Unlocking Christmas | The Reason for the Season

This is a guest story by Devotional Diva founder Renee Fisher! Here’s the third installment of Diva Christmas 2019 – the reason for the season!

One Christmas, I spoke on the 3 Keys to Unlocking Christmas at a woman’s tea. I started with my favorite phrase from my book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me.

“Thereis freedom from your past hurts, present circumstances, and future fears.”

There.
Is.
Freedom.
From.
Your past hurts.
Present circumstances.
And future fears.

Saying that out loud still haunts me today.

Past

The key that unlocks the past is forgiveness.

You and I may not have a perfect past. It may not be filled with magic like a Disney movie, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.

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 (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).

Every time you replace an ugly lie or half-truth with the Truth of the Gospel — you help turn that key even faster to unlocking any bitterness, hurt, grudges, or unforgiveness from the past. Take that first step today and learn how to forgive others including yourself!

Present

The key that unlocks the present is faith.

I waited 12 years, 10 months, and 24 days from the day I knew God promised me the best Christmas gift ever to the day Marc proposed down on one knee in Coronado.

We recently celebrated our 8 year anniversary in the North East seeing the fall leaves change, and I was so blessed to check off another botanical garden off my bucket list of seeing a garden in every state.

But what did I do while I was waiting on my big dreams? I learned how to practice my faith muscles by getting involved in my church, the community, and starting a business. I wrote like mad through each and every health problem. Through each low valley and high mountaintop experience.

The present may be filled with many roadblocks, bumps in the road, and all sorts of pot holes — but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have faith in the journey. My Type A personality took many years to learn that progress (the journey) is more important than perfection (the destination).

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV).

Future

The key that unlocks the future is grace.

The Good News (Jesus) is the key to the future, which is grace. By grace we’re saved.

An encouraging verse to unlock the future says,

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:4-10, NIV).

If you have not yet accepted God’s gift of grace, I encourage you to pray this prayer with me today:

Dear Jesus,

I confess that I have been blaming myself for too long. I cannot be good enough to get into heaven or earn your grace. I need your free gift. Please forgive me of my sins so that I can accept your Holy Spirit into my heart. Wash me clean. Set me free. Give me a bright future full of hope and grace. Thank you for loving me! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Good news! If you prayed that prayer — God now calls you His friend (John 15:15).

I just found out today that at least one of the women prayed to receive Christ at the women’s Christmas tea — Praise the Lord!

It is my prayer that you and your loved ones will have a Merry Christmas.
May you use the 3 keys to unlock your best Christmas yet!

Renee Fisher is an author, coach, and consultant who owns and operates a full-service creative agency for self-publishing. She is passionate about defending dreams and spurring others forward to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). #DreamDefender Renee is a BIG fan of glitter and gardens. She is a graduate of Biola University and lives in Austin, Texas with her handsome husband and their fur child named “Starfish.” Connect at ReneeFisher.com.

Continue Reading

The Good Shepherd | reason for the season

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Agnes Amos-Coleman. And this is the second post of Diva Christmas 2019 – the reason for the season!

My friends, this Christmas season reminds me of shepherds who tend, feed and guard their sheep. Jesus Christ symbolizes for us the Good Shepherd. The scriptures in Luke 2:8-11 talk about the announcement of his birth

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”.

Remembering the birth of the Good Shepherd – Jesus should cause great celebration in our hearts this season and reassure us of His:

  • Protection – In a world where trouble and chaos is everywhere, we need the protection of God from the rising of the sun until it sets and the only place where we can find that protection is in the word of God where He promises to save us from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  I urge you to meditate on Psalm 91 and you will be encouraged on the assurance of God’s protection for you and your family.
  • Provision – Just like a shepherd would provide for his sheep, God is able to provide for and bless us abundantly, meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs because the resources of the universe belong to Him.

Christ follower, as you celebrate another Christmas, tap into the provision and protection of the Good Shepherd this season. If you are currently not a Christ follower, come, let Him give you eternal life.

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

Continue Reading

The Nativity Crèche | Diva Christmas 2019

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Sheila Lloyd. Welcome to Diva Christmas 2019 – the reason for the season!

I stand before the nativity crèche , looking at it as I have so many, many times before… Enjoying the colors, smiling at the way the expressions are carved in each face, thinking about the artist’s choice of costume. 

My eyes move to the center figure, the baby in the manger; and I am struck a new with wonder. That baby lying in the manger truly was King of kings and Lord of lords! In his eyes was all eternity past and all eternity future combined into a shining present moment. The Word that spoke the earth into existence, that made light out of darkness, had now become flesh. Once again, darkness would give way to light and creation would never be the same!

Every figure in that manger scene had a fixed gaze on baby Jesus–an attitude of wonder as well as worship. Lord, how I want that focus as well! The world creeps in with tinsel and to do lists, money and mall mayhem; and my heart begins to feel as if it’s cold hard plastic like the nativity figurines. 

Forgive me. Fix my gaze upon Jesus–Not just the baby in a manger, but the Messiah on the cross, the risen Lord, and the reigning King! May my gaze be one of fixed wonder and joyful worship. 

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 1:9-13

Sheila Lloyd is learning to live in freedom through Jesus Christ! Her vocational life has included teaching private piano lessons, writing, acting in and producing musical dramas, spearheading women’s retreats and other ministry outreach events, composing music, leading worship across the country, teaching Bible studies and mentoring. Shelia has two grown sons, one of whom has special needs. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Brian, since 1990.  The couple experienced growth on the cutting edge of faith as Brian suffered a massive rehabilitating stroke in 2014. They published a book sharing God‘s powerful hand in the situation titled, It’s OK! I Had a Stroke. It was released on Amazon and Barnes and Noble May 2019. Website here. The couple currently shepherds a storefront church in Woodstock, VA.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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/
Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading
1 2 3 47