Peace and Joy

peace and joy devotional diva christmas guest post series 2014 christian blog[Guest post by Rebekah Carrington: Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but this post really tugged at my heart! I know exactly what kind of peace and joy Rebekah is talking about and it’s certainly a gift from God!]

 

There is heaven and earth and then there are some places where the two seem to converge blurring the lines of reality.

One such place is a senior citizens home residing at the top of a hill with a sign that reads Fairhaven. If you are not careful, you will look at it but miss seeing the glimpses of glory and beauty inside just as one can miss the forest for the trees.

For some reason, God gave me a chance to see this place.  To look past the brick, sanitary smell, old carpet, and fading colors on the walls and see the divine occurrences here.

For the enchantment of this home was not in its structure but in the hearts of its residents.

On Tuesday evening, six of us entered the room wearing our favorite dresses and hearts full of anticipation and giddiness. As we stepped foot into the grand room in Fairhaven, it seemed we had stepped back in time as streams of jazz music filled the room, staff members handed out punch and cookies, and residents were dressed in their finest.

We wandered around the room greeting the men and women who were attending this senior prom. I had the privilege of talking with some incredible gentleman who talked about the olden days and shared war stories that painted scenes of air force raids, dancing as the navy ship ported for the evening, and reuniting with their loved ones. There were two men who danced every time the orchestra began to play and they were seldom seen dancing with the same girl.  

Mr. Alvin twirled me around the dance floor and told me about his former days of dancing with his wife. His eyes were soft and his reminiscent tone pulled at my heartstrings.  His friend also was quite the dancer and even despite his back surgery, he was spinning me and once the song ended, immediately went in search of the next available young woman to dance with.

After the song ended, I spotted a woman sitting wearing bright orange and a beautiful necklace. As I knelt beside her chair, she introduced herself as Ollie and from that moment on I hung to every word.  She was an artist, made pottery, and told me of her travels to Germany, Hawaii, Austria, and France.

Ollie informed me she almost did not come to Prom that night but in the last minute, she said she did not “get beautified for nothin’.”

A few moments later, a girl with a microphone and sashes in hand got up and announced the Prom Queen and King. I looked at Mrs. Ollie and she was clapping.  I bent down and said “Mrs. Ollie did you hear?” She told me she didn’t have her hearing aids in and could not hear the names but she was happy.

I laughed as I looked at her innocent and genuine smile and said “Mrs. Ollie, they called you! You won Prom Queen!”

You would have thought she won Miss America with the shock and wide smile that spread across her face. Two girls came and put a sash on her and gave her red roses. She looked at me and motioned for me to bend to hear her. As I did she whispered, “My son will be so proud”.

Tears began to form in my eyes as I stood amazed that something so simple and seemingly small brought so much joy and sense of accomplishment. As a dental student there came and talked to us, he grabbed Mrs. Ollie’s hand and asked if he could be honored to dance with her. As I watched her smile as she swayed I could picture her dancing in heaven in the presence of the Lord she loved. She looked like an angel on that dance floor. 

I learned much from these wise men and women. Each with their own stories, adventures, and personalities.  I could feel the presence of God in that place and even those who were seriously sick or confined to a wheelchair had so much peace and joy that could only come from Him.

rebekah carrington on devotional divaRebekah Carrington is a recent college grad and wife who now resides in Tennessee. She loves spontaneous adventures and traveling around the country, being outdoors, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She loves walking out this journey the Lord has for her surrounded by a beautiful community of people.

This guest post is part of the first-ever Devotional Diva Christmas guest post series entitled, “The Gifts God Has Given You.” Look for more posts with this theme now until December 23rd!

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You Can Have a Peaceful Pregnancy

peaceful pregnancy

[Guest post by Sarah Coleman: Sarah was the first woman to reach out to me to submit a guest post when I became editor. I loved her writing and I could feel her kind and generous spirit through the computer screens that connected us. For those of you on the path of motherhood, be encouraged.]

John 14:27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

I was fairly optimistic when it came to pregnancy.

I mean, teenage girls don’t have a problem with it. Why would I? Of course I would give birth to healthy children.

 Then I had a miscarriage. And everything changed.

The second time I fell pregnant I didn’t take a pregnancy test until the morning sickness was quite obvious. I guess I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. Two days later I boarded a plane to Israel. We visited many remarkable sites, but none were more memorable for me than our last stop, the Garden Tomb.

I was roughly six weeks pregnant by this time. Very early stages. To be honest, my heart was fretful. Worrying every day. Every twinge. Every small stomach pain. Reminders of the pain in my heart due to the previous miscarriage.

Ever wondering. Ever anxious. Smiling fearful.

The Garden Tomb is the most beautiful place in the world. I don’t mean that is beautiful asthleticly, I have certainly seen scenery more lovely. But in terms of the feeling a place gives you, it was the most soothing emotion I have had.

It is a pretty garden, full of old trees, pleasant flowers, peaceful water features, and quaint stone pathways. There are areas for quiet contemplation and meditation, as well as spaces for large groups to partake in communion. And of course, there is the tomb.

The tomb that once held my Saviour’s body is awesome. Awesome is one of those over used words. Rarely is anything described as awesome, truly awesome. Yet the tomb of Christ is. It is an empty shell, cut in stone. And inside there is absolutely nothing. Nothing. The most wonderful nothing to be found. Awesome.

I exited the tomb empowered and enthused. He is risen. He won. He conquered. Death has no victory. Jesus is alive.

Reactions to seeing the empty tomb varies. To some, the realisation of a risen Lord results in praise. Others, contemplative worship. People weep, or on the other hand exude joy. For me, it was peace. Time visiting the garden tomb culminated in peace. Peace that told me everything would be alright. It was the most exquisite moment in the world.

There were many times when I drew on the peace I felt that day. From hearing that my baby was too small, to an emergency caesarean section. Through it all, I drew on Christ’s peace. My baby was born strong and healthy. Everything was alright.

John 14:1 Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

God does not want you anxious through pregnancy or motherhood.

He does not wish you troubled. Experience His peace. Yes, things are going to be alright. Everything will work together for good. No harm will come near. Peace from the Father surpasses all understanding. Trust in the Lord. He is our peace.

Psalm 91 is full of promises of safety and protection. It concludes with these words:

Psalm 91:14-16 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long lifeand give them my salvation.”

Receive peace from the Lord, today. Allow Him to calm your fears. He loves you and will answer when you call. And His rewards include peace. Everything will be alright.

Romans 15:33 And now may God, who gives us his peace, be with you all. Amen.

 

sarah-colemanI’m an Aussie passionate about Jesus & family. Through blogs and books I minister life and encouragement. Download my FREE eBook, Be Amazing: You Know You Want To. Find more of my thoughts at sarahcoleman.com.au

 

 

 

photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via photopin cc

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Finding Peace During Stress

How do you find peace during stress?

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
 

I spoke last week quite a lot on who I was – but now it’s time for me to tell you a little bit about who I am now. I didn’t even know how to write this post (although I had it planned) until last Saturday when I went to founding editor Renee Fisher’s birthday party. The picture above is from that evening.

The truth is, I didn’t even really want to tell you who I was before Saturday.

My life is pretty great. If there were some checklist for a great life, mine would pass with flying colors. I don’t say this to sound like I’m bragging or ungrateful. I actually say this to let you know I am aware of how blessed I am. I have a wonderful marriage. I have a nice home to live in. I have a supportive family. I live in beautiful San Diego. I just became the editor of Devotional Diva. My husband mainly supports our family so that I can work on my writing. And that’s really good, because I still have ongoing health issues. But recently, in the midst of all this good stuff happening, the health issues have been worse. On top of being sick, the military healthcare system can be rather difficult.

And I have been so insanely stressed out.

I was lashing out at my husband because I got frustrated so easily. And then I would feel terrible about that, too. My anxiety was getting really bad. Any little thing that happened could throw me into brief hysterics. I kept comparing myself to other people.

“Nobody else gets so upset about a rude cashier.”

“Nobody else goes to the doctor so often.”

“Everybody else gets so much more accomplished than I do.”

I was beginning to hate myself. Friday night, I had a heart-to-heart with my husband about how stressed out I was feeling and how bad I felt about myself. Impulsively, I decided I would get a haircut the next day. After growing my bangs out for 6 months, I had them cut short again. I thought I might look better in bangs again, and I craved some change. Looking the mirror instantly became easier.

Small changes can help, but later on Saturday God brought me an even bigger one.

I was anxious about the party because the only person I was going to know beforehand was Renee, the birthday girl. When the party (at a local winery) got started and Renee introduced me as the woman who was now editing Devotional Diva, everyone gave me a warm and excited welcome. I found that conversing with everyone was pretty easy, and I was enjoying myself and the beautiful view. Towards the end of the evening, Renee offered to anoint me with oil from Israel and pray over me. I have been a Christian pretty much my whole life, but I had never experienced either of those things before. The anointing oil possessed the best scent I’ve ever smelled. As the women prayed over me, I never felt the presence of Christ more. The stress I had been bearing seemed to just melt away.

I felt peaceful.

It was almost as if I could see myself sitting in that beautiful sunset, these ladies’ hands over me in prayer. I could see the power of God at work. I went home feeling so blessed, and have retained that tranquil feeling ever since. I can still picture myself being prayed over in that gorgeous setting. My stress level is much lower now. I was praying in the several days before the party that God could heal me of my recent emotional turmoil. And did He! I don’t think that I could have gone on much longer the way I was.

The Lord is so awesome, isn’t He?

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