Practice Patience with Your Spouse

practice patience

[Guest Post by Ashleigh Slater – I always appreciate returning the favor when a fellow author lets me share about my book on her blog. This is Ashleigh’s first book entitled Team Us. I appreciate her sharing wisdom on 4 steps to practice patience with your spouse’s old habits. Enjoy and be encouraged!] 

In the weeks that led up to our wedding, my husband Ted informed our friends, family, and anyone who would listen of his impending death.

“Death?” you ask.

Yep, death. Death, that is, to his single self.

The self that could buy a new Nord Electro on a whim. Or stay up until two in the morning on a regular basis. That guy who worked late into the evening because he didn’t have a wife waiting at home.

Sure, death isn’t the most romantic thing to broadcast prior to one’s nuptials, but Ted was right. Marriage doesn’t jibe well with many of the single habits brought to it. What I don’t think he anticipated, though, was that the death of old patterns takes a while.

In the last eleven years of our marriage, here are four practical ways we’ve learned to practice patience for the old habits as we work together toward the new. You may find them helpful too.

1. We Pick Our Battles

I’ve come to realize that not all of Ted’s old habits are necessarily sinful. Now, before I address a behavior of his, I first stop and categorize it.

Sin means to “miss the mark.” So I ask myself: Is Ted missing God’s mark? Or is he simply missing mine? Is it a quirk I find grating, or is it offensive to God and hurtful to our relationship? If it’s a matter of annoyance, not destructiveness, then maybe I—and not Ted—am the one who needs to change.

Sometimes the bothersome things simply aren’t worth the battle. Often when I choose to move a bothersome thing to the conversational front burner, it doesn’t improve my marriage, it simply feeds my need to have things a certain way. The majority of the time it’s better for me to apply the wisdom of Proverbs 19:11 here, which says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

2. We Have a Realistic View of Ourselves

Sometimes my habits don’t seem as bad as Ted’s do. There are instances when I’m inclined to give myself a break, but not so quick to give him one too.

The problem is, though, drawing comparisons between our habits masks the reality that I’m no better than he is. While, yes, some behaviors are more destructive than others, we can both use growth. When I put my own behavior into perspective, it gives me more patience for Ted in the areas he struggles.

tedsays013. We Sandwich Our Criticism

Ted and I both earned master’s degrees in communication. One of our favorite techniques we picked up in our studies is what’s termed the “communication sandwich.” For those of you unfamiliar with this, it basically boils down to using praise and affirmation to sandwich criticism.

What I love about this approach is that it doesn’t put Ted on the defensive. When I use it, not only do I speak well of him, pointing out the ways I recognize and appreciate him, but I’ve also made it about me. I’ve focused on a “this is how I feel,” rather than a “you did this” approach.

4. We Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

Nowadays, Ted doesn’t buy a Nord Electro on a whim. He also doesn’t stay up until two in the morning on a regular basis. But time management is still an area under construction that could easily leave me frustrated.

But I’ve determined not to focus on his failings, rather on his successes. When frustration sets in, I stop myself and focus on all the ways Ted has grown and improved in this area over the years. It’s hard to be angry when I realize just how far he’s come.

At times, it has seemed inconceivable that some of those pesky single behaviors Ted and I both brought to our marriage would change. But we’re finding that we can kill old habits with time. Ted’s not where he was ten years ago, and I know he won’t be where he is now in another decade. He can say the same for me.

Ashleigh SlaterAshleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). With almost twenty years of writing experience, she loves to unite the power of a good story with practical application to encourage others. Ashleigh and her family reside in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com or find her on Facebook.

(Parts of this article have been excerpted from Team Us by Ashleigh Slater. Used with permission from Moody Publishers © 2014).

Win a copy of Team Us by Ashleigh Slater by leaving a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random.

[photo credit: analogophile via photopin cc]

Continue Reading

Life as It Is Meant to Be

life as it is meant to be

[Guest Post by Hannah Anderson – I met Hannah through my friend Lisa Velthouse, founding editor of PickYourPortion.com. I always appreciating meeting new people through others. It excites me even more when I found out that they are also (shocker) a writer! Please welcome Hannah who writes with grace and glory — while reminding us what life as it is meant to be, looks like!]

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”—C. S. Lewis

One summer my husband, Nathan, and I drove from Seattle to Los Angeles on Highway 101. We had both been raised in the eastern United States, more at home in the rolling Appalachians than anywhere else, but we were visiting friends in Seattle and decided to drive down the Pacific coast before flying out of LA.

We had been on the road only a few hours when, somewhere in Oregon, we crested a bend and I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I yelled at Nathan to stop the car, quickly jumped out, and ran to a short length of beach. I stood there taking it all in — the waves pounding against the rocky coast, the rough winds whipping my helpless hair, the gulls crying as they somersaulted above the water, and the salt sea biting at my upturned face.

And I felt very small.

Like David, I couldn’t help but think, “What is man that you are mindful of him? And the son of man that you care for him?”

And I wondered, How does one person make any difference in all this?

The fear that our lives lack significance, that we are merely specks of dust floating in the massive cosmos, can easily spark the search for identity.

Add to this the fact that we must devote vast amounts of time on the basics of daily life (I once calculated that in my lifetime I will prepare nearly 50,000 meals for my family), and it’s a wonder we all don’t run off to exotic places in search of ourselves!

This fear drives some women on a never-ending pursuit of success and perfection. From the fast-paced executive always scrambling for the next deal to the tiger mom bent on shaping her child into a future Supreme Court justice, we are hounded by the thought that our existence will somehow be worthless unless we achieve quantifiable success.

For others, this same fear causes them to retreat into their own zone of comfort and hide from the greater world, content to be a big fish in a small pond if it means avoiding the constant reminders of their limitations and irrelevance.

And yet the deeper magic is that no matter how small we may feel — no matter how small we actually may be — we are not insignificant. We are not lost in the grand cosmos.

We do matter.

But it’s not because of anything we’ve done; it’s because of something God did back at the beginning.

Genesis describes the first moments of human existence like this: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, after our likeness . . .’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them . . . .”

Unlike the rest of creation, as majestic and glorious as it is, only men and women are made in the image of God.

Only we have the breath, the very spirit of God, flowing in our earthly lungs; only we can be truly called His children.

And this is why your life is significant.

It’s not because of what you accomplish or how many people you influence. Your life is significant because when God created you, He “crowned you with glory and honor” by making you like Himself.  So that as you walk and talk and live and move — and prepare those 50,000 meals — your very existence, your life itself, reflects and represents Him on this earth.

This is where you must find identity; you must find it in God’s image. Because you are made in God’s image, you exist to reflect and represent Him on this earth. Because you are made in God’s image, you are made to proclaim what He is like by doing what He does.

Because you are made in God’s image, you are made for glory.

Hannah AndersonHannah Anderson lives with her husband and three children in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is the author of Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image (Moody, 2014). You can connect with her at her blog sometimesalight.com on Twitter @sometimesalight.

[Excerpt from Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image, Moody Publishers, All rights reserved.]

[photo credit: anneh632 via photopin cc]

Continue Reading

Riding Waves of Faith

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 by her story. If you currently feel stuck under the waves of life, you are not alone. Stand and have faith with Emily today!]

Our faith is tested under waves of faith, and in the weight and pressures of life.

It’s in the fire, the trials, and the storms of life that we are truly strengthened. We can choose to rise above the chaos or allow it to overtake us.

Recently, my husband and I endured a time of testing and trial as we lost our first baby at just 6 weeks along in my pregnancy. I carried that child for two weeks before ever knowing that the baby was with Jesus and not going to be a part of our family here on earth.

Our faith in Jesus Christ is what has been our anchor through all of this.

Having an eternal perspective definitely helps you put one foot in front of the other when you are going through a storm. God’s overwhelming love and amazing grace has overshadowed us and carried us. We have felt His arms hold us close and we are thankful. We are also so grateful for the prayers of so many friends and family who have continued to lift us up.

As someone who doesn’t like to admit weaknesses, not out of pride, but because I constantly declare Philippians 4:13 over my life, I have had a hard time realizing that it is okay to grieve and it’s okay for grieving process to take time.

I have heard the grieving process described as “coming in waves,” and I can definitely attest to that.

Grief becomes a danger when you allow those waves to pull you under instead of rising above and riding those waves with the grace and strength that the Lord pours out for us. Just because you have God’s grace and strength to endure difficult times doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to face sadness or grief.

Just like all attacks from the enemy, the Lord gives us the armor to withstand whatever is thrown at us, as well as a firm foundation beneath our feet. One of my favorite pieces of our armor is the sword of the Spirit because it is our offensive weapon to cut down the devil’s lies with God’s Word.

Faith comes by hearing the Word and that faith is released when we declare God’s truth and promises. Those promises are what give us hope. Jesus promises us in John 16:33 that we will have trouble in this world, but He also promises us that we are safe because He has already overcame the world.

Whatever you are facing has an expiration date.

You won’t have to live with that trouble forever; it cannot overtake you, unless you let it.
So take heart!

Stand firm on the foundation of your Rock, Jesus Christ. Let nothing shake you because you have been made an over-comer through Jesus’ victory on the cross. Sadness and grief will come, sometimes like a tidal wave, but you have an anchor of hope and His name is Jesus! He gave you the power to walk on those waves and He will not let you sink. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

I am praying for those who may be going through a season of sadness, grief, or loss. Lift your eyes up to the hills where your Help comes from. He will keep you from sinking!

Emily Rose MasseyEmily Rose Massey is the author of The Vessel: From Marred to Honorable, a true story of a life delivered from the mire and filthy pit and bondage of sexual sin and molded into a vessel for the Lord to flow through to reach others for His Kingdom. She and her husband are both active in many areas of leadership at their church, including worship ministry, drama ministry, children’s ministry, and youth ministry.  In addition to teaching and preaching the Word of God, Emily also pours out her passion for the Lord through her songwriting. Her songs spring forth out of a forgiven heart full of thankfulness and devotion unto God. To connect with or learn more about Emily, visit www.emilyrosemassey.com.

[photo credit: esther** via photopin cc]

Continue Reading

I lost more than a marriage

tin can phone

[Guest Post by Kathy Moore – I have been walking alongside my friend through her separation, and then divorce. It has been especially hard to watch as the gossip train has started, and doesn’t seem to stop. If you are a “Christian” who knows others who have been destroyed by gossip, please forward this to them. If you are one of them — be encouraged by my friend Kathy’s story today.]

I am divorced.  

Out of obedience to the Lord, I have been silent to share my story — until now. Due to continuing gossip, I have felt the Lord’s prompting to speak truth.

Matthew 5:13-14 reminds me as a Jesus follower I am to be salt and light to the world.  Salt, as we all know, flavors, and light reveals. In addition to being a flavoring, salt is a healing agent, though at first it stings like no one’s business.

And light? While we are thankful for all the wonderful gifts it brings into our lives. Sometimes, when we look straight into it — we are blinded. I realize that there is a cost in being salt and light.

I have had my own healing happen through the stinging, cleansing agents of salt. I have looked into the light and been found wanting.  

I have yielded to both the stinging and the blinding, and I have come out stronger for it. I have come out a stronger follower of Jesus, a more compassionate friend, an empathetic leader, and a mom who is able to instill healthy boundaries into her children.

It was not without pain, tears or anger at God. 
God has brought me full circle. 

He took an anger so deep that it turned logic into chaos. He lovingly comforted me as I came to the cross, a 41 year old broken, humbled, beaten woman full of repentance and asking for forgiveness. He has restored my heart, even in my deep brokenness.

It is time to speak up and confront the abuse — spiritual and otherwise — that continues in my life and the lives of my children.

January 2011, my life unraveled. 

I had known for many years that things were not right. I worked and worked to make things right. But. Nothing stuck. Healing did not occur. My husband and I had separated 3 times in 15 years together.

The final time, I sought assistance from church leaders. I realize now they were not equipped for such a large task. I knew that my church did not support divorce, and I didn’t want one — but I knew I could not keep living in a terrible situation.

I was angry.
I was hurting.
I was out of options. 

The problems had started years and years before. I never really had the guts to bring the situation into the light. My husband and I did not fight well. As a matter of fact, the fights often turned abusive. Chocking, hitting, name calling, and being thrown down occurred more than once.

I admit, sometimes I fought back. The last time we fought, my diamond left a cut above his eye. But years of verbal, physical and emotional abuse left their mark on me. All I wanted was out. And so I began swallowing over-the-counter migraine medicine. That one act created a firestorm that led to my eventual divorce. Unfortunately, the firestorm really didn’t hit the true cause of my misery — abuse. It only added to the abuse by adding a layer of spiritual abuse.

When I filed for legal separation, I lost more than a marriage, I lost a church family and the support of those I had counted on.  

I was left a shadow of what I had once been.

What I have failed to mention is all the gossip that has occurred since my separation, and then divorce. Though I filed for separation, I was not the one to check the divorce box. I never wanted divorce. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was happening inside the four walls was not healthy for me or my kids and it wasn’t getting any better.

I have been called a run-away wife. 
I have been told that he found better women. 
I have been told I am a terrible mother.
It has been said that I’ve slept around.

And who said all these things? Christians. The very ones who turned their backs and didn’t wait around for the real story.

I am tired. 
I am righteously angry. 
And now, my children have gotten caught in the insipid chatter.

Ladies and gentleman, abuse is never ok. Abuse is a symptom of a much deeper issue. 

I tried everything imaginable to stop the abuse. I stayed for 15 years. I loved my husband. I wanted a better future.  I drove those who really loved and cared about me nuts, because I could not leave my marriage. And yet, the marriage and abuse were killing me, slowly.

It is a rare day when I don’t pray for my children’s father.
It is a rare day that goes by when I don’t grieve over my broken marriage.
It is a rare day that goes by when I am not confronted with the damage of divorce. 

On the other hand, rarely am I not thankful for who I have become. I wish I had had this strength when I was married, I believe maybe there could have been a different ending.

I like who I am.
I like who God created me to be.
I like the woman who relies fully on Jesus — for everything. 

God has shown up and continues to show up — financially, emotionally, and with gifts I couldn’t have asked for.

And yet, the gossip continues. People. I am divorced. I left an ugly situation hoping and praying for a different outcome, which still hasn’t come. However, God has come into my life and scooped out the anger and given me a heart of forgiveness towards my children’s dad; a forgiveness I’ve extended verbally to him.

Before the Lord, I am clean.

I have kept silent about the true nature of my marriage, because I wanted to protect not only my kids, but their dad as well.

I prayed that understanding would come. I have begged and pleaded with the Lord for someone to stand up for me — and yet here I am, with full peace knowing I must stand up now and speak truth.

Truth shines light on wrongdoings. 
Truth exposes sin. 
Truth is love. 

Love isn’t just sappy and happy. Sometimes love hurts. But, what is the outcome? Peace. True, God-given peace. I have walked a very lonely road. Often times the road has left me in the dark, by myself for long periods of time.

I’m thankful for it.
I’m thankful that I know Jesus intimately.
I’m thankful that it’s purely Jesus, me and my kids going down this road.

I continue to pray for the kid’s dad. I pray true, salt and light repentance occurs.   continue to speak truth into my kid’s lives. I continue to love them and have fun with them and all the while encourage a deeper relationship with Jesus. For those that think they are helping by speaking “truth” into my kid’s lives about me or my church or my life — stop it. If you really want to help, confront the sin that is standing right in front of you masquerading as “right” living.

For the rest of you who have so faithfully stood by my side through tears and really, really tough junk. Thank you. I pray one day I can do the same for you.

Kathy MooreI am Kathy Moore, a daughter of Jesus and mom to three. Writing is my passion and encouraging others towards a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus is my goal. I’m funny, serious, a bit weird at times, but overall a fun person to hang out with. I’ve been through a lot–just like the rest of humanity and try to use my “a lot” to help others. Connect with me at delivered2thrive.com.

[photo credit: Florian SEROUSSI via photopin cc]

*****If you would like to advertise on DevotionalDiva.com for $30 for 30 days, please click here for details. There are only two spots left!

Continue Reading

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]

*****If you would like to advertise on DevotionalDiva.com for $30 for 30 days, please click here for details.

Continue Reading

Don't Throw Yourself Away

throw yourself away

[Guest Post by Wendy Griffith – I really resonate with her story and not throwing your life away. If you find yourself struggling with your worth in Christ today, be encouraged! You are not alone.]

My heart was crushed—but somehow I was still breathing.

It had been just a week since my breakup with a man whom I had once believed was the love of my life when Dr. Pat Robertson, founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, called me into his office.

Like a concerned father, Pat gently commanded, “Wendy, come in here. Tell me what happened.” The compassion in his voice caused the tears that were already close to the surface to come flooding down my cheeks. I reached for the box of tissues on his desk and told him everything. Robertson, a man who has sat down with presidents and kings, a man who once ran for president of the United States and who formed a global media empire, wanted to hear about my heartbreak. I was deeply moved.

After I had finished talking, Pat gave me some heartfelt advice.

“Wendy, you are special. You are beautiful, and you are talented. Don’t throw yourself away!”

At the time I wasn’t quite sure what Pat meant by, “Don’t throw yourself away,” but apparently God wanted me to remember it, because Pat said it over and over during our short time together. “Don’t throw yourself away!” Later I figured it out. He meant, “Don’t settle. Don’t throw yourself away on a guy who is not worthy of you, because you are worth so much more than you realize.”

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matthew 13: 45-46).

Ladies, the Lord wants you to know that you are a pearl of great price, a treasure worth pursuing and protecting. You are worth fighting for and, like the pearl in the parable, worth everything it might cost a guy to obtain you. You are worth someone sacrificing his time, his routine, his comfort, his money, his whatever in order to have you. You are worth it!

One of the most inspiring love stories in the Bible is the story of Jacob and Rachel. In fact, it may be one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Jacob had been sent by his father Isaac to find a wife from a relative’s family. He traveled a long distance to his mother’s family, and when he met Rachel at a well, for him it was love at first sight. Jacob single-handedly moved the great stone cover off the well, perhaps trying to impress Rachel:

“When Jacob saw Rachel, daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud” (Gen. 29:10-11, NIV).

Interestingly, it wasn’t Rachel who cried but Jacob. He seemed to know with certainty that Rachel would be his bride. Rachel ran to her father and told him about the young traveler. Rachel’s father, Laban, ran out to meet Jacob, and then he hugged him and kissed him and invited him to his home.

Jacob stayed with Laban’s family and within a month fell deeply in love with Rachel. He was determined to marry her. But before he would allow Jacob to do so, Rachel’s father convinced Jacob to work for him for seven years. Jacob agreed. Jacob was so in love with Rachel that the Bible says the time flew by: “They seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Gen. 29:20, NIV). Wow, talk about romantic! I’d like to see a modern romantic comedy come even close to depicting this kind of love and sacrifice.

Jesus Is the Ultimate Example

There are many examples of men who “paid the price” for their brides, but the apostle Paul says that the greatest example of sacrificial love is Jesus: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).

What kind of love sacrifices its very life so that we might live? The love of Jesus does—and the Bible calls men to love their wives with that same kind of love:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself (Eph. 5:25-28, emphasis added).

You are a prize to be won, and so am I! You are worth fighting for. You are not only worthy of love, but you are worthy of “I love you” period.

You are a royal daughter of the Most High King, a princess in the palace, a pearl of great price and beautiful beyond measure.

Wendy GriffithWendy Griffith is an anchor and senior reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network and cohost of CBN’s flagship show, The 700 Club, with CBN founder Dr. Pat Robertson. She also co-anchors two other shows for CBN: Christian World News and CBN Newswatch. Wendy is the coauthor, with Craig von Buseck, of Praying the News. More information can be found on YouAreAPrize.com.

(Adapted from You Are a Prize to Be Won!, by Wendy Griffith. Copyright (2014), Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003. Used by permission.)

[Photo: thephotographymuse via photopin cc]

*****If you would like to advertise on DevotionalDiva.com for $30 for 30 days, please click here for details.

Continue Reading

Why Not Celebrate?

why-not-celebrate

[Guest Post by Heather Von St. James – When Cameron, Heather’s husband, reached out to me asking if he could help share his wife’s story — I was inspired. I wish all husbands were excited to celebrate life with their wives. Today, if you are struggling with life — why not celebrate? Don’t wait for tragedy to strike! Celebrate today.]

Fear – we’ve all faced a form of it at some point in our lives.

I’ve learned that your fears don’t define the person you are, but rather how you deal with them. Humor is the way that my husband Cameron and I handled one of the most terrifying and trying times in our lives.

In November of 2005, after a series of biopsies and other tests, I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. I was a candidate for a risky procedure called an extrapleural pneumonectomy – this was no routine surgery. It required the removal of my left lung, the pleura (the lining around the lung), the left half of my diaphragm, and the lining of my heart.

I was already overwhelmed and what made it worse was the fact that I was a new mom.

My daughter Lily would be turning six months old two days after my surgery. When I found out my surgery date was February 2nd, I nicknamed my tumor Punxsutawney Phil, or just Phil for short. I joked about when they removed the tumor, asking if it saw its shadow, would I have six more weeks of recovery? It took the seriousness of the procedure and made it not as scary.

Throughout all of this, my sister kept me laughing. Her and I share the same weird sense of humor and we can always make each other laugh with just a silly phrase or sound. My husband and sister started talking about how we should celebrate such a day.

If it was going to save my life, why not celebrate?

Now, we refer to February 2nd not as Groundhog Day, but LungLeavin’ Day — the day my lung left.

The basic idea of writing fears on a plate and smashing them into a fire during LungLeavin’ Day came from my sister, who had done firewalking. In firewalking, you write your fears on a plank of wood, throw it in the fire, and walk across it – very symbolic. We wanted to take a similar approach, but instead of wood, my husband came up with the idea of plate, and instead of actually walking through the fire, we would smash the plate.

From that moment a tradition was born.

On February 2nd, 2007, one year to the day since my surgery, my husband went out and bought two stoneware plates and a sharpie. We spent a few minutes writing our fears on them before venturing outside. It was bitterly cold that evening, but that didn’t stop us. Cams cleaned out the fire pit, and got a nice little fire going. We bundled up and went out to the fire and smashed our fears in the fire. It felt GOOD! We decided right then and there that we needed to share this with our friends and family.

The following year, we made it an official celebration, and every year since then our little party has grown to include over 75 friends and family who come to celebrate life with us.

Within these past few years, Cams and I felt the need to make a difference by using the occasion as a fundraiser for mesothelioma cancer. We donate all the money raised to the three organizations that have been such an important part of our lives. The International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization all played an important role of who we are and what we do.

LungLeavin’ Day is not just for cancer survivors or warriors, but also for everyone.

This year, we wanted to reach out to an even broader base of people, and besides webcasting the event live via my Facebook page, we’ve also created an interactive page where you can go write your fear and smash your own plate virtually.

We hope that you take a moment to be thankful for the simple things, and all that life offers. Even in the face of adversity, something good can come of it, and our LungLeavin’ Day celebration is how we took something tragic, and made it a positive in our lives.

Heather Von St. JamesHeather Von St. James is a seven-year mesothelioma cancer survivor and continues to provide unending inspiration to mesothelioma victims around the globe. She carries out her mission to be a beacon of hope for those afflicted with mesothelioma by sharing her story of faith, love and courage both as a keynote speaker at conferences and through social media. Read more about her and LungLeavin’ Day at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/.

[Photo: Navy Blue Stripes via photopin cc]

Continue Reading

A Happy You Comes Before a Happy Wife

happy wife

[Guest Post by Arlene Pellicane – I just love the question she asks because so many women ask it before getting married. Now that I AM married, I can honestly say she speaks the truth! Don’t be afraid to wrestling with this question yourself, and be encouraged today!]

Have you ever met someone who thought her happiness was dependent on getting married?

I remember being in my twenties, dateless, without a speck of hope when it came to romance.  But I always believed that a happy me preceded a happy wife.

In other words, if I couldn’t be happy alone, I couldn’t be happy with someone either.  I love the story John Maxwell shares in his book Make Today Count. He and his wife Margaret had been married for a few years. He was speaking at a pastor’s conference and she was presenting a session for the spouses. He writes:

During the Q and A time, a woman stood up and asked, “Does John make you happy?”  I have to say, I was really looking forward to hearing Margaret’s answer. I’m an attentive husband, and I love Margaret dearly. What kind of praise would she lavish on me?

“Does John make me happy?” she considered. “No, he doesn’t.” I looked to see where the closest exit was. “The first two or three years we were married,” she continued, “I thought it was John’s job to make me happy. But he didn’t. He wasn’t mean to me or anything. He’s a good husband. But nobody can make another person happy. That was my job.”

A happy you has to exist before there can be a happy wife.

Happiness begins with a choice you make. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t only decide what you are going to eat for breakfast. You decide whether you’re going to be irritable or even keeled, cheerful or melancholy.  An attitude isn’t thrust upon you. You have the great honor of choosing how you will respond on any given day – whether married or not.

Happiness in marriage can be found in some counter-intuitive places. Through serving your spouse instead of waiting for him to serve you. Through seeking God instead of seeking your own good. Through make wise choices instead of waiting for great circumstances.

It’s not up to your husband, your address, or your circumstances to make you happy.

You are the one who ultimately makes the decision to choose joy. When you place your hope in your marriage to make you happy, you will be disappointed. But when you put your hope in God, you will find enough joy in Him to last you a lifetime.

As you look around, you see a lot of people singing the blues about marriage. Becoming a happy wife seems impossible on many days. Yet this desperation is where hope can really shine.

Is it really possible to have joy on a regular basis in your marriage?
Can you really be happy in your current situation?

If you are married to a decent man who is not abusive, I am here to tell you that happiness can indeed start with you.  But you must begin by placing your hope in God.

Question:  Who are you counting on to bring you joy? What unrealistic expectations might you have for what your husband will do for you? 

*Today’s blog is an excerpt from 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife (Harvest House, 2014).

Arlene Pellicane 600x600jpgArlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.  You can visit her website at www.ArlenePellicane.com Arlene lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children.

Continue Reading

Singles Survival Guide to the Holidays

top 10 worst holiday sayings for singlesSingles need love this holiday season. 

The month before I met my husband Marc was the loneliest month ever. I hated the thought of spending one more holiday season alone. After spending almost my entire twenties single, December and I did not get along.

That is why I am excited to announce I will be on the board for ChristianMingle in 2014. I look forward to encouraging many singles who feel like they have lost hope in finding a godly mate.

If you are or were anything like me–singleness has a tendency to wear on you (especially during the holidays). Between the dinners, party hopping, and family events, it can be quite difficult to feel comfortable in your own skin. Then there’s the dreaded question asked every year. Please don’t ask me why others presume the single most important question to ask a single person during the holidays:

“How was your love life–why are you still single?”

May I please apologize on behalf of every married person who has ever asked their single friends why they are still single? This is unacceptable and pathetic even. In good faith and to show that I’m trustworthy, here are a few paragraphs from my journal during the month of December.

“I’m really struggling. Nobody to hide behind. No crushes…No more chasing boys. I can see that it’s the right thing to do–and how the timing isn’t right…Please take away my singleness. After all these years. Please [Lord]. I need you to show up strong in my life.

Lord, I want a husband. I’m so sad and I’ve never felt so alone. I’m doing the right thing…People are so ignorant. I hate feeling passed by or jealous over something or someone that’s not mine…I feel left out…The fun parts…The emptiness I feel inside. The lack of joy…[I am left] with a depressed feeling I’ve never had before. And I don’t get depressed…Lord, don’t you care?”

If you are single this Christmas holiday season I want you to know that you are not alone.

Instead of feeling stuck at the kids table like you don’t belong–here are seven ways (call it a singles survival guide) to help you survive and thrive through the New Year.

1. Bring A Friend
Instead of feeling like you’re in the center of attention–why not invite a girl or guy friend to come along? Spice up your family dinner festivities, wacky office party, or random party invite by adding someone new into the mix. This way if–I mean when–the conversation turns sour, you can rely on your wingman or woman for help. Don’t forget to warn your friend ahead of time what they’re in for and the two of you can develop an early exit strategy if things get too awkward.

2. Drink Responsibility
If you are over the age of twenty-one, always make sure to ask a friend to be your designated driver or DD. Any time alcoholic beverages are involved–emotions tend to wander more freely–even when drinking responsibly.

This holiday season I encourage you to try sipping on some hot chocolate or apple cider if you think you might end up feeling sorry for yourself for being the only single at the party. That way you’ll be in control of what happens after the party (no drunk dialing, texting, calling your ex, etc).

3. Hugs Make Great Gifts
The economy makes it difficult to buy Christmas gifts for those you love and care about. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have this holiday season–grab a cup of coffee and a hug with a close friend. You’ll soon find hugs have the best currency and make great gifts too.

4. Talk To Someone
The holidays may be full of people and events, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to go around pretending everything is okay. You certainly don’t want to tell everyone you meet how alone you feel. Maybe your dad has always been there for you. Maybe your Aunt is a great listener. Or maybe you’re more comfortable talking to a bestie, roommate, or coworker. Don’t be afraid to find this person and let them know the holidays aren’t exactly your favorite time of year–I am sure they’ll understand and do their best to encourage and be there for you.

5. Be Spontaneous
Singles don’t quite understand how much free time they have. Parents or roommates don’t notice as much when you’re not around–but not your spouse. It’s a good thing to want to do everything with your spouse, but it can be more difficult to be spontaneous. If you’re single, don’t be afraid to go straight from work or jump off the couch and try something new and festive around town.

6. Volunteer Locally
There are plenty of chances to volunteer your time and money. You can serve meals to the homeless through the Salvation Army, local soup kitchen, or your church. You can collect toys, put together shoeboxes through Operation Christmas Child, or give a special one-time donation to a missionary who counts on this kind of support during the holidays.

7. Host Your Own Holiday Party
No matter where you live–there’s always that guy or girl who is willing to host. Partner together with other singles and throw the biggest and best Christmas or New Year’s Eve party. Ask people to bring food. Host a white elephant gift exchange. Bring your own games. Whatever it takes to celebrate the birth of Christ and ring in the New Year with those you love and care about.

This holiday season I encourage you to find what works for you.

Even in this list there might be one or two things you know you could do–but it’s up to you! Maybe you don’t struggle with feeling lonely in December, but you know someone who might. This holiday season I encourage you to foster a generous spirit for Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man [or woman] will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (NIV84).

See me talk more about the subject on my video for ChristianMingle below!

Good Deed Dating*If you are single and live in the Los Angeles area, you can join ChristianMingle and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank on January 11th, 10:00 am-1:00 pm to do good (and date good too). Register at GoodDeedDating.com!

[Find the original 7 tips here]

[Santa Photo: kevin dooley via photopin cc]

Continue Reading

How to Love Your Body Through the Holidays

How to Love Your Body

[Guest Post by Rebekah Snyder – We tend to judge our bodies most during the holidays. It’s supposed to be a time to celebrate with family and friends, so why are we so quick to judge ourselves and weigh ourselves? Maybe it’s because we eat too much. Maybe it’s because we can’t help but enjoy those Christmas cookies or Thanksgiving turkey. No matter what happens this holiday season, I hope you are able to stay focused on how to love your body. No matter your body type. Because your body is good! Right, Rebekah?]

Please don’t judge me for my skinny body.

“Oh my gosh, Rebekah, you are sooo skinny!”

She said it like it was a compliment. As if she had called me cute or gorgeous or some other word that could lift a wounded spirit or brighten a woman’s day.

But no, she called me “skinny,” which isn’t a compliment at all. On the contrary, my dictionary describes skinny as,

“lacking sufficient flesh; very thin; emaciated; lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities or significance.”

And you wonder why I felt insulted.

Even though I knew it was meant to be a compliment—even though there were girls who would love to have my figure—when I heard the word “skinny,” I considered the definition.

Undesirable.

Lacking significance.

So I taught myself not to care about my appearance.

I didn’t wear make-up and, somehow, I managed to convince myself that the reason I didn’t spend time in front of the mirror was because I was secure. But looking back, I have to wonder if it didn’t have at least something to do with all the comments about my figure.

Maybe I was avoiding looking at myself because I would have to be reminded…

I was small—too small—and, curse my metabolism, there was nothing I could do about it.

I was helpless to stop the (teasing) rumors that I was probably anorexic. I had no way of disproving the comment that,

“there are sticks with more shape than me.”

And if I had a dollar for every time someone told me I could blow away in a windstorm…

I could probably stock up on comfort food for a year.

It still wouldn’t add an inch to my waistline.

I’m not sure how it happened that I related the familiar creation story of Genesis to the girl in the mirror, but the words hit me one day as I caught a glimpse of my reflection.

“And God saw that it was good.”

Me.

My face.

My body.

My skinny, little self.

Good. My skinny body was good. Not just good enough. Not merely passable, but good.

I considered this impossibility for a moment before I heard a Voice in my spirit ask,

“Who are you to judge My artwork? Who are you to define what beautiful is? Who are you to say that any one flower is less perfect than the next? That any one human is prettier than another?”

And I realized that every time I looked in the mirror and decided that what I saw wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t a reflection on me; it was a reflection on Him—the Master Artist.

He formed my every feature.

From the excess skin under my eyes that would identify me as my dad’s daughter to the slight webbing of my toes that proves I’m related to my mom. He’s the one who shaped my figure, making it smaller than most.

I’m the handiwork of an extremely talented Artist who shapes the world in a variety of ways because He knows that life would be so boring if every single person was the same.

With that in mind, I can finally look in the mirror and say that I like—genuinely like—what I see.

Because God didn’t make me “skinny.”

I’m exactly what He planned and desired for me to be. The simple fact that God spoke me into being proves that I have great significance. And no matter what else may be said about me, that’s what I choose to believe.

Rebekah Snyder finally hit a hundred pounds at the age of sixteen. It was perhaps one of her finest moments. Well, that and the day her fist book, Beyond Waiting, actually got published. She spends her days herding preschoolers and pouring her heart into various writing venues. You can read more of her words at www.beyondwaiting.com.

[Photo: Black Glenn, Creative Commons]

Continue Reading