Tag: Hope

Riding Waves of Faith

[Guest Post by Emily Rose Massey – When she asked if she could share her story, it was hard to narrow it down because this girl has gone through so much! Her testimony is as huge as her heart. I know you will be encouraged 

Dream Devotional Releases Today!

Dream Devotional Releases Today! Dream Devotional is a 40 day devotional of hope for people who have fallen on hard times.  I dedicated it to all the dreamers. I can’t wait to go through it with you all over the 40 days. I will be 

Our Need For Intimacy

Our Need For Intimacy

need for intimacy

[Guest Post by Priscilla Cash – When I got an email from a military wife, I had to say yes. Not just because I support our military, but because I know many military wives and moms who can relate. I hope you are encouraged by her vulnerability and courage to share about intimacy.]

It was not just that I was a woman. It was not just that I had seen too many TV shows or read too many novels.

Deep within, I knew I needed intimacy. It is a profound need. We crave it, we seek it, but it often alludes us. And so, as a teenager, I waited, feeling like there was a deep, vacant hole in my soul.

I have journal entries from those days before I was married, chronicling the loneliness. It brought me closer to Jesus. My relationship with God grew as I looked to Him to fill the void. Even so, I knew that God had something more for me.

A man came into my life and I was swept up into a beautiful and tender romance. I had never imagined anyone being so happy. The love and intimate friendship we shared was unlike anything I had ever known before. We were married late in 2010.

For two and a half years, our relationship grew. Sometimes we argued and hurt each other, but forgiveness and love continued to abound. God blessed us. Then in 2012, my husband, a soldier in the Pennsylvania National Guard, was called up to deploy to Afghanistan. We bravely set about making plans. I slowly transitioned into doing everything at home, while he was away frequently for training. We spent the moments we had together as wisely as we could and prepared for the unknown.

In late summer, my husband left for Texas for four months of pre-deployment training. In January he boarded a plane and left for Afghanistan. His residence became a little combat outpost with weak Internet and poor living conditions. My residence was our small apartment, with his empty shoes left by the door.

Intimacy became a long-distant memory and I struggled to maintain a connection to a man surviving in a world dramatically different from my own.

Intimacy eroded over the months that followed.

By the time my husband came home, nine months later, I had changed. As strange as this may sound, I had grieved when he left and it changed me. I became closed, hard, and tenaciously independent. As much as I tried to understand that my husband had done what he needed to do, I still felt like a dear and intimate friendship had been ripped from me. Now I was lost and unsure where even to begin to put the pieces back together

As our marriage began to struggle, I found myself pushing my husband away. I realized that something needed to change, but I could not force myself to engage, try as I might. It only resulted in me feeling angry, bitter, and broken.

So I began to pray, desperately. My husband began to pray. We talked and talked and talked. And as I came to God, broken, having only enough courage to utter the word, “help,” God began to work. But not in the way that I had expected.

I wanted God to fix me and our marriage, to miraculously zap things back to the way they used to be.

Instead, He drew me to Himself.

I found my deep need for intimacy being nurtured and healed by God’s hand. Whenever anger and bitterness rose their ugly heads, I felt God’s gentle calling, “Priscilla, come back to me. I’m here.”

I still have a long way to go, but seeing God’s hand in my life, touching me deeply where I have needed it the most, has been a life-changing experience for me. No one wants to go through hard times. No one knows exactly how they’ll handle those times when they do arise. But God is always there, touching and healing in intimate ways.

I fear we try to “fix” things much more often than we’re meant too. When we’re supposed to be leaning on God, we’re running around trying to force things to happen and make our lives perfect looking, while deep within, our spirit smothers.

I’ve found that God addresses our need for intimacy by drawing us to Himself first.

Only then, when we’re nestled close to Him, are we free to begin to engage fully in other relationships. If you’re going through something similar, I’d ask you, dear sister, to kneel where you are and hold up closed fists to God. Slowly let your fingers open and give your burdens, one at a time, into His hands. He’s gentle with the sorrowful and the weak and the worn out.

He loves you.
Rich intimacy awaits.

Priscilla CashPriscilla Cash is married to an Army National Guard Soldier, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. She spends much of her time caring for their precious toddler son, keeping their home running and trying to better her skills as a wife, mother, friend, and follower of Christ. When she’s not engaged in the above, you’ll find her reading, freelance writing, crocheting, and bookmaking. You can find her on her blog at priscillacash.blogspot.com.

[photo credit: loungerie via photopin cc]

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Mental Health and the Church {With Video Links}

Recently, I attended the Mental Health and the Church Conference at Saddleback Church (#Hope4MH).  The good news is that they just posted ALL the videos from the plenary and breakout sessions. You can watch them on YouTube here. If you struggle with mental health or 

Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful

Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful

[Guest Post by Laurie Wallin – I love it when I get to meet new author and speaker friends personally. She lives in the San Diego area, and it’s neat to hear her story in person. I am excited to share her story with you 

Lessons Learned from Fasting

lessons learned from fasting

[Guest Post by Elise Boggs – We met many years at North Coast Church. She worked on staff with the College ministry, and I was serving as a volunteer in the 20-something ministry. It’s pretty amazing to see how far she has come. If you find yourself like Elise, unfamiliar with fasting — I think you will like to hear her story.]

Miracles do happen.

Last year was a challenging year. I made the decision to leave my role in ministry, I ended a two year relationship, and I became overwhelmed with anxiety to the point of being issued a mandatory three month sabbatical by my doctor.

I felt like a stranger in my own skin.

My identity as a visible leader in ministry was traded for anonymity. The hope of an enduring relationship was replaced with the issuance of metaphorical “Go back to Start” card. My challenges with anxiety bubbled to the surface the day I went into work and shortly thereafter returned to the parking lot because of a panic attack.

I thought I was dying — in a sense I was. There were ways I was functioning that did not work anymore, ways that needed to die.

The first sermon of the new year  I heard was based on Philippians 3:13 where Paul encourages us to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. I decided to start the year off with a spiritual discipline I have always avoided.

Like people who say (those people being me) that they aren’t runners, I always believed I was not one of those people who could fast. I am a lightweight. two glasses of wine is my limit, energy drinks make me nauseous, and I once threw up Golden Spoon frozen yogurt because it was too sweet for me.

When I thought of fasting, I envisioned myself failing miserably, too weak and disoriented to grasp any spiritual insights.

Despite my hesitations, I felt a nudge to start this year differently and attempt a fast. To help me acclimate to this discipline, I chose the Daniel fast, which is a 21-day partial fast consisting of fruits, vegetables, water, nuts, beans, and whole grains. The only beverage permitted is water.

Here are three of the most significant lessons learned from fasting.

1. I can change. I am a foodie. I watch the Food Network and read cook books like novels. My friends know that if they are looking for a recommendation for a good place to eat, I have a mental file cabinet of every cuisine stored away for every occasion. I enjoy every kind of food and am every person’s easiest guest because I like everything.

Enjoying food is a good thing. Being addicted to certain things, especially those that aren’t good for you is another. My addiction? Starbucks! A single day does not pass that I don’t think about my next Starbucks beverage. My daily ritual consists of coffee at home in the morning to wake me up and an afternoon fix at Starbucks to keep me going.

2. It’s not you, it’s me. When you care for something, you protect it. This fast has caused me to be more discerning about what I do and do not allow into my body. When going out to eat with friends, I have had to stick by these values as I watch them enjoy my favorite coffee or bite into a delicious burger.

As the days passed and I remained committed, I noticed that I began to experience a care for myself and well being in a way that has been foreign for me. Cherishing the body God gave me has been a tangible way to show love to myself, a continual message of my value to be nourished and protected.

3. The best exercise of my self will is letting go. The book of Daniel illustrates a constant struggle between submission and power. Daniel is submissive to God and His ways of living. The kings of the time were interested in their own power and half hearted in their devotion to God, despite the miracles they witnessed in Daniel’s life. During this fast I realized I have a hard time submitting to God.

My fears whisper that if I surrender, I might get hurt. Like the kings of Babylon, I do many things, even good things in my own strength, but have not experienced the miracles Daniel did. I often wonder if miracles even still happen? I don’t want to get my hopes up, but deep down I do.

The focus of a fast is spiritual — it is not an excuse for a diet or vanity.

I have not stepped on a scale since I began the fast. Surrender and submission are often associated with weakness, but if I take God at His Word, He says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I have heard this verse, but I don’t know that I have lived this verse. I have a hunch it’s because I have not fully surrendered those areas in need of his grace and power and I have been sitting in the nosebleed section in the house of miracles.

I anticipated symptoms of withdrawal and probable failure, but to my surprise this has not been the case at all. God’s power is the reason this fast was easy. I have no other explanation for it. My willpower is less than stellar when it comes to food. Each time I drove past a Starbucks, His power kept me moving forward forgetting what was behind and moving towards a new future. When I was hungry, He gave me patience to prepare a meal and not worry that it was taking away from something more productive. Each time I smelled meat cooking or went out to eat with someone, God kept my thoughts fixed not on what I couldn’t have, but what I could have,  a second helping of Him.

I have struggled for freedom in so many areas without success and I believe God in His mercy allowed me to experienced freedom in this seemingly small way to give me confidence of His power in the other areas of my life that seem insurmountable.

He is teaching me that I can change!

I can be free from anxiety, depression, financial struggles, approval addiction, unhealthy relationships — with His help and doing it His way, I can be free.

Who knew being released from these small things would have larger implications? Romans 12:2 promises us that God can transform us into a new person by changing the way we think. During my fast, my thinking shifted from believing that I could not overcome deeply ingrained habits to being set free in a very short amount of time.

This has larger implications for so many areas of my life where I have been battered and bruised or compromised my values for the approval and acceptance of others. It is easiest to blame something external, but the truth is that I don’t believe that I have loved myself in a way that has let the good in and protects from the bad.

I have come to believe my challenges with anxiety are rooted in my own self-neglect. But there is hope!

Now that I have had a taste of what it looks and feels like to care for my body, I can begin learning what it means to live out the message of Proverbs 4:23 which says “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”

Elise BoggsElise currently teaches at Chapman (Brandman) University in the MBA and Organizational Leadership programs. She also directs her own consulting practice specializing in leadership training, team and organizational development, and career and life coaching. Connect with Elise at {eliseboggsconsulting} at {gmail} dot {com}.

[Photo: Susan L., Flickr]

New Book: Dream Devotional Releases Easter

I am excited to release Dream Devotional, my fifth book, on Easter! My story of hope. (No, this is not an April Fool’s joke)! There are many reasons why I choose not to share about writing this book until it was releasing. I loathe the 

Are you terrible at reading the Bible?

[Guest Post by Ruth Cataldo – Every once in a while I post on social media that I’m looking for new guest posters for Devotional Diva. When Ruth asked if she could share on this topic I couldn’t wait for her to share! So many 

When Your World Comes Crashing Down

when-your-world-comes-crashing-down

[Guest Post by Rochelle Frazier – I met her through the Top 10 Blogs for Christian Women post I compiled. She was nominated for the list, and when I looked at her blog–I knew I had to have her share! For anyone who has seen their picture perfect like come crashing down, this is for you today. Be encouraged! You are not alone.]

Is it possible to arrive at the place where you stop asking, “Is there more? Should I be more?”

Is it possible that your restless heart could actually find rest right where you are?

Satisfied?
I dare to say “Yes!”

I don’t have the story of overcoming an addiction or a broken, battered, and abused childhood. I not only grew up in church, but you could find me there whenever the doors were open. My story was more on the line of the over-achieving, people-pleasing perfectionist. Everything in order and perfectly decorated, even my children.

From the outside, it appeared I had it all. And according to the “American Gospel,” I had every reason to believe that I did. You know the gospel that teaches us to be all that we can be, to own, possess, and claim what is ours, to climb a ladder that is placed on the wrong mountain and burst through the ceiling that has no eternal significance. And do it our way! This same spirit even carried into the way I served the church.

So when my perfectly orchestrated life left me empty searching for something more, I had no idea it was Him that I was missing.

I had it all together, right? Believing I was spiritually full, I offered my little teacup to the world asking… will you fill me?

But it didn’t come as I expected being a wife or a mother.
Nor through my perfectly decorated home waiting on Southern Living to arrive.
Nor from improving my figure or my social agenda.
Nor from becoming the top of my industry.

And then when my perfect little world came crashing down in 2006, broken and believing irredeemable, I turned to the very things I had avoided in my pursuit of perfection to see if they would fill me. But nothing satisfied the deep longing of my soul.

And then I finally came to the end of me, and because I needed God so desperately I would finally fill the calling of Jeremiah 29–not the one that I had worn on t-shirts and pasted on journals claiming that He has plans for me, but the rest of the verse that says,

“When you seek with your whole heart, I will be found. And bring you back from captivity.”

I was praying for captives. Quick to point out the captives. I had even prayed for God to open a door so that I might visit the captives in Africa. And then reality hit that I was a captive. My heart would become restless trying free other captives who, like me, bought into the wrong gospel.

So how did I come to this place?

There was a year that changed my life. Our community was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, a few months later I would be diagnosed with congestive heart failure delivering twins, and while seeking to beat all odds against me, I would become a single mom.  I was told I may never work again, and with my three precious angels and a healing heart, I offered up a prayer,

“Would you give me an idea that would change my life?”

And He did. I began writing what is now the children’s series, Sweeteas, and these precious little characters would absolutely change my life. However, what truly changed me was that He answered that prayer.

A collision with the fully present God who I had enthroned in eternity wrecked my life. I was never to be the same. He became a reality and my life had to adjust to the true Gospel. The Gospel that says,

“You will find your life when you lose it” (Matthew 10:39).

And I did!

Sweet friends, when your world comes crashing down your heart has tasted eternity (Ecc 3:11). It will be restless until you return to His love. But when you do, you will find that the longing of your weary soul is satisfied!

Rochelle FrazierRochelle is a storyteller by nature infused with undeniable markings of a true Southern girl: charming accent, gracious hospitality, and her passionate and infectious faith. She is the author of the children’s series Sweeteas and He Gave Me Pearls and journeys with women daily through her blog “Living with Divine Purpose.” Her story is one of inspiration birthed at a time of desperation, and gives hope to women that He still brings beauty from ashes. She is the mother to a beautifully blended family of seven including her husband Todd, and children Joy, Jadyn, Holland, Houston & Jackson. She is currently finishing her newest book, Something More: Daring to Live on Purpose. Connect with Rochelle at http://www.rochellefrazier.com.

[Photo: A National Acrobat via photopin cc]

Having a DTR with God

[Guest Post by Jaimie Bowman – I always love it when a fellow blogger becomes a fellow author. She just self published a devotional for mom’s and I can’t wait for her to share one with you! BTW, check out her post she wrote for