Appointed Turning Points

transitions

Appointed Turning Points

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Ann Grace. Ann sent this to me after she read my June editor’s note, and it was such a blessing to me in my time of transitions! Thank you!]

These days, transitions surround me. Currently, I look at my eldest daughter as she travels through this passage into women-hood. She’s 12 and a half and is getting a hunch that Aunt Flow is about to visit her. She’s a bit nervous about the unknown and continues to earnestly ask the Lord to keep it away for another 3 more years. lol. I totally understand her desire to postpone the dreaded bleeding fest, but at the same time, I want her to be proud of becoming a young woman. But then again, is this really something to look forward to? Is it ok to be scared and ask the Lord to withhold this growth in life?

I personally dread unwanted transitions in life.
But without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I read this scripture the other day and was quickly reminded to not look at my past as a place I want to stay in no matter how easy it was or looked. Yes, transitions are hard and sometimes scary, but the Lord can use our failures and fortunes in life to grow us.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
an advantage to those who see the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 7:8-11 ESV

A few years ago, I was forced to figure out how to function joyfully without a husband, father and spiritual leader of our home. I was thrown into multiple roles I never even planned for! I had to decide whether the Lord was true in His promises. Would He truly be a Father to the fatherless and a husband to this young widow like He said? Many sleepless nights drenched in tears brought me to a place of surrounding my wish to live the way it “use to be.” I had to accept this unwanted change no matter how much I wanted to rewind to my mediocre past. After finally getting the hang of being a widow and raising five young kids, the Lord changed everything on me again.

The Lord would bring me a handsome, God-fearing Air Force officer who would swoop me off my feet and become my second husband. What a whirlwind of change awaited us. New military orders were given and the purging began. This included selling two houses, one car, buying another, moving to a new state, getting pregnant, having an unexpected stillbirth and now expecting a new bundle of joy in a few short months! We are exhausted from the sudden changes in life and desperately want to be left alone.
But the Lord, in His mercy, was and continues to break us. Breaking me from my selfishness and pride. He wants my heart to change. To grow. To rely on Him once more. And that means Him showing me my character. My failures. Me. I need to be reduced in my pain in order to continue to be blessed. I need His strength to shine through my weakness.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

I am slowly learning these days that I can’t just sit back and expect my heart to change overnight. I must work at it. For me, this takes actions that include going to Godly couple’s discipleship and seeking the Lord daily with prayer and reading His Word. It’s been tough to see my fault and failures in life, but it is forcing me to surrender my pride. I am constantly being humbled as I realize the need to apologize daily for the ugliness my heart still has.

I know my heart will never truly be completed and pure until I reach Glory, but in that changeover from this earth to heaven, I take heart knowing that the Lord will walk these hard roads of transitions in life with me making everything beautiful in His time.

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

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Working it Out

Working It Out

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Lois Robinson. This is a great testimony of faith and following God’s lead!]

I got married at a young age – 18 to be exact. My husband, who was the pastor’s son, and I had been dating for a couple of years and we knew that we were following God’s plan for our lives. We were planning to get married one year later but felt God pushing us to bring the date one year closer. My parents were not happy about this change, but we agreed to go forward with the plans.

Our wedding day turned out to be perfect and we were so thrilled to be joined together. We visited Paris, France for our honeymoon and when we returned to Long Island, NY, we moved into our little one bedroom rental house.

We visited my parents a few days later to give them gifts that we had brought back from our trip and left. If I had known what was about to unfold perhaps I might have done things a bit differently.

A couple days after, I received a call from my sister telling me that our dad had passed away. He had collapsed and had a heart attack. I was in total shock as my father had no known sickness or disease other than the fact that he was overweight.

When I was finally able to get the pictures from my wedding, I cherished them more than ever because they are the last pictures I have of my father. If my husband and I had waited the extra year like we had originally planned, I wouldn’t have had him to walk me down the aisle.
A year later I got pregnant and my husband’s mother became very sick with cancer. We were frequently visiting the hospital and praying for her healing but God called her home and she didn’t get to see her expected grandchild.

It was at this point that my husband became really burdened about his calling in life. He wanted God’s direction and wanted to be totally sure before stepping forward. Everyone expected him to be a pastor but he wanted God to direct him in this. He went to work one day and a stranger began to speak to my husband about things he could not have known. This brought a change and my husband took this as God’s way of speaking to him.

My husband began to assist his father in the ministry by preaching when his father was ill. There were days when his father could not get out of bed.

We had two young children at this time. Our first child was a boy and our second was a girl. We were happy and had been married for 5 years now. The state of Pennsylvania had become our home as the cost of living on Long Island had become very high.

It was only a couple of months later that my husband’s father passed away and we were to bury another parent. Our lives had seemed to turn upside down and filled with grief with the passing of our parents.
Yet, God was working to prepare my husband and I for the calling He had placed on our lives. In 2010 our lives changed yet again as my husband became the pastor of the church and it is here that we serve His people. No one could have known what the future held but God was preparing us and holding us for “such a time as this.”As my 30th birthday approaches, I look back and see that God had called us long before we realized it. He gave us the strength to withstand it all: the trials, the grief while raising our young family. God will also give you the strength to bring you through whatever you have to face in this life.

As a pastors wife, mom of 3 young kids, student, and blogger, I certainly have a busy schedule! I am passionate about helping other Christian women improve their marriage and family relationships which is why I started my blog called Loftforum: Living Our Faith Together.

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Drifting Perfection

drifting perfecction

[This is a guest story by contributor Ann Grace. Ann’s post last month was “Longing for Loneliness” and this post gives more insight into Ann’s spiritual journey after the death of her first husband.]

Drifting Perfection

This week has been filled with tears, laughter and exhaustion. It’s been 4 years to the month that my late husband, Shane, and I took our children to Colorado on a ski trip. For years I wanted to go again, but the fears of traveling alone after my husband died, kept me from ever embarking on this adventure.

Traveling with 5 children is A LOT.

Not to mention going back to the same place that we went with Shane. Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Sigh. To think of the emotional journey alone was just overwhelming!

But we finally did it! After 3 days on the road, the kids and I arrived in Colorado safe and tired. Well, take that back… I’m was tired.  Kids seem to have regained a massive amount of energy and were ready to play in the snow! Haha.

At first, I just figured that the kids could go outside and play with each other as I rested on the couch.  But then, reality hit me.  I realized that they don’t have their father to play with them anymore.

They needed me. Tired and worn out Mom.

So with a quiet prayer asking for some strength from the Lord, I picked myself up and we headed to the snow covered hills to sled and have a great snowball fight! It was SO much FUN!!! It’s been years since I’ve just been able to act like a “kid” with my kids.  For years, it was Shane who was the “fun” one while I took the  “Martha role” of our family.

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ ” Luke 10:38-40 ESV

Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe that my role as a wife and mother was to be that “Proverbs 31 wife/mom” for my family but NOT in the way I believed of having to be “PERFECT“.

I forgot the high calling of just being “MOM” and enjoying my babies.

Did that mean sometimes sacrificing the dishes being washed or the house NOT being spotless?

YEP! But in my quest for perfection, I just couldn’t let “playtime” with the kids interfere with my plans. And now…

Everything in my old world has faded away.

I was talking to a friend today over the phone and as he was telling me about church today.  Our conversation led to my desire to be “perfect”.  Then, in pure love, he reminded me of Christ’s love and how I needed to let the Lord take complete control of my life.  I needed to accept His grace in my imperfections and believe that I am NOT a failure because the kids have mismatching socks! I needed to enjoy life to the fullest! I spend so much time trying to be a “perfect” mom, that I miss out on playing with my kids.

The idea of being a “perfect wife/mother” has now vanished.

Drifted away.

The Lord just wants the imperfect me! He wants me to be “a Mary” and just sit at HIS feet and bask in HIS grace. The desire to control my world was just keeping me in bondage. I want to rest in Jesus’ arms as tears flood my eyes every-time I feel my life is out of control.

This vacation was our new journey of healing and restoration. It’s exactly where the Lord wanted our family to be.

Broken and Imperfect.

“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’ ”  Luke 10:41-42 ESV

Lord, As perfection drifts away, may I find Your love and grace in my life until the day You take me home and make me PERFECT.

ann graceAnn Grace married her first husband, a Marine and Firefighter in 2002 and they were blessed with five beautiful children. She was widowed in 2015 and re-married in 2017. She had a stillbirth in 2017 and now seeks to share her passion of how Christ rescued her with other grieving women and children.

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Glad You’re Here (I Guess)

Glad You’re Here (I Guess)

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Heather Ream. I really resonated with this devotional because my mother also had to care for my grandmother before she was put in a nursing home. It is hard work. Thanks for sharing your story, Heather!]

I’m big on boundaries.  Growing up in poverty with a single parent in a dysfunctional household demanded it.  My home is neat to the point of severity.  I have a highly edited contacts list – few people reside there.  I follow a strict diet to maintain my weight and health.  My social calendar is sparsely populated so that I may rest after work, and it is scheduled months in advance.   And nothing – nothing –  makes me stamp my (somewhat) dainty Southern foot harder than an uninvited guest.  Unless, of course, it’s an uninvited guest I fear will never leave.

Sweet sisters, I’m sure it’s obvious that my routine rigidity is borne from the lack of control I felt as a child.  It haunts me to this day, and I continually struggle with trying to out-equip the Lord.  It’s not that I don’t trust the Lord – I do!  (Well, some of the time.  I just want to make sure that in case He forgets about me, I’m prepared.)

I am painfully aware that one of our most cherished duties as Christians is to show love, patience, and largesse in our homes, even when it’s inconvenient or comes at a difficult time.  After all, Peter exhorts us to

“offer hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9, NIV).”

Without. Grumbling.  Impossible for me!

However, all things are possible with God, even the things we wish weren’t possible.

Recently, my mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia following a series of mini-strokes.  We knew something was wrong, yet it was still a shock to hear this from her doctors.  She has rapidly declined, and my husband and I began the long process of enrolling her in a program that would help pay for a nursing home.

She was unable to continue living independently, and we could not afford 24-hour home care for her, so that left only one choice – she had to move in with us while we awaited approval, a process that could take months.

She had to move into our small house filled with delicate figurines and hospital corners, every item carefully chosen and crafted to be efficient and lovely.  Mom has never been one who radiates the delicate side of femininity, so I dreaded the inevitable destruction of my home and the complete upheaval of my household, further compounded by her illness.

I am not a gardener.  I find no pleasure in it.  The family who lived in our home previously must have been master horticulturists, however.  Despite my deliberate attempts to remove the bounty they planted, once the warm Tennessee spring begins, a bumper crop of sunny daffodils and vibrant gladioli appear.  A stubborn magenta rose vine grows up the latticework no matter how many times I lop off the plant.  Each time I do, I’m fascinated (and irritated) by the healthy green stalk that re-appears.

I am reminded that I have been treating my spiritual life the same way – ignoring the beauty and growth that exists in a situation that our Lord gives to me, and instead choosing to recklessly shear in a manner that I think is best for me.  It would be so much easier (and much more obedient!) to learn to co-exist in a new way.  Isn’t that the heart of hospitality? 

Becoming Mom’s caretaker has indeed cut me to my proverbial quick, and my house now stays messy and cluttered.  The paperwork, doctors’ appointments, bathroom emergencies, constant reassurances, and food management seem never-ending.  However, I am still standing – both physically on my feet and spiritually on His Word.  I pray our Lord will use this time with my mom to prune my impatience and self-isolation, so that I can focus on the joy of serving Him through serving others in my home. I must remember that the process of sanctification is not easy, but He is the cultivator, and I am the seedling.  It’s true that I will never be a prize-winning specimen, but perhaps I will not become choked with weeds.

Precious Lord, may I snip my brightest buds to send away with others, as a parting gift.

Heather Ream is an emerging writer from Knoxville, Tennessee.  She is happily married to Ben and enjoys serving her church and community.  You are welcome to drop by anytime.

 

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Longing for Loneliness

longing for loneliness

Longing for Loneliness 

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Ann Grace. Boy, this devotional hit me hard. Ann is a remarried widow and military wife and mom of five with just an amazing story. Her heart inspires me. Look out for more devotionals from her because she’s got a lot more to her story, and a lot more to say. This devotional in particular is about “longing for loneliness.”]

I thought I knew what loneliness was, and I avoided it at all costs. Before my husband
died, there were many times I felt lonely and ran from it. I filled my schedule with errands, my days with household chores, and it seemed to help.

Life of this wife and mother of five was endless hours of cleaning and chauffeuring children to and from their schools. Don’t even get me started with helping with homework while holding a newborn and trying to cook a healthy dinner to be warm when my husband came home from work. Life was busy. It was chaotic. There was always something needing to be done. The laundry seemed like it had a vendetta against me, and orphaned socks were constantly screaming at me to find their pair!

I grew used to filling my lonely heart with the busyness of this life. I read my daily 5 minute devotionals, said my prayers before meals and went to countless Bible studies. My husband loved the Lord as much as I did, and we did our weekly ritual of attending church. We both strived to live for Christ as best as we knew how.

For years, the presence of my husband and kids seemed to be all I needed in life. Or at least that’s what I thought should be enough. I never admitted feeling lonely to anyone, myself included, unless I was ready to be judged. And I wasn’t ready. Where I grew up, being lonely was almost shameful, like you were ungrateful for your life, family, etc… It was kind of like there was something wrong with the person, you know?

The night my husband died, I asked him if he was in any pain, and he whispered ever so softly that he wasn’t. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. That would be the last time I spoke with him as he had a heart attack in his sleep. I remember thinking as I was by his side in all this, “Lord, how am I going to face being alone? Why won’t you heal him?”

I desperately feared being alone.

And in that moment of heartbreak and disbelief, loneliness once again showed up to greet me. Within minutes of his passing, friends and family arrived to comfort me. But no one knew just what to say or could understand how lonely I was feeling. And honestly, all I wanted was to be left alone.

Then the Lord allowed me into a season of loneliness.

He allowed a season of loneliness in my life to create a deeper longing for Him. Husband or no husband, my heart was crying out all these years to go deeper with my Savior. To be alone with Him. To hear His voice. I needed now more than ever to know who I was in Christ.

What was my calling? To be a wife? Mother? Widow?

My life was now being redefined in the midst of this loneliness.

My identity was so wrapped up in preventing a void of loneliness that I forgot to know my King. I let the fear of loneliness drive my life into a pit of even more loneliness. In the end, the Lord allowed heartbreak to reveal a need for Him alone. He saved me. He called me deeper. He called me to love harder. He called me to a season of widowhood so that He could save me from the pit of loneliness I’d crawled into.

In the years following his passing, the Lord has shown me many things, but maybe none more profound than the gift of loneliness. And you know what was most comforting, knowing that Jesus needed to be alone too. If Jesus needed to be alone many times in order to spend quality time with God, then why would I think a busy life, husband or quick devotion would be enough?

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 NIV

Dear Lord, help our lonely hearts long for a deeper need of You. Comfort us in our times of pain and heartache. Let us bask in our season of loneliness knowing You are with us. Take our broken hearts and fill them once more with your unconditional love. Amen. 

ann grace

Ann Grace married her first husband, a Marine and Firefighter in 2002 and they were blessed with five beautiful children. She was widowed in 2015 and re-married in 2017. She had a stillbirth in 2017 and now seeks to share her passion of how Christ rescued her with other grieving women and children.

 

 

 

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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Resurrection on Easter Sunday

[Editor’s  Note: This is a guest story by contributor Maria Drayton. I’m still planning on doing one post a week for now, but when Maria sent me this Easter post (and I realized, Oh man, I really don’t have an Easter post this year…) I decided to post it this week too! P.S. Have you ever wanted to know what Easter was called in Italy? Pasqua! So this Sunday, happy Resurrection, Easter, and Pasqua!]

Easter on Resurrection Sunday

1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

It’s almost that time again. The time that all the stores fill up with Easter baskets, eggs and candy. The time that the shopping begins for the perfect Easter outfit. The time that the people you haven’t seen all year show up to church. It’s funny what things become about when it comes to Easter. A national holiday that encourages everything EXCEPT what it really is.
I fell for it. I saw a sale and jumped on it. I had everything and was prepared. I had a 20% off coupon, plus a $70 gift card to use. I was ready. I chose my son to focus on this year. He has grown a lot in the year, needed a new dress shirt, pants and shoes. I saw the sale and moved in for the kill. There I stood in the middle of the boys section going back and forth.

First, it was the green shirt with the blue tie and the blue pants. But then I couldn’t find the right size pants in the navy blue. Then I switched to the blue shirt with mixed blue and gray tie with gray pants instead. But the shirt was too small. When the lady came to ask me if I needed help to find anything, I immediately said, “yes!” She went to the back to look for the right sizes of either and could not find any that would fit. I switched again to the tan pants instead.

Then I found the right size pants but the shirt didn’t look quite right. Eventually I left the store settling on the green shirt with the blue tie and the navy blue slacks (just got a bigger size). I figured he could “grow into them.” All of this over Easter Sunday. Not only did I go and make the Easter outfit purchase an event but the pants definitely didn’t fit and I had to go back again for round two.

Then it happened, a church that we often visit, proclaimed “we will not be dressing up this Easter we want everyone that comes to feel comfortable”. I thought to myself, “After all I went through for the perfect outfit for my son?!” Instead I made the decision to go to another church where “tradition” still rules.
It really didn’t hit me until after the postcard came from the church (in which I decided on) to advise that there would only be two services on Easter Sunday. One at 6am and the other at 10am. My family often went to the early service since we lived so far away- traffic generally wasn’t as bad in the early morning hours.

Then I showed it to my husband and said, “We will probably have to wake up at around 4am on Easter- I just wanted you to know.” He answered, “Maybe we don’t have to go to this church but the one we visit instead.” “What?!” I thought to myself. Maybe it was me that needed to change. After all, tradition doesn’t have to “stay” tradition.

As a child, I knew I could always count on this time of year for a new outfit from my mom. We would all walk in church with our crisp new dresses, stockings and shoes. That was the tradition, Easter Sunday meant dressing to the tee. Now here I was, being challenged in my thought of this tradition. Realizing, “Why do we need to get extra fancy?” Even as my son grew, it was filled with Easter baskets and egg hunts in addition to the church attire. I’m not even sure if my son even really knows what it’s really about at this age. I have to admit; I’ve dropped the ball. After all, Easter is about Jesus’ resurrection not about outward appearance. It’s about the offer of salvation from our very own sins through His resurrection.

Romans 3: 21-26 (NIV), “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

I’ve decided it’s not too late. This Easter Sunday, we will be visiting the other church. This “Easter” we will be dressing casually instead, giving “Easter” its proper focus. What an awesome God he truly is! Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Romans 4: 23-25 (NIV), “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Maria Drayton

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

 

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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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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God Cares For Me In Every Season

agnes-amos-god-cares-every-season

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Agnes Amos’ latest book, God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage, and Divorce.  (I did receive a copy of this book so that I could pick out the excerpt!) Agnes contributes regularly to Devotional Diva and has become a good friend of mine, so I wrote this endorsement that appears in the book; I wanted to include it here, too:

Each of us goes through at least one of the seasons discussed in this book – singleness may be our total path, or perhaps we go through all three seasons into divorce. In today’s modern world, these seasons are indeed normal and like Agnes discusses, trials of faith. I receive emails from women all around the world in the same positions and I know these chapters of encouragement are much-needed. Singleness and divorce especially are not discussed enough in the church, which is why I think this book is so unique. The situations are not unique, but the conversation is. There has been so much shame and guilt around both singleness and divorce, but Agnes reminds us in this book that God never leaves us – not then, not ever. Singleness is not a curse. Marriage may not be perfect (I know mine is not! Marriage is work!) and divorce may be inevitable. But you are always loved, Child of God.]

God Cares for Me in Every Season

I am an avid walker—this is a hobby I inherited from my earthly father, Papa Amos.

Walking is a time when I seek God’s face for my life and for others, and it is during these times that the Holy Spirit gets my attention. So that I don’t forget what He says, I often record it on my cell phone.

For those of you who are wondering, “Does God speak to humans like us?” The answer is Yes, He does in many natural ways. Here are the most common: Impulse, Ideas, Inspirations. The Bible is filled with many examples of how God speaks to His children.

Personally, I am learning to listen when God speaks, and my life continues to be transformed by this experience.

It was during one of these experiences that the Lord laid on my heart to write this book to encourage global Christians (and non-Christians) on His never wavering care during every season of their lives, especially the seasons of singleness, marriage, and divorce. I have to admit that when the idea came, I was reluctant to respond, and asked the Lord, “Why me?” The reason for this question is because the season of marriage is one where I have failed woefully in the past.

I do not consider myself to be an expert in these three seasons—at least that is what I thought. But the Holy Spirit reminded me of a truism I have heard in church many times: “A faith that is not tested cannot be trusted,”

My friends, I have been tested, and have failed and been redeemed in each of the three seasons I share in this book—single, married, and divorced. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I am here to share with you the truth that the Lord is in every one of these seasons. I want you to know beyond a doubt that He is indeed interested in and present with you in every season of your life.

For many years, I found myself struggling in each of these seasons. I was walking through each season with one leg in the world and one leg in Christ. After years of failing to succeed in any season, I finally discovered that living God’s way in every season of life is the best decision I could ever make. I have now begun a journey into a new and fulfilling lifestyle in marriage by focusing on Christ rather than my marital situation. I praise God for the truth of His Word in 2 Corinthians 5: 17 that says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

My prayer for you as you read this book is that you will be encouraged as you discover that our God is the God of the impossible. Nothing that happens in your life is impossible for Him to handle (Luke 1: 37). He will do the impossible for you in each of these seasons. He is the God that can convert your pain to gain and cause all things to work together for your good (Romans 8: 28). I had to learn that lesson, and you may need to learn it too. Perhaps, you will discover—like I did—the God who waits to help you in your seasons of singleness, marriage, or divorce.

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 God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage and DivorceThe Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and  Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals

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Contentment vs Comparison on Social Media

[Editor’s note: This is a guest blog by Maria Drayton. Maria is an amazing devotional writer, and I love how she tied in this message of thankfulness (’tis the season!) to this post on social media comparisons. An important message around this time of year, I think. Social media definitely has its place (as a military wife, it’s the best way I can keep in touch with long-distance family and friends!) but this is an important reminder to enjoy your time with family and friends! Be content. Thanks, Maria!]

Contentment vs Comparison on Social Media

It only took 2 minutes this time.

The time for me to tap the app, watch it open and scroll through the posts of others for me to become annoyed.  Annoyed and some-what jealous of what I saw.  Jealous of what I thought I saw in the pictures posted: selfies taken, events promoted, people partying, trips taken, awards won, houses bought, etc.  Immediately I closed the app.  What did I expect to see?  Why did opening that app make me feel the way I did?  Maybe that’s why I hadn’t been on social media a lot lately.  Social media is a trap.  At least for me it is.  Nowadays, I find myself posting and getting off immediately.  I am even guilty of posting the exact thing I always find on it.

One year, I posted so much and counted the “likes” so often that my acceptance was becoming dependent upon those “likes.”  Why does social media create a need for acceptance?  Inherently, we all have a need to be accepted and social media is a platform where you can create your own reality whether it is true or not.  Social media allows us to hide without regard for accountability but with our need for acceptance closely in tow.

Have I changed?  I’m not sure.  Maybe my interest has changed.  I’m no longer interested to see what people choose to promote in their lives.  In the recent weeks, when I did attempt to go on a social media site there was just nothing of substance.  Sure, looking into others’ lives you feel as if you are in “the loop” and are “socially aware.”  But there’s something that also happens when you tap into others’ lives, events and dreams.  At least for me it did, I began to compare my life with what I saw.  Truth be told, most of what is posted on social media isn’t even real.  It’s the façade.  It’s what people want you to see.  It’s what people want you to read.  It’s what people want you to know.  It’s not the WHOLE truth.  But even with knowing that, it didn’t stop the feeling I felt when I opened that app.  Which led me to a scripture which reminded me, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Before I opened it, I was thankful for what I had.  Thankful for where I was.  Thankful for my blessings.  After opening the app; I was questioning where I was, what I still needed to do, and what I didn’t have.  But therein lies the problem.  The Bible tells us,

“Each one should test their own actions.  Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:4-6)

Keeping this thought at the forefront of my mind and heart is where I choose to focus my eyes.  I really want to delete all social media entirely, but I find it useful for family connection, birthdays and opportunities.  But the days are gone that I will scroll through perusing others’ posts.  I am content.  I am thankful.

“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.” (Philippians 4:12)

 

Maria DraytonMaria Drayton: originally from Seattle, Washington she is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. Maria has traveled all over the United States but currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she has been serving and walking with Him since the early 90’s and desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with God.  Since 2001, she attends Bethel Deliverance International Church and desires to begin a women’s ministry for young women to learn to apply God’s word in our daily lives. Follow Maria’s new women’s group S.P.A.R.K.L.E. on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sparklewomen/

 

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 at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

 

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God Gave Me A Dad

god gave me a dad naomi fata

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Naomi Fata: When I read Naomi’s post, I was blown away how everything came together for her! God is good.]

God Gave Me A Dad

“Daddy went to heaven while you were sleeping.” Mom greeted me softly with the news, as I walked out of my bedroom that snowy December morning. Tears quietly rolled down her cheeks. For me no tears came. Later that morning when I walked to the front of my second-grade classroom to whisper in the teacher’s ear that Daddy was gone. She had known him and she cried silent tears too. But me, I couldn’t cry.That morning I cut myself off from my first seven years of life. I cut off the memory, as if not remembering would fill the hole. I turned off deep pain. But in the darkness of the nights I prayed for a father. As the years went by my hope faded that I would ever have one.

I was raised in a Christian home and knew that God was my Heavenly Father, but I ached for a man who was my father. Each year when Father’s Day rolled around I tried to forget that I didn’t have one – pretended that I didn’t care.

The rest of my childhood and adolescence was filled with moving, financial struggles and instability from my mom’s health struggles.

When I was 19 I had a job at a convenience store to help support the family. One day an older gentleman walked in. On seeing my name tag ‘Naomi’, he began a conversation about the root of my name. I told him I was named for Naomi in the Bible. During our brief discourse, I learned that his name was Walt and that he too loved the Lord. As he walked out of the store that day God spoke to him, telling him to frequent my workplace and purposefully show me God’s love.

Over the course of several years, Walt continued to come in the store, about once a week. When he came he would bring me Christian articles to read, or a milkshake from the local ice cream shop. He always took time to listen. What drew me to Walt most was his love and excitement concerning the Lord. Gradually I began to share my personal struggles of faith with him. When I was interested in dating a young man (who later became my husband) I asked Walt to meet him, because I needed the counsel of a wise godly man.

14 years have passed since then. And I have a father.

It is a miracle.

Walt and his wife were never able to have children. It was the longing of his heart for many years. Walt’s wife struggled with social anxiety so for many years I talked to him on the phone or when I was at work. But when she passed away last year, he became a very present part of our family. Now he is ‘Papa Wally’ to my three children, ‘Dad’ to me, and father-in-law and friend to my husband. He is at our house for holidays, children’s birthdays, and Sunday movie night.

When he followed God’s instructions to show me the love of the Father, he never would have dreamed that I would one day be a daughter to him, as much as any flesh and blood could be.

I didn’t get a father through my mom remarrying, as I hoped. In ways beyond my wildest imagination God gave me a Dad.

Now I cry because the love of a father opened my heart to grieve and to live. I cry because love pours in. I cry because my broken heart is healing. I cry because I know it’s a miracle. I cry because I know that God is good and that He hears.

Naomi Fata: A small business owner from New York who runs her sewing shop out of her home to be a flexible and present mama to her three children. In 2016 Walt, Naomi, and Tony (Naomi’s husband) founded Christian Resource Ministry, a non-profit organization to encourage others to serve God in their workplaces, found at www.christianresourceministry.com. More of Naomi’s story of healing can be found in her book Beyond Head Knowledge: Knowing Christ who Satisfies our Hearts. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/naomifata Twitter: https://twitter.com/NaomiFata Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorNaomiFata

 

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