Tag: Hope

A Story of Rediscovery

[Guest post by Erin Marie Shell: This is a story of God’s love, a story of heartbreak and a story of rediscovery. Thanks for sharing, Erin!] Exhausted after a full day of work, I arrived home late one night, opened the front door, and entered 

My Fight with Vulnerability

[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 

The Magnitude of Our Gratitude

magnitude of our gratitude[Guest post by Sherrie Harris: Sherrie sent in this post that is perfect for this thanksgiving time! Please enjoy her inspiring story of gratitude and grace.]

As the girls entered the room, trickling in one or two at a time, their faces shone with gratefulness and possibilities. They began to cry out in unadulterated and uninhibited praise, as the tears of answered prayers streamed down their faces. “God is faithful,” they confessed. “God is faithful!”

In 2012, I had the privilege of ministering to and serving women and children in Africa, during a missions’ trip with like-minded servant leaders.  Our team traveled to Kenya with the hope of resembling the sheep of Matthew 25.

“All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’” Matthew 25:32-36

The journey was one of the most life-altering gifts I’ve received in service to others. I’m richer in perspective, wonder, and gratitude.

Heartrending snapshots from that time remain imprinted on my heart. Watching small faces pressed against makeshift school walls, anxious to partake, but lacking the uniforms needed to join their peers. Rows of cribs filled with abandoned babies left to find hope. Stories of abuse from the innocent. Children raising their voices in song as gifts. Female prisoners that cried of unjust justice. Girls entering a small room, erupting in praise after seeing their new décor and freshly painted walls inscribed with words like, “Dream Big,” “Love,” and “Inspire.” The scene swelled my heart, blood rushed with joy.

It was just one of contributions during the trip. Though amateur, we gave it our personal best. It felt amazing and humbling to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We couldn’t take ownership for the idea, skill, or materials. God owns everything. We manage a little.

The girls stood there weeping and praising, praising and weeping, confident in their truth. God, helper of the fatherless, mobilized a few ordinary people to travel across the waters to adorn their dream space with love and inspired faith. Though they were visibly obliged, I suspect their gratitude was less about us, and more about God’s unconditional love for them.

No lack of earthly possessions or hardship could separate them from the love of Christ. There were no distractions between them and Jesus.

At times, the magnitude of our gratitude is amplified by the distance our blessings travel to find us, the degree to which the impossible becomes possible in our lives, and the level of sacrifice required to serve us. The evidence of Jesus inspires gratitude. He paid it ALL!

Thanksgiving is near. Life itself is enough to be thankful for and many of us have been graced to receive renewed and abundant life. Some will gather with family and friends, celebrate connection, eat until they can’t, and store leftovers for the days to come.

What better season to give praise, radical praise! Not for how many (or few) possessions you have, those things are temporal, but for eternity and the hope thereof. Give thanks for the demonstration of God’s love in your life and works of His people. Give thanks for grace.

“And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:33-34

You don’t have to travel across the waters to serve one another in love, open the doors of your homes and hearts this holiday. Share what you’ve been so richly blessed to receive. Put no distractions between you and Jesus.

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

 

sherrie harris on devotional divaSherrie Harris is a woman of faith, pastor’s wife, proud mommy, career professional, servant leader, an introvert with spurts of extrovertism, encourager, coach, and a few or more laughs. Sherrie created a new blog called aPOP, http://aplaceofpower.com this year to share her heart with other women and open up a virtual gathering place for women to be inspired, encouraged, challenged, and provoked!

Photo provided by Sherrie Harris.

Little Miracle on the Way!

I’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 

Hope with Painted Wings

[Guest post by Rebecca Lamarche: This post is a two-fer! First, Rebecca shares a poem. Then, she has an “insight” that is more devotional style. I hope you enjoy Rebecca’s wordsmithery and viewpoint on hope as much as I did!] Hope with Painted Wings From the 

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

The Scarless Pledge

[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 

Celebrating My Next Chapter {Literally}

I, Renee Fisher, asked Maggie if I could share my exciting news with you all today! Don’t worry, she’ll be back next week to continue her journey here on DevotionalDiva.com. Today I am celebrating my next chapter {literally}. Today is my 32nd birthday and I have 

Choose Joy in a World of Sorrow

joy

[Guest Post by Kay Warren – When I attended the Mental Health and the Church Conference at Saddleback Church, I was inspired by Kay’s story. She has learned to choose joy through sorrowful circumstances. If, like Kay, you find yourself in mourning or grief — I hope you are encouraged today because of Jesus!]

Sisters, Jesus was a man of joy. He was a man of joy!

He showed it in his attitude; he drew crowds who couldn’t get enough of him. He showed it in his words; he was a master communicator who impacted those who listened to him in person two thousand years ago, and he impacts us today.

He showed joy in his actions; he treated people with good humor and patient understanding of their human foibles, and he was skillful in bringing them to the spiritual realizations they needed.

His joyful essence was evidenced particularly in the way he interacted with his disciples. He spent three years with them, day in and day out. He did not spend those three with them as a lecturer on the speaking circuit who used them to organize his comings and goings: “Okay, let’s go over the agenda. Who will be taking care of the donkey this afternoon? Oh, and make sure the people know that I’m coming.”

He didn’t relate as a distant professor who made them sit still while he instilled: “Now, I have three points I want to make today, and I’ll be testing you later. Is everybody writing down what I’m saying?”

No, Jesus lived his life with them.

They saw him when he was sweaty and stinky from a long walk from village to village. They knew when his stomach growled from hunger pains. They probably heard him pass gas and burp a few dozen times. I’m not saying that to be sensational; I really believe it.

Jesus spent nearly every waking—and sleeping hour—with  these twelve men for three years. How could they not really know each other? I’m sure Jesus and his friends shared many private jokes, funny stories, and poignant memories, which happens only when people spend intentional time together.

I am convinced they laughed till their sides hurt at every opportunity. He loved them and invested in their lives as individuals. I think he probably knew the names of their family members for a couple of generations back; he knew the beauty and dysfunction that created each one of them. He believed in them, ultimately entrusting them with his gospel message of a joyous relationship with God. As his time on earth drew to a close, they were the ones he wanted near him—these friends who had become brothers.

Why does it matter that Jesus was a man of joy?

It matters so much more than you might have ever realized! Some of you may need permission to seek a life of joy for yourself. The burden of grief that you carry, the health issues, the relational pain, the financial questions, the internal struggles and temptations no one else knows about—sometimes all of that weighs you down so much that you give up on the idea of joy.

At times I have felt I could identify with the title given to Jesus in Isaiah; I could call myself “Kay Warren, woman of sorrows.” Perhaps that title fits you today as well, and you could fill in your name too.

Many of us need permission to recognize sorrow but go beyond it and still choose a life of joy.

Yes, Jesus suffered, but we can’t stop there. We can’t let that truth dominate how we act and how we speak about him. There was a reason why Jesus chose to endure all that he did. There was a reason why he allowed himself to be bloodied and beaten and tortured.

Hebrews 12:2 gives us an insider, behind-the-scenes look at why Jesus allowed all of that to happen: “who for the joy set before him endured the cross.”

But what was the joy that was set before him?

What joy was so rich, so satisfying, so deep that he was willing to suffer such terrible abuse? You were the joy set before him! I was the joy set before him!

He suffered so he could be reconciled with you.
With me.

When people spat at him, his disciples left him, and everyone mocked him, he was thinking of the joy. When he was flogged, when that cruel crown of thorns was jammed on his head, and when he hung on the cross, he got through  it because he was holding on to the joy of presenting us to God.

Here she is, Father; I brought her back to you.

The joy of restoring the broken relationship, of living with me and you forever . . . that was the joy set before him, that was the joy that kept him nailed to the cross.

Jesus knew that for him to fulfill his God-given role here on earth, he would have to experience abandonment, betrayal, torture, and death. Yet knowing full well what was ahead of him, he chose to laugh, to tell jokes, to roll around on the ground with children, to build rich relationships, to have meaningful work, to experience joy.

Jesus’s life is an illustration of the two train tracks converging into one. He shows us how to see joy, a joy that sometimes comes in darkness. And for that joy he endured the greatest suffering anyone has known.

This is what Jesus’s life tells me: It is possible to experience enormous burdens, pain, and struggles—the weight of the world on our frail shoulders—and still experience joy.

Jesus’s life reminds me that joy is possible no matter what.

His life gives me permission to seek a life of joy for myself even in a world of sorrow.

Kay Warren Doorway (Proof Only)Kay Warren cofounded Saddleback Church with her husband Rick Warren in Lake Forest, California. She is a passionate Bible teacher and respected advocate for those infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, as well as orphaned and vulnerable children. She founded Saddleback’s HIV/AIDS Initiative. Kay is the author of Say Yes to God and coauthor ofFoundations, the popular systematic theology course used by churches worldwide. She has three children and five grandchildren. Learn more at www.kaywarren.com and follow her on Facebook (Kay Warren) and Twitter (@KayWarren1).

[Excerpt taken from Choose Joy by Kay Warren, published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2012. Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.]

[photo credit: Rosa Dik 009 — On & Off via photopin cc]

Hit the Start Button {of Your Faith}

[Guest Post by Nicole Unice – We go way back to before the days we were published authors. We met at Story Conference in Chicago, IL — and it’s my pleasure to spread the word about her newest book entitled Start Here: Beginning a Relationship