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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$100 & Counting

100 counting

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog by Maria Drayton. What a testimony to God’s faithfulness! READ ON!!]

$100 and Counting

 

This time I made sure the shower and music were on when I began to sob.  I did not want my son to hear me from outside the bathroom since his room was right next door.  As I stood directly under the shower head I cried, cried, and cried some more.  I was tired, exhausted and at my wit’s end.  All of the bills were overdue and I was already robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Unfortunately, Peter was broke now too.  The night before I had received the shut off notice for my electricity which was due to be shut off the next day, which was today.  If the bill was not paid before 11am then by the end of the day it would be shut off.  There was no money in the bank, no one left to ask, nothing to sell, and it was my midnight hour (although it was morning).

I began to yell at God.  “You said that you would never forsake me!”  “You said that you would supply my need!”  “You said prayers of the righteous availeth much!” I had forgotten about where I was and it was only Him and I.

“I need you to show up TODAY, I don’t have anywhere else to go!”  I yelled.

“Mom, are you okay?”  My son asked from outside the bathroom door.

I yelled back, “Yep, just singing!!!”

I dropped my son off at school and had already made my mind up about not working today.  I justified that thought with “the company doesn’t reimburse me for gas and I have no money to buy gas anyway.” I worked as an outside insurance collector, my job was to go and pick up customer’s monthly premium payments when they called to pay and then deposit it to the company.  But how could I help anybody pay their bill today when I couldn’t even pay my own?  The job that I had, only provided me about $300/week and of course all of my bills were MUCH greater than that.  For a while I had been trying to manage by depleting all my savings, selling stock, selling personal belongings, etc.  I had a child to feed.

But today, I was done.  Physically depleted, emotionally exhausted, broke and in need.  My church had already paid my rent a few months before.  I had already gone for public assistance months prior but they had said I didn’t qualify because the $300/week plus my child support was too much to get help.  I couldn’t understand.  I didn’t make anything, but what I did make was too much to get help?  So here I was, with a shut off notice in my purse and no knowledge of what to do with it.

Just then my phone rang.  It was my client Tracy.  She wanted me to stop by to pick up her payment.  I wrestled with this for a moment because of my earlier decision.  But I thought for a moment about how much I enjoyed Tracy and our talks.  Then I mapped it in my mind to make sure I had enough gas to get there and back home.  It was enough.  I went.

I got to Tracy’s house and just as many times before, we sat and talked.  It was late March and my son’s birthday was right around the corner.  I hadn’t even begun to think about his birthday considering I didn’t have enough for basic bills.  But on and on she went, how much he had grown since the first time she saw him, how old he was getting, what grade he is in now, etc. She asked me what I was doing for his birthday.  I explained that I had so much going on that I hadn’t even started thinking about it.

“I want to give you some money for his birthday,” she seemed as though it was some directive she had been given.  Completely out of the blue, she said it with conviction another time, “Come walk with me to the store so that I can get some money from the cash machine.”  As we walked and talked, I wanted to cry but I held it in.  Now when we got to the store she quickly went to the machine and took money out.  I hadn’t asked her how much she was getting because I was thankful for anything.  She turned and handed me $100 in $20’s.

I thanked her and thanked her and at one point thought, “You shouldn’t be taking any money from your client.”  But I buried that thought immediately because it was not my client but the Lord who was handing me those $20’s through Tracy.

My electric was due to be shut off for $98 past due in about 1 hour.  I left Tracy’s and directly went and paid my electric bill.  I even wrestled a moment with the thought of using my son’s birthday money for the bill instead.  But I knew that it was “my ram in the bush”, “my midnight hour breakthrough”, and my answered prayer.

We all have them. Those times in our lives where we would rather forget.  This time in my life is one that I hold on to tightly never wanting to forget it.  The day He provided for me through another in my midnight hour.

It was only $100 that day but to me it was $1 Million.

Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”

May He supply all your NEED today.

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 1990 and desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with God.  Since 2001, she attends Bethel Deliverance Church and desires to begin a women’s ministry for young women to learn to apply God’s word in our daily lives.

 

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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Change the Atmosphere of Child Chaos

atmopshere

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Dana Hemminger. It’s for all those frazzled moms out there!]

Changing the Atmosphere

While busily loading my two youngest children into the van one morning, my three-year-old daughter began the all-too-familiar power play.

“Joelle, please get in your car seat,” I repeated multiple times.

Meanwhile, she was successfully distracting herself with every little thing she could find, ignoring my request as I buckled her little brother into his seat. I moved to her side of the van, repeating my request.

“Joelle, Mommy asked you to get into your car seat. You need to obey.” At this point, she resorted to plain old defiance.

Scowling at me, she planted herself in front of her car seat and refused to move.

Here we go again!  The next few minutes that followed included a warning, a spanking, cries of protest, and finally a frazzled mommy physically placing my strong-willed child in her seat and strapping her in.  We were already running a few minutes late, and my nerves were completely raw.

As we pulled out of the driveway and headed down the road, her screaming continued as my frustration was steadily rising.

“Joelle, that’s enough!” I blurted out as her cries only escalated.

The tension in the van upset my one-year-old, and soon his cries filled the air as well, causing my daughter to holler at him to stop.  I raised my voice once again but quickly realized that I was only adding fuel to the fire by allowing my emotions to control my response instead of the Holy Spirit within me.  At this point I felt Him gently prompting me to pray aloud for my daughter.  At first she angrily protested,

“No, Mommy! Don’t pray!”  Knowing full well that our battle is not against flesh and blood, I persisted.

“Jesus, I thank You that You love Joelle so much.  She is so special to You.  I thank You, Holy Spirit that You work in her heart.  Please help her to obey Mommy and Daddy; it makes You so happy when she obeys.  Please make Yourself real to her.  Thank you for my beautiful little girl.  She is such a gift to Daddy and me, and we love her so much.  Thank you that You have such good plans for her.”

Within a few moments the atmosphere in our van had completely changed.  I was calm, and so were my children.  With a quiver in her voice Joelle then asked to pray, and I knew the Holy Spirit was moving in her little heart.  I led her in prayer to ask Jesus to forgive her for not obeying, asking Him to help her, and thanking Him for His love.  Soon Joelle’s normally cheerful demeanor returned, and we continued happily on our way.

My heart overflowed with gratitude as I was reminded of the simple power of prayer and the promise of Jesus,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).  Once more my faith was bolstered knowing that I can trust the Great Shepherd to draw the hearts of my little lambs to Himself. Once more I was reminded that I do not have to mother my children in my own strength for His Word promises me, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young,” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).

His Presence changes the atmosphere every time!

dana hemmingerDana Hemminger lives in Northeast Oklahoma with her husband Shawn and their three little treasures, Benjamin, Joelle, and Josiah.  They serve on the leadership team for The International House of Prayer-Bartlesville, a ministry they helped to plant.  Dana has authored two books, Reflections from Holland: A New Mother’s Journey with Down Syndrome, and A Covenant Kiss, both available on Amazon. She blogs at www.reflectionsfromholland.blogspot.com.

 

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