Take Good Care of Yourself!

take-good-care-of-yourself[Guest post by Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon: I found Kunbi’s post about the unhealthy fitness trends on social media very timely and extremely important for our readers. Remember, take good care of yourself!]

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)

I love fitness and I’ve been called a fitness fanatic a number of times. More importantly, I love encouraging and inspiring people on their health and fitness journey. Being fit and healthy is a good thing, and Apostle Paul alluded to that fact in 1 Timothy 4:8. Eating healthy (and within reason) and staying physically fit ensures that we can easily carry out our day-to-day tasks whilst also doing the tasks God has set for us to do.

In recent months, I have noticed a growing trend in the world of fitness where people are deeply involved in physical fitness but neglect other aspects of their health. A lot of people are suffering from eating disorders in the name of fitness and some aspects of fitspiration (fitness inspiration) on social media do not help matters.

Many people get carried away by what they see and do not take the time to assess and pull in the reins when they are overloaded with pictures of people with 6-pack abs, “thigh gaps”, ripped muscles, etc. So many people in the fitness community are suffering from depression and a number of suicides have been reported.

Orthorexia and anorexia appear to be a mainstay nowadays, and it is heart breaking to read stories of women who started out trying to lose weight and got completely obsessed with it; next thing they know, they are suffering from orthorexia, bulimia or anorexia! Orthorexia, bulimia and anorexia are all eating disorders. In the United Kingdom, bulimia and anorexia are considered serious mental health conditions.

Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with otherwise healthy eating, which can easily spiral out of control. Bulimia is characterised by binge eating followed by intentional purging. People with anorexia intentionally restrict the amount of food they eat in the bid to keep their body weight as low as possible.

Much as I love fitness, I am very particular about other aspects of my life that need attention – my physical, mental and spiritual health. Fitness is not worth it if we develop a mental illness from it.

It’s not worth it if by working out and trying to be fit or lose weight, we are letting go of our spiritual and mental health.

Apostle Paul says in that 1 Timothy 4 verse that training for godliness is much better than physical training. Why? Because it promises benefits in this life and in the life to come. What’s the point of building our physical muscles when our spiritual muscles are soft and flabby? What’s the use of being able to flex our physical muscles when we cannot flex our spiritual muscles?

As we spend time doing our workouts and keeping fit, let us spend even more time in God’s word and in His presence in order to grow our spiritual muscles.

Exercising is awesome and it’s something we should all do BUT while we work at keeping fit and looking good, let us not neglect other more important aspects of our lives. It’s easy to obsess with food and fitness; I have been in that situation myself where I was becoming obsessed with logging and tracking every single kilogram of my food. But, I have always had a rule in life and it’s this:

The moment I notice that I am getting a little obsessed about something, I cut it out of my life, no questions asked and no mulling over it.

This has worked for me in many ways over the years and it is something that you can give a try too. More importantly, hand it over to God by praying about it.

God is an amazing God and we can turn to Him for help and direction in EVERY area of our lives. You can also talk to someone you trust and be accountable to them. Please do not suffer in silence and please, take good care of yourself.

 

kunbi_ayookanlawonMy name is Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon. I am a medical writer, serial blogger, wife and mama of a boisterous 3+ year old girl. I have a passion for writing and I love encouraging people with what I have learnt, what I am still learning and what God lays on my heart. I blog at www.kunbibalogun.com and www.natsandfitness.com

 

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Blessed to Be Back!

blessed to be back devotional diva
Please enjoy this cheery (and really unrelated) pineapple photo!

I’m so happy and blessed to be able to come back to Devotional Diva and continue to help women share their stories. I think I have some great posts lined up, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

The Devotional Diva schedule will be only Tuesdays for the time being. I thought we should ease back into this!

If you’d like to submit a post and “Become a Diva,” please follow this link!

alice devotional divaI’d like to introduce you to Devotional Diva’s new social media intern, Alice Carter! Actually, you might already know her because she guest posted last spring.  She’s taking over the Devotional Diva social media pages and also will be posting some of her own devotionals!

 

My days over the summer break were filled with time with visiting family and lots of snuggles with my boy. I’m enjoying my new little family and this new stage of my life, even though I won’t deny that being a new mom is hard.

I mean, motherhood itself is challenging. But I feel like I need to adjust to a whole new life — a new schedule, a new way of going about things, a new body… (in fact, I published a post on my personal blog regarding body confidence — if you’d like to check it out, follow this link!) A lot of new-ness.

Remember how I talked about my trust issues with God? I’d say I have some new-found trust.

On Oliver’s one month birthday, I found some streaky marks (almost like stretch marks) on his skin that kept popping up. He would be swaddled, safe in his crib and get new ones in random places. I felt I need to call his doctor. We went to our pediatrician that day and he thought it was bruising. He said if he was bruising that easily, it could be a bleeding disorder, but that he thought Oliver most likely had low platelets.

Then he said these scary words: “I want you to be prepared that he might have to go into the hospital tonight.”

I was so taken aback that I gasped. It was an especially sad thing to hear because my mother-in-law was arriving all the way from Iowa that day.

Thankfully, all of Oliver’s blood work that day came back fine. No hospital! He didn’t have low platelets, so the pediatrician said it was probably a bleeding disorder and that Oliver would need to see a specialist.

We had to go to a pediatric hematologist/oncologist where there were little kids all over with bandannas covering their hair loss from chemotherapy — Really sick kids. It was heartbreaking. And while Oliver wasn’t being checked for cancer, it was frightening to be there with my child. (I don’t mean to upset anyone who is actually dealing with cancer in their family!)

It was a waiting game between seeing the blood specialist and getting more test results back. I didn’t think about the scariness of it all that often, but it was always in the back of my mind weighing me down. It was so terrifying to me that something serious was wrong with my precious baby.

I had to learn and learn fast to trust God and give it all to Him. I couldn’t have gotten through the unknowns without Him…I would have fallen apart. I told myself that God would take care of us and everything would be okay. I had to trust. I had to.

Again, all of Oliver’s tests came back perfect. The blood specialist really did not think it was a bleeding problem, so he sent us to a skin specialist. The skin specialist decided that Oliver’s fair skin is sensitive to pressure, but the lines weren’t bruises either. He said that some kids are just like that, it isn’t anything we are doing wrong, and there is no need for treatment. Oliver will grow out of it.

That was a major “praise God” moment. I trusted the Lord and I wasn’t let down, not even a little. There was really nothing serious wrong with my baby after all.

I’m glad I followed my instincts and got it checked out, but I’m even more glad that I gave my worries about it to God.

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Fighting for Bud: An Update

fighting devotional diva

[Guest post by Jenee Day: About a month ago, Jenee shared with us why she was writing to distract herself. Here is an update on her son Bud’s health and how she is fighting for him.]

Some of the most difficult times in my life as a mother are when my children are sick.  The emotions that come along with nurturing our little ones are various and deep.  Helplessness, sadness, confusion, hope and determination are just a few of the feelings my husband and I have experienced recently.

As Bud was admitted to the hospital again last week, we held on to each other and to our faith.

I have a tank top that I wear to the gym that says “Lover Not a Fighter” on the front of it.  That’s me in a nutshell.  I don’t like to argue and avoid confrontation at all costs.  In fact, my dad’s nickname for me as a child was “Peacemaker.”  

In the last few months, however, I have fought like a champion boxer.

I have fought to get my son seen by a good doctor, fought for someone to believe that something was wrong, fought to get tests run.  I have fought doctors about his treatment and fought nurses over torturous procedures.  My heart has been ripped apart, watching him scream and wail in pain, then plead with anyone who would listen to “please stop it.  Please stop hurting me.” 

The “Rocky” films are some of my favorite movies of all time.  I enjoy the underdog and hero story, the man with so much heart who fights against the odds and emerges victorious.  As a matter of fact, when Bud was born, my husband gave me a card and signed it, “Yo, we did it!”

If I am Rocky in this scenario, then God is my trainer, my Mickey.  He can see the whole fight and he helps me navigate each attack.  He coaches me, teaches me, corrects my form and sometimes shouts at me to focus and keep moving forward.

Honestly, there is no other time in my life that I remember being in the ring so much.   I feel like I have gone from pacifist to competing in the World Heavyweight Championship, with no preparation or training in between.  Thankfully, God is using this battle for my good and his glory.  How do I know?  First, his word says so. [Romans 8:28]  Beyond that, I know quite simply because I am still standing. That would not be possible if not for God and his presence during all of this. 

During his five days in the hospital, Bud endured several IV insertions, countless painful blood draws (and unfortunately many failed attempts), an EKG, an MRI, and even a spinal tap. Waiting to see him after the spinal tap procedure, I fought the urge to panic, fought to have faith that God’s might hand was on my boy.

In this time of waiting and suffering, I fought with mighty effort the urge to weep.  I fought to keep Bud calm and I fought my own fears and doubts.  I fought (and lost a few times) the temptation to lash out at loved ones asking for information.  Round after round, I fought.

Most of the time I sat in Bud’s hospital bed with him, watching cartoons or napping.  My sweet husband was with us whenever his work schedule allowed it, sleeping in the uncomfortable non-reclining recliner to my right.  I took advantage of his being there, making the short drive home to shower and pick up anything Bud might need.

When I was alone in the car, I prayed.  Not with words as much as with tears, but I did the best I could.  I offered my heart to God, gave him my pain and anxiety, begged for restoration and healing.  Then I dried my eyes, drove to the hospital, and steeled myself for the next round of tests.

Currently, we do not have a solid diagnosis.  We are working with an oncologist who has done research into mitochondrial and metabolic disorders.  Right now, his best guess is something called Pyruvate Carboxylase Deficiency.  If I had to explain it, I would fail.  All we know so far are the basics: it is genetic, it is rare, and while possibly treatable, it is not curable.  (Again, this is not a firm diagnosis.)

At the end of a boxing match, a loud bell rings, signaling to fighters and spectators that the fight has ended.  We still have not heard our bell.  The time for fighting is not over.  In this time of hardship, we are training and being taught by our creator to endure and to rely on him.

I do not feel prepared, and most days I do not want to get into the ring again.  However I am encouraged by the truth that the enemy can never knock me out, and by the promise that this will work out for my good and his glory.  I am honored to be God’s prize fighter.

Romans 8:28 [NASB] And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

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: Waiting via photopin (license)

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Becoming a Mom is Completely Terrifying

becoming a mom is completely terrifying maggie winterton on devotional diva motherhood anxiety christian blogBecoming a mom is completely terrifying.

Almost every night for the past few weeks, I’ve started falling asleep…and then I realize, I’M GOING TO BE A MOM.

I go into a panic, thinking about how hard it will be to take care of my new baby and trying to think of all the things I still need to do. I try to rationalize my knowledge of infant care and how I can get everything done.

In my mind, if I can make sense of something and have a reasonable plan, I start to feel better.

I’m excited for my little boy to arrive, really, I am. I want to be a mom, but at the same time, it’s just so scary.

There is no way one can really prepare themselves for becoming a parent, right? I am reading all the books on having a newborn, I’m planning on taking some classes, and I already have a lot of experience with babies. But I imagine you don’t know what you’re really in for until you’re there.

I hate that! I feel so much better when I’m prepared for things.

And it’s not just that I will have this little being completely relying on me in about two months. I still feel like I have so much that I want/need to accomplish before he gets here. Because, obviously, things we be different once he arrives!

So I want to try to get a lot of stuff out of the way, like home organization. I know that my son will not need our pantry to be reorganized when he comes home from the hospital. (Well, hopefully he is not a demanding little neat freak right out of the womb!) If it’s not reorganized by the time he gets here, oh well, I just will have to wait until things settle down and I have more time to do it. But I have still set that goal and feel I need to complete it.

The pregnancy books say that anxiety is normal, but I kind of feel bad about it. I guess I just didn’t think I would feel this way right now. It’s not like I thought I would be so ill during my pregnancy, either. Sometimes I have such silly expectations for myself.

It’s always amazing to me how, at stressful times, God will show me He’s got my back. A couple weeks ago fellow Christian blogger Kelly Crawford reached out to me to send me her eBook on motherhood entitled (get this): When Motherhood Feels Too Hard.

I think I laughed out loud when I read the email. There was no way Kelly knew I was just starting to struggle with motherhood. She only knew I was going to become a mom. Oh, but God knew, alright! God is so good.

It’s things like a devotional targeted just to what I need, that feeling of God’s love, and knowledge that He totally knows what’s going on with me that encourages me to carry on. To put down the baby care book at 1 AM and try to get some sleep; To stop looking at Pinterest to figure out how I’m going to reorganize my entire house.

And to just trust that, really, truly, everything is gonna be okay!

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Disclaimer: As I mentioned, Kelly graciously sent me her eBook for free.
photo credit: Ezra toes via photopin (license)

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Writing to Distract

writing to distract jenee day on devotional diva[Guest post by Jenee Day: Previously, Jenee wrote for Devotional Diva on the topic of gossip. Today, she shares why she’s writing to distract herself. We’re praying for your family, Jenee!]

 

I am writing this to distract myself.

Waiting is not something I have ever been good at, and today I wait for a phone call that may literally change my families’ lives forever.

Bud is just 5 years old now, and he is the light of our lives.  Handsome and silly, sometimes quiet and others completely rambunctious, he is generous with his kisses and with his desserts.  Bud is everything I ever hoped my child would be.

And now… my son is sick.  My perfect, sweet, smart, beautiful boy, is battling some illness that has yet to be diagnosed.  Right now I am sitting on the floor of our living room, crying and typing while he naps.

How did we get here?  In the past year, Bud has had several episodes that we have come to describe as normal for him:  Fever, paleness, vomiting, night sweats, loss of appetite, dehydration, weight loss, irritability and other vague symptoms.

Recently I brought Bud to our local Pediatric Emergency Room, suffering from one these episodes. I packed myself a bag, vowing not to leave the hospital until we got some answers about what is going on in his little body.

We were admitted immediately.  Within a couple of hours the nurses had him on IV fluids and had taken about 10 (no exaggeration) vials of his blood for testing.  We saw no less than half a dozen doctors over the next few days.  I vascillated between stoic and panic-stricken. I prayed.  I laid in the bed with Bud and endured more hours of “Spongebob Squarepants” than any parent should have to.

One phrase rolled around in my head throughout this ordeal.  It’s from the book of Matthew, chapter 8 (also found in Luke, chapter 7), the story of the Centurion who had great faith.  He had heard about Jesus’ great healing power and begged him to heal a servant in his household.  Jesus said “I will come and heal him”, to which the soldier replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my servant will be healed.”

Lord, I am not worthy to be in your holy presence, but only SAY THE WORD and he will be healed.

As the hours went by, I answered frightening questions about family history.  I heard words like “metabolic” and “mitochondrial”. Doctors and nurses came and went, sometimes offering comfort and other times speaking in hushed tones amongst themselves.  I tried to do my own research on the internet, but that only served to magnify my fears, so I stopped.   I stared at magazines.  I held Bud close to me and I and kissed his face.

I prayed before my husband arrived.  We prayed together over our son.  We praised God for his goodness and we thanked him for the doctors and nurses working so hard to heal our precious baby.   Mostly, we waited.

Neither of the possibilities is appealing.  Mitochondrial disease means that something is not working correctly on a very basic level – inside the cells in Bud’s body.  According to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation website, mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow.

On the other hand, metabolic disease means that Bud’s little body has difficulty breaking down certain substances (carbohydrates, fat, nitrogen) to use for energy.  These types of diseases are inherited, and it’s likely that my husband or myself (or both) carry the defective gene and we passed it on to our son.  Mild forms can be treated with supplements, while others have no defined treatment.

Finally, we were released to our home awaiting test results.

We immediately went into “make it feel normal” mode, starting with a bubble bath for Bud and some cartoons in warm fuzzy pj’s.

I washed everything that smelled like hospital and cooked a big dinner.  We all sat together and loved on each other .  Once Bud was asleep, I completely dissolved into a messy, blubbering heap. I wept and I prayed and my sobs interrupted my thoughts so often that I kept starting over, trying to plead with God, trying to understand what was happening.

At first, all this waiting seemed like a nightmare.  I am not a patient person anyway, and anyone who has sat more than one night in a hospital can attest to how mind-numbing it is.  But then I began to understand the work that God is doing in my heart.  I believe he has used these times when I have no choice but to be still, to draw me closer to him.

He has shown me truths about who he is, and who I am in him.

God has reminded me that:

  1. *He is in control.  In our lives, control is an illusion, and while I struggle to figure out how to fix this for my son, God wants me to rely on HIM in times of crisis.
  2. *He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I ask or think (Eph. 3:20).  Or, as my husband would say, “Don’t put God in a box”.
  3. *He is growing my faith. Like the Centurion, I want to be able to approach my Savior and know confidently that if he only says the word, my son will have no more sickness.
  4. *I am not alone.  Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned in all this is that God has not left me to fend for myself.  He has been with me, listening to my prayers, speaking through friends, comforting me with recalled Scripture so that I might find rest in him.

So this is where I am today.  Frightened and uncertain, yes, but more and more at peace, thanks to God.  I do not know what will happen in two weeks, or in the weeks that follow.

But I do know the one who is already there, and I continue to rely on Him.

Prayers for Bud are, of course, greatly appreciated.

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: Writing via photopin (license)

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I Must Be Perfect

i must be perfect perfectionism perfectionist rachel madden devotional diva[Guest post by Rachel Madden: I think Rachel’s story on perfectionism will really encourage some of you, especially those who struggle with being a “perfect mom.” Remember “I must be perfect” is just a lie!]

 

Psychology Today quotes, “For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. A one-way ticket to unhappiness, perfectionism is typically accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn’t a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance.”

Please tell me this quotation strikes a chord with one of you as well, that you come dangerously close to connecting to this quotation as much as me. We started a sermon series titled “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire,” and the first lie uncovered was “I must be perfect.”

Thirty seconds into the sermon I knew I was in trouble.

Although I claim to be a “retired perfectionist,” it is a work in progress.

The topic of the day told me paying attention was essential and notes may be required. And if I hadn’t recognized this fact on my own, it was clear as my husband Chris continued to jab me in the side, saying, “This is you! This is you!”

Both of us had a child on our lap (11 month-old twins) and he had to take our son Miles to the cry room. That left me with the choice to take notes or continue to hold our daughter Norah. I’d like to think it’s the teacher in me (although more likely it’s the obsessive compulsion), but I chose to throw Norah to the curb, or somewhat pay attention to her on the floor, while I ferociously took notes.

Before you judge me, please know that bless her 11-month old heart she doesn’t crawl and can’t go from sitting to laying down on her own; therefore, Norah spent the service on the ground. For the church members who witnessed the borderline negligence, I told myself I was already breaking free of the “I must be a perfect” lie, specifically the “I must be a perfect mom.”

This sermon hit me so hard I specifically told the pastor after church that bullying was wrong and I didn’t appreciate being profiled.

We know human perfection isn’t real. We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter.

But for those of us who are challenged in this area, we may accept those truths for others, but not for ourselves.

For example, I don’t think Norah is any less of a person because she isn’t developmentally in the same place as Miles. Of course not; the thought doesn’t even cross my mind. And yet for most of us, especially perfectionists, the lie that we aren’t measuring up creeps in daily.  

It doesn’t matter if I ate a healthy lunch, I had a donut for breakfast. Who cares that I spent two hours playing with my kids earlier today? This afternoon I turned on the TV so I could catch up on work. Losing 10 pounds can’t be celebrated; I shouldn’t have gained weight in the first place; I’m so lazy. Or a current lie in my own life right now: So you nursed your twins 11 months? It doesn’t count if you don’t make it to the full year.

The lie that says striving for perfection means you’re hardworking and accomplished, a person worthy of love and happiness is all-consuming and paralyzing.

We put the pressure on ourselves because somehow being the best we can be at everything we do makes us…what? Good?

As Christians, we know this isn’t true. No matter how good we try to be on our own merits, it doesn’t change our need for God. If we could find perfection on our own, there would be no reason for Christ’s death and resurrection.

Sometimes I’m preoccupied attempting the “perfect life” because it somehow validates me as a person. Have your achievements ever taken precedent over what truly matters? For the perfectionists out there, it doesn’t mean you have to be okay with mediocrity. It doesn’t mean it’s time to lower your standards or become less passionate. But let’s intentionally choose not to measure our worth based on our performance and abilities.

In 2015, let’s stop carrying a validating performance record around – one that affirms us because of our achievements or accomplishments. As the Bible says in Romans, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Today, let’s celebrate this freedom and bask in His perfection alone.

rachel madden on devotional divaRachel Madden is a teacher, wife and mother of twins. She experienced a bout with bulimia in college and was later diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She started a blog in 2014 at crazyMADDENINGworld.com to share her story about motherhood and living a passionate, Christian life with mental illness.  

photo credit: finger painting via photopin (license)

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My Fight with Vulnerability

my fight with vulnerability on devotional diva[Guest post by Kerri-Anne Lafu: Unfortunately, sharing your vulnerability with the world is a problem I think a lot of women go through. But it’s even more important to try to share it with God!]

These last few months I think God has been challenging me on the need to be real, vulnerable and honest with myself, Him, and others. I, like a lot of people, have massive insecurities about showing people who I really am.

Instead of loving others and being with others fully, I’ve limited who and how I’ve been based on the parts of me that I think people would accept.

It was through a hard season that we went through as a family (and are still going through now) that I’m really learning the need to be just me all of me in all of my relationships — especially my relationship with God.

When my mum got sick it took me a long time to process what was going on, and my faith was really tested. I went from being so reliant on God, sharing everything with Him at the start of last year to my relationship with Him changing to only talking to Him about the parts of my life that were going well.

I was really resentful towards God because I thought that because of what we had already been through as a family, it wasn’t fair that my mum was going through what she is now. I began doing the same in my relationships — only talking about what was going on at home in a factual basis.

I intellectualized it and made sure no one knew how much I was actually struggling.

I think I had even fooled myself into believing that I was okay when I obviously was not okay. After hearing a message on faith and the need to keep believing despite our struggles, a real talk with one of my siblings about our fears about our mum’s health, and then reading books on grace and vulnerability, I realized I had a problem. 

I decided that from then on, if someone asked about my mum and how she was doing I would give them a real answer, no matter how awkward I made them feel, or emotional I felt doing so I would.

It was something small but I knew that it was a start; I knew I also had to be real with God, and so I decided to give it to Him and surrender all of the ways I was trying to deal with it myself.

I gave Him my anxiety, fears, doubt, frustration and disappointment, my intellectual reasoning of it all and my hiding from my emotions.  It’s been a journey for all of us and my mum’s doing well, considering the doctors have said there’s not much else they can do since her cancer is rare and nothing has helped.

My mum is my hero and is an amazing woman of faith that continues to show me through her vulnerability in this journey of hers the need to be real and honest with those in our lives and with God.

I’m hopeful that, although we don’t know the end to this journey, that we have a God that does.

And by holding his hand no matter how much I want to let go of it, He will get us through it and make all things work together for our good.  So for now I’m doing my best to be as real as I can possibly be in all that I do — especially those things that I’m struggling with, no matter how uncomfortable and hard it is.

To make the most of what God has done for me through Jesus would be living free, and living free to me means living vulnerably with God and others out of the revelation that my value is secure in His love for me.

kerri anne lafu on devotional divaKerri-Anne Lafu just finished university & works in sales. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her family. She’s on a mission to help girls realize who they are in God & blogs regularly at awkwardisoverrated.

photo credit: lets.book via photopin cc

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Little Miracle on the Way!

maggie winterton on devotional divaI’m writing this post on my 3rd wedding anniversary.

When I was younger, I always used to imagine being pregnant on my 3rd anniversary. I guess I just thought that would be a good time to have my first baby. And I wanted a May baby, because my home state of Iowa usually has pretty good weather in May.

Both of those teenage dreams are coming true!

My husband, Brandon, and I are expecting our first baby in May 2015 (I’m beginning the 2nd trimester now). My official due date is actually the day after Mother’s Day, which I think is kind of cool.

I’m so excited to finally share this with you because this baby is an absolute miracle to me. I believe all living things are blessings (well, maybe not ants…I really hate ants!) but after the year I’ve had, there was some doubt about my fertility.

I don’t know if this is something I’m ready to fully write about yet…It was a painful experience and I don’t think it has been long enough for me to process. And this is supposed to be a joyful post. So I’ll try to keep this part short.

It’s something I’ve kept mostly a secret, but I’ve been dealing with serious pelvic pain since January (although it has improved during my pregnancy, thank the Lord!). Pelvic pain isn’t something that is easy to talk about! The main reason this whole situation is so emotionally painful is because I was not treated well by the doctors in charge of my care. Because of that, I still don’t know why I even had the pelvic pain.

And since we didn’t know what the cause was, we didn’t know what the fertility situation was. Depending on what was actually going on, there were many things that could prevent having a healthy baby. Brandon and I planned for a year that summer 2014 would be our time to try to have a baby.

I’ll admit, I did let the negativity of my possible fertility issues get to me. But something inside of me told me that it would be okay – and I had faith in that.

In just three months of “trying,” our little miracle happened. Surprisingly, I haven’t even worried that much about miscarrying (and I’m the queen of worrying).

I’ve just felt so peaceful and had so much faith in the Lord that this baby is meant to be ours.

Everything is just so wonderful and working out perfectly. Not-so-ironically, Sarah Coleman’s guest post on peaceful pregnancy was set to be published just a few days after we found out about Baby Winterton.

God is more powerful than anything going on in my body. I believe having faith that He would give us the precious baby we prayed for aided us even further. A conscious effort to keep positive thoughts can’t hurt; and doing so really helped me feel less stressed.

Nurturing others is what I think God made me to do. That’s why I love being the editor of Devotional Diva; helping women share their stories here is so fulfilling to me. When I felt down about the unknowns of my fertility, I thought, “I would give up everything to just be able to be a mom.”

God has fulfilled this prayer of ours and given us a little miracle. I can’t tell you how good it feels to just have so much faith in the health of our baby. Take it from this worrier, it’s much more enjoyable to relax and be positive.

So, if this baby is a girl, obviously she’ll be a “Little Diva.” But what if it’s a boy? Should we call him a Divo? 🙂

P.S. If you’re from the States, thank you, Veterans, for your service!

→M

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Wait on the Lord

wait-on-the-lord[Guest post by Samantha Godette: When I received this post from Samantha, it was something I really needed to hear at the time. I love how the Lord can provide inspiration like this at just the right moment! If you’re waiting and wanting for something, this is for you.]

Over the past few years I have been fighting, fighting and fighting for something I thought should be mine (something monetary). I knew I deserved it but couldn’t figure out why God didn’t see fit for me to have it.

I was seriously hurt while serving in the United States army and I have developed severe rheumatoid arthritis. Some days it can be a struggle to get of bed, to comb my hair and to just perform everyday tasks.

I have been in pain every day, all day for several years. I have learned to live with it and praise God through my pain, but I still needed help.

However, every time I would fill out my paperwork for compensation it would get lost. Then I would have to fill out a new one. Then they needed something else. Then they would need something else. Then it would get lost again. It became a never-ending cycle.

I became weary and tired and almost gave up. I couldn’t fathom why He wasn’t answering my prayers. A year came in and a year came out and nothing happened.

I suffered physically, then emotionally, and then financially.

Through all of my pain God saw it fit to send me a great husband. He is amazing and makes living with arthritis easier. He has been a gift from God that I didn’t see coming.

Then a year later he saw it fit to bless me with a child — a child that doctors said wouldn’t happen without fertility drugs.

“You’ve been medicating for so long because of your disease. You have been on heavy medication that causes infertility. It will be nearly impossible to get pregnant.”

This is what they told me, but I never listened because I knew God had the final say. What they said went into my ears but never seeped into my spirit.

I had a great life. A husband that loved me and a daughter that melted my heart but I continued to struggle with my health and financially.

I eventually decided that what was for me was for me and if it was meant to be, God would deliver it to me when the time was right. If he could lay his hand on my womb and create a beautiful baby girl, then I knew he could do anything.

One day, I came home and in the mail was the answer to my prayers. Something I had wanted and prayed about for over ten years was hand-delivered to me by the grace of God right to my mailbox.

My husband and I immediately fell to our knees in gratitude and gave God the honor and glory he deserved. I was approved for disability by Veteran Affairs. I will be getting compensated for all the pain I have been in and will be in for the rest of my life. And guess what? I will be getting compensated back pay for all the years I didn’t receive compensation. At that very moment, I understood!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

God wanted to bless me and He heard my prayers. He never ignored me. But he wanted to bless me when I needed it the most. Who knew that a husband was going to walk in my life and then a baby girl? God blessed me more than I could ever imagine. He listened to every prayer and He never turned His back on me.

He never said “NO.” He said, “WAIT.”

God knows best. Although we may not understand it at the time, it is in our best interest to trust him and to wait on whatever it is that you have been praying on. God hears your cries and He understands your struggles, but He also knows when to bless you and how to bless you.

I guarantee if you trust and believe in him and never waiver in your faith, He will show up when you least expect and bless you more than you ever thought possible. Nothing is too hard for him.

Don’t try to understand your situation when God has the blueprint of all situations.

 

samantha ford-godette on devotional divaSamantha Godette is a mother to one and a devoted wife. She has a degree in Social Work from Fordham University. She loves the Lord, her family and all things fashion. She addresses herself as a Faithful Fashionable Diva. She’s has started a blog this year, http://www.faithfulfashionablediva.com. She wants to express to all women that loving Christ doesn’t mean you have to neglect yourself.

photo credit: Éole 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

 

photo credit: Miss C.J. via photopin cc

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