19 October 2017

Charlotte’s Garden By Shirley Johnson

Charlotte loved to work in her garden in the morning. She could hear the morning birds greet the day with a song. The refreshing dewdrops found rest upon the garden. The flowers seemed to smile back at the sun.

Charlotte worked hard at maintaining the presentation and growth of the garden. She knew with the proper care it would not only look beautiful, but create a peaceful atmosphere for those viewing it. From childhood, she knew which of the elements and garden intruders can interfere with the presentation and growth of the garden and which are harmless.

The garden often ministered to Charlotte. She embraced the seasons of the garden. It often shared reflections of life and whispers of hope.

While working in the garden a ladybug crawled on her sleeve. There was a time many years ago if this happened she would have panicked. She smiled and laughed to herself. She thought back to when she was a very small child. She was with her mom visiting at their friend’s home. The porch provided a favorite play area. Somehow a ladybug crawled right where she sat. She cried out to her mom for help.

Charlotte’s mom came running in response to her cries. While Charlotte saw a big intruder, her mother saw a simple little ladybug. “Oh, Charlotte.” “It’s okay,” said her mom. Her mom had gardened a long time and knew the difference between a harmless bug and dangerous ones. “This is just an innocent little bug that somehow landed in the wrong place.” She calmly scooped up the ladybug with her gentle hands, opened the screen door, and let it go.

Life’s seasons have a way of presenting itself with different problems. There are times when we have real problems, big problems that we need to face, address and solve. Sometimes though, we have little irritations that invade our space. They land right where we sit in life. They have us talking, repeating, agonizing and spinning our wheels. They interfere and distract us from the purpose and plan in our lives. They “bug” us.

When those little irritations land in our space,
look at them and determine how big they are.
Perhaps there are times when we too must open the screen door and let them go.

ABOUT
Shirley Johnson shares inspiration and encouragement through her writing. She is a member of SCBWI and ACFW. She loves to read and has volunteered at her local Public Library as an Adult Literacy Tutor. She shares her writing on her blog. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
http://busylifepause.com/

https://www.facebook.com/shrlyjohnson

17 October 2017

So You Want to be a Sheep? By Maureen Hager

Sheep are mentioned in the Bible more than any other animal; symbolically they refer to God’s people. All the sheep that belong to the shepherd are of one flock.

God has many names; each one describes an attribute of His character. A favorite name is Yahweh-Rohi – The Lord, Our Shepherd. Here is the description of the relationship our God wants with us. The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want (Psalm 23:1).

What a beautiful picture of the rest we have in Him. Are you stressed today? Find rest in the green pastures of His finished work. Find hope and restoration as He restores your soul.

The Lord tells us in Isaiah 53:6 that most sheep will go astray and follow their own way. Are you a stubborn sheep, straying on the wrong path and in need of guidance and correction?

A shepherd’s rod redirects and corrects the sheep. The staff is used to lift and restore the sheep.  Trust and hope in the Good Shepherd to lead you out of the pit of despair.

I once traveled on the wrong path. This misguided search led me into a painful journey of drug addiction and life in a motorcycle gang. I was that stubborn sheep that got caught up in a violent gang war and became a broken victim. Crippling bullets forever changed my life.

Eventually, I encountered the hope and healing of God’s transforming love. A victorious life in Him is meant to be lived on the paths of righteousness and not in the past.

So why would you want to be a sheep? Like sheep, we need only to trust the Lord and follow Him. We need Jesus, our Good Shepherd to lead and guide us, to care for us, and to protect us from the enemy. What contentment and sufficiency we can have in Him.

Yahweh-Rohi leads us home. He lovingly rubs the healing oil on our broken and wounded hearts. The Shepherd knows our needs. He will restore us when we are broken, pick us up when we fall, and strengthen us in our weakness. Now that is a love I can trust!

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.                     John 10:27-28 (NJKV)

ABOUT

Maureen Hager is an author, speaker, and blogger. Her passion lies in empowering women to receive hope and healing from their brokenness through the love of God. Her testimony of deliverance and restoration has impacted women of all ages. Her book, Love’s Bullet is available Fall, 2017. Website: www.MaureenHager.com  Blog: www.OutoftheBrokenness.com                        

12 October 2017

Got Five Minutes? By Letitia Suk

“Take five minutes to pray for your work each day and see what happens,” was the challenge proposed by our pastor to the congregation years ago. I remember thinking something like, “Duh!” Of course, I already pray at least five minutes a day for my work...don’t I? Surely all the praying-on-the-run I did each day for all the flying curveballs added up to more than five minutes.

The nudging continued so the next morning I grabbed a timer on the way to my prayer chair, set it for five minutes and began to pray specifically for my work. Wow, that timer took a long time to ding! Challenge accepted—I was ready to see what would happen.

Like many of us, my work is multi-faceted. So I decided to give a minute to each of the five areas for my day-to-day projects. It seemed like one minute would be easier that five. I know, wimpy, right?

The first minute I gave to my coaching clients. They invested time with me to bring focus and intentionality to their lives and I wanted to give them my best work. My writing got the next minute. The current projects, the longed-for projects, my skill and wisdom in putting words on a page. Good thing the timer rang because it was easy to zone off into work mode instead of praying.

Speaking ministry was next. Events already scheduled and those I wanted to schedule. For my communication skills to grow and for lives to be changed. A lot for one minute.

My part-time chaplain work got minute #4. Patients, sensitivity, staff and overall blessing for the hospitals.

The last minute I saved for specific work stuff on that day’s agenda: marketing, blogging, networking. This time the five minutes flew by.

He was right—things happened! I felt more partnered with God in all aspects of my work. Not just that I was working for Him but with Him as I laid the concerns out each day. I saw clearer productivity and greater results.

All these years later, I still set my timer most days. My work depends on it.

Each day holds 1440 minutes...hard to claim a legitimate excuse for not finding five of them to invest in prayer over your work. You might be amazed at the return.

P.S.—The same five-minute principle works for other areas of your life too!



Letitia (Tish) Suk, www.letitiasuk.com, invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She blogs at hopeforthebest.org and authored Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat) and Rhythms of Renewal. She is a speaker, personal retreat guide, and life coach in the Chicago area. Find Tish: https://www.facebook.com/Letitia.Suk.Author/

10 October 2017

Five Tips for Flexible Family Faith Time by Stephenie Hovland

Guess what? There is no such thing as a perfect Christian family! That means there isn’t one perfect way to devotions. In fact, I’m thinking the word “devotions” might need to go. Think of this as family faith time.

Let’s go through five tips to make your family faith time work. Remember to revisit these ideas regularly. As your family grows and ages, you might need to change how this works.

1.    Purpose: This is a time for your family to meet around God’s Word. Your family and circumstances may dictate what time of day, where, what materials, how long it will last, etc. You are not trying be a theology professor or expect perfect participation from every family member every time. Just start with something (the Bible or a kids’ Bible story book, for example) and run with it. Make changes later.

2.    Plan a little: Don’t worry about it being perfect, but make a few plans. Or, if you’re like me, plan a lot! I am not spontaneous, so I need to have several options. You can evaluate how it went after you’re done, so the next time is a little better.  

3.    Pray: I hope you pray with your family, but say a quick, private prayer as everyone gathers. That personal prayer time will help you to take a breath and let God handle things.

4.    Physical: Be physical. Hold hands when you pray, hug when you’re finished, and try to touch members of your family in a loving way when you talk about and with God. We want to be Jesus “with skin on” in a sense, so we should touch. Jesus did.

5.    Play: While family faith time works great around a dinner table for some, others find it easier to focus on faith talk when they’re more active. Maybe you need to take it outside and shoot some hoops while you explore God’s connections in each family member’s life. Or, perhaps you start or end your time with play. Dancing helps get the wiggles out, so it might be a great way to start your family faith time. Or, maybe after a quick devotion and prayer time, you play Candyland together as a family.

When it seems like it’ll never work, please don’t give up! Try not to force your way. Change elements of your time together, and see if something else might work better. (I say this from much experience.) Keep trying. Keep praying. God is there for you and your family.


ABOUT

Stephenie Hovland loves reading and writing devotions. She also writes rhyming Bible stories for children and resources for teachers. You can find her work at Concordia Publishing House, Creative Communications for the Parish, and many online bookstores. Visit her Facebook page: @StephenieHovlandWriter and on Twitter:@StephHovland

5 October 2017

Walking in Your Own Shoes By Kolleen Lucariello


Here in my home state of New York, October ushers in the fun of pumpkins, apple picking and salmon fishing season. There’s also the beauty of leaves peaking, apple cider and cozy sweaters. Among the many things October has to offer, it has also been designated as Women Walking in Their Own Shoes month: a global call for women to say yes to their purpose, passion and power.

If you’re like me, fall also means it’s time to shed the flip-flops, put away the sandals, and slip your feet back into a pair of shoes. Preferably comfortable ones—it’s never enjoyable to spend a day in shoes that don’t fit.

Once, while visiting my parents, I slipped my feet into a pair of my mother’s shoes so I could retrieve something from the car. Immediately, I noticed we walk completely differently; she walks on the inside of her sole—I don’t. My feet in her shoes didn’t work well. Come to think of it, I’ve stood in the clearance section trying to squeeze my feet into the wrong size shoe all for the sake of cuteness. I’ve also clomped around in shoes too big out of convenience. Neither were comfortable. Did you know it’s possible to cause serious harm to yourself by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly?

Serious harm can also happen when insecurities keep you from walking in your own shoes. Just as there’s comfort when we slip our feet into our own shoes, comfort can be found when we slip ourselves into the purpose, passion and power God has given us.

Paul wrote, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11-12, MSG).

When we say yes to Christ, we say yes to purpose because we discover what we are living for. We say yes to passion because we recognize who we are, and we say yes to power because we understand the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power (1 Corinthians 4:20).

Cinderella was the only one who could wear the glass slipper.

You’re the only one who can walk in your shoes.

ABOUT


Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am, resides in Central New York with her husband, Pat. You can connect with Kolleen at www.speakkolleen.com as she pursues God’s heartbeat to change our identity—one letter at a time. 

3 October 2017

Life in the Silence Infant Loss Awareness Month By Kristine Zimmer Orkin

Life in the Silence
Infant Loss Awareness Month

            Jacob entered the world silently.
            There was no collaborative gasp of joy with the final push that announced his arrival. No newborn wail of indignation as his warm little body emerged and felt coldness for the first time. No congratulatory cheer at the declaration “It’s a boy.” Only hushed whispers among medical professionals. Just a mother’s muffled sobs and a father’s stoic silence. A chilly hospital delivery room, warmed by the respect of random people brought together, celebrating this tiny gift of life now faded.
            We weren’t prepared for the silence, Jacob’s dad and I. We never heard his cry, his laugh, his voice. Not his infant babbling and toddler mispronunciations, nor his squeaky transition from boyhood into manhood. We never came to know his giggles, his outbursts of anger, squeals of excitement, or cries of frustration.
            We came to know the quiet. But we weren’t prepared for the larger silence. The irreparable hole in our family. An obvious incompleteness, especially during holidays and family pictures. On Mother’s Day. In the headcount of grandchildren, making sure to include him. The uncertainty of how to answer “How many children do you have?”
            We felt his strong presence, yet couldn’t see or touch him. Sometimes, in an ordinary moment, we’d hear the tune we’d sung to him while he grew in my belly. A message from Jacob? “I’m here. Don’t forget me.”
            Our marriage struggled to survive as others divorced after the loss of their child. We grieved the buried sadness in our older son, afraid to show his hurt or ask his questions because it might make Mommy cry. We feared pregnancy, of investing emotionally again. Of another hushed delivery room.
            We were not prepared for the blessings that arose out of the silence. For the families after us that we’ve been blessed to comfort through their stillbirths and infant deaths. For the occasions to educate doctors, nurses, and chaplains on child loss. For changes in hospital protocol we’ve enacted to help parents through the silence. And for opportunities to share our story, to support you in your story.

            Though he never took a breath outside my womb, Jacob breathed life into our family from the moment of his conception, and he continues to bless us now, thirty years after his quiet entry into the world. He lives loud and strong through us. His life has a purpose. HAS. Present tense.

ABOUT

Kristine Zimmer Orkin believes that blessings can be found everywhere, even in the most tragic of life circumstances. She and Philip Orkin have three sons: Joseph, Jacob, and Jonathan. In June 2007, Jacob welcomed his daddy Home at Heaven’s gate. The two have had ten years of quality time together.




2 October 2017

Book Review Her Rocky Mountain Highness by Darlene Franklin


Krystal Black had helped foreign dignitaries before but never was tempted to join their ranks. 

Prince Johann "John" van Koppelberg came to the Colorado Rockies expecting a vacation. He hadn't planned to fall in love with his tourism director. 

But like John Denver, the prince found a home and fell in love. Now if only he could get Krystal and his parents to agree.


My Review
Firstly thanks to the author a copy of this book to review.

This novella starts with Krystal and her cousin Jill who work for a tourism company waiting at the international airport for her newest client a Prince Johan (John) and his body guard. In the back ground we hear John Denver's Rocky Mountain High being sung which sets the theme for this book. We also learn Prince Johan is Blonde and Blue eyed and his body guard is tall and burly. 

Right from the start we can see the Prince isn't what you expect of royalty. He is a normal guy wanting to just have a break where he can be himself. He also comes from a royal family who no longer have a kingdom due to wars but still have a title and his kingdom was in mountains so seeing the Rockies touch his soul. Krystal loves to show of her Rockies and loves her job for this reason. 

We also see interaction between Jill and Gus, John's bodyguard and close friend. I like books where the secondary characters are also included in the story. This is another book I really enjoyed.

28 September 2017

Cancer: A Word that Strikes Terror by Joanie Shawhan

Cancer: A Word that Strikes Terror
by Joanie Shawhan


Are there certain words that trigger pressure in your chest or tightness in your throat?

For me, that word is cancer.

I am an ovarian cancer survivor.

My Story

During the summer of 2006, Every time I had another bout of nausea, I brushed thoughts of ovarian cancer from my mind. Surely these spells were too infrequent to be cancer.

But in September, I rolled over in bed and felt a grapefruit-size mass in my abdomen. I closed my eyes and dismissed the whispers of ovarian cancer.

Several weeks later, I almost shot off the table when my physical therapist palpated my spine to isolate the location of my back pain. It’s not in my back, it’s jabbing through my abdomen!

My gynecologist suspected a uterine fibroid and ordered an ultrasound. Even in the dark room, I saw the ultrasound tech lock her eyes on mine. Something is seriously wrong.

Gripping the ultrasound report in her hand, my doctor said, “You have ovarian cancer, the size of a cantaloupe.” She rattled off all that needed done—scheduling tests and surgery. I barely heard her words. Was she talking to me?

When I walked into the hospital on surgery day, I exchanged my scrubs and nurse shoes for tieback gowns and skid-free slipper socks. The surgeon removed a volleyball-size tumor—ovarian cancer.

Today, I am cancer-free. During my treatment, I lost myself to ovarian cancer, but in losing myself, I found a new purpose and calling. Today I have an encouragement ministry to women undergoing chemotherapy. I advocate for and educate women and healthcare professionals regarding ovarian cancer. I write articles so that other women won’t put off getting checked out if they have any signs or symptoms, like I did.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all female cancers. The symptoms women experience prior to diagnosis may be vague or similar to other diseases. This causes some doctors to rule out other causes before they discover ovarian cancer, which is why it is often not diagnosed until later stages.  


Contact your doctor if the following symptoms of ovarian cancer persist:

·         Gastrointestinal symptoms:
Bloating, indigestion, nausea, feeling full or loss of appetite
·         Pelvic or low back pressure or pain
·         Urinating more frequently
·         Changes in bowel patterns
·         Tired or low energy


             
           







Ovarian cancer used to be called the silent killer, but survival rates are high if discovered in the early stages. Learn from my story. Will you listen for the whispers of ovarian cancer?


About the Author:

Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes encouraging articles for women undergoing chemotherapy. Her publishing credits include Coping with Cancer magazine and God Still Meets Needs. She speaks to medical practitioners in the Survivors Teaching Students program. Check out her blog at www.joanieshawhan.com.

25 September 2017

7 Tips for Handling Anxiety by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

7 Tips for Handling Anxiety
by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Worry, fear, and anxiety are epidemic. Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental health disorders.[i]

It started in Genesis, when Adam and Eve developed an unhealthy fear of God, prompting them to hide in the garden after realizing their nakedness.

God commands us not to worry or fear over 300 times, because He knew we would.

Scripture Gives 7 Tips for Handling Anxiety:

1.      Recognize it exists. My people perish for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

2.      Realize those thoughts aren’t your thoughts. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

3.      Ask God what prompted the concern. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)

4.      Combat anxiety with the truth of God’s Word. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

5.      When tempted to worry, vocalize God’s truth. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

6.      Trust God to handle your situation and thank Him for His answers. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)

7.      Stand firm, resist the devil, and command him to leave! Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's. (Matthew 16:23) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Anxiety isn’t from God. Instead God gives us power, love, and a sound mind. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Will you exchange your anxiety for His power, love, and sound mind?

About the Author:

Dr. Bengtson, author of Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression is a clinical neuropsychologist and international speaker. She gives practical tools, encourages faith, and offers hope to acquire peace and joy. She blogs at www.DrMichelleBengtson.com. Find her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DrMichelleBengtson), Pinterest (http://www.Pinterest.com/Drbhopeprevails), and Twitter (http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson).



[i] Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Chatterji S, Lee S, Ormel J, Ust√ľn TB, Wang PS. The global burden of mental disorders: an update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Epidemiol Psichiatr Soc 2009;18(1):23–33.

21 September 2017

Honoring the Unborn by Dana Bridges Stout

Honoring the Unborn
by Dana Bridges Stout

“You want me to what?” I said as my defenses exploded in anger. “No way, no how! I purposely never wanted to do that because I knew it would be too painful, too real.” My Abortion Recovery Bible study facilitator assigned us to name our aborted babies and prepare for a memorial service for the babies represented in our class. I struggled for several days with even the thought of completing this task. Eventually, I prayed for the Lord’s help and began looking at baby name books. Through some tears, I decided on names for the son and daughter I never held.

The memorial service was one of the most holy, reverent and bittersweet services I’ve ever seen. Filled with symbolism of the uniqueness of each mother and child, we gave our babies dignity, recognized their personhood, introduced them to the world and released them to God.  Mothers honored their children in special ways such as singing a song, writing a poem, releasing balloons or reading Scripture. Through the truths of the study, the support of the group and this final sacred moment, I was able to connect to these babies as mother and child. Honoring and remembering my children was crucial to healing my heart from the grievous choice of abortion some ten years prior. I have since walked many women through the same study and presided over many of these services. Each time I am deeply touched to watch the intense struggle for healing come to completion as the mothers timidly but proudly call out their babies’ names, announcing their personhood and lineage to the world.

The second Saturday of September is National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children. September 9, 2017 will be the forth-annual event. It was organized as a service over the grave of 1500 aborted babies and the movement has spread throughout the United States. Pro-Lifers gather to honor the babies with dignity. You can find more information and a service near you at www.abortionmemorials.com.

Perhaps you have chosen abortion and now regret that decision. One step towards healing is honoring your child. And the biggest step is one towards the Lord, allowing Him to heal you through His Word. The wonderful ladies at Abortion Recovery Assistance at www.piedmontwomenscenter.org can help find a recovery program near you.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

(In honor of Joshua Daniel and Delilah Starling.)

About the Author:

Dana Bridges Stout founded Flourishing Life Ministries to minister restoration to women and direct them to truths that help them accept the Flourishing Life that Jesus offers. Dana speaks, leads worship, writes, and teaches live and online Bible studies. Connect with her at www.flourishinglifeministries.com or Flourishing Life Ministries on FB. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...