Friday, June 28, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: God can heal, deliver and restore you

God Sees You and He Hears You
A devotional by Essie Faye Taylor

“Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.”
—2 Kings 20:5 (NIV)

Life is an adventure—to be honest, most days it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. We can have extreme highs and extreme lows in the same year, month, week, or even the same day. God never promised that life would be easy.

He did, however, promise that He would be with us as we walk our life path. This looks like God walking with us through our personal trauma, such as a toxic relationship, abuse, divorce, a fractured relationship with our parents or addiction. God is there with us in the darkness, in the shadows, in the face of the pain and sorrow—He’s with us through it all! His presence is constant and calming. His promise to us found in Psalm 23:4 (NKJV) is, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

2 Kings chapter 20 opens by saying King Hezekiah was “sick and near death” (2 Kings 20:1 NKJV). Hezekiah was known as a good king who walked uprightly before God. Yet this righteous man is stricken with a terminal illness. Anyone reading this story in our current time era may question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Trials and triumphs are part of the human experience. As believers in God, we are not exempt from the storms of life. However, we have hope in this life because God is always with us, and we have hope of eternal life because of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). But let’s get back to the Bible story. The prophet Isaiah was sent by God to King Hezekiah to tell him to set his house in order because he would die. After receiving such grave news, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to God. He begged God to remember how He walked in truth and stayed loyal to God all his life. He wept before the Lord.

God was moved by Hezekiah’s prayer and the righteous life he lived. This led God to change His mind. He healed Hezekiah and extended the years of his life. The healing encounter in this Scripture assures us of God’s care for us today too.

God sees our situation and lifestyle. Nothing is hidden from our Sovereign and Omnipotent God. Scripture declares, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him" (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV). God had the record of Hezekiah’s life choices and uprightness before Him. His simple prayer of remembrance spoke volumes because of the life that he practiced before God. Our life speaks for us. Our choices steeped in biblical principles testify of God’s grace and goodness to the world. God honors His children. He is eager to show Himself strong and move on behalf of those who are loyal to Him. We see God changing His mind about Hezekiah’s death date because of his commitment to Him.

Our prayers, our tears, and our emotions matter to God–so much so that He is eager to answer and deliver us. Although your heart seems to be shattered into a thousand pieces, God is ready to heal your heart. Although you’re afraid of that recent diagnosis, our God is a Healer and He can restore your health. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and the grief seems unsurmountable or unbearable. Put it in the Master’s Hand because He is the God of all comfort. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by anxiety or depression or struggling with suicidal ideation. Nothing is too hard for our God to heal. Sometimes He doesn’t heal us while we are living on this Earth, but He will heal us completely in Heaven.

Nearly ten years ago, my youngest brother had a stroke while at his job. He was rushed to the hospital. My large family of believers gathered at the hospital and prayed for healing. In the next few days, my brother improved. Then suddenly he had an aneurysm and passed away. This saddened our hearts because we had prayed for his healing. But we need to remember that our God is Sovereign and He knows best. We rest in knowing that we will see him again in Heaven.

Call to Action:

1. Embrace the Sovereignty of God as you heal.

2. Trust God with your next knowing that He sees your situation, He hears your cries, and He can heal you in His perfect time.

3. Accept that healing from God comes in many forms. Healing can be immediate or gradual. It may look different for everyone.

4. Rest in God’s Sovereignty and know that you are safe with Him.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, You are sovereign. You know everything that is said and done in the dark and when no one else is around. You know the hidden and secret things. Nothing is hidden from You. Father God, You hear our prayers. You tell us to call You and You will answer us. You said that your ears are open to the cry of the righteous. Whatever we ask in prayer, if we believe it, we shall have it. We are asking for healing, Lord. We rest in Your sovereignty and Your promise to be with us at all times—good and bad. Help us to have faith that You will hear and answer our prayers. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Sovereign (Live)” by Chris Tomlin. Listen to it here.

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 where she lives with her husband Donald Taylor II.

Connect with Essie:
Amazon Author Page:
Listen to Essie’s music at
Read Essie’s YouVersion Devotion Plan here:

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: The Unfolding of God's Grand Narrative

Finding Direction in God's Grand Narrative
A devotional by Dr. Gladys Childs

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”—Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

Ever felt like you're drifting through life, lost at sea without a compass?

You're not alone. We've all hit those moments of “What am I even doing here?”

It's easy to get caught in the daily grind and lose sight of our purpose. But here's the exciting part—feeling directionless isn't a dead end; it's a signpost. It's that inner nudge pushing you to dig deeper and uncover the path God has uniquely crafted for you.

When we recognize that we are part of God's grand narrative, our perspective shifts. Instead of seeing our lives as isolated incidents, we view them as chapters in a much larger story. This understanding provides a sense of continuity and significance. The Bible is full of individuals whose lives had specific purposes within God's plan—like Moses, Esther, and Paul. Each of them understood their lives in the context of God's overarching story, which gave them direction and meaning.

This understanding transforms how we approach our daily lives. No matter how mundane, every task becomes an opportunity to participate in God's plan. Helping a neighbor, excelling in our work, or simply being present for our families takes on eternal significance when we see them as part of God's bigger picture. Our lives become a series of purposeful moments rather than random occurrences.

In a relationship with God, our values begin to align with His. Worldly measures of success—wealth, status, and power—lose their luster in the light of God's values where we prioritize love, service, humility, and integrity. Jesus Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (found in the Bible book of Matthew, chapters 5-7) emphasize the blessedness of the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers.

This shift in values profoundly impacts our decisions. We consider not just what benefits us but what glorifies God and serves others. This could mean choosing a career that aligns with our passions and talents to serve a greater good rather than one that offers a high salary. It could also mean making ethical decisions in business, prioritizing honesty and fairness over profit.

A relationship with God provides a secure foundation for our identity. Our achievements, failures, or the opinions of others do not define us. Instead, we are defined by God's love and His view of us. Psalm 139:13-14 speaks to this, where David acknowledges that God has intricately designed and known him from the beginning.

Understanding that we are God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), created for good works, helps us to embrace our unique roles in His Kingdom. Each person has specific gifts and talents, and our purpose is to use these gifts to glorify God and benefit others. This might involve acts of service, creative expression, leadership, or caregiving. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) encourages us to use what we've been given wisely and diligently.

Experiencing Transformation

A relationship with God is transformative. As we draw closer to Him, we undergo personal growth and change. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—begins manifesting in our lives. This growth not only benefits us but also positively impacts those around us.

Living in a relationship with God means our faith is not just a private matter but a public one. Our actions and attitudes testify to God's presence in our lives. This doesn't mean we have to be perfect, but we constantly seek to reflect God's love and grace in our interactions with others. Which can inspire and encourage those around us, drawing them towards their relationship with God.

Finding Peace and Assurance

One of the most profound benefits of a relationship with God is the peace from knowing we are walking in His purpose. This peace, described in Philippians 4:7 as surpassing all understanding, guards our hearts and minds. It helps us confidently navigate life's challenges and uncertainties, knowing that God is in control and has a plan for us.

Finally, a relationship with God assures us of an eternal purpose. We are not living for this world alone but for an eternal kingdom. This eternal perspective helps us endure hardships, remain steadfast in our faith, and live with hope. Knowing that our lives have everlasting significance provides a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment that nothing in this world can offer.


1. Have you felt directionless lately? How might recognizing God's grand narrative change your perspective?

2. What tasks or roles in your life can you start seeing as part of God's bigger picture?

3. In what ways can you align your values more closely with God's?

Let’s Pray: Lord, help me to see my life as part of Your grand narrative. Align my values with Yours and guide my decisions to glorify You and serve others. Let me find my identity in Your love and purpose in Your plan. Fill me with Your peace that surpasses all understanding as I walk in the good works You have prepared for me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Dr. Gladys Childs is an author, speaker, religion professor, pastor's wife, and mom helping 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.

Connect with Gladys:

Monday, June 24, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we need to let Jesus Christ be our Anchor

Where is Your Anchor?
A devotional by Peg Arnold

“This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven.”
—Hebrews 6:19 (TLB)

Throughout my childhood, my family spent most of our summer vacation on a spring-fed lake nestled in the wooded hills of northern Michigan.

Each day was filled with endless opportunities: hikes in the woods, fires in the fireplace, card games, hours in the water, and much more. My favorite activity as a teenage girl was sunbathing. Often, I would do this with a girlfriend, a sister, or a cousin on towels spread on the dock. Sometimes, we would swim to a raft and lie in the warm sun until we were dry. I’ll never forget the bravery it took to jump into the chilly water and swim to shore.

One day, with the sunlight shimmering on the lake like sparkling diamonds, my girlfriend and I decided to take her little sunfish sailboat out. We weren’t great sailors, but the wind was calm, so we figured the boat wouldn’t go far. We drifted aimlessly while basking in the sun, and the waves soon rocked us to sleep. How shocked we were when we opened our eyes and realized we had drifted far out of sight from our familiar shoreline!

We searched for the paddle to help guide us back to shore. Panic struck when no paddle was found, and we would need to raise the sail and navigate our way back. It took us quite a while to return home, making us understand the value of an anchor and a paddle.

Jesus Christ is referred to as an anchor. He is the source of our hope and strength in times of persecution and challenge. Jesus connects me to His power and direction. His anchor has a line providing some freedom of movement but always keeping me tethered to Him, even amid stormy seas. As my relationship grows with Christ, I become more aware of His presence and keenly sense His gentle pull when I begin to drift with the waves of distractions.

But just like the story I shared from my childhood, in my daily life as an adult, I am still vulnerable to drifting. Whether it is the winds of distractions pulling me away from tasks and relationships, the wandering thoughts sidetracking my prayer time, or the worry waves consuming my mind and causing panic and anxiety. During these times, I am much like that boat, drifting in the middle of the lake. An anchor secures me and keeps me centered on my purpose. It’s not meant to be a burden or weigh me down.

How do I keep this connection with God and not be weighed down by the world? How do I strengthen my awareness of Christ’s presence amidst the many distractions in my daily living? I’ve learned that reading devotions everyday help to center my mind and anchor my soul in God’s Word, but sometimes, I require more. Scripture encourages us to rest just like God rested on the seventh day after creating the world and all that is in it. Sabbath rest is important to help humankind stay healthy and anchored in God. I have found this concept of rest to be helpful.

Let’s return to my story about the time when me and my friend drifted far from shore. Here’s how the story ends: After the panic subsided, my girlfriend and I regrouped. She remembered putting the sail up with her dad, and we clumsily raised it as the boat rocked back and forth. We tried to catch the wind, but not being sailors, we did not understand the physics of tacking back and forth against the force of the breeze. We were burned and exhausted when we reached the shore but relieved to walk on solid ground. We definitely needed to rest!

Two lessons learned that day were the importance of being prepared for the unexpected and persevering when faced with a challenge. God promises that He will be there when we are unprepared or unsure. As our guide, He will help us find our way through difficulties by staying anchored to Him.

How do you connect with God’s hope and strength? Remember: He can be your anchor when you are drifting in the waves of distractions or tossing in the turbulence of the stormy seas.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, I confess that I tend to do things by my own strength. I leave things undone, focus on the unimportant, and respond to urgent voices. Help me to place my hope and strength in You to avoid drifting to the aimless wind, be aware of Your presence, and be anchored to Your purpose and course. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “The Anchor Holds” by Ray Boltz. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Peg Arnold, Speaker/Author/Teacher is 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, mentor, with a master’s in counseling, she 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 everyone to know that their story is important and has a purpose. She grew up in Michigan and raised her family in Maryland. Later in life, Peg and her husband relocated close to their family in Colorado.

Connect with Peg:
Website: Get some freebies when you visit!
Devotions for the Distracted Heart blog:
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Friday, June 21, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: God's opinion is the only one that matters


Work Unto the Lord

A devotional by Hannah Benson

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”—Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

As a writer, I want everyone to love what I write. My hopes are that they will be touched, moved, pointed to Jesus Christ. But the reality is when I’m focused on pleasing people, then I’m focusing on the wrong thing.

As much as I hate to admit it, no matter how hard I try, there is always going to be someone who I can’t please. If my goal is to please mankind, then I’m going to work with a short-sighted mindset. My thoughts may range from “What does [this person] think of this?” to “Did I please [so-and-so]?”

And as a result, by trying to please everyone, I’m going to find myself dissatisfied because not everyone will be pleased. But the Bible says in Colossians 3:23 to “work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men.”

We are called by God to fulfill His calling in our life. Sure, our work is meant to build His Kingdom and to encourage other believers, but we are not to focus on finding approval from anyone other than God. When a servant does the bidding of his master, he shouldn’t worry about what those around him think. He needs to be focused on obeying his master, regardless of what other people think.

I was reminded a while ago that even though Jesus was perfect, He didn’t please everyone either. In fact, He actually had people who hated Him and His work.

We can learn from Jesus because He focused on what His Father (God) thought of Him instead of what others thought of Him. If Christ had focused on the disapproval of a few, what might’ve happened to His ministry? Instead of focusing on people-pleasing, Jesus focused on doing the will of His Father, which allowed His ministry to grow into what God had ordained it to be.

I want to encourage you today with these words: Don’t focus on pleasing the crowd but instead, zero in on pleasing Your Creator (God). He alone has called you to good works and retains the right to define you.

It can be so tempting to compare ourselves to someone else, but the truth is, we’re not to compare our best to someone else’s best. God has gifted each of us with individual talents. In the realm of writing, for example, my style of writing may be different than yours, but God can use both of us to minister to people.

When we’re following the call of God and truly giving Him our best, then that’s enough. Even if it looks different from someone else’s best.

Sometimes when I’m sitting down to write, I struggle with wondering if it is “good enough” or if it will impact anyone. I’ve learned though that when I do my best and give the results to God, He’ll do the rest. Most often when my writing feels inadequate to me, God will send someone who shares with me the impact it had on their life. This reminds me that apart from God, my work is inadequate. Only God can give my work meaning and allow it to have an impact on people.

It's hard for me, but I’m slowly learning to trust God with the outcome and to remember to always work to please God, not mankind (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Let’s Pray:

Dear Father God, please forgive me for forgetting that Your opinion is the only One that matters! Forgive me for living a life to please others when I should be living to please You. Thank You that Your opinion is the only One that matters. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Proud” by Influence Music and Melody Noel. 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 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 other websites. 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.

Connect with Hannah:

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Finding peace when life throws curveballs

Life’s Curveballs Don’t Surprise God
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”—John 16:31-33 (NIV)

Have you noticed that, as you age, you lose things more easily?

When I walk past the pile of orphaned earrings and socks lying on my dresser, it reminds me that I need to pay closer attention to what I’m doing. At least I haven't lost my mind! Sometimes, all it takes is missing earrings to send my anxiety through the roof. But earrings are replaceable compared to the losses that leave me broken, discouraged, and alone. In a perfect world, we’d never lose anything, and trials and tragedies wouldn’t destroy our lives. It would be like Heaven on Earth.

I desperately wish that were my story’s narrative, but then God wouldn’t get the glory when He becomes the hero of it, and I wouldn’t be who I am today. Maybe you know just what I mean.

Several years ago, I experienced three concussions each September for three years, the result of accidents I never saw coming. Migraines and vertigo kept me from driving, using my laptop, and sitting through my church’s worship service.

One day, I asked my friend to have a coffee because I was having a pity party and needed a listening ear. I’ll never forget what she said to me: “Why not you, Sarah?” Her words revealed a depth of character refined in the crucible of caregiving. Her husband was battling dementia, a curveball she couldn’t predict, yet God gave her the strength to live out her less-than-perfect story.

After a five-year recovery, God restored me. I now can drive for as long and as far as I want. I no longer get migraines or vertigo. And I’ve learned this: When life hits us out of nowhere, Jesus Christ saw the curveballs coming from a million miles away. We have hope because He promises to restore everything, if not while we are living on Earth, then when we are in Heaven. Instead of fixating on our pain, we can experience peace by fixing our eyes on Him.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

When life leaves me with more questions than answers, I’m reminded that You don’t allow something to happen without turning it around for my good and your glory. When nothing seems to go right, I’m grateful everything works out in Your perfect timing. Instead of dwelling on what I can’t fix, I will fix my eyes on the God who sees me and loves me. Thank You, God, that Your perfect plan is falling into place. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Take it to Jesus” by Anna Golden feat. Kari Jobe. 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. 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 by Guideposts. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

Sarah's 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 an upcoming book, Too Amazing For Coincidence, also to be published by Guideposts. To this day, Sarah smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she's not writing, she's enjoying her hobbies that include dog sitting, watching cooking shows and taking day trips.

Connect with Sarah:

Monday, June 17, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How difficulties help us grow stronger

Don’t Deviate from the Difficult
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
—James 1:2-4 (TLB)

When my son, John, was around eight months old, he was making strong headway toward being independently mobile by pulling himself up from sitting to standing. Not really crawling yet, still he was making progress. And then Zachary arrived.

Cousin Zachary was six months older than John and he was walking. In those weeks while Zachary stayed with us, John quit trying to crawl, devoting all his energy to becoming ambulatory. John was no longer content with his unhurried pace of development, suddenly a fire was lit to be upright.

But it turns out that crawling is beneficial to both muscular and psychological maturity. Skipping this stage is thought to inhibit full brain development. When we, like my young son, see someone succeeding at something we want for ourselves, we can be tempted to take the shortcut. However, bypassing the difficult route requires of us a couple things: deviation and double-down.

Deviation might look like shifting priorities, shirking responsibility, quitting current tasks, and avoiding accountability. It might mean breaking promises, or not being completely honest. Maybe deception...even if just self-deception.

Double-down is the extra energy required to get somewhere faster than normal. Symptoms could be longer work hours, skipping breaks, feeling driven, irritability, or feeling put-upon.

Achievements arrived by shortcut methods are typically short-lived because they lack the muscle of steadfastness to maintain the level of success attained. The shortcut is also short-sighted. Our maturity requires that we go through the challenges that build strength of character. While it’s human nature to choose the least painful routes or be tempted to skip ahead, the very process of falling down and getting back up develops the stability we need to withstand the next level of growth.

In his letter to fellow followers of Jesus Christ, James suggests that we can consider the hard way through life as the best way due to the amount of spiritual muscle we achieve along the way. Difficulties produce patience. And patience helps us endure through every future challenge. It’s a strength we take with us on the rest of our journey.

My little son John took many tumbles in his efforts to walk. At some point, though, he found himself on his hands and knees and realized he could crawl after all. He didn’t stay on all fours for long, but it was there that he got what he needed to advance toward his next adventure.

When we find ourselves knocked down, it’s best we be honest with ourselves about where we are and why. We are not completed yet. And there’s no shame in continuing to be a work-in-progress. Rather we can be happy about the opportunity to practice a while longer! Before we know it, a greater level of challenge will come and we will be glad God was developing such strength in us.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, You know what is best for us and You direct us to walk in the way we should go. Help us to remember that Your ways are higher (wiser) than our ways and that we do well to trust You...always. Thank You for walking along side us in our challenges. Thank You for not abandoning us...especially in our foolishness. Continue to guide our steps and to bless our spiritual muscles as we follow You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Walk With You” by Michael Bethany. Listen to it here.

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.

Connect with Sharon:

Friday, June 14, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Finding Faith and Joy in Every Season

Embracing Faith and Finding Joy in Every Season

A devotional by Dr. LaVonda McCullough

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand, you save me."–Psalm 138:7 (NIV)

Has your faith ever wavered?

Perhaps joy seems elusive, slipping through your fingers even though you long for the joy God promises. There have been days that I have felt the same way.

Building faith and discovering joy is a journey, one we embark on with small steps each day. Discovering joy with life's challenges is genuine and attainable. The Holy Bible assures us that joy is found in the presence of God, even during difficult times. Trusting in God's guidance, we find safety and comfort, no matter the challenges we face. Therefore, let’s celebrate the joy found in God's presence, confident that He is always with us, guiding and supporting us through every moment.

Through His boundless love and grace, we can experience joy in all circumstances. When I began to internalize these principles and let them transform me, I found peace. I learned how to connect my head knowledge with my heart. Joy could not be sustained if it was always based on my situation or circumstances.

It’s not always easy to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, or faithful in prayer, but embodying these qualities changes our lives profoundly. In tough times, building your faith and trust in God is crucial. Trusting God doesn’t mean you’ll never face difficulties, but it does mean He will always be with you. When your faith feels shaky, turn to God and seek His help.

There are many ways to strengthen your faith during challenging times. Here’s a shortlist:

1. Spend Time with God: Engage in reading the Bible, praying, and worshipping Him. This daily practice anchors your soul.

2. Serve Others: Acts of service are beautiful reminders of God's love and His call for us to help those in need.

3. Connect with a Faith Community:
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who share your faith, drawing strength and encouragement from their support.

4. Gratitude: Become intentional to write down things you are grateful for daily.

If you're struggling to trust God, remember that He is always faithful. He loves you deeply and desires the best for you. Don’t give up on Him; keep seeking His will for your life. Trusting in God is essential for a fulfilling life. Hold on to your faith tightly, believing that God will carry you through any challenge.

In every moment, let us walk with faith, celebrate God's presence, and embrace the joy He offers, confident that He preserves our lives and guides us with His loving hand.

Let’s Pray: Father God, when my heart feels sad and my faith wavers, please grant me your peace. Help me to meditate on Your Word so that it is hidden in my heart, strengthening my faith. May I be an instrument of love that will point others to you and embrace the joy of my salvation. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Seasons (Live)” by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Dr. 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 through 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 through 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.

Connect with LaVonda:

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: When the storms of life are actually a gift for us

The Gift of a Storm
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:20b (ESV)

All of us go through storms in life.

Some are physical storms—a rogue wildfire burns everything for miles, a tornado boils up from a thunderstorm, or a hurricane makes landfall days after it first came on the scene. Then there are sprained ankles right before a big game, or a sports season-ending tear in one of the tendons that knocks us flat and makes us sit on the sidelines while we watch others stay in the game and succeed.

There are also emotional storms—the coulda, woulda, shoulda storms over experiences that have hurt us and others, too. Guilt carries its own toll of pain and suffering that we tend to lodge deep within our hearts, sometimes forever.

Storms of life mark our time here on Earth with stress and distress. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that Jesus Christ has given all His children a precious gift—the Holy Spirit. And because of this priceless gift, we never have to face even a single one of life’s storms all alone.

One of the promises God gave concerning Jesus, the longed-for Messiah, is a name that characterizes who Jesus is—Immanuel. His name means “God with us”, according to Matthew 1:23 (ESV). The Holy Spirit, given to us by Christ, stands beside us through every turmoil, every disaster, every heartache in life. He is our Comforter who always provides peace on our often painful journeys.

But it’s hard, isn’t it? When a spouse walks away, or a family loses a child, or a parent receives an ominous “stage four” diagnosis, or maybe a season of utter despair and loneliness descends, there is still hope. Jesus, Immanuel, is with us.

During a recent storm of destructive tornadoes in our area, one of my friends in the path of the twister didn’t answer my texts. Rationalizing kicked in—maybe she was on vacation, maybe her family was visiting. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. But several hours later, she texted back. All day long, she’d been out in her neighborhood helping people she knew, along with complete strangers, who had suffered loss. All in the name of Jesus.

And that’s one of the most beautiful things about being God’s children, members of His eternal family. He allows us to be His hands and feet. My friend, led by God’s gentle Spirit, was out ministering to people who needed some help. Many of her friends had no idea where she was, but the Lord certainly did. He had to be smiling as He watched His lovely daughter doing what He does—pick up the broken pieces of life.

We who believe in Jesus have been given hearts of compassion and understanding. He gives helpful hands to meet the needs around us. With His Holy Spirit’s help, we can continue to follow our Savior in His work on Earth. And no matter what the storm is that boils around us, we can remain peaceful. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), we can serve others with love and kindness, and we can point all who are hurting to the One who gives each one of us eternal hope in Jesus. All we have to do is ask Him for it.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your tender care of us. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. Please give us eyes to see and ears to hear the anguished cries of our sisters and brothers who are hurting from the pain of life’s storms. And please help us to minister to them and to point them to Your Son, Jesus Christ. It is in His precious name that we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns. Listen to it here.

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:

Monday, June 10, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How to not sin when we are feeling angry

Be Angry and Do Not Sin
A devotional by Aubrey Taylor

“Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”
—Psalm 4:4 (ESV)

Anger is a normal human emotion and something even Jesus Christ experienced.

Therefore, anger itself is not the problem. The problem is what we do with it. Today, I would like to look at a few verses that can help us to be sure we are righteous in our anger and glorifying God through our response.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV) quotes this passage directly before giving added instruction: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV) urges us to “strive for peace with everyone,” and to see to it that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble.”

The Psalmist acknowledges our tendency to “ponder in our own hearts on our beds.” This is where we can work through emotions safely, but the Apostle Paul also warns us not to allow the sun go down on our anger. Sometimes, things need to be dealt with immediately.

I deal with unruly children regularly. Two of my children are going through very difficult and willful seasons of life. Both of them are easily (and frequently) angered. How can I teach them that their feelings are valid, but that the way they choose to express them often leads them into sin?

I can start by modeling self-control and a godly response to my own anger. Have I learned to prevent my anger from getting the best of me, or do I allow myself to say or do things I regret? Perhaps a better question to ask is this: Does my response make things worse?

James 1:20 (ESV) reminds us that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If my response is borne purely out of anger, and not tempered by self-control and a desire to glorify God, I can rest assured I will not get the result I am hoping for: my child’s humble repentance and future obedience.

It is a balance many of us have a hard time mastering, and not just in family life. I once saw a man strongly criticize a produce worker at a grocery store because of the price of lettuce. Yet the employee does not determine the cost of the lettuce. They simply place the packages the pre-determined price label and are required to pay that price as well if they purchase it.

Yet it is in our more intimate relationships that we risk allowing a bitter root to grow. It can cause a constant state of agitation and hostility where no one can thrive. It may even cause physical illness. Proverbs 12:25 NKJV tells us, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression.” Depression can manifest itself in many ways—from a pounding heart to chronic pain to digestive issues. There are many causes of depression but let us not allow our choice to hold onto anger be one of them!

If you are holding onto bitterness or anger, reach out to Jesus today. Seek godly counsel to learn ways to acknowledge feelings of anger without falling into sin or bitterness.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Jesus, I acknowledge the ways I’ve allowed anger to lead me into sin. You know the details. I ask You to teach me how I can avoid this in the future. Lead me to texts in the Bible, or to a trusted counselor who will help me learn to make the right choices when I feel angry. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Look What You’ve Done” by Tasha Layton. Listen to it here.

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

Connect with Aubrey:
Amazon Author Page:

Friday, June 7, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How to live for Jesus Christ and shine for Him

Learning to be Compassionate like Jesus Christ
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.”—Matthew 8:10 (ESV)

Recently, I reposted a quote on Facebook from Spartacus who was a Roman politician. A modern-day politician by the name of Cory Booker, a United States Senator, had posted this quote on his social media.

It said, “Don't speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don't tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all God's children. Don't preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”

A very conservative Christian minister objected to and chided me for using the words of a Roman politician currently quoted by a liberal American politician as an exhortation to my Facebook friends to be nice and compassionate. I referenced the interaction that Jesus Christ had with a Roman Centurion to justify my use of the quote. He challenged me to reread and restudy the story in Matthew 8:1-10. In a few short thoughts, I’d like to share the fruit of my study.

The passage begins with a striking scene: A leper approaches Jesus, kneeling before Him and saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2 ESV). This simple yet profound declaration encapsulates the essence of faith. The leper acknowledges Christ’s authority and power, expressing confidence in His ability to heal. At the same time, he humbly submits to the Lord’s will, recognizing that his healing is contingent upon the God’s willingness.

As the narrative unfolds, we encounter another demonstration of faith, this time from a centurion—a Roman officer—who approaches Jesus on behalf of his paralyzed servant. Remarkably, the centurion displays a depth of faith that astonishes Christ. He declares, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8 ESV). The centurion recognizes the authority of Christ's spoken word, believing that His command alone is sufficient to bring about healing.

Jesus marvels at the centurion’s faith. He declared, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Matthew 8:10 ESV). This unbeliever, an outsider to Judaism, demonstrates a faith that surpasses that of many within Israel. His humility, trust, and recognition of Christ’s authority serves as a powerful example for believers of all ages.

In reflecting on this passage, I invite you to consider the nature of our own faith. Do you approach Jesus with the same confidence and humility? Do you really trust His authority in your life? Are you as willing as was the centurion in this Bible story to acknowledge His sovereignty in every aspect of your life?

Moreover, this passage challenges us to embrace and project the compassion of Christ as we interact with others, especially those whose backgrounds and experiences are radically different from our own. Like Jesus did, let’s extend love and grace to the marginalized, the oppressed, the outcast and those whose choices are not ones that we approve of. Following the example set by Christ, let’s recognize the intrinsic value of those around us. All who live and breathe still have some essence of the image of God. We honor God by safely recognizing His image in them, no matter how dimly or brightly it is reflected.

Please note that your salvation is not won by your good words or works because that was accomplished at the cross on which Christ died on and guaranteed by the empty tomb after Jesus rose victorious over death and the devil. Good deeds and compassion, of which Spartacus was earlier quoted, are not the method of salvation, they are the fruit.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord, Help us to see You in others and live so that others may see You in us. In the name of Jesus I ask this blessing. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Do They See Jesus in Me?” by Sandra Entermann. Listen to it here

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. 

His 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.

Chaplain Anderson has earned four graduate degrees: He earned his 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 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.

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: True Beauty

God’s Standard of Beauty
A devotional by Jamie De Silvia

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”—1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

I don’t have to tell you that the world values outward beauty. Society’s unrelenting standard of beauty slams against our self-image every day, making us feel self-conscious about our bodies and our age. We are surrounded by these worldly ideals and images in ads, music, television shows, and social media.

In addition, we often have people in our lives who can't stop talking about their bodies (and perhaps ours, too). Sometimes certain people in church who mean well may say that our bodies should be smaller to be worthy of God’s love and approval. Some people who also mean well, admonish us to care for our bodies by staying fit and slender because the Bible says that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). However, the context of 1 Corinthians 6 is not health, fitness, or physical beauty, but keeping our bodily temples free from sexual immorality! These verses cannot be used to imply that God expects us to maintain a certain body size, BMI, or physical appearance.

Consider God’s own words on the subject. “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV) The Bible clearly states where female beauty comes from in our anchor text above (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV). Our beauty does not come from outward appearances. It doesn’t originate with our hair texture and style, creative and shiny accessories, or fashionable clothes because God intends for our beauty to come from within. It is worth noting that weight and body size are not mentioned at all in this passage either. If the Lord valued a particular body size, wouldn’t it be mentioned here, where the criteria for beauty are outlined so clearly?

The belief that our bodies must look a certain way to glorify God is completely inconsistent with His praise of inner beauty over outer appearance. It’s right there in the Bible. God values the unfading beauty of your inner self. He knows that physical attractiveness fades and bodies change over time, but inner beauty shines and becomes brighter as we are transformed by the Lord year after year.

God is cultivating a gentle and humble beauty in us as we become more and more like Jesus Christ who is the most humble and gentle One of all. God is also developing a quiet beauty in us, as we learn to trust Him more completely and have less need to complain, worry, or control.

Beloved, it’s time to let go of the world’s standard of beauty and embrace the inner beauty that God values. If He wanted you to pursue a smaller body without rolls or wrinkles, He would have said so Himself. Give yourself permission to live life and serve Him in the body you have today. Let Him cultivate an inner beauty in you that continues to shine in the years to come.

Let’s Pray: Lord, it’s easy to get caught up in the world’s standard for outward appearances and beauty. Help me to shift my focus to the inner beauty You’re cultivating in me. Help me to let go of the fears and insecurities I have about my body. Those thoughts dominate my mind and don’t leave enough room to focus on walking with You. My body is good because You made it and dwell in it with Your Holy Spirit, which shines forth with an unmatched beauty. Thank You, Jesus! In Your Name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Perfectly Loved” by Rachael Lampa featuring TobyMac. Listen to it here.

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.

Jamie 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 her 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.

Connect with Jamie:

Monday, June 3, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Showing love by letting go when it's time

Love in the Letting Go
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“For everything there is a season …. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away."~Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5-6 (NLT)

I knew this day was coming, and I thought I was ready for it—the day my oldest child, my Cameron, would graduate from high school and prepare to head off to college.

Intellectually I convinced myself this was a good and right thing. In my head, I understood—my children don’t belong to me and are not my possessions. Rather, God blessed me with them to shape them and give them a good foundation so they could spread their wings when the time came and become faithful Christian adults ready to do his work in the world.

Except … I didn’t realize how soon this would come. And I didn’t realize how conflicted I would feel in my heart when that day really did arrive.

All winter and spring I felt unsettled, awkward—it all happened so fast. Those other moms weren’t kidding when they said time flies. Doubts crept in. Did I do right by him? Give him enough time and energy? Savor the little moments as well as the big ones? Did I give him what I’d hoped—a good childhood, a loving home with a present mom, even though I worked full time and our family experienced both divorce and a blended family over the years? Did I give him enough downtime to figure himself out and enough opportunities so he knew what was possible?

Sometime over the last year, I decided Cameron needed to have his own comprehensive childhood photo album. I thought it might be good, as he starts his new chapter, to be able to look back on his life and see where he came from as he thinks about where he’s going.

It took a lot of work, but I put together an album that showcased his entire life, from his infancy to the final weeks of high school. I must have had a thousand pictures when I started laying out the album online using one of those digital photo services that print the photos for you. And even though it ended up being far more expensive than I imagined, I found the gift was priceless—and just as much a gift to me as to him. For I found the crafting of it to be incredibly healing and helpful.

As I selected those pictures and placed them in order on all of those pages, I realized I had there before my eyes visible, documented proof of all the hopes and dreams I had for my child that had come to life. While now, looking back, it feels like everything happened far too fast, I remember things I had forgotten.

All those moments cuddled on the couch with our cats. The soccer games and 5K races and orchestra concerts. The vacations and the family traditions, like decorating Christmas cookies, making gratitude pumpkins at Thanksgiving, Easter egg hunts, and birthday parties. Field trips. All those lazy days at the community swimming pool and the s’mores around our fire pit and climbing the rock wall at the zoo and that time we saw the solar eclipse in our backyard. Confirmation at church. Everything else that made up our lives—that made up his childhood.

I remember all those hopes and dreams I had for him way back before he was even born. See, it took me a while to get pregnant with Cameron. I wanted a baby so badly, and in my late 20s when I decided I was grown up enough, I struggled with infertility. The waiting felt like forever.

I’m convinced God made me wait for a reason, for somewhere during that process, I realized a profound truth I have carried since then: I was not in control of this situation, or of any situation. Only God was in control. I began to read the Bible during that season, and as my faith deepened, my peace about the situation grew.

One day, while reading the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible, I was inspired by the story of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. Barren and grief-stricken, she desired a baby so badly that she vowed to commit her child to a lifetime of service to the Lord if God would enable her to conceive.

As I read those words, an epiphany settled over me. I certainly did not want to send my son off to a temple away from me in lifetime service to God. But I also knew deep in my soul the truth—this child would never really be “mine”, as nothing truly is. He would be the Lord’s.

In that moment, I understood in the depths of my being that nothing truly belongs to me. Nothing is truly in my control. Everything belongs to God. On my knees, inspired by Hannah, I whispered my own vow, committing it deep within my core: “Lord, if you will give me a child, I promise you I will dedicate him to you. He will belong to you, and I will spend my life making sure that he knows you.” I felt the shimmer of the Holy Spirit all over me when that prayer was finished, and I knew my life was forever changed. The next week I discovered I was with child.

Nine months later, Cameron was born, and I never forgot my promise. Now Cameron is 18 years old. He graduated high school on May 22, and in August his plan is to start Winthrop University where he will major in business finance and possibly minor in music. I tried my best to raise him in authentic faith, not just attending church but fully following Jesus Christ. We are genuinely close, Cameron and I. We have deep talks, and I am certain will stay close for the rest of our lives, but I also know in my heart that I’ve done what I should: I’ve released him to the Lord.

Looking back over his childhood, poring over those pictures, was a powerful and healing time for me. It gave me tremendous peace to see the evidence of our life together and entrust him once more to the Lord … just like I did 18 years ago when he was first conceived.

I am still tender about this, and two months from now when he moves into the dorms, I’m sure I will shed tears. But I have peace in my heart. Love doesn’t mean holding on too tight. Love also means letting go—and setting free. 

Let’s Pray: Lord, thank you for the blessings you give and the love we share. Help us understand it’s all an echo of the love we have for you. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman. 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. 

Last year, she released an Advent devotional for those seeking true closeness with God, which you can find at Learn more about Jessica’s fiction and read her faith blog at She 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.