Demonstrating Your Faith (+Giveaway)

faith christian jewelry devotional divaI’m excited to share with you the first “feature post” on Devotional Diva!

FAITH Christian Jewelry is a family-owned and operated business that sells faith-promoting jewelry and gifts including Spirit and Truth, Bob Siemon, and many more.

 

Since we’re all about sharing your story on Devotional Diva, I asked Andrea from FAITH Christian Jewelry to share a little bit more about the people and story behind the business.

Who are the “faces” behind FAITH Christian jewelry?

The faces behind FAITH Christian Jewelry are just me and my husband Matt. He loves to geek out and build websites and I love to talk about religion. Therefore we thought what a great way to build a small store and have some fun. We have two kids who are the absolute joy of our life and are our inspiration for trying to build a small online store.

How did FAITH Christian jewelry get its start? How long have you been in business?

We have actually only been in business for a year. It was actually started as a hobby for my husband and I to do outside of our real jobs. As a stay-at-home-mom, I have been able to work on it a lot more and generate extra savings money we can put away every month. 🙂

faith christian jewelry on devotional diva

How has your business been a blessing to your family?

One of the biggest blessings to us has been the fact that we can continue to save for our kids’ college funds. This isn’t a business right now that will replace my husband’s job but it is nice to give us extra savings and perhaps a vacation every once in a while.

What kinds of items do you love to fill your store with?

My absolutely favorite items are the jewelry that help remind me to be strong when things aren’t going exactly to plan. Inspiring quotes and ideas are one of my absolute favorite things to look at online. One of my favorite rings to wear is my “Serenity to accept, courage to change, wisdom to know” Rom 8:28-30 ring. These are the types of pieces we love to carry!

faith christian jewelry kids heart cross
CROSS NECKLACE – CHILDREN’S KEY W/HEART

 

Why do you think it is so important to some people to be able to outwardly demonstrate their faith, like with jewelry, accessories and decor?

Not only do I think jewelry like this inspires yourself but it can also inspire those around you. When I see someone with a cross or another piece of religious jewelry, it helps me to know what they believe and that they rely on The Saviour as much as I do. But I think one of the best reasons to outwardly demonstrate your faith is to be an example to those around you. In today’s world it has never been more important to try and be an example of what it means to be a true follower of Christ.

FAITH Christian Jewelry is hosting a giveaway for Devotional Diva readers!

They’re giving away TWO $25 e-gift cards to the online store. That means there will be two winners. This giveaway is open internationally and will run for one week. I will contact the winners, but they will send the e-gift codes. All you need to do is answer the question in the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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I partnered with FAITH Christian Jewelry on this post and giveaway. It’s important to me to provide great content for Devotional Diva readers while helping to promote Christian businesses, bloggers and authors. I take who I partner with very seriously. You can learn more about feature posts and sponsorship on the sponsorship page here.

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A Christian Fairy Tale

devotional diva christian love story[Guest Post by La Micia Genova: I’m thrilled for you to “meet” La Micia today because, although our stories are different, La Micia and I both dealt with depression before God gave us our knights in shining armor. I’m all about princesses and fairy tales and this is an awesome Christian fairy tale!]

Do you believe God can give you a happily ever after? I’ve done things my way for 20 years and when I finally came to God, he gave me my fairy tale.

I probably made just about every mistake a teenager and young adult could make, and what’s crazy is I grew up in the Church! From impurity to drunkenness, I was a mess. When I submitted to Gods way of doing things I saw Gods plan for me come to life. 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

As I grew in my relationship with God, and really applied the “seeking” part of the passage in Jeremiah, I began to see him move in my life in powerful ways. From my friendships, to my family life, and eventually, my dating life.

As a hopeless romantic, I always prayed for my knight in shining armor to magically arrive and constantly asked God for the desires of my heart.

Growing up, what young girl doesn’t want to live out the Disney movie fairy tales? I was no different then the majority of girls my age and I never grew out of this phase. I continued believing this was possible, but heartbreak after heartbreak led me to feel God’s hand was against me.

This all changed in a vacant lot in south side Chicago in 2010.

I was 20 years old and had just given my life to Christ. I was at a conference in Inglewood, Chicago helping our volunteer group clean up vacant lots. I was dirty, tired, and focused on the cause. This was not the place I expected to meet my knight in shining armor. It was cleaning this lot that God intervened in my life for what later turned out to be a fulfillment of one of favorite scriptures in psalms.

            “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”

            Psalm 37:4

I met Patrick G.

At the time I had no idea that this was who God had planned for me to spend the rest of my life with, but as three years went by, you could say my eyes finally were opened.

One night Patrick began to open up to me about his struggle with depression and I felt like for the first time ever, someone understood me, the real me.

I grew up dealing with depression, and felt that no one could really understand.  I was constantly fatigued and didn’t know why. I had so many self-defeating thoughts, I really hated myself, I still struggle with this to this day, but at least I have a name for this monster. When Patrick got vulnerable with me about his fight with depression and how it made him feel, I felt like my feelings weren’t all that crazy.

I realized that I am not in this fight alone and that God has put a guy in my life that could understand me. From this conversation forward we leave off where my book, Becoming Ms. G picks up. I hope and pray you enjoy the rest of the journey that God has taken me on with my knight in shining armor, Patrick.

lamicia genova on devotional divaLa Micia really has a heart for doing Gods work and being a voice for women who deal with depression, anxiety, and self esteem issues. La Micia created a blog called “No Place to Lay”, www.noplacetolay.com this year to share the ways God is working in her life through struggles. You can purchase her book, Becoming Mrs. G here.

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

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Finding Your Identity in Christ

finding-your-identity-in-christ-on-devotional-diva [Guest post by Ashley Linne: Sometimes I think, we as humans get wrapped up in ourselves and don’t stop to think about what a massive universe God has created. When we realize how small we are, it can be unsettling. But it can also give us to comfort to know that, even though we’re only one of His creations, we all have an identity in Christ.]

I’ve been asking God who I am for what seems like forever. Not just “What should I be when I grow up?” although that has been a very frequent topic of discussion between the two of us. Most of the time, though, the questions are more along the lines of “Do I matter? Is who I am loveable or even just acceptable?”

Finally, one night I felt He answered me clearly. That night, as I was nestled safely in my bed, He lovingly whispered, “It doesn’t matter who you are. I AM.”

When it comes to finding our identity in Christ, what matters most in that sentence is “Christ.” The truth is, no matter who I am, Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and a thousand years before that. He is. He is God. He is the One who walked on water, who raised the dead, who spoke through prophets, who spoke the very universe into existence. And I am a very, very miniscule part of that universe. In ten thousand years it won’t matter who I am. What will matter is who God is.

Even though I am merely a speck of dust in this vast expanse, God undeniably cares for me.

I don’t know that I’ll ever really under­stand how or why. Maybe that’s okay. If He cares for me, He cares for you and billions upon billions of other people too. If He spent an incomprehensible number of years creating His divine rescue plan and executing that plan through His Son at just the right moment, I have to believe that it wasn’t for nothing. He wouldn’t do that for a bunch of meaningless dust. He would do it for something He cherishes, for creations that somehow matter, even if they are small in the grand scheme of things. He would do that for the beings He intended to bear His likeness.

But the reality of life is that we’re going to experience things that threaten to twist us out of Christlikeness and pull the rug out from underneath our sense of security in Him. Being in Christ isn’t a guarantee that life will be easy. We’re going to get hurt, we’re going to lose things, we’re going to mess up.

And when that happens, we might be tempted to think it means God is mad at us or paying us back for something.

But please hear this: when you’re in Christ, you will suffer, but nothing you ever experience will be punishment (1 Thess. 5:9-10). Jesus absorbed all of God’s wrath against you on the cross (1 John 4:10). (Now, sometimes we will experience the consequences of sin, but being disciplined is very different than being punished.) Anything that comes at you will not just be coming at you, but at you in Christ. In Him, you can endure anything.

While our experiences certainly will affect us, rather than allowing our environments or our pasts to dictate who we are, we can rest in knowing we are eternally significant and loved in Christ.  We are free to view ourselves in light of who He is, because we have died to ourselves and are alive in Him (Col. 3:1-4). We are free to identify ourselves simply as “in Christ,” knowing we have been filled with and marked by His Spirit who will never leave us (Eph. 1:13-14).

I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to fall on my face and worship Him! It also makes me want to lead my life in a way that somehow reveals the glory of God to everyone around me. And in Him, I know that even though it may be a wild adventure and it probably won’t be easy, it is possible and worth it.

“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.” Romans 8:16-19, NLT

ashley linne on devotional divaAshley Linne is a wife and mom who loves to write, sing, and travel. She is the author of Inseparable: Who I Am, Was, and Will Be in Christ. Ashley has a Master of Arts in Family Life Education from the Oxford Graduate School and studied at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband and son in Bellevue, WA.

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

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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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Gossip is Not a Harmless Sin

gossip: a harmless sin?[Guest Post by Jenee Day: I honestly used to think gossiping was okay, even though I was a Christian. As I got older, I realized, like Jenee, gossip is not a harmless sin. Here’s why.]

Today I contributed to the destruction of a relationship.

Contributed is probably the wrong word.  Comparing the relationship to a skyscraper being demolished, I would be the person who provided the explosives.  Not directly, not intentionally, but with a little bit of ‘harmless’ sin.

I was having a difficult day, and I called my friend to talk about it.

Disclosure:  Gossip is a sin I struggle with.  It’s easy for me to rationalize and honestly, it feels good.  It feels good to have a laugh at someone else’s expense, when that person has hurt or angered me. Gross, right?

Gossiping is also a way for me to feel justified about my feelings while showcasing my mind-blowing sense of humor.  Nothing wrong with a joke or two, right?  Besides, if it makes me feel better, and the person being talked about never hears it, then I’m not really hurting anyone, am I?

Here are some verses from God’s word:

Be careful with your words.  James 3:5  “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

Speak nicely.  Ephesians 4: 29 ”Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Let your words be pleasing to God.  Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Your words will be judged.  Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

(Wow! Clearly God frowns upon this kind of behavior.)

When I hung up the phone, I felt lighter.  My frustration gone, I felt unburdened and free.  Sadly, by not giving my frustration to Jesus in the first place, all I did was transplant it.  I caused my friend to sin on that phone call, and then she continued to struggle with the thoughts and frustration I had suffered from.   How irresponsible of me!

So, let me ask again: If I feel better when the conversation is over, and the person being talked about never hears it, then I’m not really hurting anyone, am I?

Wrong!  First, I hurt God.  I hurt him by disobeying, and by saying ugly things about one of his children, who he adores.  Second, I hurt my friend by leading her to sin.  I hurt myself by sinning and tarnishing my witness.  Finally, I hurt the friend I was convinced would never find out.

How?

Well, as I mentioned before, when the phone call was over, I felt great.  Sadly, my friend was now burdened. She allowed our conversation to replay her mind, until finally she picked up the telephone, called our other friend, and LET HER HAVE IT.

Later that night, my phone rang.  It was my gossip buddy, calling to rejoice in her victory.  After hours of deliberation, she had decided to call our other friend and unload on her. Convinced she had acted righteously, she recounted every word, and how she had let our friend know “what we were all thinking”.  Immediately, I thought, “what have you done?” followed in quick succession by “What have I done?”

I hung up the phone and got on my knees.  I begged God’s forgiveness for the role I played in destroying this relationship.  I repented of my disobedience in the moment I chose it.  I cried.  The friend I gossiped about does not have a relationship with Christ.  Oh, Father, what have I done? My ‘feel good’ sin left the bond between two friends in shambles.

Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  So we are instructed to “speak life” to others, that we might be a blessing to them.

As followers of Christ, we must love the lost more fervently and sincerely.  A slip of the tongue – a harmless joke – could push someone away from salvation permanently. There’s nothing funny about that.

 

Jenee Day on Devotional DivaJenee Day is a freelance writer and researcher and published poet. A member of the Spiritual Writer’s Association, she has written for textbroker.com and various regional publications.  She lives in Alabama with her husband and two kids, and her heart belongs to Jesus.

photo credit: Kevin Shorter via photopin cc

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The Scarless Pledge

takiela bynum on devotional diva

[Guest post by Takiela Bynum: Do you struggle with self-harm? Are you ready to take the scarless pledge? So glad God brought Takiela to Devotional Diva to share this!]

Some people cut for relief, I cut because I wanted to die.

She’d taken several pain killers to prevent her from feeling any pain. Besides, she needed a backup plan in case the other thing didn’t work out.

She located the vein, turned her head and quickly slid the razor across her flesh. She winced at the sharp sting. The warm ooze drizzled down her hand and left its trail on the hard wood floor. She climbed into bed and hoped for death to quietly greet her while she slept.

That was a dark day in my teen life, one I’ll probably never forget. The pain and hurt I endured left me hopeless. Numb from any feelings of hope and craving death.

I know what it’s like to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Family issues, the kids at school, boy drama, grades, and the list goes on. Sometimes, life has a way of upgrading from bad to worse.

When in a hopeless state of mind, having hopeless thoughts and making hopeless decisions come with the territory (i.e. depression, cutting, suicide thoughts/attempts, etc.)

In actuality, although I didn’t realize it at the time, my hopeless disposition conveyed that even God is incapable of salvaging my mess of a life. It’s entirely too complicated for Him. From my view, things were the worst it could ever be and would always be this way – hopeless.

Ultimately, I shut out the only One who could bring me out.

Thank God His view is far beyond mine, His thoughts and ways soar high above my own. I was absolutely oblivious to God’s plan for my life. I desired death, but the Lord…abundant life. There is no way anyone would have convinced me that God had a plan for my life that was full of hope. I would have completely rejected the idea.

Since I was a little girl I’ve Ioved math. Why? Because to every problem there was an answer, each formula would provide an inevitable solution, simplifying the complex. I wanted answers to my life’s problems. Me plus life never equaled hope. Ever. However, Christ plus life always equals hope. Always. It took some time, but after many struggles here’s what I know, the Lord is my answer and He is neither simple nor complicated.

Can you relate to any of my struggles? Do you know anyone who self-harms? I’d like to invite you to join me in taking The Scarless Pledge right now!

Today let’s make a pledge, from this day forward we’re going “scarless!” We can’t do anything about the old scars but we can choose not to make new scars. Let’s put down our razors and pick up scarlet red eyeliner. When or if we ever get the urge to cut, use the red eyeliner. It’ll help remind you of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for you and it’ll also wash away…never leaving a scar.

I, (insert name here), being of sound mind and body, here do pledge to God and all who love me on this month (insert month here), of this day (insert day here), in this year (insert year here) to bury all self-harming ways, never to be exhumed again! In the sight of God and all witnesses, I promise if and/or when I get the urge to self-harm, I’ll replace my instrument of destruction with an instrument that represents hope, a scarlet red eyeliner pencil, instead. I will do this in remembrance of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for me, (insert name here). I am committed to the “scarless” pledge. With God nothing is impossible.

Find an accountability partner, someone who will help you commit to this pledge. Know that you have fans cheering you on and praying for you in heaven and all over the earth. Even though I’ll already be praying, if you’d like me to pray for a specific person/situation or if I can help in another way comment below publicly or email me privately (takiela@takielabynum.com).

Take the “scarless” pledge today!

 

takiela bynum on devotional divaTakiela Bynum, founder of Leading Young Women to Hope Ministries, is a speaker and author with a passion for any hurting women. She empowers and encourages young women to have hope in Christ, equipping them with the tools (word of God) necessary to live victoriously in spite of life’s tragedies. She tackles hard topics while pointing young women to the redemptive power of the cross. Find out more at www.TakielaBynum.com

 

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Sink or Swim?

sink or swim

[Guest post by Sophia Reed: I hope you enjoy this inspiring story that shows no matter what, you can swim.]

When I was 23 years old, I found myself in a situation that was going to change my life forever: I was going to be a mom.

At 23 I was not doing bad for myself. I had a bachelor’s degree, my own place, and my own car; but I was far from being the ideal mother. My life up until that point consisted of living for myself, and although I considered myself a Christian, I was far from being Christlike, I still had a way to go in my walk with God. 

The father of my child was not supportive and his answer to my pregnancy was to have an abortion. Even though I was not a perfect Christian, abortion was not something I could imagine myself doing. This is when I made the decision to take responsibility for my actions, and go at the whole parenting thing alone. 

I would love to tell you that my life turned into complete perfection after deciding to have my son. But it was far from. I went through my pregnancy alone and I was working at a correctional facility. I worked 12-16 hours shifts during that time.

My pregnancy was filled with more worry than anything, but I tried to remain hopeful and happy.

When you know you are doing the right thing, the only thing you can do is to trust that God has a plan for you. I can’t really say I trusted God completely. Life was getting so hard and pregnancy was not all “peaches and cream.” Plus, as the only one in my household, I had to work up until I had my son; My last day at work was 7/2/08 and I had my son the next day on 7/3/08.

During the next six weeks of being on maternity leave, things got even more hectic. I had a crying infant that I was responsible for all on my own. Four weeks after my son was born, his father became incarcerated for larceny, where he remains till this day. 

This was a “sink or swim” moment. I could play the victim and be down on myself, or I could pick myself up. I decided to swim.

Within the next three months, I found a babysitter and a new job. Over the course of six years things got even better.

It is true when they say that God knows you better than you know yourself. As I was sitting at my job one day, God put it on my heart to go back to school for counseling. I really didn’t know much about counseling, but I obeyed God and who would have thought that helping others was actually my gift. 

At 30 years old, I am a true story of how God transforms people. I went from being a 23 year old women who lived for herself, to a 30 year old single mother. Now my son goes to a Christian private school, I own my own home, I completed my Master’s degree, and am now working on my PhD.

I learned that what the devil means for bad, God meant for good.

As an African American single mother, statistically I am not supposed to be where I am today. But God had other plans for me, and because He did, I want to share Him with the world.

I wrote a book, Waiting For A Man After God’s Own Heart, that talks about me being a single mother and my relationships struggles.

I have come to learn not to be defined by what the world thinks of single mothers. Just because I am not married or had a child out of wedlock, it doesn’t meant that God loves me any less. It just means He has chosen to work in a bigger way through me to show others that everyone matters in His eyes.

 

sophia reed on devotional divaSophia Reed is a single mother of one. She has a master’s degree in Human Services specializing in marriage, couple, and family therapy/ counseling, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Human Behavior. Sophia is a Christian, and enjoys meshing her Christian values with her education and experiences. Sophia’s blog is http://therapyncounseling.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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You Can Have a Peaceful Pregnancy

peaceful pregnancy

[Guest post by Sarah Coleman: Sarah was the first woman to reach out to me to submit a guest post when I became editor. I loved her writing and I could feel her kind and generous spirit through the computer screens that connected us. For those of you on the path of motherhood, be encouraged.]

John 14:27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

I was fairly optimistic when it came to pregnancy.

I mean, teenage girls don’t have a problem with it. Why would I? Of course I would give birth to healthy children.

 Then I had a miscarriage. And everything changed.

The second time I fell pregnant I didn’t take a pregnancy test until the morning sickness was quite obvious. I guess I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. Two days later I boarded a plane to Israel. We visited many remarkable sites, but none were more memorable for me than our last stop, the Garden Tomb.

I was roughly six weeks pregnant by this time. Very early stages. To be honest, my heart was fretful. Worrying every day. Every twinge. Every small stomach pain. Reminders of the pain in my heart due to the previous miscarriage.

Ever wondering. Ever anxious. Smiling fearful.

The Garden Tomb is the most beautiful place in the world. I don’t mean that is beautiful asthleticly, I have certainly seen scenery more lovely. But in terms of the feeling a place gives you, it was the most soothing emotion I have had.

It is a pretty garden, full of old trees, pleasant flowers, peaceful water features, and quaint stone pathways. There are areas for quiet contemplation and meditation, as well as spaces for large groups to partake in communion. And of course, there is the tomb.

The tomb that once held my Saviour’s body is awesome. Awesome is one of those over used words. Rarely is anything described as awesome, truly awesome. Yet the tomb of Christ is. It is an empty shell, cut in stone. And inside there is absolutely nothing. Nothing. The most wonderful nothing to be found. Awesome.

I exited the tomb empowered and enthused. He is risen. He won. He conquered. Death has no victory. Jesus is alive.

Reactions to seeing the empty tomb varies. To some, the realisation of a risen Lord results in praise. Others, contemplative worship. People weep, or on the other hand exude joy. For me, it was peace. Time visiting the garden tomb culminated in peace. Peace that told me everything would be alright. It was the most exquisite moment in the world.

There were many times when I drew on the peace I felt that day. From hearing that my baby was too small, to an emergency caesarean section. Through it all, I drew on Christ’s peace. My baby was born strong and healthy. Everything was alright.

John 14:1 Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

God does not want you anxious through pregnancy or motherhood.

He does not wish you troubled. Experience His peace. Yes, things are going to be alright. Everything will work together for good. No harm will come near. Peace from the Father surpasses all understanding. Trust in the Lord. He is our peace.

Psalm 91 is full of promises of safety and protection. It concludes with these words:

Psalm 91:14-16 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long lifeand give them my salvation.”

Receive peace from the Lord, today. Allow Him to calm your fears. He loves you and will answer when you call. And His rewards include peace. Everything will be alright.

Romans 15:33 And now may God, who gives us his peace, be with you all. Amen.

 

sarah-colemanI’m an Aussie passionate about Jesus & family. Through blogs and books I minister life and encouragement. Download my FREE eBook, Be Amazing: You Know You Want To. Find more of my thoughts at sarahcoleman.com.au

 

 

 

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Christians and Exclusivity

exclusivity Christians

To preface: this post has more bite than usual because it’s a topic I’m very passionate about: exclusivity.

Today is a special edition of Devotional Diva! This hiatus isn’t turning out to be much of a hiatus, is it? And we normally don’t even have posts on Mondays! Well, I just had to get this up today because this topic has been burning in my heart – and also because it coincides nicely with the publishing of my guest post on a pretty sweet blog called The Laundry Moms.

 

 First of all, the post on TLM means a lot to me because it’s sort of a tribute to my mom. I’ve been working on it for weeks, and I wanted to make sure it came out around her birthday (Happy birthday, Mom!) It’s also a testament to the ways God works. My mom (guided by God I am sure) kept encouraging me to keep writing, and now here I am! That’s what the post is about. TLM contacted me back in June to do a guest post and I was really excited! I love getting my writing out there. It’s pretty cool to feel that I can make a difference with my writing – I mean, that’s really my whole goal.

I love how sharing can help so many people. I love that Devotional Diva’s mission is exactly that.

Devotional Diva is giving me the chance to share and help people, and not just on DD’s platform. I’m actually going to be sharing my testimony at a recovery center in Southern California in the coming weeks because of a connection I made through Devotional Diva. When I was invited to share my testimony for an online Christian summit, I thought it was a great opportunity to spread God’s glory even more! I got on the phone with the director to get more information about the summit. She said my powerful message would fit great with their mission. I figured it was a done deal. After explaining their “requirements,” she asked a couple casual questions about my blog stats and social media followers. That’s when she told me my numbers weren’t up to snuff, and she basically uninvited me. I shook it off, because it wasn’t any skin off my back. I’m going through Renee’s Faithbook of Jesus right now, and the night after that phone call, I was on Tuesday of week three. The message was about exclusivity:

“When Jesus rolled into town with his entourage, he wasn’t looking for some exclusive membership for the highest of society.”

Then it hit me. A Christian group excluded me from sharing God’s word and my testimony that they knew would inspire Christian women…because I didn’t have enough followers for their standards.

The director told me that if they didn’t have that requirement in some future event, then maybe I could participate. If the purpose of the summit was really to inspire Christian women, then you wouldn’t tell a person you invited to do it that they can’t because they don’t meet your social media standards.

Does the fact that I have less followers than some of the other speakers really make my testimony less powerful?

There is no exclusivity in being a Christian. Then why would we treat other Christians with exclusivity? I’ve seen this in so many other aspects of the Christian life — certain Bible studies or events only for the wives of pastors (as if our husband’s career has anything to do with our calling or ability to grow spiritually), the only opportunities for women in some churches being Sunday school teaching or childcare…there are so many exclusions. It’s so ridiculous to me! The things in life that bother me the most are injustice, judgment and things that are just illogical. Now I’m realizing that exclusion is really all of those things in a lot of cases. I’m going to spread God’s glory all over this earth no matter what. And I encourage you, no matter who you are, to do the same. You can check out more about becoming a guest poster on Devotional Diva on the Become a Diva page here. I’m so glad that The Laundry Moms included me. This way, my story can help more people!

Jesus includes everyone, and I think as Christians we should try to do the same. More inclusion, less exclusion.

→M

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I'm Moving On From A Painful Past

moving on from your past

I have spent this summer introducing you to myself. Guest posting will return on September 2nd, but after today Devotional Diva is going on a short hiatus. I still have a lot of ideas for post topics, but last week I asked my husband what he thought I should write for my final post.

Without asking for any of my ideas, he just replied, “You should write more about your life now.”

He’s completely right. I’ve written quite a lot about my past this summer. It makes sense, because all of us draw on our past for hints on how to handle our futures.

I’ve written about my physical assault at work, my suicidal thoughts, and why I chose to marry young, among other things.

I have experienced a lot of pain in my life in relation to my age. And I know I’m not the only one.

For a long time, that pain has eaten me up.

But I want to say now: God has healed me!

I knew my unique personality when I was younger. But when I went through all that pain, I got depressed. The depression changed me and messed with my confidence.

When I was a kid, I was different than a lot of my peers simply because I wasn’t afraid to be different. I didn’t want to blend in. I didn’t care about what was “cool.” I dressed the way I wanted to dress — and I must say I was a stylish 8-year-old with my collection of vintage coats.

Some other kids didn’t appreciate that about me, but most of the time I didn’t really care.

In junior high and high school I became even more extroverted. I got really involved with school activities and I feel like I had quite a few friends. I remember having so much fun and being so happy those years.

But most importantly, I knew who I was and I wasn’t afraid to show it.

After delving into “depression land,” I questioned who I was. I think I got a lot more shy – not that shyness is bad; I am just naturally more extroverted.

I have finally healed from the pain – however, not without scars. I will always carry those scars.

But I am happy and content with my life. And nearly every day I can see the little bits of myself that got hidden coming out again.

I have so much more personality! While I hope this does not come off as conceited, I realized that I am actually a funny person. I like cracking jokes, making people laugh and just interacting with others — I feel like I’m really living again.

When I first started feeling better, I had to stay away from certain things that would “trigger” sadness – like some depressing movies or things that would remind me of my past. Lately, I’ve noticed my ability to enjoy them again.

That’s one of the biggest indicators to me that I am moving on from my painful past. I mean, truly moving on.

It’s also been nearly one year since I stopped taking daily psychiatric medication. Even though those medications can help with depression and anxiety, I just feel so much clearer without them – more like myself.

I laugh so much; my husband and I are ridiculously silly together. I have dreams again and I’m motivated to make them come true. I am embracing the things that make me who I am (like how buying a pet stroller for my cats made my day, or my unreasonable love of Diet Pepsi). I’m just having more fun being me.

God healed me from all that pain. Now, I’m able to move on. And I’m so much stronger now.

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