Editor’s Note: This is a guest VIDEO devotional by Betsy Pendergrass. I’m so excited to share it with you today!
The scripture Betsy is talking about today is right below. I always like to see the scripture in writing, too 🙂
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Tiah Lewis. Devotional Diva Moms, do you ever relate to that feeling of not getting enough done in a day? I certainly do! Be encouraged today.
“It’s Bigger Than Your Accomplishments”-Balancing Motherhood
Many of times I would find myself asking, what have I accomplished today? Sound familiar? Have you ever felt that way? Often we are moving so fast in our lives with daily schedules, kid drop offs, meetings, kids sports, the list goes on, only to feel at the end of the day that we have not accomplished anything and are still holding the same list of To Do Items we started with at the beginning of the week!
For me, this was a frustrating and daunting feeling, until I experienced a shift in my mindset. I want to share how my perspective changed on how I now define accomplishments in my day to day life.
I too myself had an exhausting list of to do’s when I would start my week. It included my normal school/daycare drop offs, laundry, cleaning house, preparing meals, running errands, practice drop offs, doctor visits, you name it. Many days felt like a blur and included the same mundane activities day in day out. Then I began asking myself to define accomplishments. Well of course the standard definition is: something that has been achieved successfully and that’s when it hit me! I was accomplishing great things every day! I was spending quality time with my daughters, making memories, and listening to their gibberish unclear chatter, realizing I was there in the moment watching their vocabulary increase by the minute. I accomplished talking with my oldest daughter about how she felt about going into middle school, and any fears or worries she may have, and we know how it can be difficult to pull information out of a middle schooler. I was there to pray with her, ease her worries and anxieties and to provide comfort. And I managed to sneak in lunch dates with my husband when forcing him to break away from his work computer so that we could just catch up and chat about our ever-changing lives, just he and I. Now ask yourself whose measure of accomplishments are we attempting to live up to? Could it be the false expectations of others of a mother, especially one blessed to stay at home with her children? Yes the expectations are false! One’s work day isn’t an 8-hour shift and all our tasks will not get completed during this time.We work countless “overtime” hours late into the evenings and even early morning hours. Now go ahead, give yourself credit, I’ll wait! You are accomplishing many great things every day. I am very thankful that in these moments I was able to stop and smell the roses. I realized that I was living in my accomplishments right where I was supposed to be without worry about the day or weeks to come. Here are some encouraging words about worrying.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34) NIV.”
Be blessed and go out and accomplish great things today!
Tiah Lewis is a stay at home mom and author. She enjoys being a wife and mom to her four beautiful girls. The recommitment of her life to Jesus Christ began four years ago and she hasn’t stopped being in awe by the power of the living word and her desire to share it with the world. Follow Tiah: @Tiahlewisauthor
Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Holly McConnell. I love this quote: “Allow Jesus to shine in your dark times even in the midst of your storm. He is there! And he is doing BIG things!” AMEN!
Have you ever been caught in a lightning or thunderstorm at the beach? It can be beautiful and terrifying at the same time. One minute the sky is dark and then lightning strikes. It creates a bright sky with the ocean in the background responding with powerful waves. It’s God’s beauty and power and it can be hard to watch when the storm becomes more than we can handle or becomes bigger than us. But it is also hard to take our eyes off of.
Storms of life! We face many different challenges. Some that knock us off our feet and others that prepare us for what is to come. Some aren’t so bad and sometimes in the end they turn out beautiful or we find beauty. However, they can also leave us broken, destroyed, and sometimes ruined. Just like any storm…damage happens! So, what do we do when we enter a season of life with storms?
We embrace our Father, cling to HIS word, rely on him to provide us with the tools we need, and ultimately TRUST HIM. Now, is this easy? No!!! In times of trial and hardships we like to think we can do it ourselves. However, this always ends up creating more problems and usually more emotions. We can’t do this alone and we were never intended too! I hear this phrase spoken a lot from people, “If God loved us he wouldn’t have let this happen”.Well, let’s talk! This is totally NOT true.
In Romans 5:3-5 ESV:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
We suffer and go through stuff because of sin. We were born sinful, dirty. And God allows us to go through these things, BUT he is going to produce something in us. And it’s going to give us endurance, character, and a hope. Our sufferings are not caused by God. We make our own decisions, which lead us to these sufferings. He already knows what is going to happen, but he allows us to learn and build ourselves through these storms of life. I know we don’t want bad things to happen, but we want to grow closer and stronger in him. So, sometimes we have to go through the tough, dark times.
I have been suffering with a pain for over a year. Doctors can’t seem to pin point a cause. I have prayed, prayed, and prayed some more. I have gotten upset, cried, and still don’t understand why? BUT, God is building me and forming me. He is using this to help me understand. We all go through things, but I’m using it and producing something in you.
Yes, we’re going to get boo-boos and yes we’re going to have accidents and problems, BUT God is still at work and is preparing us. Creating something new within us.
Storms of life are going to be hard. There are going to be days that test you, hurt you, and completely change you. These might even turn into days, months, years. But God has us! And he is building something in us. Your story, your testimony, it speaks wisdom and shows who God is and what he can do when we give ourselves to him. We must share our battles, storms, hardships….whatever you want to call them! Even if you’re in the midst of one. Share your heart with others so they can see what work God is doing.
In Psalms 107:29 ESV, He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. This applies to us. He can make the storm be still because HE is in control. Pray for God to reveal his will, to help you to understand, and to prepare your heart for this time or season you are going through or might go through. God has you and whatever you are going through. It might get dark and it might seem like no light is around… but think about the storm at the beach. The lightning filled the sky and produced light. We are never alone. He is the light that is needed and given. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 ESV
Allow Jesus to shine in your dark times even in the midst of your storm. He is there! And he is doing BIG things!
Holly McConnell is from Northeast Tennessee where she resides with her husband and two kids. She serves in her church as the women’s ministry leader and assistant youth director. She writes weekly on her blog at www.honestmom87.com about connecting scripture and words from God to mom life, adventures, and battles that she personally faces. Instagram @hollymcconnell87
Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Agnes Coleman. See Agnes’ last post for Devotional Diva, Say No to Crises.
If you had asked me this question few years ago, I would have looked at you like a deer in the headlights. For those of you who are not familiar with this expression – it means caught in a state of surprise. I was raised in a Christian home and thought I did the right things but didn’t know I had to bear fruit.
So, what does it mean to bear fruit? I am glad you asked because the word of God gave us a clear definition in (Galatians 5:22-23) of what it means – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.
As I reexamine my Christian walk with this definition in mind, I realized how ignorant I was and knew that I had to start by asking for forgiveness of my sins and choose to intentionally begin the process of bearing fruit with the help of the Holy Spirit. I am not there yet, but I am not where I use to be – praise God!
My friends, there are 3 areas that Satan uses to hinder us from bearing fruits – the lust of the flesh; eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). However, to live a victorious life, we must:
Daily choose to do life God’s way – By evaluating and bridging the gap between God’s way and Satan’s way.
Be embracing people – Loving what God loves and hating what God hates in His word.
Pursue God’s purpose for our life – Call to salvation; spiritual growth and call to serve others.
Christ follower, pray that the Holy Spirt will ignite in your heart a passion for bearing fruit. If you are currently not a Christ follower, Jesus loves you – come and experience Him today.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:20-23, NIV)
It’s September 11th. Currently, the Devotional Diva posting schedule is Tuesdays and Thursdays. On significant days like this, I never quite know what to publish, to be perfectly honest. It’s not like this is a happy holiday or a gift-giving occasion.
But it deserves some recognition.
Should I post a normal guest story, business as usual? Should I write something really relevant for the day? (What pressure!) Or should I publish nothing?
Isn’t that kind of a dilemma in everyday life as well? I mean, how does the average person recognize the attacks on September 11th?
I know some people do a moment of silence and refrain from social media, which I think is pretty cool. Maybe you’re reading this after the fact because you partook in that tradition!
This year, I decided to not just let a solemn day of remembrance pass by without a word.
Let us pray upon the scripture above. Let us pray for this earth.
On July 15, 2008, founder Renee Johnson (now Renee Fisher) wrote on Facebook that her work was cut out for her thanks to her coach. That was the day DevotionalDiva.com was born!
Editor’s Note: I asked Renee to share a note on the anniversary of Devotional Diva turning ten! Here is her letter:
It was my (Renee’s) dream to become a published author, and my coach, Marcia Ramsland, suggested I use DevotionalDiva.com as my website and brand because I had already blogged hundreds of devotionals.
I worked hard to launch the website in September and bought the trademark. Within a few short months, I had a literary agent and a publisher for my first book, a 365-daily devotional for 20-somethings entitled Faithbook of Jesus.
My first book sold so well that I was offered a second contract from NavPress. Then the economy tanked and my contract was canceled. I had no idea what God was up to or what might come next.
Another dream of mine came true, In 2011, I married a wonderful man and God gave me a new identity, and not just because of my new last name. He called me “Peaceful” despite my health issues of anxiety and severe eczema.
What started out as one woman bravely sharing her story of overcoming incredible odds became a mantra to spur others forward to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
I had no idea that God would use my voice to empower hundreds of women to share their story so they too could be set free.
It was such a comfort for me to create an online platform that encouraged women to share their joys as well as their sufferings. I loved inviting women, as well as being asked by many women for the opportunity to share their story.
When Devotional Diva® took on a life of its own, I knew it was time to pass the baton to the next generation. It was never mine, to begin with. I was just the steward!
I met Maggie Winterton at the San Diego Christian Writers Guild in 2013 when she asked if she could share her story. Her courage to talk openly about her trials and tribulations inspired me.
The next year, I felt called to step down as Editor-in-Chief.
After Maggie saw my original decision to end Devotional Diva, she felt God compelling her to email me and offer to help keep DD up.
If it wasn’t for Maggie’s courage once more, Devotional Diva® would have ended.
It felt like an Abraham moment when God asked me to sacrifice my baby. Not only was Maggie the only person to ask me, she now owns the website and the trademark. This is a relief to me because I am no longer a devotional writer. I help women self-publish their stories with the world on my website here. I don’t have enough words to say thank you to the many women, including Maggie herself who bravely shared and will continue to share their story.
The bravest thing we can do is to use the voice God gave us to speak up and share from the heart. To be open about all the things.
Renee Fisher is an author, coach and consultant who recently launched a full-service creative agency for authors. 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, a graduate of Biola University and lives in Austin, Texas with her handsome husband and their fur child named “Starfish.”
Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Heather Ream. This is SUCH a powerful message about grace. Thanks, Heather!
When I was 10 years old, our church hosted their first Halloween event. Unsuspecting patrons, thinking they were touring a run-of-the-mill haunted house, were shown the horrors of hell and what awaited us in eternity unless we accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation. As people finished the tour, they were given the opportunity to learn more about the Lord. Some found it so moving, they became saved that very night.
One of those people was my cousin, a popular, charismatic kid who was already getting into trouble in and away from school, despite the fact that he was well-loved and had ample opportunities for success. I adored him, but I didn’t understand how he could act so bad yet still supposedly feel remorse for his sin. I also didn’t understand why my mom was breathless with joy about him. “He’s part of the Lord’s family now, Heather! And he always will be!” she had exclaimed. My cousin was already a favorite in our family and in our school. And now he could act the way he did and still be loved by Jesus, too? I was pea-green with envy.
As adults, my cousin and I took wildly different paths. I was blessed with a wonderful husband and found deep spiritual satisfaction serving my community – a “decent” woman by most accounts, with a reputation for helping others without being asked. My cousin, however, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for drug manufacturing – after he had already served 7 years for aggravated robbery.
Throughout my life, my mother continually defended my cousin’s adolescent spiritual epiphany. Several years ago, he wrote a touching poem about needing God’s protection in jail and mailed it to her. She framed his poem and displayed it proudly. “Give me a break,” I told her, “Don’t you realize that he only seems to love God when he’s up for parole?” I wasn’t having it.
“I can’t prove what’s in his heart, Heather,” she said, “but I believe him when he says he is saved.”
Late last year, things began to change with Mom. She became more impulsive, argumentative, and just plain rude. I had always enjoyed debating her on the finer points of theology, but suddenly her counterpoints completely deviated from Scripture. Eventually, she withdrew from discussion altogether. This baffled and irritated me, as she was cornerstone in my own Christian walk. When we received the diagnosis of vascular dementia, however, I was relieved. I now understood she had a broken brain, not a change of heart. But I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional upheaval the diagnosis unleashed.
“God hates me,” she began telling me over and over. “He did this to punish me.” Sometimes her tone was self-pitying, sometimes it had a streak of nastiness. No matter how many ways I calmly explained that this wasn’t the case, she would not or could believe me. No matter how many times I prayed with her or reminded her of her favorite Bible stories or examples of God’s provision in her life, she would not or could not believe me.
She has developed a reputation of being a difficult patient in her nursing home. While the staff understands her diagnosis, there is also evidence that her some of her behavior is intentional. Yet, I often spend time with her nurses, pleading her case. I guess what I’m saying is, I can’t prove what’s in her heart, but I believe her when she says she was saved.
I believe her because I still have the memories of every time she sacrificed her own well-being for her children. I remember the feeling of being loved by her, often deficiently but no doubt constantly. I remember her prayers on my behalf, her encouragement of me to use my God-given talents boundlessly. I believe it because I know it.
No doubt she believes the same thing about my cousin.
That’s not to say that I definitely know what’s in anyone’s heart. Those thoughts are visible only to the Author of All. But if I truly believe that God’s grace applies to those who call on His name with repentance, even imperfectly, then I have to believe that she may be right about him.
Limitless grace is not a license to sin, nor is it a blanket eternal pardon for those who do not know Jesus.
It is instead a priceless, undeserved gift of a patient Creator. After all, when does grace expire? Is it after my mother’s purposeful refusal of medication for the 3rdtime, or the 4th? Does it perhaps expire on a thin mattress when an inmate lies in the dark, planning for his survival? Is it reinstated after a beautiful poem? Did grace exist for me when I jealously dismissed my cousin’s conversion? Was it retroactively applied when I walked the long Baptist aisle at age 11 and told my pastor I wanted to be saved?
The truth is, grace either works for every Christian or for no Christian.
Otherwise, we may spend our days only doling out love and forgiveness for the kind of repentance that looks “right.” If I believe what the Bible teaches, then I must change my petty, myopic view of grace. If I don’t, I’m merely a pardoned offender, serving a self-imposed sentence in a prison cell that was unlocked long ago.
Heather Ream is an emerging writer from Knoxville, Tennessee. The Lord blessed her with an incredible husband, Ben, and a joyful desire to serve others in her community. You can follow her East Tennessee adventures at www.runningtowardthefire.blogspot.com.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Monica Braun. Love this mom life devotional! Thanks, Monica!
Life is chaos.
I am a working mother to a 15-month-old, my son named Danny. I am pregnant, and expecting in July. Let’s just say that our lives are a little, um, messy.
The kitchen is usually disheveled. Dishes and sippy cups are consistently piled in the sink. The dishwasher is full on most days from making dinner and cleaning it up and doing it all over again the next evening.
The leftovers from my grandma’s pasta recipe that I made are dripping all over the oven and the delicious red sauce is oozing all over little Danny’s face.
There are permanent crumbs on the floor, which resemble dried pasta. They seem to be painted on the carpet under the highchair where Danny eats.
When he is not in his high chair, he is crawling on the floor trying to eat his leftover dinner.
He must have really liked that pasta.
As such, sweeping and vacuuming have been added to the never-ending to-do list.
And the pacifier. As soon as I give it to him to appease him, he swiftly throws it on the floor, forcing me to make several trips to the sink every day to sanitize it. It seems as though what is ‘pacifying’ him is making a game out of his ‘pacifier.’
I remind myself that he is not trying to make me run laps around my house on purpose.
Not to mention the new baby gear scattered all around the house
as we prepare and welcome home another little bundle of joy. The new baby bottles, pacifiers, and breast pump parts are scattered on the counter, waiting to be washed and used for baby number two.
And then there is the laundry that needs to be washed. All. The. Time.
The list of chores makes me want to throw in my dishtowel, crawl upstairs in bed, and forget the chaos that ensues around me.
I feel helpless, overwhelmed, frustrated.
And that friend who texted me last week? I forgot to call her back because I was so busy.
How I miss the long conversations over wine that we used to have.
It seems like no matter how much we clean the house or try to check off our never-ending to-do lists, we just cannot catch up. Ever.
Is this a cruel cycle of events? Like a video game determined for us to fail at the end?
And are we supposed to win this game?
Life is messy. Relationships are messy. We are inherently flawed.
Before I throw in my dishtowel, I consider that we are not supposed to do it all or have it all together. If that were the case, would we need God?
Jesus said, “Come to me all ye that are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.
Jesus is our refuge and our rock. He wants to take all of the burdens from us, big and small. So, instead of trying to control our messy lives, we should try to surrender it to Him.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should sit lazily on the couch as the leftover pasta dinner dries on the floor, but it does take the pressure off of having to be perfect.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be perfect. He doesn’t want our lives to be wrapped up in a tidy little box with a bow on top. He wants us to embrace the chaos of life: the joys, the sorrows, the unpredictable turn of events. He wants us to be present in these moments as we trust in Him. Because this is life, and life is messy. Along with our house.
As we embrace the chaos, joy abounds.
So when I have an urge to clean sporadically or feel guilty about an unanswered text from a friend, I try to shrug it off, embrace the chaos, and hold on during this wild ride called life.
No matter where the ride leads us next, Jesus will be there to help us land safely. We cannot lose the game with Him by our side. Victory has already been won for us.
Monica Braun has a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s in education from Aquinas College. She teaches High School English in Racine, Wisconsin, and is an aspiring writer. She has one son and is expecting another! She is a follower of Jesus Christ. (picture is attached below).Facebook: @embracingjesus Twitter: @monicambraun
Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor June Titus (formerly Windle Bare). Congrats on your “sunset marriage,” June! See June’s last post on Devotional Diva here.
Vital and Green
But the godly will flourish like palm trees . . . Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The LORD is just! He is my Rock! There is no evil in Him!” Psalms 92:12-15
Don’t we love to hear stories about oldsters getting married in their sunset years? One of my aunts married at age 90, enjoying the happiest years of her life. Perhaps long-married couples, set in their ways and too used to one another, lose that newly-wed adventure. Late blooming love presents a refreshing look at a new intimacy reflected in their world.
Now, my sweetheart and I, both in our 80s, have joined the ranks of the newly-weds. We are learning that love takes on a different character in old age. Life once more becomes exiting—it is “vital and green.”
How can we, as an older newly-married couple, facilitate our marriage to “flourish like palm trees?” Here are a few interesting facts about palm trees:
A palm tree can live up to 100-some years, depending on the species (there are 2600 species of palms).
As tropical plants, they withstand high temperatures and forceful winds, providing an oasis in the desert.
Many varieties of palm are important sources of food such as coconut and date, fiber for making rope, weaving, and basketry, and resins for dyes, varnishes, and incense.
The spongy wood of the tree can withstand crushing blows. (For instance: Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, built of palm logs during the American Revolution, withstood the bombardment of British cannons)
Palms have a long history as being symbolic for victory, peace, and fertility.
To remain green and vital in our sunset marriage—like a palm tree—we have our work cut out for us. God led us together; therefore, He has work for us to do.
The palm endured. We may not have many years ahead, but we are responsible to live them to the fullest for God’s purposes
The palm tree withstands the elements and provides an oasis. As seniors, we have been around the block and know what it means to endure hardship, sorrow, and difficult times. We can empathize with others and provide an “oasis” for them in the name of our LORD.
Palm trees, as sources of food, fiber, and resins, go beyond the outward appearances. There are deep places to be mined. As elders, we have the opportunity to share experiences and wisdom with those God places in our way.
Palms have unique wood that withstands blows. Rather than a hard exterior to fend off the inevitable slights and hurts resulting from human nature, we can take the blows and still remain strong if we depend on God’s strength.
Then there is the symbolic significance of the palm: victory, peace, and fertility. As believers in Christ, we partake of His victory over sin and death, gaining peace with God and peace of soul. With such peace, although we are long past physical fertility, we can pass His peace to the world around us—our families; our neighbors; our world. The message is God is just; God is a refuge; God is good.
But what about younger married couples? They have the same opportunities to build their marriage into a green and vital reflection of Christ and the Church (Read Ephesians 5: 22-32).
My husband and I are looking forward to flourishing however many years God gives us together.
(Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Agnes Amos-Coleman. I have to say this is probably the most relevant to my life devotional I’ve ever read. “Midnight crises,” as my husband calls them, are my specialty. Don’t forget to check out Agnes’ last post, Experiencing God’s Love.)
Crises! Crises! Crises! One crises seem to follow another, doesn’t it? I recall a season in my life when I was in one crises, getting ready to come out of it whilst another one was waiting right around the corner. It was physically, emotionally and spiritually draining.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, I started to recall a time in my life when all hope was lost but God supernaturally intervened – this was the beginning of my victory over my crises situations.
My friends, how do we respond to crises situations in our lives. The word of God assures us of His unfailing love and promises to us. However, we are required to act and be intentional with our faith and never fail to:
Remember God loves us and he is on our side no matter what the situation looks and feels like. (Zephaniah 3:17)