$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.

 

Continue Reading

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.

 

Thank you for reading! Blog comments are closed. Join the discussion on social media: You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email Maggie at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

Continue Reading

Life Lessons from Children

 

life lessons from children

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Paige Magee. Welcome back, Paige! Now that my son is two, I am learning more and more from him! Paige is spot-on in her post today about life lessons from children.]

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”

– Paulo Coelho

Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely love children. I always have. I cannot wait for when I become a mother. Well of course I can wait, seeing I’m single and

should probably start my collection of cats, but you get the point. From the day I turned 15 years old and received my work permit, I have always worked with children – swim lesson instructor, early childhood education teacher’s assistant, ice skating instructor, nanny and babysitter. Even to this day, I still occasionally babysit for a family who I absolutely adore and feel privileged to have the opportunity to watch the children grow and develop their individual personalities.

Through the 10 years I have worked with children, I have come to know that children have the best hearts and are wiser than we realize. Children are inspiring when it comes to their confidence, courage and ability to enjoy life far more intensely than adults. So is it possible that their innocence and enthusiasm for life gives them a perspective that we world-weary adults may have lost? I say absolutely yes!

Below are the three most important lessons I’ve learned from these beautiful little souls:

1. Enjoy Yourself & Enjoy Life

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

As adults, one of the most harmful attachments we can make is our attachment to the past and future. From time to time, I find myself dwelling in negative thoughts and emotions, while exciting things are happening around me and passing me by. Children embrace life and all it has to offer with open arms. They have the beautiful ability to find joy all around them. Children enjoy being themselves and live enjoying the present moment because they don’t have much past experience nor a concept of the future.

Their happiness is contagious. They know how to enjoy life…period. No ifs, ands or buts about it. They laugh often, are silly and don’t worry what others might think or say about them. Children remind me to sprinkle my daily routine with enthusiasm, and not take the joys of everyday life for granted. As Robert Brault explains: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

2. Wear Your Scars Proudly

“ 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I remember in elementary school, my best friend broke her arm. She came to school sporting a baby blue cast and practically everyone and their mother signed it. She became almost like a superstar in our classroom – the survivor. You see, when children fall down and hurt themselves, everyone wants to see the scar. Children wear it proudly. As adults, we cover our scars, and our wounds become our secrets. We tell no one where it hurts. We do this because we don’t want to be seen as weak or pitied. What we can learn from children is that our scars aren’t signs of weakness. Rather, they are signs of courage, strength and perseverance. They are our stories to be told.

3. Be Honest & Call It Like It Is

“ For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Corinthians 8:21)

I think everyone has experienced a time when a child expressed themselves with no regard, no filter. It can sometimes take us by surprise. Children can be brutally honest. They don’t understand the concept of sugar coating or lying for the sake of self-benefit. If they see something, they say something or ask about it. When children are arguing, they tell it like it is and scream it out before becoming best friends again.

We as adults can learn from this. We don’t always have to pretend were fine with the decisions and actions of those around us. I know it is cliché, but honest is key. Sometimes we just need to talk it out and maybe even scream it out. While I am all for being careful when it comes to other people’s feelings, children have taught me that a painful truth is more desirable than a comfortable lie.

So next time you’re frustrated or a child is challenging you, take the time to teach them because they have so much to teach you.

You want to know the truth about the world? Ask a child.

 

I’m a 24 year old from the Chicago suburbs. First things first, I’m on fire for Jesus and am constantly in awe of the grace that has been bestowed in my life. I’m still figuring things out and learning how to navigate this beautiful life God has given me.

Continue Reading

No Fairy Tale Marriages

no fairy tale marriages

princess and the frog

[This is a guest post by Melody Quinn. As a fellow Disney lover, I’m completely on the same page as Melody. Honestly though, even if I didn’t love Disney, I think I’d agree with this marriage advice! Thanks again, Melody, Bravo!]

No Fairy Tale Marriages

My childhood was filled with Disney movies and fairy tales. I read and re-read books full of original and modern fairy tales. I re-watched every Disney movie a hundred times, and still watch them to the annoyance of my husband. I used to attend dances and banquets with my imaginary prince. My childhood room was plastered with Disney posters. My own choice, my mother likes to remind me. I was hooked on tales of princesses and princes at a young age.

People used to tell me that I needed to be careful. If I kept filling my head full of fairy tales, I would be seriously disappointed with real life relationships. There are no Prince Charmings in real life. I must have heard that phrase over and over. I know that. In fact, that was part of my wedding vows: Honey, you’re no Prince Charming, but that’s alright, because I’m no princess.

I don’t regret that my head has been filled with fairy tales. I would change nothing about that. My love of fairy tales didn’t damage my view on my very human, very un-and-the-prince-and-princess-lived-happily-ever-after marriage. Even I was a little surprised that I had no expectations about having a fairy tale marriage. I was slightly disappointed in the dating process. I wasn’t expecting to be swept off my feet, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a connection-at-first-sight moment. I had to struggle to get to known my future husband, but it was, and still is, worth every minute of that struggle.

No, my views on marriage weren’t damaged. If anything, I think that the fairy tale relationships that I read about and watched in the movie theater actually made my view on real life relationships stronger.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the happily ever after that I dreamt about is not possible here on this earth. It will only come to pass when the Lord takes me to be with him. The relationship that I’ve built with my husband isn’t based on a happily ever after view of life, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the stuff of fairy tales.

Here are a few things that I learned about marriage from the Disney fairy tales that filled my youth.

  1. Create a new life together. I’m putting this one first because it’s actually a very important concept. Fairy Tale/ Disney women are usually depicted as cleaving to their men. Some people don’t like to image a woman giving up her old life for her love. I’m actually fine with that, because I was able to fill in the blanks. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NIV).  I left my old life behind; my husband did the same. Together we’ve created a new home. That’s how it’s really supposed to be, isn’t it?
  2. Together forever. Something else that I learned from Disney movies that I think is falling by the wayside in today’s society – the idea that marriage is forever. I don’t mean the happily ever after that’s tagged on the end of every Disney movie. I mean the idea that marriage is sacred. Married couples are going to have differences and fight. The point of marriage is to stand together and confront that together.
  3. Overlook the outside. My favorite fairy tale of all time – original, Disney, and every adaption in between – is Beauty and the Beast. And what is the whole point behind the tale? Not everyone is as they seem on the outside. This has a double meaning. As a married couple, my husband and I have gotten to know each other in ways that other people haven’t. We would never have gotten to this point if we weren’t willing to overlook the flaws that rested on the outside of who we are and dug deeper to find out who we really are. On a daily basis, we are called to turn a blind eye to the little imperfections that we’ve discovered and choose love and understanding instead. We should strive to see each other as the Lord sees us: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.)
  4. Work and serve together. When a married couple stands together, they stand as equals. Even when it seems like you’re a princess looking at a frog. As a unique individual, they have different strengths and weaknesses. They both won’t have the same calling, but that shouldn’t stop them from working side by side. Embrace your differences, but keep looking for ways that they compliment your spouse’s. By working together to obtain a common goal, they’re relationship is strengthened.
  5. Sing every day. I would love to dance around and sing to Disney songs with my husband every night, but that just doesn’t happen. What I’ve gathered from watching fairy tale couples sing with each other is that couples don’t only need to work together. They need to play together as well. My husband and I both enjoy reading, playing board games, and swing dancing. We take every opportunity that we can to have fun together. After all, the couple that plays together stays together.
  6. Don’t end the story in a fight. In other words, don’t go to bed or leave for a trip with unresolved anger and hurt hanging over your head. I know from firsthand experience that this can be a hard lesson for newlyweds to learn. However, dealing with fights upfront will make you stronger. Fights with your spouse can push you further apart or pull you together. Be careful with your words. You can’t take them back, and you can never be guaranteed a chance to apologize another day.
  7. Not everything is about you. I love fairy tales that really show a dynamic between two characters. Without each other, they can’t make it  through the day. Focusing on yourself can ruin everything. You need to learn to put someone else first. I feel that it’s almost important to mention that not everything is about your relationship. Just like a good story has to involve different aspects of a character’s life, not just their relationship, you need to have a life outside of your spouse. If you are able to stand strong on your own, then you will be able to stand stronger together.
  8. It’s not all sunshine and daises. There is always that one moment in a Disney movie when everything seems like it’s loss. Regrettably, that feeling occurs often in life. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel or go on by yourself. The only thing that is going to make your married life stronger than your life before you got married is that you are no longer alone. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV).

So fairy tales and happily ever afters doesn’t exist in the real world. That doesn’t meant that you should discount fairy tale relationships entirely. My head may be full of Disney songs, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy here with my dear hubbie. And that goes double for you!

Melody Quinn is an associate editor for TouchPoint Press. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin in 2014 with a BA in English and Technical Writing. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading YA and fantasy books, writing stories, cooking and baking for her husband, and playing with her guinea pig. She currently attends North Fort Worth Baptist Church.

Continue Reading

You are a Vineyard Waiting to Happen

Bobbie Houston

[This is an excerpt from Bobbie Houston’s (of Hillsong notoriety) beautiful book Stay The Path. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I loved Stay The Path, and highly recommend it, especially if you are in ministry. It is truly beautifully written. I chose this section of the book because I thought it could apply to so many of us, and was so true!]

You are a Vineyard Waiting to Happen

You are a vineyard with endless vines within your sphere.

If you are facing challenges within the “vineyard of marriage,” an ocean of good people exist who can speak into your life and give you solid biblical keys to go forward.

If you are banging your head against the wall with issues relating to teenagers or small children, there are pathways to better parenting.

If you’ve dug yourself into a financial hole, or little foxes have come in and created havoc, there is godly wisdom available on how to climb your way back – and if you are in the vineyard of ministry, feeling isolated or stuck in your responsibility toward a congregation or community of people, then take heart from one minister to another. I’m here to to tell you that there is always a way forward, and God has good people along this pathway who can help.

Again, if you are living in the free world, you have the ability to “plant or replant” yourself in to the wisdom and ways of God that yield the right fruit in our lives.

I say this because that is what God is asking (and declaring) in Isaiah:

“Can you think of anything I could have done to my vineyard that I didn’t do?”

Our gracious God has done all He can do. He gave His Son and purchased our redemption (allow that resonate; it will shoot faith-adrenaline into your soul). He gave us His Spirit, pour out to lead and teach us with those glorious “wind words” already spoken of. He gave us His timeless and infallible Word, full and overflowing with knowledge, understanding and wisdom. The Psalms and Proverbs alone are lifetime seminar, if you have a heart to seek them out. And He gave us His church. Now, I agree that not every church is perfect, yet when any local church seeks to be healthy and Christ-centered (and is doing her honest best), then God will cause that local church environment to become the family and community perfect for your journey.

You are a stunning vineyard waiting to happen.

Don’t negate these words because you feel unworthy. Don’t reduce this truth because of what your life may look like now. Condemnation and hopelessness are the work of the enemy. So resist, and believe me when I say you are capable of a vintage crop – a vintage crop of a fulfilling, fun, meaningful (and sexy) marriage; a vintage crop of kids who grow up and become fabulous human beings and citizens of planet Earth; a vintage crop of perfectly matured and executed dreams and aspirations. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (see Ps. 37:4).

Have you ever seen a vineyard at the height of splendor? Lush, green, mature, with succulent ripe grapes that when pressed bring forth the finest juice? I dare you to believe that you can be such a vine. For years I’ve wanted to do a photo shoot for my Colour girls in the vineyards of the world, simply because of the canvas it would paint.

I find the imagery of a rich rolling landscape, flouring under His care, irresistible. Regardless of what season the vine is in (summer, winter, spring, fall), there is confidence that every season has its design and purpose. And even if the vine has been spoiled in some way, don’t ever forget that God is the one who can restore what the invasive worm has stolen (see Joel 2:25). He’s the God who can turn any situation around. The Old Testament is basically a long historical account of the Father’s endless devotion and ability to turn the bleak, barren, assailed (and often even rebellious) vineyard of His people back to their potential.

Continue Reading

Infertility – Joy In The Darkness

joy in the darkness

joy in the darkness

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Naima Johnston Bush. Wow. This is an amazing story on infertility, and Naima has also blessed us with a song today! Thank you, Naima, for having the courage to share your story to spur others forward!]

I’ve been blessed to work with students and the Lord, in his infinite wisdom has given me a mother’s heart.

There are my college kids from the years I worked in higher education, who lovingly called me Momma, the kids from the youth group where I served as an adult leader who now have kids of their own. I’m so proud and honored to have played a part in their spiritual development. Watching them serve the Lord as adults has brought me tremendous joy. But recent events brought me to tears, made me a hormonal mess for the span of 48 hours. Why? 

I asked my husband if he was disappointed that we had no children after being married almost seven years, me pushing 46 and the doctors saying it’s too late. They say my recent diagnosis of liver disease won’t allow me to get pregnant nor carry a baby to term if I did. That beautiful man said no, of course he wasn’t, that God would simply provide our family through adoption.  

Which was always part of our plan, but when I examined the truth of the matter later on I realized what I was really asking was, are you disappointed in me, did I fail you as a wife and as a woman?  Childless women in the Bible were often ridiculed and frowned upon. It often feels like a mark of shame, this badge of barrenness I bear.

But that’s when Jesus whispers to me to take heart, my husband loves me because I’m me, not because of what I give him. That somewhere there is a child praying for me as hard as I’m praying for them.  There was joy in understanding that. In tears, there was hope and there was joy.

One of my kids had a beautiful baby recently and I thought, if these were really my children, I’d have over twenty grandchildren by now, twenty grandchildren, and here I am, arms empty, heart still breaking. But then I remember the ten years they cried out to the Lord for their child and how I loved them so much I couldn’t help but rejoice with them for this miracle! There was joy in that.

Bianca, my Chihuahua, has traveled the road with me for thirteen years of fulltime ministry.  Right there giving comfort, nuzzling me with that heart shaped nose, hogging the bed and making her appearance between Jon and I at the most inopportune times. Now the vet thinks she has cancer, and we need to decide on surgery or letting her go.
How do you cope when the one little creature who has been most like your child may be reaching the end of her days?  I grasped onto to the promise that God cares for man and animal alike, I rejoice that she is in no pain, still chewing bones, begging for treats and racing up and down hotel hallways. I trust that the Lord has this in control and how long she lives is decided by Him. So I spoil her, hold her close and spend more time playing fetch and less time chained to my desk… and there is tremendous joy in that. I believe, although I know some disagree, she will be there in heaven and I find explosive joy and great peace in that.

Finally, I was in covenant with three women, all of us childless, all of us praying for years that God would open our womb and bless us with a baby to call our own.  All three have had baby boys, like Hannah prayed for Samuel or Sarah laughed for Isaac, or Elizabeth gave birth to John in her old age. All, except me.

What do you do when you feel forgotten?  Like your prayers will never be answered and your life over the last eighteen months has been nothing but adversity?  

You rejoice that you still believe, you find strength in the truth that no matter how you feel, God has not forsaken you and you praise Him because somehow, in the midst of it all, you still love Him and want others to love and know Him as well.  You stand back in utter amazement, convinced Jesus Is Real, because you can still sing, and I find unshakable joy in that.

My prayer is that whatever is breaking your heart today, that somehow, God shows you… the joy in the darkest places.

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. is but for a moment,His favoris for a lifetime;Weeping may last for the night,

But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30 Verse 4 and 5

 

Here is Naima’s beautiful original song entitled, “I Sing for Joy.”

If you are reading in the newsletter, just follow this link to go to the blog and listen!

Dr. Naima Johnston Bush is an independent Christian Recording Artist, Author and Speaker on a mission to encourage women to live a Refreshing Life of exuberant joy, powerful prayer and sincere gratitude. She is the wife of Pastor Jon Eric Bush and travels fulltime sharing her music and ministry with churches, women’s groups, schools and various social and civic organizations. For more information visit: www.ministryofnaima.com

Continue Reading

Foster Kids and Garbage Bags

Foster Kids and Garbage Bags

Foster Kids and Garbage Bags

A good friend of mine, Emily, is currently in the process of fostering and adopting two children. Through this process, she learned more about the foster care system and how scary it really is for the kids.

Emily and her family felt led to start a project to fight a huge problem they saw:

When foster kids are taken from foster house to foster house, most of the time, they just have to put their few belongings in garbage bags.

So the project aims to put together duffel bags with items foster kids might need, like hygiene products, towels, clothes, books, stuffed animals, etc.

Here is the link to the Davis Family Project.

When I saw Emily posting about the project on her personal Facebook, I reached out to ask if I could also post about it on Devotional Diva because I had no idea this was happening to foster kids. I think if I have this little platform on DD to raise some awareness, I should use it.

Continue Reading

Getting Through Rough Waters — Staci Frenes Q&A

staci frenes

staci frenes

Unpathed waters, Undreamed shores[Editor’s Note: Hey divas! Spring Break is over! Today I’m sharing a Q&A I did with Staci Frenes, a musician and author! She just released her ninth album, Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores and is the author of the book Flourish. Thank you for sharing with us, Staci!]

MW: Wow! Congrats on nine albums! How does this one compare to the first?

SF: Thank you for inviting me to come and share on your fabulous blog! Well, my first album was right out of college. It was a hodge-podge of songs, style-wise, and all over the map. Pop, country, folk. You name it. Listening back now, there are a couple of gems I still like, but not THAT many. This new album feels more mature, coherent and intentionally written. Each song tells part of the story, and together they form the soundtrack to my heart during this season of my life.

MW: What are some of your favorite songs on Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores or ones you’d like to talk about?

SF: One song people seem to be responding to a lot is ‘Storms.’ I wrote it for my kids, and it talks about how everyone wishes you sunshine and happiness because they think that’s what’s best for you. And of course, any mom wants her kids to be happy and healthy. But we also want them to know how to love well, how to empathize, how to be patient and long-suffering. Those things get developed during difficult times, so the song says, ‘I wish you storms, beautiful storms. The kind that break you and make you more tender than before. I wish you storms.’ As hard as those words were to sing and write, I DO wish those things for my kids and for anyone I love. Storms are where our faith gets tested—like precious metals in the furnace—and hopefully comes out strong and beautiful.
MW: How did you get into music?

SF: When I was little I wrote poems and stories, but something musical awakened in me when I was around 12 and became a Christian. The words I was writing started forming into melodies. I asked my parents for guitar lessons and started to write songs before I knew anything about music. Songwriting in those awkward teenage years was my lifeline. It’s how I processed the confusing stuff. It’s how I expressed my gratitude to God and learned how to praise Him. And since I’m pretty much a textbook introvert, I found songwriting to be a safe way to share my thoughts and feelings with others.

MW: Did you feel led into this career?

SF: I did for sure! I taught high school English after college for a few years before quitting my ‘day job’ and going into music full-time. It was a leap of faith, but it also felt incredibly freeing. I believe when we’re developing and using our gifts there’s a deep joy in our lives, not because of any paycheck or affirmation from others, but because it’s what we’re wired for and find fulfilling. That’s how I found my ‘calling’ really, by listening to my own joy.

MW: Do you have a process for your writing, whether for a song or book?

SF: I’m definitely a morning person, so most of my productivity happens in the morning when my mind is fresh and sort of a blank slate. With a song, it’s harder to just sit down and write because something has to stir your heart first before you can follow it. Even if it’s just a single word or emotion. But once I have the core idea, I’m like a dog with a bone. I don’t give up until I get all the meat off that idea. I try different melodies, lyric combinations, chords, until it sounds right in my head and heart.

MW: Could you share about your Christian journey?

SF: I encountered Jesus at a winter Christian camp in the 7th grade. Our family had just moved from North Dakota to California and I was in culture shock. I was lonely and shy, so the fact that I agreed to go to a winter camp was a miracle in itself. The speaker gave an invitation and I walked up and prayed that Jesus would be the Lord of my life from that moment on. I’d never known how personal and intimate God could be until that night. I was forever changed. Since then, I’ve been on a journey to know Him more.

MW: What has happened in your life to test your faith the most?

SF: I’ve been through some rough waters in the past few years. I lost my dad to cancer and then my brother to a sudden heart attack soon after that. Not long before that, we had lost our home in the housing market crash, and our teenage daughter came out to us quite unexpectedly. Talk about storms. It was like wave after wave kept coming. Some days it felt suffocating and hard to breathe. I thought of the Psalms, how David cried out to God in despair and then praised Him in the next breath. That’s the thing about faith. You experience painful loss and then you have to choose every day to believe that God is still good. That He still loves you and hasn’t abandoned you.

MW: What do you feel is next for you?

SF: This year I’ll be playing music from my new album wherever I’m invited; churches, house shows, concerts, podcasts. I’m also doing a few Flourish events (based on my book), where I share insights and stories about my creative process and encourage people to develop and nurture their own creativity. I’m grateful for the chance to share about hope and change in this new season of music.

Continue Reading

Lovers Loving Others

Lovers Loving Others

Lovers Loving Others

Dustin and Jennifer – Lovers Loving Others

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog AND video blog by Jennifer Lee (the video is also by her new fiance, Dustin). Jennifer contacted me to show me her proposal video and it was so cute, I did die a little. Dustin did a really great job! Jennifer is sharing their beautiful courtship story below!]

 

 
Dustin and I went on our first date on September 24th, 2014. We had met in the mission field several months prior and we decided to take a step forward to get to know each other. He took me to a secluded beach in Malibu where we shared about our life dreams and experiences. Shortly afterwards, Dustin and I ate dinner at Duke’s, a nearby seafood restaurant. I was amazed at how easily our conversations flowed, how much Christ was in the center of our conversations, and how gentlemanlike Dustin was (he paid for all the food, listened attentively, and kept God in the center of our talks). I briefly mentioned to him how much I loved handwritten notes and before long, he came back with a gift – a handwritten note in a bottle – that he told me not to open until January 1st of 2015.

When January 1st came around, Dustin picked me up and we returned to the same beach location in Malibu. Dustin told me to open the note and he read from it. He shared about his desire to enter into a courtship, meaning that we would seek after the blessing of our community over our relationship. We decided to go into an extended time of prayer before I gave him my final decision.

On February 11th, 2015, I met with Dustin and told him that I was ready to commit to a relationship with him. Shortly after, we received the blessings of my parents, his parents, and our mentors. Throughout our relationship, we would return to the same spot on that Malibu beach where we would talk, worship, read the Bible, and throw prayer rocks into the ocean. When February 11th, 2017 came around, Dustin brought me to the same exact location on Malibu beach. There, he had set up a beautiful canopy. He read a note of 730 things he loved about me (one for each day we were in a relationship). After finishing this note, he then asked me to become his wife! This video captures the entire day of the proposal, including a scavenger hunt that we went on before we arrived to the beach. I am so grateful to God for bringing us together and can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him!

 

Jennifer Lee is a senior at Pepperdine University. She is studying interpersonal communication and nonprofit management. She is passionate about God, people, and relationships. She is currently working at two nonprofits – Relationship IQ and Revival LA. She also has her own YouTube channel called Lovers Loving Others. On it, she and her fiance Dustin use their relationship to love individuals all over Los Angeles. 

 

Continue Reading

Marriage Honesty

Marriage Honesty

[Editor’s Note: I had the awesome opportunity to do a Q&A with Molly Reed of the husband/wife music duo Grayson|Reed. They are honest in their songs and have a strong marriage message that I love. Here is some backstory on Grayson|Reed before we dive into the interview…cover-artwork-gr

Mike and Molly met their first week of college as entering freshman at Nashville’s Belmont University. Over the next 10 years, the aspiring artists floated in and out of one another’s social circles, gradually building a unique friendship that eventually became a strong relational foundation when they started dating in 2012. The following year, they said “I do,” and two years later, they welcomed their daughter, Grailey. 

Whether writing about the Christian journey, marriage or redemption, Grayson|Reed simply desires to craft music from an intensely honest place—even if their vulnerability shines a light on the messy parts of life.]

MW: Do you feel like you have a mission with your songwriting?

MR: Absolutely! I believe that The Lord gave me such a special gift and has called me to use it. I’m so thankful for songwriting. Music is the universal language and to be able to communicate to people through song is so cool. I love the idea of being able to encourage people and share Jesus through music.

MW: Could you tell us about your Christian walk?

MR: My personal journey with Jesus really became real during my senior year of high school. I was on a mission trip and just got to see the world in a whole new way. It really opened my eyes and Jesus showed up in a way I hadn’t seen Him do before. It’s a daily choice to put Him first. What’s been super fun lately is praying with my daughter and teaching her about Jesus. I love seeing Him through her eyes.

MW: How important was it for you to be able to eventually work together?

MR: It was always a dream for my husband Mike and I to be able to do music together, and the fact that we are living that dream is amazing. Once we had our daughter Grailey, we knew we didn’t want to be touring apart and always leaving each other. We would rather be playing in front of 10 people together then 1,000 apart.

MW: What is your songwriting process like?

MR: It’s the same yet different for each song. I usually start with some kind of melody or groove and feel out the music, from there the idea or title is born. BUT, some days I come with a concept or title and write the music around it. Songwriting is much like playing a sport, it’s almost like a muscle that you have to use regularly to get better and better. It’s important for me to hone my craft as often as I can, so I try to write around 3-4 days a week when we are not on the road.

MW: What do you feel are the biggest reasons people give up on their marriages?

MR: Lack of communication or as we call it “writing stories.” From day one, Mike and I made a promise to try and NOT write stories or fill in the blanks with what the other was saying. So often, people live out and believe what they “think” someone meant by what they said rather than asking for clarification. I will say “Mike I’m writing a story that when you said XYZ you meant “this,” is that true?” It gives the other person a chance to speak to the lies we created in our head and call out the heart and truth.

MW: How has your faith grown during your marriage?

MR: Much like becoming a parent, I have had to learn how to surrender and trust in a whole new way. It’s easy for me to want to try to control the other person, or to live in fear of something tragic happening. But I’m choosing to give it all to God and TRUST Him with my family.

MW: What do you think is next for Grayson|Reed?

MR: Honestly, I love cooking and baking so one day I hope to be able to write a cookbook! Maybe I’ll call it “What’s Molly Making?” haha!  

Continue Reading