Diva Christmas 2019

Well, last week’s devotional wrapped up our fall stories. Now, I’ll be announcing our Christmas series and opening submissions!

I just moved (again, I know.) to Washington State and we are already SO excited for Christmas. Well, this year we’ve been excited for every single holiday because my husband has been able to be with us for them 🙂

I’ve been pondering what the Diva Christmas 2019 theme should be.

As Don Draper on Mad Men said, “Just think about it deeply, then forget it. An idea will jump in your face.”

That’s what happens every year for me when I’m coming up with the theme — I don’t think it’s a coincidence 🙂

My idea for this year:

Jesus

Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season. I’d like to honor and focus on Him.

Diva Christmas 2019 is Jesus is the Reason. An ideal guest post can certainly be creative with its interpretation of the theme, but must remain centered on Christ. My hope is to celebrate Our Savior this season with personal devotionals that speak of Him, His love and His story. It doesn’t have to just be about “the Christmas story,” although it is definitely welcome.

If you are someone who wants to submit a guest post for our Christmas series, I am hoping that an idea will just pop into your head too 🙂

Please see our Become A Diva page for submission requirements. And email me with an questions: editor(at)devotionaldiva.com

I will be closing submissions in two weeks. However, if I receive a flurry of submissions I may have to close them early.

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What Did I Learn Through My Husband’s Stroke? – a devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from Sheila Lloyd. Sheila’s husband had a stroke in 2014, and this is part of their story of recovery. Thanks so much, Sheila!

WHAT DID I LEARN THROUGH THE STROKE?  How I am more like Jesus because of this experience?

I WILL ADMIT, WHEN ONE OF MY EDITORS POSED THESE QUESTIONS TO me, I was at a loss.

So…as I am flying in a plane at 20,000+ feet, I will endeavor to dive into that question and see what happens.  Couldn’t pay me to strap on a parachute and jump, but then again, this kind of feels just as precarious.

Do I wish the stroke had never happened?  Yes!  And No!  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  And in the timeless words of Winnie the Pooh to his best little pink friend Piglet, “You are stronger than you think.”  Now, please understand that I am not trying to glorify myself or my own strength!  Sheila, in the flesh, had no bucket from which to draw water from the deep well of the life-altering trauma the stroke had brought into our lives. 

However, as 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me…when I am weak THEN I am strong.  God’s power is made perfect in weakness.”

At this writing, we are 3 years, 2 months since the stroke.  We have traveled many miles–physically, emotionally and spiritually to the moon and back.  I have railed screaming, fists raised, at the heavens with the gut-wrenching wail, “WHY?!”  I have soaked my old carpet with tears wrought from an internal void I didn’t think would ever be filled.  I have looked out at the desert climate with eyes glazed over wanting desperately to go back to LBS (an acronym a friend lovingly tagged for “Life Before Stroke.”)  I have often wondered how we could continue living in this new reality.  Why did things have to change so drastically? 

And then, one day I realized that I was no longer just surviving.  We were no longer just recovering, or even the next phase, recuperating.  We were starting to live again, to dream, to laugh truly without the empty horror lurking behind the edges.  There is Life After Stroke.

There are still times when I wish Brian could be physically the big, bold, strong as an ox, football-player build of a man as he was before the stroke.  He still experiences deficiencies and weaknesses due to that blasted brain bleed.  The Lord has not YET fully restored his ability to play guitar or have the lightning quick reflexes normally contained in a functioning human hand.  Does that mean that I didn’t hear God about “full, complete restoration, better than new” in those first hours and days?  No!  One thing I have learned loudly and clearly: God’s timing is not my timing.  His ways are not my ways.  His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:10)  I believe now, as I have from the beginning, that the Lord could completely restore Brian in the fraction of a blink.  And He is. 

But it is a process to which Brian surrendered.   Numerous times I have had to surrender to the process as well. I have learned that the vows one says at a wedding ceremony can truly be put to the test through a traumatic health event.   Marriage is more than passion, financial agreement, success or even friendship.  It is a commitment.  And I’ve learned that when those stormy seas are navigated (only by the grace of God) the ensuing relationship is sweeter, deeper and stronger for having survived the battle. 

I’ve learned some things about myself, about God, and about others.

About God: He truly will never leave me or forsake me.  He is utterly and completely faithful and dependable.

About others:  We don’t really comprehend how people watch our lives, I think particularly those who claim to follow Jesus draw attention and inspection especially during crisis.  People in this world are desperate for hope. Desperate for truth.  Our stories can be used to encourage others in ways we will never know. 

About myself:  oftentimes in my life I think I’ve been characterized as a princess (and not the flattering meaning of the word.). Too often I have escaped hard work and have perhaps appeared as though I had more than my share of blessings.  But through this process I learned that when the rubber hits the road, true character comes out.  What my parents and God poured into me over the years came out.  I’m stronger than I think. 

For many years, my worst fear in life was losing Brian to death.  Now I know that regardless of what happens in this lifetime, my Jesus truly does hold me firm.  He will never let go.  Therefore, despite the moments when I don’t think I can continue to draw breath, I will breathe.  Because He is the very breath of life. He, not Brian, is my life, my sustainer, my Provider, my Hope.

HOW AM I MORE LIKE JESUS FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?

Wow.  I’d have to say the main character trait I see He’s developed in me is in the area of being a servant.  Not a doormat.  Not a slave.  But in considering others’ needs above my own.  Servanthood was not a badge I was desiring.  Except that Jesus desires it for me.  Commands it actually.

 I fail miserably. Often.  Repeatedly.  I serve at times looking gracious on the outside but seething on the inside.  Or I serve seething on the outside and whining on the inside.  Or at times I actually find that I am serving in joy.  Must be His joy.  Wow.  Ok.  Thank you Jesus. 

How could I actually even consider saying that I don’t regret the stroke? Because my husband has become an even more amazing man.  And who he is spiritually today would not have existed without that sub arachnoid hematoma which occurred July 10, 2014.   The journey we have walked has shaped us and allowed us to minister to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) There are SO many experiences, people, insights, impressions, miracles, blessings, friendships, revelations we would have missed if this pathway had not been presented to us.

There have been hours of emotional pain, free-falling somersaults during which I felt like my heart was on fire ready to explode…or implode.  However, because I was able to face the grief, feel the pain and navigate the pain with the Lord, I’ve been able to enter into others’ grieving to offer an ear, a hug, or a prayer. This I see as an amazing gift gained.  Life isn’t fair, and it’s not easy.  Even as Christians, we are not promised a life without pain. (John 16:33). But we are promised an abundant life because Jesus overcame the world.  That means he overcame weakness.  And death.  And pain.  And grief.  And strokes. 

Sheila Lloyd, excerpt from her book, It’s OK! I Had a Stroke, released May 2019 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Contact info: sheilalloydlive2@yahoo.com, Facebook discussion page titled, “It’s OK! I Had a Stroke.” Website: http://sheilalloydlive.com/
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Can You Be Happy and Single? – a devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from Jennifer, the Sunflower Mom! Thanks for sending this in, Jen!

“Are you happy?” she asked me.

A friend I hadn’t seen in a few months asked me this question early one Saturday morning over coffee. She knew some of the depression I’ve been wading through the last few years.

“Yes,” I replied, closing the conversation so the discussion could move on to more comfortable topics.

Later that evening I thought about that question.

Happy is a fleeting emotion. When I look back at my life, I’d only describe one season as truly happy: those first few months of awestruck wonder when my daughter was born.

Otherwise, happiness comes and goes. It seems like an impossible goal, especially for someone who is crawling out of depression.

An accurate response would have been, “I’m content.”

Webster’s definition of content is “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.”

If that sounds the same to you as “happy,” then you’re right, happy is a synonym of the word content.

This dictionary definition leads me to believe a promotion, a change in my singleness, or a new car will bring me contentment. Which I’ve all tried, by the way, and none of these brought me out of my depression.

To truly understand the meaning of contentment, I dug further.

After all, if in Ephesians, Paul can call himself content writing from a jail cell, surely it has nothing to do with singleness or possessions.

Philippians 4:11-13 NIV: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, the biblical definition of contentment is an “internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances.”

This definition demands I find satisfaction where God has me today. Not how I wished my life looked.

No mention of possessions or status or situation. Quite the opposite.

Giving up on the dreams I have for myself isn’t fun work. I never imagined I’d be 40 and a single mother. Those aren’t the goals young girls dream for themselves.

But it’s where God has me.

After years of striving for happiness outside of my life, I came to the end of myself.

Prideful, I was determined to do things my way and only give God what I wanted to give Him. I held onto relationships, hurts, and pride for years.

I begged God all the time to change my circumstances. Certain I knew the way to my happiness.

It wasn’t until one completely broken night that I gave Him all of me, and He fully met the broken me and restored me.

I now put my focus on what God has blessed with me with each day.

For me, that looks like pouring myself into my children in ways I never did before.

I no longer dread being their chauffeur. I look for ways to serve them, teach and prepare them to become human beings that make a difference in this world.

After years of putting my life on hold, I finally went all in: I went back to church. I took a vacation solo, I put myself in new situations. I’ve found blessings that have been waiting for me all this time.

Most of all, I asked for help.

I shelved my pride and starting with my doctor I asked for help. Then I asked a friend at church, then another one, and another.

Shockingly, I was met with grace and love.

God didn’t change my circumstances. I’m still a single mother. But now I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m content.

Jennifer lives in Kansas with her two teenagers and German Shepard. She writes at Sunflower Mom to encourage single moms to live fully in the season they’re in through God’s grace and love. At any given day you can find her eating chips & salsa and binge watching Modern Family with her kids.

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Because You Are More Than Just a Number – devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from Maggie Meadows Cooper – one of my favorite Christian mom bloggers, and she just happens to have a great name!!

Y’all, lately I have been feeling the pressure of numbers. So. Many. Numbers.

The number of likes or followers on social media.

The number of minutes ticking away from time with my family.

The number in my bank account.

The number of mistakes I make in a day.

The number on the scale.

The number for attendance at school events.

The number of books sold.

Number after number after number.

This world will tell you that numbers define you. That they form your identity. That they make you…or break you. But none of that is truth when it comes to Jesus.

When I admitted that I could not make it in this world alone…that I needed a Savior because I was hopelessly flawed and sinful on my own…Jesus came into my heart. And Jesus is enough for me. Just Jesus, y’all. 

The truth is that I will never measure up to some people’s expectations. I will never be “liked” enough or rich enough or good enough or successful enough for the world’s standards. Because they are always changing. And the scales are never the same. Some numbers can never be small enough. Some numbers can never be large enough. And if you’re somewhere in the middle, well, you’re just mediocre. 

As I watch my children grow up in their little world of numbers with test scores and AR points and tumbling scores and batting averages, my heart longs for them to know that they are more than the sum of their numbers. And whether they are a “10” or a “0” in the world’s eyes, they are so much more to their heavenly Father. They are His and He is theirs. Because Jesus +0 still equals Jesus. 

He is the common denominator in anything that’s worth doing or having in this world. And the longing of my heart is to help us find him there. If we can fit him into the equation, any equation, it puts us on common ground with those around us. Because we are all loved by Him. We are all created by Him. We are all here for Him. And any other numbers lose their significance in light of His.

My hope is that we will all focus on the number the Lord wants for us all: ONE.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, 

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

In a world where numbers cause division and comparison and competition, let’s stand up and be a light to others by showing our oneness in Christ.

Let’s put aside jealousy, worry, and fear over not keeping up or being enough, and instead celebrate other’s accomplishments.

Let’s stop judging others by the color of their skin or the clothes on their backs, and instead look at their hearts.

And y’all, let’s pray for hearts that will be content with our own circumstances and share a heart of thankfulness with everyone around us.

Let’s love each other as ONE in Christ Jesus, the way He meant for it to be.

My sweet friends, you are more than just a number. You are so precious to God that He can  use these worldly numbers in our lives for Him, though. Focus on Jesus, love others as ONE, and lay all of those other digits at His feet.

Maggie Meadows Cooper is a real-life wife and mom who messes up every day and needs Jesus to save her. She loves Auburn football (War Eagle!), real Coca-cola, and all things chocolate! She is the author of the children’s book Bumper, writes for Blogs by Christian Women, serves as a Parent Coordinator in the Opelika City Schools, and leads the FBCO Teen Moms group. She lives in Opelika, AL with her husband and three children. You can follow her at beautifulinyourheart.blogspot.com

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The Faith that Endures – a devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from Agnes Amos-Coleman, who just writes the best devos for us! Thank you Agnes!

My friends, I don’t know about you but there are times in my journey of faith when the journey just gets hard and I think, it is extremely difficult to make it through the day as a Christ follower.  It is during these times that the word of God in James 1:2-3 provides strength “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”.

As we grow in Christ, our faith will be tested. However, these tests will make us better and stronger people but most importantly, we will be a living testimony for others to see.  Most people will never set foot in church but our enduring faith is what will draw them to the God we serve.

Living out a faith that endures daily means walking in an intentional mindset that:

  • Trust in God to help us persevere – It is impossible to walk this journey of faith without the help of the Holy Spirit.  With His help, we can make the right choices in our words, action and deeds when the journey gets tough.
  • Chooses to identify with Christ – No matter the pressure from our personal and business relationships, we must never give up. 
  • Values the eternal perspective – We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith.  We are sojourners here on earth where everything is temporary.  However, as we look toward eternity, our affliction here pales in comparison to the reward that awaits us.

Christ follower, pray that God will give you a faith that endures till the end. If you are currently not a Christ follower, the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross of Calvary is for you – come and experience Him today.

All glory to God!

Agnes Amos-Coleman
Agnes is a leader with proven business acumen in a variety of industries. She holds an executive MBA from the University of Hull, United Kingdom, and is also a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP). She is the author of Transforming Business with Godly Governance: Nine Characteristics for Workplace Success; God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage and Divorce; The Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and  Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals
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The Calendar – a devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from our dear friend June Titus! Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us, June!

And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, and to record, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel: I Chronicles 16: 4

What sort of gift does a family give to aging folks who seemingly have no needs of the usual birthday or holiday gifts? When my parents were living, this question always came up with me. Now that my husband and I are “aging folks,” our family most likely asks the same questions, especially since we are newly weds with a blended family.

This past Christmas we were pleasantly surprised with one of the most unique gifts either of us had ever received: a calendar. This was not just any calendar; it was a beautifully done calendar chronicling our family life since we had begun dating some years ago. There were pictures of when we had been together at events with my husband’s family, and at events with my family. As well, there were dates recorded for everyone’s birthdays (including the pets), anniversaries, and holidays. There is plenty of room to chronicle our events throughout the year. It can serve as a mini-diary for us. We can record social events, vacations, luncheon dates, and when we entertain family or friends.

In this fast-moving society sometimes we forget the need to record the events of our lives. Suddenly the day is upon us and we are not prepared. Did we send a birthday card? When were our friends here for dinner? What time are we supposed to meet someone? This calendar allows us to pencil in a planned event, and then to change it to ink after the fact. The older I get, to more important that becomes.

One of the many reasons I love reading the Bible is that it chronicles the lives of the Family of God. In the pages of scripture I learn about the beginning, all thepeople in between, like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Elisha, Jonah, John theBaptist . . . Then I read about our Savior—His birth, His life, His death on theCross for me, His resurrection and ascension. And—put this on your calendar—His coming again!

But no, we do not know the date of his coming.[1] Yes, we believe His promise. He will return. I was looking at some puffy clouds in the sky today, clouds that reminded me that He will return the way He ascended to Heaven.[2] It is a good thing that we do not know the Day of His return. If we did—if we could put it on our calendar, we would not do as He bid us—to go into the world about us and share the Good News of our redemption. We would not have our priorities straight.

For the special days on our calendar we prepare. Is it a celebration, a trip, a matter of sending a gift? One the other hand, to prepare for Christ’s return is a daily preparation. We prepare our mind by studying about Him in the Word of God and getting to know Him; we prepare our hearts by becoming more and more like the one we have met in His Word; we prepare our lives by our faithfulness and diligence in leaving no opportunity to slip by to honor Him and share Him with our world. We prepare for that Day by praying, “Thy Kingdom come . . .”[3] and “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”[4]

As we enjoy looking at the pictures in our calendar—a record of our lives together, it is a beautiful reminder of the things recorded in God’s Word, and the anticipation of Christ’s return.

[1] Matthew 25: 12-13[2] Acts 1: 6-11 [3] Matthew 6; 10[4] Revelations 22: 20

June Windle Bare
June W. Titus is a retired nurse and poet and mother and grandmother, living with her husband in southern Georgia. Now in her eighties, she remains active in her local church. Among other church responsibilities, she teaches a Sunday school class of her peers. She writes a weekly blog on Facebook, entitled “Monday Musings.” Prior to moving to Georgia, she was a regular contributor to “The Watauga Democrat” newspaper, and “all About Women,’ a monthly magazine, both in Boone, North Carolina.
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Removing my Ego – a devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Rachel Erickson. Just read this one!!

My husband and I and our four kids live overseas in Indonesia as missionaries. Yesterday I was in the kitchen making breakfast when my husband asked for some papaya leaf tea. It is a tea we brew whenever we start to feel a sickness coming on. So I go to our papaya tree, pick a leaf, soak it in bleach water for 20 minutes, rinse it off, boil it for 20 minutes, drain it, pour it in a cup, mix it with some chocolate powder and stir it. Ta-da! Done. I set it on the counter for him. Later I noticed that he never drank it.

I got all upset and blew some steam as I declared my frustration to the entire family. There are many healthy ways I could have done this but I chose the “yell and spew” method.
 
After awhile, I sat down to do my devotions and was reading in Acts 1:24 where the eleven disciples were praying to God to show them what man should be the twelfth. Their prayer started out with this sentence-“Lord, you know everyone’s heart.”
 
I stopped. Those are powerful words. Everyone’s heart including mine. God knows my heart. And He knows all the angry words I proclaimed earlier. What is it with me? I seem to keep falling into the same ruts.  And the ruts are deeply lined with one word- “Me. Me. Me.” 
 
I sat there and recalled example after example where I clearly only thought of myself. Where I was pushing my agenda, declaring my thoughts and not giving consideration for anyone else.
 
I wish there was a plug to pull or a tab to open to deflate “self”. It’s big and bulky and takes over the room. Often it’s hard to see what else is around me because this large air-filled mass is floating by.
 
Oh. A kind word spoken in the corner. A struggling attempt by another to share their opinion. A forgotten soul alone at the table. I missed it all. Just pushing “me” into the room head first yelling, “Don’t miss me everybody. Don’t forget to stop and listen to my opinion. And make sure you work hard to do things my way. Because when it all comes down to it, I matter more than you.”
 
Seriously? Enough of that! Who died and left me in charge? Yeah, no one. It’s time to deflate this ego. Let the air out of this massive head. Stop walking into a room head first, or mouth first. I have importance, but I am not the most important. My opinion matters, but it’s not the only one that should be heard.
 
Removing this ego stacked air allows me more room for things like understanding and compassion, gentleness, and forgiveness. And a shift of perspective. It changes my inward focus upward. Instead of demanding attention on me, I can draw attention to Him. My inflated self- proclaiming mass can become an arrow pointing to the one that truly matters, the One who gives me importance.
 
The One, the only One, who is truly worth it.

My name is Rachel Erickson. My husband and I and our four children have been missionaries in Indonesia since 2007.  We are Hostel parents for an International school in the area. My loves include cooking, gardening, reading, writing, all things family, and telling everyone that will listen what God is teaching me!

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Expecting Him – devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Maria Drayton, who has generously shared her writing with us many times before! I’m grateful, Maria. 

Expectation.  Sometimes I like to reflect over my life and remember times when the Lord showed up for me.  The days that He would answer my prayers quickly and I would just sit in amazement of His ability.  His ability to reach into my life and make His presence known.  Nowadays, I don’t have to look back too far to see His hand in my life.  Typically, if I look-I find Him.  Things weren’t always this way.  The days and nights of fighting back tears and heartache have not been removed from my mind or heart.  What has changed, is my mindset.  I expect good things.  I expect Him.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  

Romans 12:2

I remember mornings of waking up and never feeling as if I had even slept.  The spirit of depression so heavy that even in the morning I was exhausted.  I knew my thoughts were not right but I didn’t know how to stop them.  How many times have we been told to renew our minds?  But no one ever told me how to change how I think.  I had to make a decision and choose to believe scripture instead of my own thoughts. 

Here are some scriptures that I posted around my home and memorized that help to renew my mind:

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

James 5:16

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Jeremiah 29:11

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We do have a present enemy.  And he resides in our minds!  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

This is an ongoing process and I still have yet to arrive at a completely renewed mind but now my days start with expectation.  Not expectation in me, not expectation in my job, not expectation for my husband, I am expecting the Lord!  Now when I start my days they are full of excitement and hope instead of dreading the day’s events. 

It’s infectious too!  When we start expecting Him and expecting good things; others also are affected.  I even bought my son a sign for his bathroom a few weeks ago that said, “Today only happens once; make it amazing!” 

Now I don’t want to say every day is a great day but what I will say is now every day is a God day!

Heavenly Father, thank you for this day and everything in it.  You alone have given me the ability to handle everything that comes my way today.  I welcome You into my workplace, into my home and most importantly into my heart.  I’m looking for You today and I’m waiting expectantly for Your arrival.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it!

Maria Drayton
Maria Drayton, originally from Seattle, Washington is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism through the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications. Maria currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with the Lord. Purchase Maria’s newly released book, “The King and I: Steps for Living in Today’s World Through Intimacy with the Lord” on her website: www.mariadrayton.com !
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Come Sit On Our Couch – a marriage devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Bhreagh Rowe. An awesome marriage devotional! 

I think the biggest thing I struggle with is feeling like a crazy person. I literally feel like I am the only person in the world who cries every time I see a baby born on TV, or when Sassy comes over that hill in Homeward Bound or loses it on every time my 4 year old hits that stupid fork on the table and makes another dent. What about when the paper boy throws the paper at the end of my driveway and I can’t NOT not drive over it because its right in my way, or that one dad at my kid’s school who literally takes the stroller out to push his 3 year old the 40 feet to the door. I know, I’m crazy.

There are very few times that I have felt normal or accepted and almost everyone of those times included a cup of tea, a cozy blanket, a comfy couch, a good cry and that one(or two) people who just get me and what I am going through. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times this has happened in my adult life but nevertheless when it happens, it’s beautiful.

Being a mom and wife was the life goal but when the wife and the mom thing fell into my lap I had this feeling of “k, cool, what next?”. I didn’t feel that instant fireworks and crazy attraction to my husband when we first meant and when they placed that little slippery baby into my hands I was more concerned about the pain of what was going on down “there” then those sweet blue eyes. All this to say, it didn’t come easy, naturally or without a lot of bumps and when I say bumps I mean like Everest sized mountains.

So, here I am almost 7 years into wifing and I’m just finally starting to figure a few things out I am not really sure if there was a defining moment that caused this change but I do know there was a big old slap in the face.

There are four people in my marriage, God, me, Daniel and Iris. I know I know, your like “Bhreagh, that’s kinda weird” and 3 years ago I would be like “I know right”.

Whose Iris you may asked? Well Iris is our counsellor, our “don’t pull that crap with me I’m gonna call you out and tell you how it really is” kinda counsellor.

Yes, we have a marriage counsellor.

Iris told me at one of our very first sessions that I wasn’t that great of a wife or a mom and that Daniel was a bit of a jerk (I mean it’s paraphrased a bit but you get the idea right?).

She was totally right.

Our marriage SUCKED before Iris. I mean, we made it look good and all but really we were struggling. We were struggling because we didn’t connect well with each other, we were struggling because we were stressed, we were in competition with each other, we had no mentors or role models, we had hurts, we suffered alone and then we decided to have a few kids cause, why not right?

Remember when I said I always feel like a crazy person? Well during those first 3 (or 4 – 5) years of marriage we went at it alone. We would fight and feel like we were the only people to fight, we struggled and felt like we were the only people who struggled, we were bad parents and felt like the only people who ever made bad parenting choices. We felt like crazy people because no one sat us down on the couch, made us feel like the normal people we are and offered some tissue to go with that cup of tea.

I’m scratching the surface here but do you see where I am going with this right?

Marriage is hard.

Being a family is hard.

Parenting is (SO) hard.

Iris saved us. Well, my husband who was wise enough to seek God, connect us with Iris and then made me go saved us. Iris made me feel crazy because I was. She made me face the hard stuff that was making me crazy and then, with a whole lot of tea and tissues, sat us on her couch and helped us learn the way. Without her even knowing, she opened a huge door for our marriage and family, pushed us through (while we were completely unwilling to go ourselves) and saved us.

So friend, come sit on our couch, I have lots of different types of tea and I am usually out of tissues but have rolls and rolls of toilet paper that you can use to wipe the tears or wipe the face of your spouse after you throw the tea at him in anger (disclaimer – I have never thrown tea at him but there was a tambourine incident) and hear this;

You are a little crazy.

But there is absolutely nothing that you have gone through, you have done, or you have experienced in your marriage and family that will shock or surprise me.

Nothing.

I know your thinking there is something but trust me, I did it or I get it.

We are all imperfect human beings trying to live, love and co-exist with another imperfect human being who, more than likely, is the COMPLETE opposite of you all while raising little humans who yell, scream and freak out out whenever I take that stupid fork away from him. We find ourselves in this big pressure cooker of life and if we don’t stop, sit on that couch and get ourselves some tools for the tool belt it will explode.

So find yourself an Iris.

Then find yourself a good cup of tea, a roll of toilet paper and a comfy couch to breathe out the crazy and breathe in the grace.

Friend, I really hope we can sit on the couch together someday and laugh at all the crazy but for now just know that you don’t have to do crazy alone.

 

Bhreagh is a Jesus follower, wife to Daniel, mom to Maverick and Asher and Salvation Army Officer in Mississauga ON (Canada). She’s a horrible cook, compulsive scheduler, closet reality TV watcher with a heart for the family. Bhreagh’s passion is to see families understand their purpose and live out their God given adventure with as much grace as possible. In her spare time she likes to separate lightsaber fights, attempt to grow veggies in her garden and have date nights by the fire with her husband. 
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Joyfully Abandoned – a devotional

Editor’s note: This is a guest submission by Ann Grace. She has shared her story before – most recently here. Today’s devotional may be hard to get through as it’s very emotional, but powerful. Thank you, Ann.

Is it even possible to be joyful in the midst of feeling abandoned? My life has been filled with my share of feeling abandoned and lonely but these days, I’m once again experiencing it again. My husband of 1 year has left us. No contact. No “I love you”.

Nothing. It’s been almost two weeks of pure grief not knowing whether he will come back or file for divorce. I’m angry. I’m confused and just plain heartbroken. You know, I look back and can say that being widowed at 31 was easier than this! During these hard days, I’m finding rest in my Savior’s arms. I never thought in a million years that I’d have to experience such grief again. The sad part is watching our 5 children relive their “Dad” leaving them. Oh, how my heart aches for their lack of understanding in this fragile situation. Is there joy to experience in this valley of the shadow of death?

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6–9

After reading this scripture, I’m comforted to know that joy and grief go hand in and. A great example that came to my mind is of my own experiences of child birth. Right now, I am 7 months pregnant and am dreading in some way the day I have to actually go through labor but am joyful knowing that it will all be worth it once I see the beautiful boy the Lord has blessed me with. I can’t see the it now, but I rest knowing it’s coming!

Whatever situation you are in, I know its tough. It’s hard to stay focused on the Lord and trust Him with all your heart… It’s hard to feel comforted by what feels like an “invisible God” when you just need desperately a strong embrace… I know its easier to be upset and fall into a pity party for ourselves but God doesn’t want us to stay there. Of course, He’s not shocked by our emotions and reactions in our trials but we must remember that dwelling on them no longer produces joy. Joy doesn’t have to be smiles and laughter though…It’s ok to have tears, righteous anger and passionate conversations with our Savior. In fact, our Lord wants us to come boldly to His throne and tell Him how we feel and what we are struggling with. But, then He wants us to surrender them ALL, not some, not most, but ALL at His feet. Geez, that’s the hard part. I should know, but I’m telling you, fear and worry will only grow if we choose to hold on to them. They will destroy us! As believers in Christ, we must remember that the Lord is in control of our lives and He promises to carry our burdens on His shoulders while giving us rest. And boy do I need
rest!

“ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I pray that we surrender our lives to our Heavenly Father today and let him be our Savior. You may not know how to let go of your fears and pain but simply praying and asking the Lord’s help is the first step. It may take some time to actually change our habits of wanting to worry but don’t give up! The Lord is faithful and He will not abandon us. Hevwill be our husband, lover and father if we let Him.

He will hold us close and carry us when all we hear is silence.

Psalm 68:5 ESV
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
So when you feel beat down and abandoned, trust Christ with your heart and life and He will, in His perfect timing, make everything new.

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” Revelation 21:5 ESV

 I am not a blogger, professional writer, photographer or foodie. I’m simply a mother of five (soon to be six) who has walked a road of grief after losing a husband and baby. I continue to encounter a Lord who is faithful. My desire is for others to know Him like I do and let Him be glorified in all I do say and do.
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