Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

freestyle faith

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Ronel Sidney’s new book, Freestyle Faith: Around the Table. I feel so blessed to share this excerpt with you today. I think all women know that there are things that happen to women in this world that just aren’t right (understatement), and the more we speak up the more things will change. We can change things. P.S. military friends, this one is for you, too!]

Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

No glass ceiling was ever shattered by a whiner.”–Melanie Hope

Struggling and pushing to breakthrough to uncharted territory can be daunting and painful. Women have been treated as less capable and valuable than men for years, and yet many people do not want to discuss the topic. Much like avoiding talks of racism, people think if we pretend it does not exist then we can continue life without making any waves. The problem with this idea is that not talking or fighting to change the stigma keeps us stuck in the cycle of labeling, marginalizing and holding women back from reaching their full potential.

Recently I heard someone describe breaking the glass ceiling in a broader sense of the phrase. Breaking the glass ceiling is when you embark on pushing outside the box of what you were told was normal or acceptable in society or even in your family of origin. This description really intrigued me and gave me words to describe how I had been feeling for years. Guilt, shame and striving for acceptance kept me from speaking out or even breaking out of the “box” I was told was good enough for me and my life.

It began in my last year of high school, when my father and brother sat down with a military recruiter and it was as if I did not exist. The whole conversation was about what the military could do for my brother. There was no mention of what it could provide me and my future. The stigma of women in the military has been fought for years before me; however, women are still fighting to gain recognition and acceptance among their male counterparts. I have been “voted out” of offices, told I could not attend school, and even told by my own recruiter that I would do fine in the Navy because I was “decent” looking. I am sure you can imagine my surprise at these words.

The way we treat woman in the military and society in general keeps them stuck and often silenced about the wrongdoing that occurs aboard ships, during deployments and in the world environment. It is much like when you leave home and realize the way you were raised was not exactly conducive for the reality of the outside world.

We all come to a point of fight or flight. In some ways, I wish I could run from the glass ceiling, and yet, I have been able to break through it enough times to know the pain is worth the reward. Dealing with the intangible barriers within society and the military was expected; however, the barriers I faced within the church and my family took me by surprise.  Fighting for a position or school in the military was much easier than fighting for a place at the table in the church. Being told I could attend classes with men at church but could only perform some of the duties because I am a woman infuriates me to no end. I tried to stay and wait patiently for change, but why do we do this to women?

Why do we tell women they aren’t equal to men or they are incapable of doing what a man can do in ministry?

Acceptance is easy. Fighting to break the mold can be depleting. While attending seminary, I realized the truth was that we allowed men to keep us from being equal in order to make them feel okay with our presence. How crazy is that? We are minimized because of their insecurities and inability to accept us as equals in work, home, life and ministry? Seems a bit old school.

I have come to accept that we have two choices. We can stay within whatever system minimizes us, or we can choose to do things differently. In the military, I had no choice but to fight. In ministry and the church, I decided not to fight and instead begin a new journey outside the Sunday morning meeting and the building we call church. Within my family of origin, I have also decided to reject the “rules” of acceptance in order to embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.

The choice is yours. You get to navigate this life with God, and He will give you the power to make changes in whatever situation you face in life. I believe the hardest part of breaking the glass ceiling is choosing not to whine and instead to be a part of changing the way women are perceived in the world. Yes, there will be women who make choices we may not agree with. However, standing together and fighting for equality is a must for the next generation.

I do not have a daughter, but I pray my nieces have less of a fight ahead of them because of the battles I decided to fight. I pray they have more opportunities because of other women who choose to fight and stand up to the stigmas of our culture. Mostly, I pray that we as women can begin to see our worth and value together and not in competition with one another.

Excerpt from Freestyle Faith: Around the Table by Ronel Sidney 

freestyle faith around the table

ronel sidneyRonel Sidney was born and raised in Northern California but, has made San Diego home with her husband and son. She has a business degree and works as a contractor for the United States Navy. As the National Director of Praise and Coffee she has a passion for encouraging women to share life and faith outside religious obligation.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Spiritual Garbage Disposal

spiritual garbage disposal

[Editor’s note: This is a guest story by contributor June Windle Bare. Some devotionals you just “get” and I really connected with June’s metaphor of a spiritual garbage disposal! I hope you will too.]

Spiritual Garbage Disposal

I had lived seventy-six years without a garbage disposal. There wasn’t such a convenience when I was a young girl growing up in the country. Even after I was out of school and married, garbage disposals were for fancy homes. During much of that time I lived where composting satisfied the dual role of disposing of my garbage and increasing the productiveness of the soil. It works. Then I moved off the farm and into an over-fifty-five community.

My new house was nicer than where I had lived before, but my neighborhood association was not in favor of my tossing the garbage into my back yard. A problem: my new kitchen did not have a garbage disposal. After a year of smelly garbage, I had a lovely garbage disposal installed. It is wonderful. Over the last four years the disposal has saved me from lots of smelly, fermenting bags of garbage until it would be time to roll the beast to the street on Thursday mornings. It works—that is until it doesn’t.

I have a bad habit of buying fresh vegetables and then forgetting them. As I was putting away a new batch of fresh vegetables, something smelled a bit off in my veggie drawer. I dug down to the bottom. Sure enough, there was a half bag of turnip greens that should have been eaten seventeen days before, according to the “date to use by.” Ugh. I turned up my nose, tossed them into the sink, and turned on the water and the garbage disposal. Suddenly, a green swamp began bubbling up out of the drain into the sink, and the erstwhile turnip greens were going nowhere. The disposal was mounting a protest. So, for the next twenty minutes I prayed and plunged; I prayed and peered; I prayed and probed (with the motor off of course). No way was I going to call a plumber. Then as suddenly as it began, my drainage troubles were over as the green swamp in my sink went “schullesssseeep!” It was headed to the sewer. My lovely toy was back in working order.

All this reminded me of bad character traits I tend to accumulate and hold on to. I don’t want to let them go. After all, it’s just the way I am. After all, I’m eighty years old; why shouldn’t I say what I think? After all, . . . For every “Fruit of the Spirit,”  (Galatians 5: 22-23) I seem to have an opposite characteristic that creates a spiritual swamp in my life.

I might not hate someone, but I don’t like them. I might not be a sour puss, but do I reflect the joy of Jesus? Yes, I avoid conflict, but I may not share the peace of Christ with others. All right, I admit it: I am not patient, especially when it seems like it will last forever. Of course, I’m good. Don’t I refrain from doing all those naughty things the Bible says I shouldn’t? But do I do good to others? Gentle? How hard is that? Oh, you mean when I’m rude to the telemarketer on the phone, or the slowpoke in line at the grocery store. Faith? Certainly, I have faith. Oh, you mean am I faithful to my neighbor, other old biddies like me, or people I’ve said I’d hold them up to God in prayer. Humble? Don’t ask! And that Self-control thing? Sorry about that temper flareup. You get the picture.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “…Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:21

These bad qualities decompose and make me less, not more like Jesus. The longer I hold onto them, the rottener they are, the more difficult the disposal. Even the means of disposal gets jammed. Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28: 13)

We can’t save up our ungodly character and then suddenly think it will all go down the drain in one fell swoop. Rather we need to be in God’s presence daily—in prayer, in the word, and in fellowship and an accountability relationship with other believers. Only then will we be disposing of the ungodly character traits that linger even in our redeemed hearts

June Windle BareJune is a retired nurse, poet, and widow, living 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.

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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How to SHUT UP the Accuser + Book Giveaway (3 winners!)

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Becky Harling’s book Who Do You Say That I Am? Moody Publishers gave me THREE (!) copies of the book to giveaway to Devotional Diva readers! Here’s just a taste of the book — sign up for the giveaway below!]

 

HOW TO SHUT UP THE ACCUSER

Adapted from Who Do You Say That I AM? by Becky Harling (©2018).

Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.

I felt upset, confused, and angry. I was in California getting ready to speak at a women’s conference but had just received an extremely critical email. The person writing the email had lashed out with many accusations over the fact that I was sharing my story. My head was spinning. I felt Satan hurling every insult and accusation at me as I closed my computer. His messages went something like this, “You’re emotionally unstable! You shouldn’t be out there speaking and at the very least not telling your story. You’re unfit to speak.”

I cried, “Lord, how can I speak tomorrow? I’ve got nothing!”

Instantly, the Holy Spirit reminded me of how to shut up Satan. I turned on some praise music and grabbed my Bible. Thankfully, no one was home in the house where I was staying. I began praising God and quoting Scripture.

If anyone had been looking through the window, they would have thought I was nuts! There I was, with praise music blaring, marching around the house with my Bible in hand praising my way through the alphabet at the top of my lungs. . .

 

“Lord, I praise you because you have all authority, and Satan can’t thwart your plans! I praise you because you’re the Blessed Controller of all things. I praise you because you promise to deliver me from evil,

I continued until I literally felt a breakthrough. I finally relaxed, praised God that He would speak the next day, and took some time to rest.

Here’s what I know: Even though a person has received Christ as her Messiah and asked for forgiveness of sins, Satan will try to attack with feelings of guilt and shame.

Today, we’re going to take a look at shame and false guilt. And I’m going to teach you how to tell the enemy loud and clear to “Shut up!” Are you ready? You must learn this skill to help protect yourself from the taunts and torments of Satan.

EXPLORE

Read Revelation 12:10–11. What is Satan called in these verses?

As the accuser, Satan lives his life around one single purpose: accusing you. Sad, huh? But he loves nothing more than to get you twisted into fits of self-doubt and shame so that he renders you useless at proclaiming what God has done in your life. How does he do this? He has several strategies, and here are just a few:

Guilt over sin you’ve already confessed. I’ve seen this strategy employed time after time as I’ve spoken at women’s conferences, particularly in the realm of sexuality and abortion. Friend, may I

speak directly to you? No matter what you’ve done, no matter how horrible the act, if you’ve confessed your sin, Christ has forgiven you. God no longer dwells on your sin, so neither should you!

When Satan hurls accusations at you, you must stand tall and slap him with Scripture! You might say,

“Satan, shut up! In the name and power of Jesus Christ, you have no place here. I’m under the authority of Jesus Christ. My sin has been covered by the blood of the Lamb. I’ve confessed my sin, and Jesus has been faithful and just to forgive my sin and to cleanse me completely (1 John 1:9). I am chosen, holy, and dearly loved” (Col. 3:12).

Read Psalm 103:12. What does this verse teach us about God removing our sin from us?

Guilt over unmet or unrealistic expectations. No matter how hard you try, you will not keep everyone happy. Some people will have expectations of you that you simply cannot live up to. When you disappoint them, they manipulate you, and you end up feeling guilty. Here are a few examples:

Your schedule is very busy right now. Time is at a premium, and you’re trying to prioritize your husband and children. A friend feels hurt because you haven’t spent enough time with her. You feel guilty because you’re afraid you’re not being a good friend.

Your definition of being a “good mother” means always baking homemade cookies like your neighbor, but you hate baking, and every time you try, you burn the cookies. When you see what’s packed in your neighbor’s kids’ lunch boxes, you feel guilty.

Your mother feels you need to prioritize spending time with her over the Bible study you’re attending at your church. She brings it up every week informing you that she’s getting old, and if you were a “good Christian,” you would spend time with her instead. You hang up the phone as feelings of guilt wash over you.

What you’ll notice about each of those examples is that none of them contradict a biblical principle. False guilt has nothing to do with truth or what the Word of God says is sin. False guilt often challenges our personal boundaries. But it’s godly to set boundaries.

Read Mark 1:35–39. What does this story about Jesus teach you about setting boundaries?

Guilt over evil done to you. As a child, I was sexually abused. Evil was done to me. As an adult, I struggled with a pervasive sense of being unclean. What I was struggling with was a profound sense of shame. I felt guilty and embarrassed about what had been done to me. As a result of the shame I felt, I took on guilt that was not my own. It wasn’t until I worked with a counselor and pursued Christ as my Healer that God set me free from shame.

Read Ezekiel 18:20.

What does this verse teach you about taking responsibility for another person’s sin?

How does this verse release you from shame about evil committed against you?

When you feel guilty, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I disobeyed God in some area of my life?
  • Is Satan bringing up my past and something that I’ve already confessed?
  • Am I feeling guilty because I don’t measure up to someone’s expectations for me?
  • Am I feeling guilty because of evil done against me?

If your answer is yes to the first question, become a fast confessor. Turn from your sin, and get on board with God’s desires for you. If it’s any of the other three, remind yourself that you are holy and blameless.

REFLECT

 The two best weapons I know for fighting Satan when he tries to throw guilt and shame at you are: Praise and Scripture.

Read Psalm 149:6. Write this verse down.

CREATE AN EMERGENCY FAITH KIT

Many homes have an emergency kit for when family members get hurt or need first aid. Similarly, in our spiritual walks, we need an emergency kit of Scripture verses and praise songs that we can go to instinctively when Satan is attacking or we’re facing a crisis.

On a notecard, write out five verses of your choice that you will keep in your emergency kit, and write down the name of five praise songs that you will either sing or play when Satan starts with his “blah, blah, blah.” I will get you started with the first Scripture verse, and the rest you can choose on your own.

Scripture Verses

  1. Philippians 2:9–11. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

who do you say that i amBECKY HARLING holds a degree in Biblical Literature and is a sought-after speaker and Bible teacher at women’s conferences. Becky is a gifted communicator with a passion for helping women find life transformation through Jesus. She is the author of several books including Who Do You Say That I AM?, How to Listen So People Will Talk, Rewriting Your Emotional Script and The 30 Day Praise Challenge. She is host of the podcast Beyond Beautiful and can be reached at beckyharling.com. Becky and her husband, Steve, minister throughout the world in his role as president of the global ministry, Reach Beyond. They make their home in Colorado and have four grown children and eleven grandchildren.

 

GIVEAWAY TIME:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Please sign up below and contact me if you have any issues. Since the publisher will be mailing out the THREE copies of Who Do You Say That I Am?,  this giveaway is US-only. This giveaway will end in one week on March 13th. I will contact winners then for their addresses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

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The Black Cat: Scripture vs Superstitions

the black cat

The Black Cat: Scripture vs Superstitions

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Maria Drayton. Check out her last guest story here, I Am Royalty. Today she’s tackling superstitions!]

I was almost home when I turned the corner and continued to down the street. All of a sudden a black cat darted from one side of the street to the other. At once my mind said, “Oh no! That’s bad luck!” I quickly realized the thought and rejected it. “I don’t believe in superstitions anymore!” I said back to the thought. I continued, “I believe in God’s word not in superstitions,” at this point I was actually laughing. How sly the enemy is when he comes into our minds. He operates on things that we “used” to believe. Things he hopes that we still believe. But in this case, I didn’t believe those anymore. Scripture tells us to,

“…demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2 Corinthians 10:5)

It’s taken years for my mind to be reprogrammed by the Word of God and it is still “under construction.” It doesn’t happen overnight, like I wished it would. I remember one day I was at work and a lady saw me put my purse on the floor and she rushed over, I thought something was on fire. When she said to me, “you shouldn’t put your purse on the floor! That means you’re always going to stay broke basically money will always be leaving you.” I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a new one!” I got my purse off the floor! I figured “what’s the worst that can happen? I need everything to be working for me not against me.” I chose to believe what she had said.

It didn’t stop there, one day I caught myself saying to my son, “Don’t put the umbrella up in the house! That’s bad luck!” He looked at me like I was crazy and I didn’t “capture” that thought. That thought slipped right in and I believed it and now my son believed it too. That one I didn’t catch. Perhaps this is why the enemy came again with discreetness on this same issue. “I had already succeeded once, maybe I’ll do it again”, could’ve been his thought. It’s constant, the renewing of our mind. Daily, we must consecrate our minds to the living word of God. It’s been a lifelong journey for me.

Scripture tells us,

“Do not be conformed to the patterns 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)

There are some things that are so deeply inbred in us that we don’t see it regardless of what the Word of God says. I believed the enemy for so many years. But he’s a liar, he cannot tell the truth. I believed what he said about me. I believed what he said about my circumstances. I believed what he said about my future. Now, I choose to believe what the Word of God says about me, my circumstances and my future.

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.”

Funny how the mind works, it will hold on to old beliefs and until they are confronted, they’re still there. And these things can be so subtle that we don’t even recognize them….like the umbrella being open inside. I have to stay watchful like a lighthouse with the light of the Word of God exposing these beliefs.

“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) I must say what God says, using His word against thoughts that creep or flood into my mind. After I saw that black cat, I said “I am blessed!”

Mark 9:23, “Jesus said to him, “if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

What do you believe?

 

Maria DraytonMaria 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 !

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

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Exstresso: God’s Way to Live without Stress

exstresso

[Editors note: This is an excerpt from the book Exstresso: Taking a Coffee Break with God by Leah Whitton with Jessica Casarez. I received a copy of the book for review, and this excerpt is uesd with permission. I absolutely love this devotional! I’m not a big coffee person (in fact, I really only like espresso) but the coffee break theme of the book just makes it cute. It’s refreshing to read (and I go through a lot of devotionals!) with its STIR method which stands for Scripture, Thoughts for the Day (the devotional/story aspect) Invitation to Prayer, and Respond (questions for the reader). I chose a devotional from the second week of the book to share, aptly titled “Exstresso.” It really summed up what the whole book was about for me! Enjoy.]

Week 2, day 1

“Exstresso”

By Leah Whitton

Scripture 

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:5-6

 

Thoughts for the Day

Have you ever been stressed? I would imagine most of us have been or currently are under a lot of stress. Life is stressful and messy at times.

When you combine “ex” with “stress,” you get “ex-stress,” which means without stress. How can we live without stress?

When we call out to God, he answers us and can help us live a life with less stress. One of the Greek words in the Bible for stress is thlipsis, which means pressure, burdens, affliction, or trouble. When Stephen was preaching in Acts 7:9-14 about Joseph from the Old Testament, he used the word thlipsis to describe Joseph’s plight. If anyone had a right to be stressed, it was Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of rape by Pharoahs’ wife, and thrown into prison and forgotten-all while being completely innocent and serving God. Joseph could have asked God: Where are you? Why have you left me?

Have you ever caught yourself asking those same questions? I know I have had times in my life where I had to go through extremely challenging, stressful, and heartbreaking situations, yet God was with me through each of those seasons.

In the year of 2001, I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were thrilled and anxious for our son’s arrival. On December 27, around 10:00 p.m., something was about to change. We had not anticipated any problems—we expected joy, not stress—but suddenly our situation changed. Hudson was born with an aggressive infection called Strep B. This infection was so powerful it began to shut down every working system in his little body. The doctors estimated that he only had a 50% chance of survival. So, here we were, brand new parents, not knowing what to expect, and feeling the heartache of possibly losing our newborn son.

Hudson was placed in the NICU and was not improving. He was living on a respirator and IV antibiotics. The worst of it was that I was not able to hold him or touch him because it affected his blood pressure too much. I was at the end of my rope and I remember screaming out to God saying,

“If you are really God, you will send someone here face-to-face to tell me audibly that my son will be healed and that he will come home with us.”

That evening, a young pastor who we were friends with felt a strong sense that God was telling him to drive to our hospital. He wrestled a bit (especially because of the time and the distance) and he asked God if he could just called the hospital. “No,” God said, “You must go.” Around midnight that evening, this young pastor showed up in our hospital room. He told us God had woken him up and that he was supposed to come and tell me face-to-face that my child would live and he would come home with no complications. I called out to God in my stressful time and He answered my prayer in a powerful way. God showed himself faithful. The next day, Hudson began to improve and two weeks later came home 100% healthy.

During Joseph’s distress, he called out to God. Joseph didn’t allow stress to overwhelm him, and thus “God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.”

Joseph could have let stress swallow him up, but instead he brought his stress to God. Life will bring stress, but before letting that stress consume you, drink a good cup of God’s exstresso” (God’s grace, mercy, and love) and allow him to bring healing to every area of your life. 1 Peter tells us to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Hold onto that scripture when you walk through stressful times. God was with us through the horrible nightmare we faced when my son was born, and he will be with you also.

Release your stress to him today and have a coffee conversation with God who is ready to carry your burdens.

 

[Closing Editor’s Note: This is a good opportunity, in light of a blog post about “stress” to say that I’m experiencing a lot of it in my life and I’m going to honor taking more time for rest and family. I’m transitioning, starting now, to a one post per-week Devotional Diva Lite schedule for the time being. Thanks for understanding!]

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

 

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Unwanted Growth

Unwanted Growth

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kathryn Boyd-Trull. I don’t have an editor’s note for this devotional…it really speaks for itself. However, I’d like to thank Kathryn for sharing her powerful story with us today.]

Bad news filled my ears:

 

“…tumor in your ovary”

“ Cancer markers elevated in your blood stream…”

“ another tumor even larger on your colon…”

“ You will need surgery.”

“ We may need to take everything out.”

“ You will forever be marked and changed no matter what.”

“ This started with you wanting a child, that won’t happen.”

“ Getting the bad out of your body is the only thing that matters.”

 

But…all the rest matters to me too, God.  Remember me the one who loves you.  The one you love.

 

There is a still small voice that answers, “you will have to have it taken out but it will not kill you.”  My thoughts circle and I ask myself, “Was that God or my own wishful thinking?” Time passes with doubt, pain, and more bad news.  I remember how this all started because I could see another child in our home.  I ask the doctors, “Can we freeze some of my eggs before we take everything out?”   The answer is yes, as long as we move quickly.  I must try.  I can hear the little one running through my house.

 

More bad news, “ We are sorry, none of the eggs survived.”

 

Surgery date arrives.  Consents are signed.

“We have your permission to remove everything.  You may die.  You may end up with a colostomy bag.”

Me: “Okay, where do I sign.” I can’t see the words through my tears.

 

God, do you see this? Remember me, I am the one who loves you.

 

Silence….

 

Surgery…darkness…pain…me screaming…darkness…sleep. Repeat.

 

Why is nobody talking to me? I can feel tears running down my cheek but I can’t use my arms to wipe them away.  The pain is too much.  They must have had to remove everything.

 

God, give me courage.

 

I hear in the background, “She’s crying.  Give her more medicine.”

 

Sleep.

 

Someone is holding my hand.  This makes the darkness feel less powerful.  I open my eyes.  My husband and girls are with me.  My husband says, “Did you hear the news?”

 

“No, I have heard nothing.”

 

“No cancer.  They took out your ovary, part of your colon, the other mass, and no cancer.”

 

I go home to heal from the surgery.  The days are filled with wound care, pain, and bleeding, but my heart is filled with gratitude.  I know I won’t have any more children from my body but I have life today.

 

God, why all this?  I don’t understand?

 

He answers me as He often does with a bible verse that He repeats during my healing days.

John 11 “Jesus your beloved is sick…Yes, I won’t let it kill her.  I will use even this to bring Glory to God.” Emphasis added.

 

God whispers to my heart, “You see I never left you.  I carried you.”

 

Kathryn Boyd-Trull lives with her husband and two children in Commerce City, Colorado where she is a medical doctor and works at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  Katy founded a non-profit, YHC Clinic, providing free medical care to homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trusting God: How I Met and Married the Love of My Life in Two Months (and what happened after)

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tara Canady. I saw so much of myself in this devotional — It is amazing, thank you Tara for sharing your story. So, I just want to say, Divas, trust in God, believe in love, believe in yourself, believe in the beauty of your dreams, believe in your marriage and don’t ever give up on the things God won’t let you give up wanting. Amen.]

Trusting God: How I Met and Married the Love of My Life in Two Months (and what happened after)

My name is Tara and I’ve been saved for twenty-four years. I just got married to my best friend last year, May 2016. I grew up in Charleston, SC but am now residing in Johnson City, TN. I have two cats, a love for books, and a passion for following Jesus and writing.

The past year and a half have been some of the most challenging times of my life. It began with a whirlwind romance to my now-husband, Justin. We met online at Christian Mingle. We texted for about a week and then decided to meet in person. We dated for a month and a half. During this time, I prayed ceaselessly about him.

I had never dated anyone before Justin. I’d gone out with a handful of men, but they never went past the first date. Justin was different. He was the first man I’d ever felt completely comfortable around – as though I could just be my weird, quirky self without having to put on a mask. And every time I asked God if Justin was “the one,” He always responded, “Yes.” In two months we were engaged and married. We went to the courthouse downtown Charleston on a Wednesday. Justin’s boss wouldn’t give him the day or week off work, so we had to rush through it during his lunch break. The only family present were my parents, whom I lived with at the time.

After the wedding, I moved into his condo. We stayed there for one month and then bills became too much for us. I didn’t work and he worked solely on commission. I cried a lot that month because I wasn’t used to stressful situations. My parents had always provided everything for me and I never really had to work at anything. Even the few years I trained in ballroom dancing, and the few months as an instructor, weren’t much of a struggle. Dancing had come easily. Being married didn’t.

As an only child, I grew up self-centered. I had been saved at age five and I did truly try to follow the Lord my whole life. I never rebelled against my parents, stayed out of trouble for the most part, and did what I was told. After I got married, I had to start thinking about someone besides myself. Although Justin and I are very much alike, truly two halves of one whole, we still think differently, as all men and women do. He wasn’t sure what to do about my mood swings (made worse because I had to go on birth control), or my anxiety and panic attacks I’d dealt with my entire life. He was more laid-back, trusting God with our problems instead of worrying about them like I did.

Because we were financially unstable, we decided to move in with my parents when they offered that as a solution. But that brought a whole new set of stresses because my parents barely knew Justin and weren’t sure what to make of him. We lived with them for a little over a year and by summer of this year (2017) it was time to move.

After months of fruitless search, Justin could finally quit the job he had when we got married and thought he’d found a new job. Within two weeks the women there forced him to quit. I’m not sure if they did it because he was a man in a female-driven environment, just didn’t like him, or God simply didn’t want him there. Whatever the reason, he couldn’t find a job after that.

We had a good amount of savings and Justin focused on starting an e-commerce business. But after reading Joyce Meyer’s book, Get Your Hopes Up! I knew we needed to make a leap of faith. So, we rented a home in Johnson City, Tennessee – a place neither of us had been before.

Now we are in the process of trusting God every single day to supply our needs, especially financially. I’m writing my own blog, a young adult fantasy novel, and working as a freelance writer. Every day we choose to trust God, and I’m excited to see where this adventure leads.

I am a blogger and a wife, married for less than two years. I was saved at five, homeschooled, and brought up following Jesus. My goal is to be a godly wife and mother, a successful blogger, and a published author. I want to travel the world, follow the Lord, and have a lot of cats (and a few kids too).

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I Am Royalty

royalty-maria-drayton

Royalty

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by contributor Maria Drayton (read her last devotional here). Congratulations to Maria on her new book, The King and I: Steps For Living In Today’s World Through Intimacy With the Lord available now on Amazon!! This post is a great tie-in to that book. God’s children ARE royalty.]

“Do you really understand your position?”  I found that to be a tough question for me to answer when I was asked by the Holy Spirit.  I thought I did.  But honestly, I was unable to fully comprehend my true position.   My true position in Him, that is.  Sure I can understand my position as a mother.  I am learning to understand my position as a wife.  I’ve nailed my position as an insurance counselor.  But do I truly understand my position in Him?  Perhaps I really didn’t understand my position.  In fact, at the same time I heard this whisper in my spirit, “you are royalty.”  I even had a quick response to this.  “Yes Lord, I know that in “your house there are many mansions.” (John 14:2).  Yet, I had to seek His meaning to my position to get a clearer picture.  He wasn’t speaking of inheritance but position.

1 Peter 2:9, tells us, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 

Being the researcher that I am, I decided to break this scripture down and dive into each of these words so that I could get true understanding.  Chosen by definition means “having been selected as the best or most appropriate.”  Whoa!!!!  I thought to myself.  I never really looked up the word “chosen” I never thought to clarify or understand its meaning.  But now that I did, I felt even more humbled than before.  Royalty defined “people of royal blood or status”, and Royal, having the status of a king or queen or member of their family.   Holy, dedicated to God.  Special, different from what is usual.  Possession, the state of having, owning or controlling something.

I’ve never thought of myself in any grand way in fact I’ve always seemed to struggle through life not expecting the best but only enough to “get by.”  My thought was, “if I don’t expect good things then I won’t be disappointed when I don’t get them.”  Now, I am now being challenged to elevate my thinking and my expectations.  Not only to “expect good things” but pursue them.  I’m not perfect and fall short every day but I do have a desire to grow, learn and change.  And “no”, change is not easy for me.

Here’s an example, I love thrift and consignment stores.  I’ve had to rely on them for a lot in my lifetime.   It is always so great when I can pay $3 dollars for something and then make it look like it cost $30 or more.   I really love it.  Every year (two times a year) a consignment store in my area has sidewalk sales and every year I call the store to make sure to put the event on my calendar so that I don’t miss out.  Everything clothing/jewelry item you can stuff into a small bag they hand out, you pay only $20 dollars for the entire bag of contents!  I loved it and got a real rush every time I waited in that line for the doors to open.  I would bring my own rubber bands so that I could make sure to be able to take advantage of every space in the bag.

Once those doors opened, I rushed in with the crowd, collected everything “I could make work” and found my corner.  I would roll each clothing item then rubber band it to ensure I got full use of the bag.  This year, I forgot about my favorite event and when I remembered I thought, “Man!  I missed out! I can’t miss the next one.”  I even called the store to ask them when the next event would be so that Iso that I could mark it on my calendar.  A few weeks passed and that’s when the Holy Spirit began to deal with me about “position” and “royalty.”  He even said, “You didn’t miss out, I’m elevating your thinking….you don’t have to shop at thrift stores anymore and get other’s hand-me-downs.”  I sat contemplating this because for so long I’d been waiting on the “other shoe to drop”, waiting on “the bad thing” and though I was now in a “position” to buy new, I still had my old mindset and still strode to the clearance and sales racks when I couldn’t shop “thrift or consignment.”  Don’t get me wrong there is a time and place for “thriftiness” but I guess not all the time.  So I am learning and growing.

So my “position” is not situational, it’s not a location, it’s a state of mind.

Here’s the thing that I didn’t understand.  Royalty acts a certain way.  They go to certain places and they do not go to others.  They don’t lose their titles when they leave the palace, they are still Princes and Princesses everywhere they go and act accordingly.  I was beginning to understand what He meant.

With this new found understanding, I am learning to accept my “position” in Christ Jesus, I am royalty.

We do have to wait to get to heaven to get our inheritance.  But inheritance and position are two different things!  I’ll wait for my inheritance but right now I’ll enjoy my “position.”

1 Peter 1: 3-5, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Maria DraytonMaria 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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Maybe, Just Maybe, He Has a Plan

he has a plan
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog by Maggie Meadows Cooper. You may remember Maggie from the Christmas guest blogger series — and she is back with another toddler-related tale!]
Maybe, Just Maybe, He Has a Plan

This. This may be the greatest thing in my life right now.

maybe just maybe he has a plan
Image provided by Maggie Meadows Cooper

Not the door, although it’s super awesome (shout out to my amazing hubby who built it), but the hook…that little silver hook to the left of the door. 

 
“It’s just a hook,” you say. But it’s not just ANY hook. It is the hook that is keeping my pantry door closed. It is the hook that is keeping my very curious, mischievous, mess-making, independent, “I can do it myself” thinking two-year-old out.

It is my saving grace right now.

But to one little two-year-old it is a whole ‘nother story. Is she happy about it? Not so much…She can’t get into Lucky Charms and Goldfish and cookies and any number of other things that she’d love to get by herself, and in the process, dump all over the floor, so I have 35689654 messes a day to clean up.
It is keeping her from electrical outlets and scissors and nails and hammers and batteries and other objects that she thinks are totally awesome, but might hurt her (our pantry doubles as an office and random drawers kinda place).
 
It is her nemesis right now.

Two people, two totally different perspectives.

As I was looking at that lock, full of thankfulness, and my daughter was looking at it full of frustration, I couldn’t help but think about how the Lord closes doors in our lives.
And how we feel like that little two-year-old.
Jobs that we don’t get, relationships that go sour, financial opportunities that fizzle, school tests we don’t pass, tryouts where we don’t make the team, etc…

The Lord knows what’s behind those doors… and it could be He is closing them because we aren’t ready to handle what’s behind them. Maybe he’s protecting us from greater disappointment and hurt. Maybe He has a plan. Just maybe…

Hard to hear, right? I usually think I have a pretty good idea about where I need to go, what I need to do, what I’m prepared for, what my heart longs for, and how I feel about certain situations. And I’m ready to give the Lord my opinion at any given moment.
But he doesn’t need my opinion. And He doesn’t need my direction. And He especially doesn’t need my “constructive criticism” of how He’s handling things.
He needs me to let Him be Him and me be me.
Each closed door is a puzzle piece to a perfectly designed plan. There may be one moment in time that is specifically orchestrated, by an amazing Father, that otherwise would not happen if you don’t accept His plan and follow in obedience.
Trust Him, y’all.

Trust that He knows more than you do. 

Trust that He has your best interest in mind. 

Trust that He loves you so much that, in His time, He will open doors for you that will be so much more amazing than you can ever dream.

And may not be what you expected…or even hoped for.

Just the way I will open the pantry door for my little one, one day, when she’s ready to handle it…but not anytime soon.

“…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

maggie cooperMaggie Meadows Cooper is a real-life wife and mom who messes up every day and needs Jesus to save her. She loves Auburn football, real Coca-cola, and chocolate! She serves as a Parent Coordinator in the Opelika City Schools, leads the Auburn/Opelika Teen MOPS group, and is a regular contributor to Blogs by Christian Women. You can follow her here at beautifulinyourheart.blogspot.com.

 

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My Meaning of Living

meaning of living

[Editor’s Note: This is a poem by Timisha Campos. This is the first poem I’m publishing of 2018 and I think it’s just the right one! It’s a very special poem indeed, and I love poetry. It just makes me feel.]

The Meaning of Living

 

You arrive, and in the moment of your entrance the elements of the world you now invade attaches its force on you

You grow, and the soils of the earth deep in you begins to sing the stepping stone song

As you take your first steps, your first lessons you are not shielded from the forms all around you

For even in infancy life shall reign

You thrust forward, no more shall you crawl for your mind speaks to your limbs, you no longer can stay down…. stand tall

As you usher through into the span of time reserved for you, you are aging

Out of the old form of what you came as, into the new of what you will become

You will find mercy for a time in the ignorance of your exploration

Surely sounds and wonders were here before you existed, yet they held you, waited upon another like you

It did not change or shift, but you shall change, you shall shift

No longer is there the warmth of a mothers’ communicating arms that speaks nurture, or the protective shields of a father’s adoration

Life sees you, it enters you and it pours unto you ever flowing

Eyes widen, senses explode, now you run

You run to grab, to taste, to touch

You learn to feel, to love and trust

Your discovery isn’t in the footprints once held,

imprinted by meager foundations

For now, you take portions of the soul firmly planted

and the souls of life around take portions of you

Stings and shots of pain fill the senses for a spell

As your life releases the coping mechanism of what it means to recover

Life reserved happiness and joy on the day you entered, yet no promise that you would be cradled there for too long

Though the strife and song of life has brought you through, it surrenders only to its true self

To hold you suspended, for a time that you should accomplish the goal of what it has given

To thrive here, to embark here, to stage the great expectation of who and what you mean to life

What kindness life had, the day you encountered its mercy, for in the joy of your arrival and the happiness of your stay

It is most certainly guaranteed that your departure will leave sadness and a void

For with joy you came and with heartbreak, now you are gone

 

Timisha (Misha) Campos is a 45 year old mother of two grown children and a grandmother. She was born and raised in the Bronx, in New York City. She is a full time Administrative Assistant and has always loved being a Secretary. Timisha accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior in her early twenties and knew from just being a baby in Christ what her calling was; to encourage, edify and lift up through writing. Today she is ready to step forward by faith and encourage others through devotionals and poetry with the promise  that God is able and willing to change the heart, mind and soul. For though even today Timisha is still walking out some storms in her life, she continues to dance in the rain.

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