her family, and savoring a good chai latte.

~*~
Author Bio:

Angela Anderson was born in Brooklyn (New York) and raised in New Jersey.


She started writing at an early age and realized in elementary school that it was both a strength and a passion. 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 she is currently working on another devotional book.

This is Angela’s fourth year as a devotional writer for Alexis A. Goring’s “God is Love” blog. In 2021, Angela was a winner of a devotional writing contest where her words were featured in a book, Hope When Your Heart is Heavy, that was published by Proverbs 31 Ministries. The following year, another one of Angela’s devotionals was featured in Living Unbroken, which is another publication produced by Proverbs 31. Angela has a passion for inspiring and impacting others through her writing as well as speaking.

Angela is a life coach for mothers. She empowers mothers who want to identify their God-given purpose and live it fully while taking care of their family. Angela develops mothers into mompreneurs by providing them with the necessary tools to be successful and fulfilled in life. She works to help them to see their value, understand their importance, and reclaim their identity.

Angela is also the host of “The Angela Anderson Show”, a virtual talk show that launched in April of 2023 on YouTube and Facebook. The show is designed for mothers who want to pursue their dream while managing family life. The audio version of the show is also available as a podcast on Spotify.

Angela has been married to the love of her life, Duane Anderson, for 19 years. Together they have two sons: Thomas (age 11) and Ryan (age 6). Angela’s favorite pastime is journaling, and she also enjoys spending quality time with her family.

~ The End ~

Friday, December 29, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson learned from receiving a "starter"


Fight to the Finish
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”
— 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)

Several years ago, my sister-in-law offered me a “starter” to take home and bake.

It was a mixture of a few ingredients that would eventually be added with other ingredients to form a loaf of bread. The interesting thing about this “starter” was that that each person who received one were challenged to share one with someone else so they too could make their homemade loaf. This was not the first time someone had shared their “starter” with me. It was actually fun to take it and finish the process of making a loaf.

This process had me thinking about what it means to be a “starter” in life. Many of us start things. We’re great at getting people together to form the team but the team is only as successful as when they move forward on the plans that they came together for in the first place.

I remember my son saying to me one day, “Mom you’re great at starting things, but when are you going to finish something?” At the time his words stung me like a mosquito bite! Rather than getting uptight, I stopped and thought carefully about his words. He was seeing a behavior that I needed to address.

Starters are great at pulling ideas together and people to help carry the ideas forward. But the true version of success is when you’re able to keep that same energy and actually finish. It is an endeavor that cannot be done alone. We need each other. We need a community to carry forward the plans and ideas. Oftentimes I’ve had to speak to myself, pray, journal and bounce ideas off others to not quit. It’s easier to quit than it is to finish, and I want to be a finisher.

The Apostle Paul in what would be a farewell letter to his mentee Timothy, gave him a list of things to keep in his mind as he carries out his ministry. Paul is not shy in telling Timothy that the mandate he was given to preach the gospel is not easy. It has come with adversity and testing. However, he has pressed through. He has not quit. He states he has “fought a good fight”. He has fought through depression, discouragement and even disillusionment when times were tough.

Can you relate to what Paul has experienced? I get the feeling many of us have had to decide many times whether to give up, throw in the towel and like the referee in a boxing match, start the countdown to declare our most formidable opponent (Satan) the winner. Are we going to give up or are we going to get up from where we left off and keep moving?

Jesus Christ told us that here on this Earth, we will have troubles and hard times. He didn’t stop there though and leave us without hope! Regarding the troubles of the world, Jesus said in John 16:33 (NLT), “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Reading those promises from God, let’s remind ourselves that we’ve been declared the winner in the fight of this life because Christ has overcome any and every challenge we will ever face. As my son challenged me, I challenge you to not quit. Fight to the finish line because you only get awarded the prize when you finish what you started. But don’t worry, God will be with you all the way!

Let’s Pray: God our Father, we thank you for reminding us through Your Son (Jesus Christ) that greater is He that is within us than he (Satan) that is in the world. Remind us that this Bible truth means we have your power, your presence and everything we need in Jesus to overcome the troubles of the world. Help us to get up and keep moving forward despite the challenges we face. We love You and thank You for this reminder today in Jesus’s wonderful name we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Believe for It” by CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Patricia is a worship leader, songwriter, speaker and compiler of her 2020 best-seller anthology Stronger Resilience: Stories to Empower the Mind, Body and Spirit, as well as Lord, I Trust You: Words of Encouragement, to encourage readers and share life lessons during her cancer journey. 


Patricia writes, speaks, and teaches on the power of God’s Word to heal and empower you to become all that you are purposed for. She has travelled internationally and shared her gifts with audiences to encourage, empower and share life lessons through word and song. Patricia has sung on national television broadcasts and shared the stage with several respected speakers including Anne Graham Lotz and Rev. E.V. Hill.

Her greatest joy is being married to her husband, Wayne, for 33 years. Together, they serve the community through their local congregation in various capacities. They have two adult children, Raquel and Benjamin. As a two-time breast cancer overcomer, Patricia coaches others to develop resilience and live life to their fullest.

Patricia has released two gospel music recordings: “Draw Me Nearer” and “Lord, I Trust You”. In March 2022, she launched her podcast “Becoming Resilient” which can be downloaded wherever you get your podcasts and watched on YouTube.

When not reading or studying, Patricia loves to eat Thai food and spend time with “Lucy”—her daughter’s Yorkie-poo who has taken up room in her heart.

~*~
Connect with Patricia:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patrussellsings/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.russell.98877/
Website: http://www.patrussellonline.com/
Email: patrussellsings@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Christianity and matters of the heart


Decorations of a Christian
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” –Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

How do you decorate your house? Do you go all out for Christmas? Do you keep decorations simple throughout the year, or do you find yourself constantly changing the decor?

As I am writing this devotional, we are in the middle of preparing for Christmas. Decorations are everywhere–lights, garland, poinsettias, and nutcrackers. Christmas decorations are special and I always feel sad after Christmas when returning these beloved treasures to storage until the next Christmas season. However, as we look to the next year, I want to start thinking about a different kind of decoration.

I love the spiritual metaphor of our hearts resembling a house. Jesus Christ knocks on the door of our heart and when we open the door, we accept Him as our Savior. Jesus Christ, coming to this Earth to be our Savior, is what Christmas is all about. When you let Him in, He stays and lives in your heart. When I surrendered my whole heart to Jesus, I handed over the keys to each and every door in my heart. He is the ultimate decision maker in every area of my life—including when I need to decide what decorations I put up in my heart.

The three verses from the Bible book of Colossians at the beginning of this devotional list the decorations that a Christian should put up in their heart. The King James Version says that we are to put on mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, and charity–these are the things which beautify the heart and life of a Christian. We could choose not to put up these decorations in our hearts for the coming year. We could choose to put up decorations of envy, hate, bitterness, strife, unforgiveness. But if we do choose to put up negative decorations in our hearts, it will depress and disappoint us. 

Have you ever walked into a house that was decorated poorly? How did it make you feel? How does walking into a beautifully decorated house make you feel? A beautifully decorated atmosphere always makes me feel welcomed and at peace which is exactly how others will feel around you when you put up the decorations of Colossians 3:12-14 in your heart.

As we put away Christmas decorations and look to the coming year, let us not neglect the decorating that needs to be done in our hearts. Decorating is intentional, takes time, and requires effort. Choose the decorations of your heart carefully. Remember, Jesus Christ is now the owner of your heart so decorate in a way that will please Him and make Him feel welcomed.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for entering our hearts and dwelling with us. Please help us to remember that our heart is Your home and we are to decorate it as You see fit. Help us to choose our decorations wisely and keep them throughout the coming year. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Always Be My Home” by Rachael Lampa. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

Tessa enjoys being active in her local church. She serves as a co-teacher for the two-to-five year old class where there is never a dull moment.

It is Tessa’s passion to be a girl after God’s own heart and through her studying of God’s Word, Tessa longs to draw closer to her Savior. Through her writing, she longs to take others with her on this journey of faith.

Tessa loves all things Regency, needlework, and dainty teacups of every size.

When she isn’t writing or studying for exams, she can be found in the kitchen with more flour in her hair and on the floor than in the bowl, though the mess is always half the fun!

~*~
Connect with Tessa:
Blog: https://beautifulbeloved937002841.wordpress.com/

Monday, December 25, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: When God opened the Heavens for humankind


Rend the Heavens
A devotional by Kerry Sue Teravskis

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you.”—Isaiah 64:1 (NIV)

One year while in Mexicali, a Mexican border town below Southern California, my college sweetheart (now husband) and I were with over 3,000 high schoolers, youth pastors, and others to serve and minister to the churches in that region of Baja California. For one week, we lived in tents, used bottled water, had minimal showers, and ate cafeteria-style food out in the open field.

It was beautiful because it was about the people and serving God.

However, because it is in the desert, Mexicali is very hot and can get very windy. This one year, the winds were powerful, lifting tents and their contents all through “Tent City” while the youth with their pastors were in the various villages doing vacation Bible school, service projects and the like.

Those of us on the tent crew could only watch as the tents flew past. Sand and dust were flying everywhere, stinging our eyes and coating our teeth with grime. Torn tents, misplaced belongings, and shocked campers reigned that night in camp. They usually returned late at night, tired, hungry and in desperate need of a shower (but not getting one that day, nor on the previous days). The sight which met them was most unwelcome.

Setting things to right, repairing tents, finding belongings and getting settled for the night—all with a good attitude—was most important. Amazingly, it did happen. There were a few complaints, but for the most part, folks took it in stride, as a natural part of working in a third world country with little amenities, and on a mission’s trip.

Isaiah desperately asked God to rend the heavens because he needed God’s presence immediately. He desired for God to dismiss the divide between Himself and Israel. He asked for a rending. A rending is a tearing. A ripping. Intentional or not, it is a separation of one object into two. Usually a tearing leaves ragged edges (and for this seamstress, not the easiest to repair).

A ripping is done because stress is placed upon the object that could no longer hold itself together. A water balloon filled to the breaking point always breaks. It bursts open and water splatters everywhere. It’s fun for when you are playing with water balloons, but it’s not always fun with other objects such as tents that you need for shelter.

Like matters of the heart or in times of pain, hurt, affliction, and struggles. When our pain gets too intense, relief is cried for, begged for and uppermost on our minds. The prophet Isaiah was crying out for God to rend the heavens. I believe he was saying, “Rip them open, God! Do something. Break into our world.”

What’s interesting is what Isaiah said previously in Isaiah 63:15. He asked God to look. But he moved past that to the desperate cry for a rending. He did not want just a glance, a look or God’s attention. He wanted and desired God’s action. Isaiah wanted God to rend the barrier between God and humankind. And to him, the barrier was Heaven (the place where God lives).

God did indeed rip apart the heavens—on purpose and with purpose—for us. He planned a course of action for His people. God sent His Son to step into our neighborhood (John 1:14) with the cry of a baby, just like it says in Luke 2:6 (NLT): “And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.” God split the divide. He tore the veil between His glory and our sin. He did it. We did not. Nor could we. God heard the cry of Isaiah and answered.

Does God still do this, many thousands of years later? When we cry out for Him to rend the heavens, does He still engage? Does God care enough to be in our lives or does He just look down upon us?

I would say a resounding yes! Looking around would draw this same conclusion, but at times it could be perceived as cloudy or obscured because of the vast suffering, brokenness, and obvious lawlessness in this world. It’s when we ask the old-timers, the pastors, the new believers, we see the calm assurance God is indeed for us. Sometimes, we who have been walking with Jesus Christ for a bit, get lost, discouraged, or tainted.

Let us shout the battle cry, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down!” Let us believe, without a shadow of doubt, God will. Even if it is not immediate, God does answer. He does hear because He is not deaf. He is not disinterested, He is not put off, He is not unapproachable. God is for us.

God was with us when His Son (Jesus Christ) did rend the heavens and walk here on this Earth (John 1:14). And when Jesus returned to Heaven, He left His Holy Spirit with us so we could be filled with Him. Filled to bursting like a water balloon. Filled to overflowing like water in a cup. Let us hold onto this and bask in God’s goodness. Let us not lose hope. Let us endure, abide, and remain in the everlasting arms of our Heavenly Father (God).

Let’s Pray: Oh God, rip the heavens to come to this hurting—and sometimes stubborn—heart. I need You. I need to know You are in my neighborhood and in my life. I need to know that You are for me and are concerned about my pain. I need You, Lord. I admit my wanderings and ask for you to forgive me for going astray. I submit to You and Your hand of love. I find my comfort and solace in You alone, God. Thank You for being holy and calling me to holiness as You come down to Earth and actually call me higher to Heaven. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Let The Heavens Open (Live)” by Kari Jobe. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

As a wife and Marmee to three adult children and one brand new daughter-in-love, Kerry Sue’s life is very full. She met her husband in college and served in the mission field with him for a few years before settling down back in the United States of America to raise their family. 


Kerry Sue’s family was a homeschooling family for 20 years and they enjoyed it immensely. For the last 23 years they have lived on a small farm in Northern California where they have raised many farm animals, along with growing and preserving their food. Kerry Sue’s family farm has been a great source of enjoyment and a place to host many family gatherings. She maintains an open-door policy for dear friends—old and new.

Following and serving Jesus Christ is an integral part of Kerry Sue’s life as well as her family’s.

Whether it’s singing in our church choir, teaching children or leading and lecturing at a women’s Bible study, Kerry Sue loves to demonstrate her love for Jesus by giving to Him in service. She’s been a blogger for more than eight years, a Bible study writer for two years, and a devotional writer for about one year.

Kerry Sue writes about finding God’s Sovereignty in our pain and suffering.

~*~
Connect with Kerry:
Blog: https://www.sovereignblog.com/home
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kerry.teravskis
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ksteravskis/

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we should ask God for a heart like His


A Heart to See as God Sees
A devotional by Monique M. Anderson

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” –1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)

One day, the Lord spoke to me through a friend of mine.

She approached me randomly while volunteering at church and said, “God wants you to tell Him what you want.” Completely puzzled, I replied, “Huh?” She repeated herself. I stood there in silence, momentarily processing the question.

I feel like this is the “million-dollar question” that we all wish God would ask us. If we had time to practice, we could provide Him with a long list of things. However, when you are not expecting it, it can be daunting to think of everything you want on the spot. Nonetheless, slowly, each desire started to come to mind one by one: what I wanted for myself, my future, my family, my finances, business, ministry, etc. Once I got going, tears started to flow as I thought about the more in-depth things I wanted—certain loved ones to come to know Jesus Christ and give their life to Him, for other loved ones to be delivered or healed.

Once I was done listing everything in my heart, my friend continued to deliver God’s message to me. The Lord told her he would grant me the desires of my heart under one condition: I had to see His people’s hearts the way He did. These are the same people I continually pray for but find challenging to minister to. I had to find a way to see their hearts how God sees them so that I can reach them.

God was giving me a conditional promise. If I did not keep up my end of the bargain, God would not deliver on His. There was just one problem: It was hard for me to see good hearts in challenging people. Particularly in people whose behaviors and actions do not align with a good heart. How could I see what I could not see?

One day, while praying for one of these seemingly difficult people. I started to ask God to help me. I asked Him to help me see this person’s true heart, and not what they portray. It wasn’t easy at first. I did not understand how this would work. Then the Holy Spirit stepped in, and I found myself praying the Word of God over them.

I started to declare Psalm 51:10 (NKJV) by saying, “Create in them a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit.” I also prayed Jeremiah 24:7 (NKJV) by saying, “Give them a heart to know you, Lord, and they will be your child, and you will be their God, and they will return to you with their whole heart.” Finally, I prayed Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV) by saying, “Give them a new heart, Lord, and put a new spirit within them. Take out their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

On and on I went, praying God’s truth over the lies of their character and calling those things that were not as if they were. I spoke about what I wanted to see and what God already sees. I continued this daily until I started to see them the way God does. I began to see the actual pain behind their ugly behavior. I started to see the true intent of their ungodly actions. It was genius. It made it easier to show compassion for those who are challenging to love and minister to.

I don’t know who you are called to help, but not everyone you are sent to will be an easy case. Whether a family member or a stranger, we are all called to help God’s people, especially the challenging ones. We can’t run from them or hide from the assignment. We must tend to those in need. Therefore, I encourage you to pray for what you want to see for your loved one. Pray God’s truth over them so that while you wait on the Lord to change them internally, you can already begin to see what God saw all along.

Let’s Pray: Father God, I thank You for the call. Although challenging, I thank You for equipping me for the task. Thank You for showing me the heart of your people so that I can better serve them and tend to their spiritual needs. Thank You for showing me how to be as compassionate as your Son Jesus Christ. Continue to guide me and teach me to walk in Your ways. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “A Heart Like Yours” by CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2: “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

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

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

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

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

~*~
Connect with Monique:
Website: www.yourstrulymoe.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yourstruly__moe/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Yours-Truly-Moe-140255684101423

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: The Significance of God's Right Hand


The Right Hand of God
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”–Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘the right hand of God’?

The hand of God may elicit different reactions in believers. The first thought that comes to my mind when I hear these words are thoughts of judgment and condemnation. Some believers hold beliefs that the right hand of God is an iron fist that is unyielding and unloving. A disconnect exists between the God of love we read about in the Bible and the image of God we form in our minds.

So what does the right hand of God refer to in the Bible? Often, the right hand of God refers to judgment, especially in the Psalms when David is praying for God to rescue him from his enemies. However, the right hand of God is not always a negative thing as we can infer from Isaiah 41:10. In this verse, the right hand of God is referencing God’s presence, help, and strength–an extremely positive reference.

God’s presence, help, and strength are what can get us through the darkest seasons of our lives. However, sometimes it is difficult to feel God’s presence, help, and strength in our lives which is why I want to express a lovely way of viewing and remembering the right hand of God. In Mark 16:19 (KJV), the verse speaks of Jesus Christ as it states, “he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God”. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is now sitting at the right hand of God. God is holding us up with His right hand. As believers, we are safely positioned between God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.

Consider for just a moment how wonderfully safe you are in your position between God and Jesus Christ. There is no safer place for you to be than to be held by the right hand of God.

You are securely and eternally placed in the right hand of God. Allow this to be your comfort when the storms and darkness of light make you forget your purpose and value. Look on either side of you and know that you are surrounded by your Heavenly Father and your Savior (Jesus Christ) who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for the peace and comfort of Your right hand. Please help us to remember our position in you. In this world, we will be bombarded by pressures and expectations, but help us to focus on You and remember that Your right hand is holding us all the way. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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

~*~
Author Bio:

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


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

Tessa enjoys being active in her local church. She serves as a co-teacher for the two-to-five year old class where there is never a dull moment.

It is Tessa’s passion to be a girl after God’s own heart and through her studying of God’s Word, Tessa longs to draw closer to her Savior. Through her writing, she longs to take others with her on this journey of faith.

Tessa loves all things Regency, needlework, and dainty teacups of every size.

When she isn’t writing or studying for exams, she can be found in the kitchen with more flour in her hair and on the floor than in the bowl, though the mess is always half the fun!

~*~
Connect with Tessa:
Blog: https://beautifulbeloved937002841.wordpress.com/

Monday, November 20, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: God and His Angels protect you from danger


God is Our Protector
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
—Psalm 46:1 (NLT)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you narrowly escaped involvement in a car accident? Maybe you were in an accident but when you look back at the aftermath, you wonder how you made it out alive. This is evidence of God protecting you from apparent danger.

God is also in the business of protecting us from dangers that we cannot see. There are daily situations that are happening behind the scenes of which we are unaware. These situations remain unseen because God is constantly dispatching His angels to encamp around us (Psalm 34:7). He deactivates the traps that are set by Satan. The weapon may be formed, but it will not prosper! (Isaiah 54:17). God has this uncanny ability to orchestrate circumstances with the goal of rescuing us. He never leaves us alone. He is always right there.

God also offers us protection from the spiritual battle that occurs in the life of a believer. We are reminded in Ephesians 6:12 that this is not a physical fight, but completely spiritual. We are not up against people or objects, but Satan uses these things in the battle in an attempt to distract and defeat us. Our true opponent is Satan and he wants nothing more than for all of us to fall prey to His evil plans to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

In order for us to resist Satan, we need to stand and cover ourselves with every piece of God’s armor. This includes truth tied around our waist which are integrity and moral courage. The breastplate of righteousness is to protect an upright heart. When the gospel of peace is strapped to our feet, we will be stable and be prepared to face Satan with readiness that originates from the good new. The shield of faith protects us by extinguishing Satan’s fiery darts that are thrown in our direction. The helmet of salvation guards our minds as we focus on God, and the sword of the spirit is the word of God that should be hidden in our hearts so that we are less prone to sin. When we put on God’s armor, it not only protects us, but it also emboldens us to live a genuine Christian life.

God’s protection in our lives is beyond what we could ever imagine. We can praise Him now for what He has already done and in advance for what He is going to do!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, Thank you for Your protection as we go about our lives each day. Help us to realize that You go before us, You are always with us, and You are all around us, no matter where we are. Continue to bless us with Your abiding presence. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Protector (Live)” by Kim Walker-Smith. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Angela Anderson was born in Brooklyn (New York) and raised in New Jersey. 


She started writing at an early age and realized in elementary school that it was both a strength and a passion. 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 she is currently working on another devotional book that will be introduced in 2023.

This is Angela's third year as a devotional writer for Alexis A. Goring’s “God is Love” blog. In 2021, Angela was a winner of a devotional writing contest where the entry is featured in a book published by Proverbs 31 Ministries. The book is titled, Hope When Your Heart is Heavy. The following year, another one of Angela’s devotionals was published in another publication from Proverbs 31 Ministries, called Living Unbroken.

Angela has a passion for inspiring and impacting others through her writing and speaking.

Angela is a Mom Life Coach. She empowers mothers who want to identify their God-given purpose and live it fully while taking care of their family. Angela develops mothers into mompreneurs by providing them with the necessary tools to be successful and fulfilled in life. These tools equip them to see their value, understand their importance, and reclaim their identity.

Angela has been married to the love of her life, Duane Anderson for 18 years. Together they have two sons: Thomas (age 10) and Ryan (age 5). Angela’s favorite pastime is journaling.

She treasures spending quality time with her family.

~*~
Connect with Angela:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelanderson1104/
Facebook (personal): https://m.facebook.com/angela.thomasanderson
Facebook (Author page): https://www.facebook.com/jwitikg/

Note: Angela offers free consultations for mothers who want to pursue their dream while taking care of their family. Schedule here: www.ChatWithCoachAngela.com

Friday, November 17, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Why God's plans are better than our own


God’s Ways Are Greater Than Mine
A devotional by Hannah Benson

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”—Isaiah 55:9 (ESV)

Trusting that God knows best can be a difficult lesson to learn. If you’re anything like me, then I’m sure you have plans. Perhaps hopes and dreams that eventually become plans. Maybe you’re planning to go to college or pursue a career that you’ve long admired as a child.

As much as we try to, the fact is that we don’t have control over everything in our lives. When God’s plans don’t line up with our own, it’s tempting to become angry.

I’ve been there.

When it comes to long-time choices like careers or even smaller decisions like what groups to join, classes to take, or trips to embark on, we may have our plans. But at some point, if we go ahead without truly seeking God, He will intervene and show us that it was not His plan.

Now, that might sound harsh, and like I said before, it can be a tough pill to swallow.

But God only has our ultimate best interest in mind. When we truly surrender to God and His will for our lives, we will find that His plans are so much better than our own.

I remember when I was a child, I had plans to pursue acting full-time. I thought that perhaps I would get a job in the Christian film industry. I began heading down that path and focused on acting. Looking back, God was trying to get ahold of me and show me that acting wasn’t all He had for me. But in my stubborn deafness, I refused to listen until one day God revealed to me that He had other plans.

At the time, I inwardly rebelled against them. Acting was part of my plan, and I didn’t want to change my plan. When God revealed to me that the plans I had for myself weren’t what He had for me, it was incredibly disappointing at first. No one likes to realize that their entire life plan isn’t the path they should be going down.

Maybe my plan sounds less dramatic than your “entire life plan.” Maybe it’s your goals for this year, this month, or tomorrow. Maybe it’s a job opportunity that logic tells you should take but you know in your heart God wants you to trust Him and choose another, less “obvious” option.

I encourage you if you don’t know what God’s plans are for you, ask Him. He will show you. Maybe we won’t know where we’re supposed to be 10 years from now. That’s okay. But He will guide us through each day. And if our hearts are in tune with His Spirit, then I believe that He will unveil His plan for each of us. Sometimes God’s plans for us unfold slowly and not as quickly as we would like, but we can trust that He will show us His plans for our life in His perfect time.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Father God, please forgive me for following my own plan. Please help me to be in tune with You and to listen when You call. Father, I want to hear from You! Please help me realize that I don’t need to know every single part of Your plan for my life right now. Teach me how to rest in You and trust You to make everything clear to me. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Control” by for KING & COUNTRY. Listen to it 
here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Hannah Benson is a Jesus-follower who’s passionate about sharing the love of Christ with others. 


From the time she could hold a pen, she was writing. But it wasn’t until she was sixteen that she began to seriously follow God’s calling to write a novel. Hannah is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has at least four novels in the works. For the past five years, she has been involved with her local Biblical theater company. She wants to show others the love of Jesus through the creative arts.

When she’s not acting or working on her upcoming novel, you can find Hannah laughing with her siblings, cuddling her little fluffy dog, or reading books (usually historical fiction or fantasy stories). You can read more of Hannah’s writings on her blog or on her Instagram where she strives to write content that leaves others feeling encouraged.

~*~
Connect with Hannah:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannahlbensonwrites/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Hannah-Lynn-Writer/100073790792576/
Blog: www.loveunconditional.blog

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: How "Gratitude Glasses" Give Perfect Vision


Gratitude Glasses Give Us Perfect Vision
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

I prefer wearing contact lenses. Eyeglasses make my vision crisp and clear, but they’re uncomfortable and I’m constantly cleaning them. Now, I need to replace them because they're so full of scratches. I wonder if the protective coating they sold me is just a gimmick.

Difficult circumstances can leave scratches on our hearts. In our pain, they’re often the filter through which we view life. But when we view tough times through the lens of gratitude, we are less likely to be defeated by them.

When he wrote his letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul had plenty to complain about. Yet he learned to focus on God and the eternal hope that awaited him in Heaven. His perspective gave him victory and the courage to continue spreading the gospel. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV), Paul wrote: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

And in 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (NIV), Paul wrote: “Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”

Trials take our breath away. They don’t give fair warning. It's hard to see the good when all we see is darkness. And while we wonder if God has forgotten us, He's already busy working on our behalf, and whether we realize it or not, His plans are for our good.

Gratitude is like a protective coating that keeps our hearts from bitterness, complaining, and comparison. Life is hard, and none of us escape suffering, but we can choose each day whether it decides our outlook on life.

Someone told me that when you place a black dot on a blank paper, you stop noticing what's around it. We can't see the blessings around us when we only focus on our pain. We may not get to choose our circumstances, but when our feet hit the floor every morning, we decide whether to view them with gratitude glasses.

Sweet friend, whatever you face today, I encourage you to look to Jesus Christ. He understands what you’re going through. Consider starting a gratitude journal because seeing your blessings in black and white will open your eyes to the gifts right before you.

Let's Pray:
Father God, I’m so grateful for everything You've done for me. On difficult days, help me remember to count my blessings instead of my disappointments. I don't understand why trials come but thank you for giving me your Word, which helps me see everything through the right lens. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Give Thanks (With A Grateful Heart)” by Into the Light Journal (YouTube Channel). Listen to it here.

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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 Gigi (her Cocker Spaniel) was published in Guideposts (magazine) Mysterious Ways. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

Since 2022, Sarah’s devotionals have been 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.

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Connect with Sarah:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smittyc65
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SarahCo45835279
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.cole.52