Resurrection on Easter Sunday

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

Easter on Resurrection Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maria Drayton

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

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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God Cares For Me In Every Season

agnes-amos-god-cares-every-season

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

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

God Cares for Me in Every Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agnes is a leader with proven business acumen in a variety of industries. She holds an executive MBA from the University of Hull, United Kingdom, and is also a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP).She is the author of God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage and DivorceThe Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and  Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals

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Contentment vs Comparison on Social Media

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

Contentment vs Comparison on Social Media

It only took 2 minutes this time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)

 

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

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

 

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God Gave Me A Dad

god gave me a dad naomi fata

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

God Gave Me A Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is a miracle.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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$100 & Counting

100 counting

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

$100 and Counting

 

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

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

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

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

I yelled back, “Yep, just singing!!!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May He supply all your NEED today.

Maria DraytonMaria Drayton: originally from Seattle, Washington she is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. Maria has traveled all over the United States but currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she has been serving and walking with Him since 1990 and desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with God.  Since 2001, she attends Bethel Deliverance Church and desires to begin a women’s ministry for young women to learn to apply God’s word in our daily lives.

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

 

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Count Your Blessings

count your blessings

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from veteran Diva Jenee Day’s new book, Be More Specific, available now on Amazon! Yay Jenee! Jenee sent me a copy so I could pick out this excerpt. I really resonated with this devotional, Count Your Blessings.]

Introduction: “Be More Specific” is a game that my grandfather (referred to throughout the book by Bonpapa) and I played together often when I was young.  It is also a reminder to live as authentically as possible, always keeping our eyes on what matters most.  Composing this text has been a labor of love, and its pages are full of joy, pain, love, and Biblical truth.  My prayer is that each person who reads it will find hope and encouragement within, as well as inspiration, live a righteous life, pointing others to Christ like Bonpapa did for me. Thanks for reading.

Count Your Blessings

I mean that literally.  Count them.   Use your fingers, use your toes.  Chances are, whatever you are going through right now, your blessings still outweigh your troubles.  That was Bonpapa’s attitude.  He lived with an attitude of gratitude that began with the Lord.  If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need?  The way Bonpapa saw it, if nothing else in his life was going right, but he still had God, he was doing alright – better than many, in fact.

My husband and I went through a situation recently where I was called to put this into practice.  After a long and faithful run, my husband’s car had finally gone ‘kaput’ on the side of the highway one night as he was driving home from work.   Financially, we were unprepared.  Practically speaking, we were down a vehicle that we needed desperately to function in our everyday lives.  Spiritually, we knew what to do.  We began to say ‘thank you’ to God in prayer.

We thanked him for my husband’s safety and that the ‘blow up’ happened close to our home.  My husband works out of town, so the situation could have been much worse had it happened further away.  We thanked God for the other blessings in our lives:  Our home, our children, our friends, our health, our full bellies.  There was much to be grateful for, even in this circumstance.  We thanked God for the times he had brought us through challenges, reminding him and ourselves of all the times we have been rescued.  Lastly, the hardest thanks to muster was appreciation for the lesson.   It went something like this: “ Lord, whatever you are teaching us or whatever you will accomplish through this event, we thank you in advance for it.  We praise your mighty name for allowing us to be a part of your plan, and for molding and shaping our hearts through challenges such as these.”

Thirty minutes later, a brand new car was delivered to our front door and all was right in our world once again.  Ha!  Not exactly.  Not even close.  Thankfully, though, daily scripture reading had prepared us for what we faced.  In the next few days, two Bible verses played over and over again in my thoughts: Hebrews 6:19, which says we have this hope (relationship with Christ) as an anchor for our soul.  Christ in our hearts keeps us steady, even as we go through life’s storms.  The second verse, 2 Corinthians 4:7, says we have this treasure (the power of the Most High) in jars of clay, to show that power belongs to God and not to us. We humans are fragile, like delicate clay jars, and God within us is where our true strength lies.  It is no coincidence that these verses both begin with “we have”.   Bonpapa was right.  If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need?

One final verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9, says that the Lord’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  Only when we admit we are broken, do we allow God to take over, take control, and take care of us.  If we can be grateful without needing explanation, we experience spiritual growth.

Being grateful doesn’t always fix the trouble, but it does prevent us from being overcome by our troubles.  Recognizing that God’s ways and purposes are higher than our own gives us something and someone to lean on when times are tough.  God never guarantees the ride will be easy, but he does assure us that we are never alone – never without hope – even as we walk the highway on a dark night.  For that, I will say ‘thank you’.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1


count your blessingsJenee Day is a freelance writer and researcher and published poet. She has written for Whoa Women Magazine and various regional publications.  She lives in Georgia with her husband and kids.

 

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Change the Atmosphere of Child Chaos

atmopshere

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

Changing the Atmosphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Presence changes the atmosphere every time!

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

 

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

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Tips for Traveling with Kids: Having Fun (Part 3)

traveling with kids having fun

traveling with kids having fun

This is the last installment of “Tips for Traveling with Kids.” I hope you enjoyed this lifestyle/travel series! I just really wanted to do a travel series this summer with some of my tips for traveling with kids.

If you haven’t read parts one and two, here are the links: Traveling with Kids part 1: The Journey and Traveling with Kids part 2: Accommodations.

If you didn’t know, my husband is in the US Navy and we have traveled a lot to move, we have traveled a lot to visit family, and we have traveled a lot because we live in Europe and we want to take advantage of it! We’ve traveled to Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, France, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Seven countries not counting international travel back to the states 🙂

Tips for Traveling with Kids Part 3 — Having Fun

  1. Look up walking tours of the city you’re visiting: If you’ve got children that they will either A. sit in their stroller or B. want to walk around with you and burn off their energy, this might be a good option for you. We do both with Little O depending on his mood. I think this could work for a variety of ages depending on the type of child. O needs to get out and walk sometimes. We LOVE doing the walking tours, because we can see so much of a city!
  2. Take time to relax at your hotel/house if needed: Don’t be afraid of “wasting” time if your kids need a break. Or you need a break! Man, sometimes I am just so tired. Sometimes O is just a little overwhelmed! So we take some time off traveling and go “home.” Just relax. Rest.
  3. Get take out: On the note of rest, if you are done, wiped for the day, or just don’t want to deal with kids in a restaurant, get take out! Or, what about room service? That could be fun. We’ve done that before when it was surprisingly reasonably-priced. If you are traveling in a car, you could bring food along, but we’ve never done that in Europe.
  4. Pack light: I’ll say again, like in part 1, pack as light as you can! If you’re going to be taking a lot of pictures, you might want to bring a big camera, but I still don’t. I just bring my iPhone and keep it a pocket. When you’re chasing kids, it’s just a lot easier.
  5. Let them do their thing: We try to go with the flow with O. When we find a park, we let him go to it (unless we are really trying to get somewhere). We let him play as we walk to our next destination. We just try to make everything relaxing for him.

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

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Life Lessons from Children

 

life lessons from children

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

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

– Paulo Coelho

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

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

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

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

1. Enjoy Yourself & Enjoy Life

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

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

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

2. Wear Your Scars Proudly

“ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

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

3. Be Honest & Call It Like It Is

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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No Fairy Tale Marriages

no fairy tale marriages

princess and the frog

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

No Fairy Tale Marriages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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