Choose Love + Giveaway!

choose love by stormie omartian on devotional diva

I was thrilled when I was contacted to review Stormie Omartian’s new book Choose Love because she was one of the first Christian writers I ever read.

The title also caught my attention. As a Christian living in this 2014 world, I often think about love (or lack thereof).

To me, love is the most important “thing” to have, experience and give.

Choose Love is broken down into three choices:

1. Choose to Receive God’s Love for You:

Stormie writes, “Many people don’t really know God, so they don’t know His love. They know what good, bad, or erroneous things people have told them about God, but they don’t know Him. And I am talking about some of the many who believe in Him as well as those who doubt Him. Understanding God’s love for us is a never-ending quest that will not be full realized until we are with Him in heaven.”

2. Choose to Express Your Love for God:

“You express your love for God when you trust Him in all things. Thinking you don’t need Him except in an emergency or crisis does not please Him. You show love for God when you recognize your own weakness and dependence upon Him. It tells God that you don’t want to even try to make it through a day without Him.”

3. Choose to Love Others in a Way That Pleases God

“There is a price to pay for lovelessness, but the good news is that we don’t have to live this way. God can free us from all of that and keep our hearts filled with His love. But there is a choice we make. We choose to let our heart overflow with God’s love, we choose to express our love for Him, and in the process our heart of love overflows to others. This is seen in the way we talk to and act toward people, and it pleases them as well as God.”

In the King James Version of The Bible, the word “love” (not including its variations) is mentioned 314 times.

And one of the most famous, well-known verses is this:

John 3:16

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)

That’s love. And we, as disciples of the Lord, should learn to choose love over hate more often.

 

Would you like to win a copy of Choose Love? I have been given 3 copies for a giveaway. Just leave a comment below! A winner will be chosen at random. Sadly, this giveaway is for US residents only. Sorry international Divas!

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

 

(Parts of this article have been excerpted from Choose Love by Stormie Omartian. Used with permission).

FTC: I received Choose Love for review. All opinions are my own.

photo credit: Shereen M via photopin cc

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Meet Our "Beauty Diva" Asia!

[Editor’s note: Asia approached me with the idea of becoming the “Beauty Diva” — As a professional makeup artist, she wanted to share photos of her makeovers and the stories of those women! I was pretty excited. I believe this will be a cool weekly feature to have on Devotional Diva, and I hope you will enjoy our “Beauty Saturdays!” In this post you will get to know her a little better, and next Saturday will be her first guest post!]

Kimberly Asia Hall

Kimberly “Asia” Hall born April 29, 1988 in Columbia, SC is a makeup artist employed by Eastern TV/Vh1. She is the middle child of Pastor Jerry L. Hall and Wanda E. Hall of Eastover, SC.

At the age of 8, Asia would spend her spare time drawing gowns in a sketchbook provided by her mother. She thought nothing of the gift at that time but as she grew older her passion for fashion and beauty expanded. After finishing high school she attended the University of South Carolina-Upstate for 3 years when she decided that Nursing was possibly not her calling after several failed attempts to enter the Nursing program. After returning to Eastover, SC it wasn’t until she needed a new foundation from M.A.C Cosmetics that her makeup artistry career blossomed.

“I realized that God has given each and every one of us a purpose. I thought because of my huge heart and warm spirit, I was called to be a nurse because they revitalize people through their skill of nurturing. Even in my career today, the anointing is still there for me to nurture and provide a sense of empowerment to others. Artistry is my ministry.”

In 2010 Asia landed her first job in the cosmetic industry at M.A.C Cosmetics. After two years, she stepped out on faith and launched her own freelance makeup artist business. On August 19, 2013 became ASIA LA’ KITTY GLAMOUR LLC with the vision of “Transforming & touching lives!”

Asia currently resides in the Atlanta, GA.

Follow her:

Instagram: @asia.la.kitty

Twitter: @asia_la_kitty

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When Christians Are Hurt: Share Your Story!

I have been hurt. You have been hurt. We’ve all been hurt. But how do you respond to hurt in a Christian way?

If you identify as a Christian, you believe in the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. One of the verses I always associate with Jesus is this one:

Matthew 5:38-40 
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.”
 

I love this scripture, and try to live by it. But until recently, just focusing on this one section gave me a rather skewed image of Jesus.

During my Lent studies of Jesus, this scripture really changed that image:

Matthew 21: 12-13
 “Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

Now, Jesus had very good reason to be turning over tables at the Temple – the sellers’ and money changers’ tables were blocking Gentiles from being able to pray.

But all too often before I delved into that scripture, I considered Jesus to be mostly meek and humble. While those characteristics are true of Jesus, He was also very strong. He stood up for what was right and justly. The verses from Matthew 21 are proof of that.

And since I receive all of my power from Jesus, that means I can be strong, too. And so can you.

Just because we are Christians, it does not mean we can’t stand up for ourselves, others, and what is right. There are good and bad ways to do it, yes, but it is possible.

If you have been hurt, you can share your story.

The truth is, I can’t create all the content for Devotional Diva. Nor do I want to! Devotional Diva should be about many women sharing their stories.

You can stand up for yourself, heal yourself from this hurt and pain, and help others in the process.

One of the reasons I fell in love with writing was the ability to create change through it. You can spread the word in a healthy and respectful way at Devotional Diva.

By sharing your story, you are helping others with the same experiences. They can relate to you. In my opinion, life is all about relationships and relating to others.

Devotional Diva will help you share your story and stand up for yourself. And as editor, I will stand up for you and your story.

If you would like to “become a diva”  (guest contributor), please see the Become a Diva page for more information and the submission form.

You may submit written articles, or even something of a more visual nature.

The requirements for a written story are: 500-700 words in length, with a 3-4 sentence bio and a current picture. For all other types of submissions, please contact me for more information.

Become a Diva today!

→M

 

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Celebrating My Next Chapter {Literally}

celebrating my next chapterI, Renee Fisher, asked Maggie if I could share my exciting news with you all today! Don’t worry, she’ll be back next week to continue her journey here on DevotionalDiva.com.

Today I am celebrating my next chapter {literally}. Today is my 32nd birthday and I have three B-I-G news to share!

First, I am officially no longer working with MacGregor Literary Agency. That means I am going it alone without my amazing agent, Amanda Luedeke.

I decided it was time for me to write my next chapter {literally} as a self published author. I enjoy the creative process so much, and can’t wait to see where God may lead.

Plus, if publishers are requiring authors to do all the work — why not own the rights too? Am I right?

Second, you can now purchase Loves Me Not and Dream Devotional directly through me on Amazon. And, I even lowered the price to $2.99 each!

To those who wrote beautiful reviews of Dream Devotional, would you please resubmit your kind words on Amazon? If you don’t remember what you wrote — don’t worry I saved them, and will email them ASAP.

Third, Dream Devotional will be available for purchase IN PRINT in time for the Launch Party on July 13th! {View the open invite here}.

I am jumping out of my skin of excitement. I still can’t believe the timing of  everything, and on my birthday nevertheless.

If you are still doubting your dreams, I hope you dream.

It’s okay to lean only on God. 
He is strong enough to save you when you fall.

I was reminded of a verse God gave me when I started Devotional Diva. I shared the verse along with an encouraging word on Facebook:

I wish our culture celebrated SMALL beginnings instead of idols, BIG breaks, or fame. Zechariah 4:10a says, “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

As I am transitioning into a new season with ReneeFisher.com, it hit me last night when people at the San Diego Book Awards Association recognized from Devotional Diva. And yet, looking back 5 years ago, I never thought I would make it this far.

I am most grateful for where God has me. I refuse to be ASHAMED, and I especially refuse to compare myself to others who are further along or experiencing a BIG BREAK. (I am also applying this to all my friends who are having babies or just had babies).

If you find yourself in transition — rejoice in the place where you are TODAY. God has plans for you. And you know what? Maybe they’re even BIG plans!!! Until then, continue to walk daily with Him hand-in-hand. He’ll promote you at the ripe time (Gal. 6:9).

I wanted to close with a poem by my good friend Teryn O’Brien entitled there must be dreamers.

there must be dreamers
in this sad, dark world,
dreamers who believe
that peace and unity and love
still exist,
dreamers that hold a candle
which shatters the darkness
of hatred and pride,
walking into the great unknown
of what might be possible.
dreamers ask,
could we?
could we love?
could we share?
could we agree?
could we agree to disagree?
could we raise above the pettiness?
dreamers are scoffed at,
but all that is good in this world
has been founded
on dreams
that once were not, but
through blood, sweat, tears,
laughter and scorn,
were drawn into existence.
dreamers are mothers and fathers,
bearing children of light into a barren world.
life only comes through
the hope,
the pain,
the joy
of dreaming.

Enter to win a $50 Giveaway to The Rusted Chain on ReneeFisher.com to celebrate. Click here to enter. A winner will be chosen by the end of the week.

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Dream Devotional Releases Today!

Dream Devotional Releases Today

Dream Devotional Releases Today! Dream Devotional is a 40 day devotional of hope for people who have fallen on hard times. 

I dedicated it to all the dreamers.

I can’t wait to go through it with you all over the 40 days. I will be sharing a daily picture quote on social media. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to stay connected!

You can get your copy of Dream Devotional for only $3.99 on Amazon here

I find it interesting that I’m not the only one writing about my own frustrations about dreams coming {or not} coming true. Recently, singer and songwriter Phil Wickham wrote about losing his voice on his blog. His story touched me so deeply because I could relate to feeling lost. He said,

In the unknown of what was to come my reaction was one I wouldn’t have expected. I would have guessed fear, or frustration. Maybe even desperation. But it wasn’t those things. I felt lost.

I realized right then how closely I tied my own worth with my voice. My worth as a provider. My worth as a leader. My worth as a person. Though now it sounds a bit melodramatic, I sat silent alone in my hotel room that night wondering, “What am I worth without a voice?” “Who am I without it?”

That’s kind of how I felt when things didn’t go so well with the launch of my last book Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me. It was through that process of feeling lost and losing my identity of a writer that I wrote Dream Devotional. Maybe you’ve seen your dreams come true only to watch them die. Or maybe you haven’t seen them come true yet. Maybe you’re still waiting. I encourage you to keep dreaming.

“Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he” (Proverbs 29:18, AMP).

Now it’s my turn to help you dream!

That’s why I released Dream Devotional this Easter! What are you waiting for? Grab your copy for $3.99 today, and watch God bring your dreams back to life!

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New Book: Dream Devotional Releases Easter

Fisher COVER Dream Devotional WebI am excited to release Dream Devotional, my fifth book, on Easter!

My story of hope. (No, this is not an April Fool’s joke)! There are many reasons why I choose not to share about writing this book until it was releasing.

I loathe the fact that a traditionally published book can take up to two years to release, and instead of letting you know what I am doing every step of the way — only to have lost your attention by the time the book is released, I wanted to keep it a surprise!

Surprise!

I needed to write Dream Devotional for me first. When I wrote that my dream died back in November, I received many encouraging notes and emails. It was on my heart to write a short devotional on hope, and when my dear friend Arlene Pellicane suggested I do just that — without me ever saying anything to her — I knew I had to write it.

As I began writing Dream Devotional, God restored my hope in Him, then He confirmed I was to continue writing to inspire others. It was very encouraging to hear that Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me started selling well again as I was writing!

It was definitely a miracle.

That’s why I kept Dream Devotional a secret. I needed to know that God could be my hope before I shared it with you.  

I wanted to go back to my roots of what I originally thought of becoming the Devotional Diva®. I  wanted to thank you — my family, friends, and fans — for sticking with me for the past 5 years. If it weren’t for your encouragement, I definitely wouldn’t have made it. Now it’s my turn to help you achieve your dreams!

Like Joshua, I believe with all my heart and soul “that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave [me] has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14, NIV). I have seen God answer all my prayers. Can you say the same? Why or why not?

Dream Devotional DandelionTo celebrate the launch of Dream Devotional: 40 Days of Hope, I created a special Pinterest page with 40 images plus the cover here.

Feel free to share as many pictures as you like on social media to help me spread the word about my newest book, and let’s start a dream revolution! Speaking of a revolution.

Last month I attended Dream Culture, a conference at Bethel Church in Redding, CA with my best friend Monique. She is a missionary to Haiti and I only get to see her when she is on furlough. I knew it was a God thing that she told me about this conference immediately following the news that I was releasing a book on dreams.

It was an incredible experience to reconnect with my best friend, get away, and get wrecked by God and the kindness of strangers. If you missed reading about when dreams come true, you can read and watch my story here.

I can’t wait for you to get wrecked by God because He is the only one who has the power to resurrect dead dreams and bring them back to life.

I hope you’ll join me this Easter on the 40 day journey of hope and dreams.

I hope you dream.

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Top 100 Christian Women Blogs

christian women blogs.png

I (Renee Fisher) am proud to say that after 5 years of blogging at Devotional Diva, I have gone viral!

And you know the best part?

It wasn’t a post about me! It was the Top 10 Blogs for Christian Women. Ever since I posted it, I have seen the amount of people searching my site double, triple, and quadruple! I still get emails from women saying “thank you” for introducing me so such amazing women, and because of that I have decided to make a Top 100 Christian Women Blogs post!

I don’t know if you know this, but I also decided to dedicate DevotionalDiva.com to guest posters only! Because so many amazing women continue to ask me to share their story, I started my own personal blog at ReneeFisher.com.

I hope you’ll join me in the journey as I continue writing from my heart at my new site!

If you’d like to share your story on Devotional Diva.com here are the requirements. Even though I am not taking new guest posters until August, I’d still love to hear from you.

Without further ado, here is an exhaustive list of every woman who has ever guest posted on Devotional Diva including a link to their site and my favorite quote from their article. Starting from the first guest poster Brittany and ending with the most recent poster Gail.

Don’t be shy to introduce yourself to her if you were transformed, inspired, or encouraged by her story. I promise they won’t bite!

1. Brittany Erbaugh – “Christ conquered. In our surrender to him we are able to conquer whether you’re single or married. Now that I’m married it’s trusting God more than my husband. Or if my husband and I want to have kids its trusting God to provide more when we have kids.” (Link)

2. Ashley Bloomfield – “He pulled out a gun and put it to my head and pushed me to the floor. I wanted to know where God was and why was He letting this happen to me?” (Link)

3. Rayni Peavy – “But, I have found that when I trust God and lean on Him, who is the only One truly in control, there is no room for anxiety. ” (Link)

4. Jenn Green – “I’m still pro life, and now that doesn’t mean that Satan didn’t tempt me when I first found out I was pregnant. That was the first way he tempted me—just to end it. None of my friends told me about abortion. I didn’t need them to.” (Link)

5. Bruce & Heather Moore – “Our story was in need of a rewrite, but not because it was a bad story. Quite the opposite. We were in a good story, but God wanted something more for us.” (Link)

6. Lisa & Kyle Bonenberger – “I think a person’s story and a couple’s story can make a difference in someone’s life. Sharing about the love of God through our story is a lost art.” (Link)

7. Shannon Roy– “Sometimes, I become wrapped up in securing my own future and controlling my own BIG plan. I worry that if I don’t make something of myself, than it may never happen, that if I don’t schedule myself silly that I may miss something. ” (Link)

8. Ashleigh Slater – “Motherhood has changed me in ways for which I wouldn’t have volunteered, but that have bettered me. And I’m finding that this story–and not the Hollywood one I was writing for myself – is just what I needed.” (Link)

9. Samantha Krieger – “Allowing the Lord to interrupt our lives on a daily basis might mean making a career change, ending a dating relationship, reconciling a broken friendship, sharing the gospel when it’s inconvenient, helping someone different than us, being a listening ear to a stranger, or speaking encouragement into the life of another.” (Link)

10. Lisa Whittle – “In the process of recognizing our holes and making the choice to become whole in every area of lack, I believe we will discover our whole story.” (Link)

11. Carla Boggs – “A victim remains silent. And every moment of silence that darkness gains strength…and a little more of me is lost. What I have learned in the last nearly five years is we must look our wound in the eye, call it what it is, stand up and shout out loud THIS IS MY STORY and then—this is the awesome part—turn to God and tell Him you need Him in ALL of your story.” (Link)

12. Clara Bastidas – “Inside I still feel like that 13 year old who never got picked as a dancing partner. God has been restoring a lot of things in me, and I know His works are greater than what I see in this earthly perspective. But my lack of faith in the fact that He will provide a (the right) husband for me makes me feel so confused. ” (Link)

13. Julianna Morlet – “Friendship isn’t passive and convenient, it is proactive and sought out because it is necessary! We were never meant to be independent and self-sufficient. You need them to get through this life and they need you.” (Link)

14. Andrea Marbach – “I don’t understand why God gives my friends their Prince Charming while nothing happens in my life. Other get married at 19 and don’t have plans for kids for like 8 years, while I could have a family soon.” (Link)

15. Sarah P – “I’m thirty-two. No one has ever asked me out, expressed interest in me. I’ve never held hands, let alone kissed.” (Link)

16. Rebekah Snyder – “I’m still becoming approachable. I think the reason I was a loner for so long is because, all my life, people have walked in and out of my story. ” (Link)

17. Arleen Spenceley – “It’s true. I am a 26-year-old virgin by choice.” (Link)

18. Lore Ferguson – “What I want to know before I marry you, more than anything else, is will you take a risk?” (Link)

19. Arlene Pellicane – “Be encouraged that the Lord is walking with you and writing a love story out of your life.” (Link)

20. Jennifer Kephart – “Sometimes, when we’re planning to get married, we fail to see past the hunky dory feelings and fail to plan past the wedding.” (Link)

21. Emily McFarlan Miller – “While Joel and I may not have talked much about marriage before he proposed, God and I had. And while I may not have known Joel’s exact plans for our relationship, I felt reasonably sure I knew what God’s plans for the relationship were. I felt He was calling me to marriage.” (Link)

22. Wendy van Eyck– “I didn’t want this to be my survival story. My husband didn’t want it to be his. If we’d had a choice, we wouldn’t have chosen cancer to be part of our story. I desperately want my husband to survive cancer so that our story can continue, so that survival will only be one chapter not the whole tale.” (Link)

23. Sarah Francis Martin – “But seriously–the biggest lesson I learned from my 20′s: God doesn’t waste anything.” (Link)

24. Kimberly Davidson Campbell – “I thought if I could be involved enough, cool enough, and popular enough, pretty enough, stylish enough, smart enough, relevant enough–someone would give me my dream ministry position on staff at a church.” (Link)

25. Morgan MacGavin – “My heart absolutely aches when I look back at that girl, knowing how empty she felt inside, and for how long. Drinking and cutting were only temporary fixes. I found myself justifying sleeping with one man while dating another simply because neither one made me feel whole; but together, bits and pieces of me felt filled in.” (Link)

26. Allison Vesterfelt– “If you’re a 20-something, flailing around like I was, let me throw you a life jacket. It’s okay to fail. Failure is the only way we learn what works and doesn’t work, it’s the only way we grow up, become more mature. Without failure, we’re doomed to be the same person we’ve always been, with the same flaws and shortcomings–forever.” (Link)

27. Tracy Steel – “While I was busy chasing my dreams, God chased me. At the height of my perceived awesomeness, God intervened. Teaching God’s Word and serving those around me is more fulfilling than all the money and the corporate success I once longed for.” (Link)

28. Addie Zierman – “When I think of my late 20s, I think about the long hard work of healing.” (Link)

29. Monique Pearson – “Hundreds of my friends have been married, and that’s no exaggeration. So if they could find someone, why couldn’t I? More people got engaged and married. It was so overwhelming at times I almost walked away from God.” (Link)

30. Katie McAleece– “I have questioned God, I’ve screamed at Him, told Him things He never deserved–and yet He sticks with me. Closer than a brother. Better than a boyfriend. More of a hero to me than any human could be.” (Link)

31. Brenna Banes – “These last six years of my twenties have been a massive roller coaster. I used to joke that I lived a “boring Christian life” and at times I would give anything to have that back. It is through our trials we realize our strength and understand God’s meaning of true grace.” (Link)

32. Lindsay Blackburn – “I survived my 20s. In fact, I survived my 20s–dateless.” (Link)

33. Marie Osborne– “At the end of my 20s, I’ve started over and over and over. I’m still in the midst of building a new life, again. But now I know where happiness dwells. Everywhere my Lord is, which is… everywhere. And if I want a good attitude about my circumstances, I need to ask Him to continue to grow self-control in me, so I can choose the right attitude and leave the wrong one in my 20’s.” (Link)

34. Kristin Tennant – “I didn’t see that redemption play out in my life until my 30s, but it’s because I survived the regret of my 20s, trusting God’s love and goodness along the way, that I was open to God’s redemption when the time came.” (Link)

35. Laura– “I began to feel as though the worst was over, as though I really had survived, as though it all wasn’t a horrible nightmare. I began to write, to share parts of my story with others. Life seemed a bit easier. I began to figure out who I really was now.” (Link)

36. Caris Adel – “I’m still not free to do whatever I want, and that chafes at me. But if I was honest with myself, I think if I had that complete freedom, I’d be lazy with it. Because without the lonely struggles of a decade, I wouldn’t be the analytical thinker and writer I am now.” (Link)

37. Catherine Kabinga – “Growing up, I was always the girl who sat at the back of the class too afraid to answer the questions for fear of what others would think of me. I was the one who always accompanied friends out for several dinners only for the next guy to flirt with them. It would be a lie if I didn’t say that I occasionally entertained thoughts of ‘what’s wrong with me?’” (Link)

38. Debra Weiss – “My life looks nothing like I thought it would in my 20s.” (Link)

39. Nicole Unice – “I was more of a ladder climber than a baby holder. I was more office, less kitchen. And because of that, young womanhood and young motherhood became a lesson in survival, a series of days and weeks and months where I fought a deep sense that I should be grateful to have “arrived,” and not feeling grateful at all.” (Link)

40. Ashley Ramps – “Not only that I thought that by now, by 29 I would be married, have a house, maybe talking about a family.. like I see so many of my friends doing…” (Link)

41. Alison Lublink – “30 [years old] isn’t some magic number by where you have everything the world tells that you should have.” (Link)

42. Lindsay Morelli– “Whether we feel our daily lives are written well or that we are constantly living in a gag reel, remember who is always before you. Today’s episode could be your favorite. If not, there is always tomorrow!” (Link)

43. Chine Mbubaegbu – “I’m standing at the altar, vowing to love my body, my constant friend and faithful partner. In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in joy as well as in sorrow. Forsaking all other body shapes, I promise to love my body unconditionally – through the weight gain and the weight loss, through the good hair days and the hat days, the wrinkles and the laughter lines. I promise to cherish and protect my body. And I promise to love it. Not in a shout-it-from-the-rooftops kind of way. Not in a Tom-Cruise-jumping-up-and-down-on-Oprah’s-sofa way. But I will love it all the same. Quietly, confidently, deeply, fully.” (Link)

44. Angela McNeil – “My weight pushed me to the point of plastic surgery. I thought liposuction was the only way I was going to get rid of this problem. God is the truth AND it is only God that can speak to me about my struggles with plastic surgery through an Abortion message.”(Link)

45. Leeann – “How could I be fearfully and wonderfully made when there was clearly so much wrong with my body?” (Link)

46. Sarah Miller– “I didn’t go halfway across the world to change the world–I went halfway across the world to be changed. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Emotionally. I was changed, I was healed, I was set free. I never realized how many limitations I put on myself by hating my body and keeping that negative spirit inside of me.” (Link)

47. Lindsay Kathleen – “My scars are my battle wounds that I get to rejoice in because it means God is not through with me–and has a plan for me.” (Link)

48. Meredith Rachel Munro– “As a mental health therapist and fellow human being, I’m a person that highly values honesty. If I’m being honest–I have to say that I’m still struggling with these recent changes to my body as I embrace the next beautiful season of life. I’m still learning what it means to say,“I love my body”–and have to mean it, even if it looks different than how it used to when I was 18 or 21 or 26.I don’t have it all figured out.” (Link)

49. Kayla Johnson– “Out of the hundreds of women I’ve met there is not one who has perfect skin, hair, nails and has an hourglass shape with perfect proportions. Each woman is unique and beautiful. That’s when it finally clicked. I may not have a perfectly thin waist with zero body fat or cellulite, or be incredibly flexible, or have perfect skin. What I do have is beautiful hazel eyes, super soft hair and long toned legs–which I LOVE!” (Link)

50. Emily Wierenga – “I’m not sure why but I began to think sickly was pretty and I tried to become as emaciated as possible.” (Link)

51. Alice Sullivan– “Though I am still not where I want to be, I now at least know that health is a work in progress and I can control how I treat this gift of a healthy and able body that I’ve been given. Better yet, I stopped being embarrassed about my stretch marks.” (Link)

52. Songine’ Clarke– “I felt like my face didn’t fit the status quo. The fact that the Lord did not care about if I looked like Beyonce’, but how my heart was, meant a lot to me.” (Link)

53. Amber Dobecka – “I once was a: cheerleader, softball player, National Honor Society, top 5 percent of class, homecoming princess, voted most spirited, and the prom queen runner-up. My body became another event at which I had to excel.” (Link)

54. Melissa Thomas – “I hope prayerfully one day an amazing man will notice me not because of an awesome joke I make, the trendy clothes I wear–but because He truly sees my beauty being lived out in Jesus. ” (Link)

55. Sundi Jo– “I used food to build walls around my heart. For each wall that was built, the harder my heart became. I hated my very existence. I believed the lies that I wasn’t good enough. I was unlovable. If my father had abandoned me, everyone else would too.” (Link)

56. Aurora Vilchis– “You’ve been there, a bunch of gals get together and suddenly it becomes one big hate feast; one hates her thighs, another her ears, something too big, not tight enough, too small. I thought that I had to join in because I’m a girl.” (Link)

57. Jaimie Bowman – “Recently, a still, small voice whispered to me that I am beautiful–and it wasn’t my husband’s voice this time. It was from somewhere deep inside of me. I think I needed to hear it from other women–women who have battle scars like me. I’m also encouraged to tell other women that they are beautiful too, because no matter how beautiful I think they are, chances are that they don’t feel that way about themselves.” (Link)

58. Emily Maynard– “My unwillingness to see myself in photos, see myself portrayed as less than perfect, less than the all-together girl I wanted to show the world, was tied directly to shame. Shame kept me blind to my beauty.” (Link)

59. Marcia Ramsland – “Start telling yourself daily truths that will change your neuron pathways and move you toward a healthier perspective, such as: “I am easily satisfied.” “I enjoy being healthy and lean more than indulging in unhealthy foods.” These messages repeated daily can actually change over time the way you respond to temptation.” (Link)

60. Hannah Stovall – “I’m twenty-three years old with no boyfriends, dates, or breakups under my belt; and on my worst days, I feel like I’ve been rudely and spitefully deprived of a secret.” (Link)

61. Tracy Le – “A lot of my friends who are single find dating to be dreadful. And by “dreadful” I mean really dreadful. For some reason, I seem to be the lone wolf who welcomes such a potentially awkward social set up. Then again I strangely love job interviews so I suppose it comes to no surprise; there is a commonality between the two with it’s exchanging of questions and answers about oneself that I just really enjoy.” (Link)

62. Brenda Rogers – “My desire for marriage never changed. Yes, you read that correctly. Even after completely surrendering my future to God, truthfully and wholeheartedly, I still desired marriage. I asked Him to take the desire from me, but He didn’t, even though He could have, nor did He tell me (or not tell me) that I was called to a life of singleness. But as I found delight in Him, He did change the desires of my heart.” (Link)

63. Krista Back – “In every relationship I have ever had, I have always learned things that later I would never give back. So then, ultimately, walking away from dating or being afraid to date purely out of fear adds nothing to my life, and in fact might mean that I am choosing to walk away from an amazing man that God may just have planned as my future husband.” (Link)

64. Alexandrea J. Wilson– “The truth is, everybody’s not doing it. If you choose to surround yourself with the soundtrack that tells you that everyone is–when temptation comes, you may find yourself falling into it and wondering how it happened.” (Link)

65. Jenny LaBahn – “What if this holiday season, rather than complaining about being alone, single, lonely, etc. we chose to remember the reason for the season?” (Link)

66. Tara Burke – “I felt like a failure–a Christian wasn’t supposed to be depressed!” (Link)

67. Mary DeMuth – “When God seems distant or aloof, take heart that perhaps He is testing you. He is preparing you for something bigger, better, harder.” (Link)

68. Lisa Velthouse – “Sex is a secondary issue at best. But that doesn’t mean sex isn’t worth talking about.” (Link)

69. Bethany Jett – “Letting a guy have room to be a gentleman means appreciating the small things he does.” (Link)

70. Julie Anne Wilson – “Don’t just date to date. It’s a waste of time and it’s not fair to whatever poor soul you are stringing along.” (Link)

71. Sharon Paavola – “I’m realizing that You want me to acknowledge You as the controller of my mental and emotional states. Not a medicine, doctor, husband, no one else, nothing else.” (Link)

72. Rebecca Halton – “Entangled in an adulterous relationship in my early 20s, I was no stranger to anxiety.” (Link)

73. Casey Conway – “At the age of 24, I had everything I wanted; and all of a sudden, none of it meant anything” (Link)

74. Rachel Berry – “I certainly never thought a broken dreams would end in depression. I had chased my dream of becoming Miss America for 7 years.” (Link)

75. Hannah Kingsley – “As a predominately “happy” person, bouts of depression caused a conflict in my soul between the need to be authentic about my struggles and the desire to maintain a cheerful exterior.” (Link)

76. Karen Neumair – “Most of us will agree that Christians can get depressed, but can Christians get suicidal? Good Christians??” (Link)

77. Abby Norman – “There are days when I am on my way to work, and the siren of anxiety can be heard in the distance.” (Link)

78. Ruth Rutherford – “Living together will open the door to experiences reserved for husbands and wives. If he’s the one for you, and if you’re the one for him–you both deserve the commitment.” (Link)

79. Shelley Hendrix – “Confrontation is necessary, it is vital that we take the time needed to examine our own hearts and motives.” (Link)

80. Barbara Snyder – “Life is an invitation to share ourselves with others as we invite God to fill the moments with His love. One vulnerable moment at a time.” (Link)

81. Diana Palka – “There’s really no glamorous way to come to terms with moving back home with parents.” (Link)

82. Bill & Pam Farrel – “Those who live together prior to marriage are twice as likely to divorce if they do get married.” (Link)

83. Sarah Markley – “Sometimes it goes beyond trying to simply live together and bleeds over into lets-not-kill-one-another.” (Link)

84. Jessica Baumgardner – “I have always believed in God my entire life, but I never had a relationship with Him or even knew what that meant.” (Link)

85. Jeanne Cesena – “I stayed with my ex for five years and had two beautiful children. I left the church after my ex was fired for drinking and drugs.” (Link)

86. Teryn O’Brien – “Growing up, I believed if I followed my heart and believed in myself, all my dreams would come true. Even in Christian circles, the thought persisted.” (Link)

87. Ronel Sidney – “I am a dreamer but there are times when I have to surrender my dreams and realizing the magnitude of the reality of my journey.” (Link)

88. Catherine Hawkins – “I sometimes call myself a ‘recent college graduate,’ although that seems misleading now that it’s been almost two years. I still wrestle with what it means to be a ‘grownup.'” (Link)

89. Dawn Wilson – “Over the years I’ve discovered dreams don’t just ‘happen.’ Three sets of choices helped me gain clarity and move forward and give life to my dreams.” (Link)

90. Elora Nicole Ramirez – “The dream of motherhood snuck up on me. When we got married, my husband and I made a quiet resolution to wait at least five years before having kids.” (Link)

91. Amanda Luedeke – “While many may talk about their book ideas or publishing aspirations, few are actually doing anything about them.” (Link)

92. Kim Bangs – “After our heart dreams we begin to pursue them with fervency and passion. Often, if not always, we come up against challenges.” (Link)

93. Tiffany Dawn – “I was waiting for a magical word from heaven saying, finish the book, but most often God works through ordinary people like you and me.” (Link)

At this point, I thought I was going to lose my mind trying to find all the links and the perfect quote from each point, so here’s where I’ll just say: the top 100 Christian Women Blogs and counting:

94. Amanda Casanova
95. Abby Talsma
96. Paige Omartian
97. Joanna Hyatt
98. Laura L. Smith
99. Sue Birdseye
100. Kathy Moore
101. Lindsay Morgan
102. Brett Wilson
103. Brooke
104. Beth Berry
105. Alyx Vergara
106. Nicole Reyes
107. Amanda Expinoza Mansir
108. Krista Pettiford
109. Mara Rose
110. Suzie Eller
111. Kristyn Ramsey
112. Dabney Hedegard
113. Jamie Witherell
114. Amy Jane Helmericks
115. Amy Schaffner
116. Lisa Copen
117. Dr. Gail Bones
118. Debra K. Fileta
119. Francine Phillips
120. Maggie Winterton
121. Jayne Richards
122. Kelli McIntosh
123. Kate Motaung
124. Lindsey Meeker
125. Jessica Dickson
126. Y. Lola Mitchell
127. Gail Davis

[photo credit: John-Morgan via photopin cc]

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10 Tips for Blogging + Giveaway

10 tips for blogging

It’s hard to believe 2014 marks my 10th year of blogging. I am celebrating by doing a blogiversary giveaway!

Apparently you give tin for a 10 year anniversary. I found a cute set of tin tea lights & tin/glass holders on Etsy (pictured above). Leave a comment to win. A winner will be chosen at random on January 8.

I also wanted to share 10 tips for blogging that I learned the past ten years of blogging on three different platforms: Xanga, Blogspot, and WordPress. Be encouraged!

1. Accidental Author – I didn’t set out to become a writer or dream of the day I’d make a living as an author. I actually wanted to teach high school math. I’m so glad I obeyed God’s nudging into writing because it turned out to be something I love.

Question: What is your number one passion?

2. Spur Others Forward – My number one passion is encouraging others through writing (1 Corinthians 14:24-25, Hebrews 10:24).

Question: What is your missions statement?

3. Publish His Deeds – The moment I believe writing is for me or to bring me more name recognition — I am humbled (and reminded) that I write because of what Jesus has done for me (Psalm 96:3).

Question: Why do you write?

4. Suffer With Those Who Suffer – One of the fruits of the Spirit is long-suffering (Galatians 5:22, NKJV). It’s easy to follow those who have everything going for them, but a real friend is one who can stick close during the hard times. I write for them!

Question: Who do you write for?

5. Writing Is Worth It – If you’re looking for a wider audience to reach others with your writings I urge you to find a writing mentor, get into a writing critique group, and attend multiple writers conferences. If you feel writing should be your business/calling/whatever then it’s worth making the investment. I spent a couple thousand dollars to rebrand myself, which helped to catch the eye of my first publisher, NavPress.

Question: How much can you invest in your writing career?

6. Pay Your Dues – You may feel compelled to write on a certain subject, mainly your story, but to make it in the writing business you’ve got to be versatile. Pay your dues so one day you can write about what really matters to you! I feel like I am finally able to write on subjects that matter to me personally (and that’s after four published books).

Question: What subject matters to you most and why?

7. Choose Family & Friends First – Build your audience with your friends and family first. Don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback before you publish something. I still remember emailing my devotionals to my family and friends before I learned how to blog!

Question: Who are your closest family and friends, and how can they help you pursue your dreams?

8. Never Surrender – I can personally attest to the fact that writing is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Writing my first book put me in the hospital with panic attacks. I continue to write because of the things God teaches me in every day life, and because I’d die inside if I couldn’t express those Truths that transform not only my life, but for others as well.

Question: What is most difficult about writing for you, and how can you ask others to pray for you through it?

9. Write For Yourself — When I recently took some time off from writing I was able to rediscover my love for writing. It was so nice to write for me and only me. Writing (like running) gives me time to think. Writing is one of my favorite ways to process, and no matter if I publish another article or book again — I will always write for me!

Question: When was the last time you took time to write for you?

10. Be Vulnerable — There is a time and a place to share intimate details of trials and temptations. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share from the heart. Don’t be afraid to wait to share these details until the time is right. It took me many years to talk about sexual harassment and my struggle with anxiety/mental health.

Question: What do you struggle with the most, and how can you share vulnerably to encourage others?

[Photo: OpenVintageShutters, Etsy]

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3 Reasons to Share Your Story

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Recently I shared my story about why my dream died. 

I already wrote that I can’t sugar coat things anymore. And now? The gloves are off.

“What kind of God would stand back and watch a dream–a good dream, for ministry and impact–fall apart?”

That’s what I just read in Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer (the creator of VeggieTales®).

I devoured his 80,000 word memoir in less than half a day. Seriously couldn’t have come at a better time. (Thanks Brett Burner for the recommendation).

Phil continues.

“Why would God want us to let go of our dreams? Because anything I am unwilling to let go of is an idol, and I am in sin. The more I thought about my intense drive to build Big Idea and change the world, the more I realized I had let my ‘good work’ became an idol that defined me. Rather than finding my identity in my relationship with God, I was finding it in my drive to do ‘good work.'”

Writing had become my idol.

My identity.

It’s humbling when God continues working on you in a certain area that you thought you already learned. Am I right? 

“It wasn’t about impact; it was about obedience. It wasn’t about making stuff up; it was about listening. Eventually it struck me that I no longer felt the need to write anything. I didn’t need to have any impact at all. Whatever needs I had were being met by the Scripture I was reading and by the life of prayer I was developing. My passion was shifting from impact to God. It took several months, but what I was starting to feel I can only describe as a sense of ‘giving up’–of ‘dying.’ It actually frightened me at first, because I wasn’t sure exactly WHAT was dying in me. And then one day it was clear. It was my ambition. It was my will. It was my hopes, my dreams. My life.”

It’s as if Phil started speaking directly to me. How did he know I was taking a writing break? How did he know that I felt a part of me was dying inside. My will. My hopes. My dreams. My life.

Phil continues.

“God loves you. Not because of what you can do, or even because of what you can become if you work really, really hard. He loves you because he made you. He loves you just the way you are. He loves you even when you aren’t doing anything at all. We really shouldn’t attempt to do anything for God until we have learned to find our worth in him alone.”

Worth.

In God.

Alone.

Not in the fact that my efforts to write, publish, and market a book have failed. I can only be obedient to publish what He tells me and leave the rest (sales) up to Him. My worth is found in my identity in Christ, not in the fact that churches acknowledge this and invite me to speak.

In fact, no church has asked me to speak on my recent book Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me. The book I spent pouring out my heart and soul. The book that was contracted by another publisher and then canceled. I thought this time would be different. That there would be some spiritual significance to the fact that I literally wrestled over this book for years, and it was finally here.

Then nothing.

Crickets.

Phil continues.

“The impact God has planned for us doesn’t occur when we’re pursuing impact. It occurs when we’re pursuing God. In 2003, my dream died. And I discovered, once all the noise had faded away, what I had been missing all along.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul plants for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

Let it go. Give it up. Let it die. Let Christ shred your dragon skin and lead you into a whole new life. Trust me. It’s worth it.”

Thanks Phil. I’m trying.

My heart is broken. 

Will I ever write again? Should I write to fill words on a page? Should I give up completely and get a day job?

I don’t want to care anymore. I just want to be obedient. I know. Not a flashy word. Not comfortable.

Maybe, like Phil, I’ll have another ‘big idea.’ Maybe not. For now I choose to serve with integrity, not pretending to be somebody I’m not.

I’m a great writer, but I’m not as good at marketing as I thought. In fact, I’m terrible. 

I’m learning, like Phil, that it’s none of my business to plan the next 5 or 10 years of my life. Maybe one of the reasons why I can’t-for-the-life-of-me plot out my next life map is because I’m not supposed to. It feels amazing to accomplish all my dreams I set out to accomplish 7 years ago, and even more gut wrenching to see them all crumble at my feet.

I just want to be used by God.

I just want to be obedient (there’s that word again)–no matter if my dreams are resurrected or not. No matter if I write another book or not.

Question: Have you ever experienced the death of a dream? How did it make you feel, and what encouraged you through? 

Starting in January, I am looking for women to share their story. I hope my story encourages you to hang in there–even if you have no idea how God is writing the beginning, middle, or ending.

I am not looking for you to tie a big red bow around it. I just want you to share your story. 

Before I share the requirements, I feel it is important to prayerfully consider why Jesus wants us to share. Here are 3 reasons why I feel it is necessary share your story publicly:

1. Tell the Whole Truth. ~ Mark 5:33 says, “Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” This woman had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She had suffered much at the hands of doctors–even became worse including spending all her money in the process. It’s important to be honest with what happened even if that means sharing about those who hurt you.

2. Healing Happens. ~ Mark 5:34 says, “He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’” When we tell the whole truth in front of many witnesses including Jesus is where we find healing. Are you struggling to share your story because you need closure, healing, or hope? Consider sharing your story publicly.

3. Don’t go Unnoticed. ~ Luke 18:47 says, “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.” Healing wasn’t enough for Jesus. He wanted to know who touched Him. He wants to notice each and every one of us personally. It’s not enough to come to Jesus and receive His touch.

When you and I share the whole truth–we find healing while encouraging those around us! Daughter, is this what you are longing for? What are you waiting for?

Share your story today, and be set free!

If you are interested in sharing your story, please read below. I prefer queries on one of the six categories:

+ Relationships
+ Devotionals
+ Health & Body
+ On Writing
+ Forgiveness
+ The Church

But if you are the kind of person who likes to write it out first–here are the requirements: I am looking for a post between 500-700 words in length, including a 3-4 sentence bio and a current picture. Feel free to contact me to share your story.

[Photo: >>haley, Creative Commons]

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Top Ten Devotional Books

Top Ten Devotional Books

Can you believe Christmas is only 58 days away? As the “Devotional Diva,” I (Renee Fisher) wanted to share my recommendations for my top ten devotional books for 2014.

My life changed forever when I started reading the Bible every day. Since I was 15, I made a promise to God to spend time with Him daily through devotions. Sometimes I read through a One Year Bible, and sometimes with no Bible reading–only daily devotional books.

Every year before Christmas, I am asked which devotionals are my favorite. Since DevotionalDiva.com will be on a break for November and December, I decided to share this as my last blog before I go on a holiday break. If you would like to submit a guest post and share your story in 2014, here are the writing requirements.

I encourage you to check out these top ten devotional books, and purchase AT LEAST ONE immediately to spark your spiritual growth or for a Christmas gift for a family member or close friend!

1. The One Year Bible NLT. If you haven’t yet, you should read through the entire Bible. My favorite and easiest translation is the New Living Translation. I’ve read through the Bible many times thanks to this book, and am now am reading through the One Year Bible NIV on Kindle. Purchase on Amazon here.

2. Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. This is the only devotional that my grandma, my mom, and I have all read. This is the devotional I have given to my friends more than any other. Also, I have read this multiple years because it is just that good. Purchase on Amazon here.

3. My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This is another one of those devotionals I’ve read multiple times. Very deep and very encouraging. Purchase on Amazon here.

4. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to read this book. I just recently started and every day it speaks to me in a way that I need. Each daily reading is short and sweet and leaves you with a few Bible verses that will just nail you! Purchase on Amazon here.

5. Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby, and Claude King. When I was a teenager, I read this devotional back to back years. I especially loved that it had writing space next to the devotional. For someone who is just starting out having a daily quiet time, this is a great starter book! Purchase on Amazon here.

6. Seize the Day with Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Ringma. My husband Marc bought this for me for Christmas the first year of our marriage. I loved reading this and was challenged by Mr. Bonhoeffer, an amazing man of God and martyr of the Christian faith. Everyone can learn from him. Purchase on Amazon here.

7. Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner. My dad recommended this to me years ago, but I always had chosen a devotional before I remembered. I’ve been going through it this past year, and have loved how Mr. Renner picks a greek word (or a few) from a passage of Scripture and explains it throughly. This is a great read for someone who wants to know the Bible in a deeper way, but doesn’t know where to start. Purchase on Amazon here.

8. Daily Reflections on the Names of God by Ava Pennington. Every day, Ms. Pennington uses a name of God and writes a devotional about it. It challenged me, and showed me how little I truly know about God. If you’re looking to get to know more of God, His character, and His names–this devotional is for you! I also have had the pleasure of getting to know the author personally. That’s always a plus! She’s an awesome woman of God! Purchase on Amazon here.

9. Unto the Hills by Billy Graham. One of the most recognizable Christians, his devotional does not disappoint. I read it a few years back, and because I quoted it so much–I had to keep it!! Purchase on Amazon here.

10. Faithbook of God by Renee Fisher. This list wouldn’t be complete without listing mine! Faithbook is my first published book, and will always be one of my favorites including one of the hardest things I’ve EVER done. I recommend this for people of all ages. Purchase on Amazon here.

I would love to know your list of top ten devotional books. Feel free to leave me a comment below and let’s keep adding to the list!

[Photo: graceoverus, Creative Commons]

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