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Longing for Loneliness 

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Ann Grace. Boy, this devotional hit me hard. Ann is a remarried widow and military wife and mom of five with just an amazing story. Her heart inspires me. Look out for more devotionals from her because she’s got a lot more to her story, and a lot more to say. This devotional in particular is about “longing for loneliness.”]

I thought I knew what loneliness was, and I avoided it at all costs. Before my husband
died, there were many times I felt lonely and ran from it. I filled my schedule with errands, my days with household chores, and it seemed to help.

Life of this wife and mother of five was endless hours of cleaning and chauffeuring children to and from their schools. Don’t even get me started with helping with homework while holding a newborn and trying to cook a healthy dinner to be warm when my husband came home from work. Life was busy. It was chaotic. There was always something needing to be done. The laundry seemed like it had a vendetta against me, and orphaned socks were constantly screaming at me to find their pair!

I grew used to filling my lonely heart with the busyness of this life. I read my daily 5 minute devotionals, said my prayers before meals and went to countless Bible studies. My husband loved the Lord as much as I did, and we did our weekly ritual of attending church. We both strived to live for Christ as best as we knew how.

For years, the presence of my husband and kids seemed to be all I needed in life. Or at least that’s what I thought should be enough. I never admitted feeling lonely to anyone, myself included, unless I was ready to be judged. And I wasn’t ready. Where I grew up, being lonely was almost shameful, like you were ungrateful for your life, family, etc… It was kind of like there was something wrong with the person, you know?

The night my husband died, I asked him if he was in any pain, and he whispered ever so softly that he wasn’t. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. That would be the last time I spoke with him as he had a heart attack in his sleep. I remember thinking as I was by his side in all this, “Lord, how am I going to face being alone? Why won’t you heal him?”

I desperately feared being alone.

And in that moment of heartbreak and disbelief, loneliness once again showed up to greet me. Within minutes of his passing, friends and family arrived to comfort me. But no one knew just what to say or could understand how lonely I was feeling. And honestly, all I wanted was to be left alone.

Then the Lord allowed me into a season of loneliness.

He allowed a season of loneliness in my life to create a deeper longing for Him. Husband or no husband, my heart was crying out all these years to go deeper with my Savior. To be alone with Him. To hear His voice. I needed now more than ever to know who I was in Christ.

What was my calling? To be a wife? Mother? Widow?

My life was now being redefined in the midst of this loneliness.

My identity was so wrapped up in preventing a void of loneliness that I forgot to know my King. I let the fear of loneliness drive my life into a pit of even more loneliness. In the end, the Lord allowed heartbreak to reveal a need for Him alone. He saved me. He called me deeper. He called me to love harder. He called me to a season of widowhood so that He could save me from the pit of loneliness I’d crawled into.

In the years following his passing, the Lord has shown me many things, but maybe none more profound than the gift of loneliness. And you know what was most comforting, knowing that Jesus needed to be alone too. If Jesus needed to be alone many times in order to spend quality time with God, then why would I think a busy life, husband or quick devotion would be enough?

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 NIV

Dear Lord, help our lonely hearts long for a deeper need of You. Comfort us in our times of pain and heartache. Let us bask in our season of loneliness knowing You are with us. Take our broken hearts and fill them once more with your unconditional love. Amen. 

Ann Grace married her first husband, a Marine and Firefighter in 2002 and they were blessed with five beautiful children. She was widowed in 2015 and re-married in 2017. She had a stillbirth in 2017 and now seeks to share her passion of how Christ rescued her with other grieving women and children.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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[Editor’s Note: This is a guest poem by veteran Diva writer Ana Nunez. A little over a year ago, Ana submitted a devotional called “Fully Known and Truly Loved” (read that here.) and this year, she said she was working on some poetry. I feel like Ana’s poem, “Where There Is Peace” is such a good companion piece to that first devotional about God’s love for us!]

Where There Is Peace

I want a garden to watch plants grow into what I should be
Healthy and whole, entirely free
I want to paint, to create worlds, in colors only found in the heavenly
I want to work hard at putting the earth back to how it should be
How it was before it fell
What I know it could be
I see potential in everything
I want to plaster photos on walls of trees to remember that despite the chaos

There are perfect little moments in between
Untouched by sin
Unsigned by heat
I want to read words that describe worlds where all is well
And hear stories of pain that is not my own
But comforts me in knowing I am not alone
I want to string together words that paint pictures of perfection in your mind
not any two visions alike

Every desire inside of me to create here points to the eternal embedded in me
I long for what once was, what should be, and what is in another world already
But I fear I’ll mistake my longing of that world for something here presently
I’ll try to find that feeling in a person, a place, or a thing
I’ll imagine experiences not yet had as true purpose and in the end be disappointed
I’ll confuse the physical for the spiritual
I’ll place too much pressure on what I can see

And in the end watch it break apart under the weight of my desire for it to fulfill me
Slip through the cracks because it was not meant to be held onto so tightly

There are no solutions from what I can see
So I’ll wait for the Maker to put it back together

Brick by brick
Piece by piece
I’ll wait for the builder to use gold to pave our streets
Wait for the shepherd to find His sheep
Behind all of this, there is a King
He holds the keys to freedom and He Himself shall be our peace

Ana is a freelance writer & English major. She loves Jesus, reading, meeting with people in coffee shops, taking photos on her iPhone & obsessively editing them, & writing her heart out. Ana is a wife, a sister, a daughter & a friend. Her desire in life is to write to women, helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus and become all He desires for them to be. She was born & raised in Miami, FL and currently lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband of one year, Malik.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

The post Where There Is Peace appeared first on Devotional Diva®.

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Devotional Diva by Maggie - 1w ago

The What If’s

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Agnes Amos-Coleman. Probably the worst things I worry about are “the what if’s” and it is so toxic! This is a really liberating devotional today. Thanks Agnes!]

What if…

The Doctor’s diagnosis is cancer; I can’t pay my bills; I get a pink slip from my employer; my business sales is down; I can’t feed my children; I am single and can’t find the right husband or wife; I can’t find the right job; my husband or wife files for divorce; my friends and family betray me… the list goes on and on.

My friends, none of us is exempt from the what if’s of life. I was recently meditating on my what if I am too old to see God’s promise of having children come to pass in my life.

It was at this time that the Holy Spirit provided me with the comfort I need in His word in Psalm 27:13.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.

What does it mean to remain confident and see the goodness of the Lord when faced with our what ifs of life?

It means bridging the gap between what you see and what you cannot see with the eyes of faith. (Mark 9:23) when Jesus said everything is possible for those who believe. Surrendering the situation to Jesus through prayer with acceptance that we are never in control of our lives – but Jesus is. He knows our yesterday, today and tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but I have found that this is a very comforting place to be when I am helpless with my what ifs.

It means un-learning your fear as God walks you through the process of finding solutions to your what ifs. Fear is the greatest enemy to achieving and fulfilling our purpose in life and that is why the Bible mentions “Fear Not” 365 times. And yes, we can un-learn our fear. You do this by knowing what your fear is, naming it and taking it to the Lord in prayer. (1 John 4:18).

It means Implanting into your life the truth of God’s word in Isaiah

41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.

Christ follower, bring your what ifs situation to God through prayers because He cares for you. If you are currently not a Christ follower, the first step is to accept Him as your Lord and Savior and He will help you with your what ifs.

All glory to God!

Agnes is a leader with proven business acumen in a variety of industries. She holds an executive MBA from the University of Hull, United Kingdom, and is also a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP). She is the author of God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage and Divorce; The Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals and Transforming Business With Godly Governance: Nine Characteristics for Workplace Success.

 [Closing Editor’s Note: If you have any questions about accepting Jesus into your heart, or just want to talk about Jesus, as a Christian this is my duty!  I would love to help answer any questions as best I can. My contact info is below.]

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

The post The What If’s appeared first on Devotional Diva®.

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What Is God’s Version of Success?

[Editors Note: This is a guest story by Katie Pezzutto. This is one devotional I read and thought, “this is going to make a difference for a lot of people.” In my humble opinion, young adults are way too hard on themselves and push themselves harder than ever. Thank you Katie for your story!]

One year ago, I was on a fast track to finishing my double degree at the University of Lethbridge. With grades as high as my BC relatives, my hope for admission to the Schulich School of Law was bright. A well-known modelling and acting agency in Calgary had signed me on earlier that year. That summer, I finished writing my first YA novel and had found an agent in Toronto who was interested in representing me to a publisher.

My intricately laid plans were bulldozing along. 

But as my second practicum came to a close, I found myself covered in blistering hives, a subtle result of the massive amounts of stress I was under. I slapped on some bandaids, took a couple days to “rest” (aka: catch up on practicum related work) and brushed the incident off.

In those days, my Bible sat on my bedside table, collecting coffee mugs and dust. I offered a prayer now and then. I rarely stopped to listen. I wanted to do things my way, the best way, no exceptions.

I was so hard on myself. Not just in school, but in everything.

My hair was too frizzy and short. My body was constantly under scrutiny. The expectations I had for my friendships and relationship with my new husband zapped my energy. Whatever I did, it was never good enough. But I spent time with people anyway, convinced that the more friends I had, the less of a loser I was.

Depressing? Yep.

The December after my practicum, my husband and I flew to Hawaii. That’s when my body broke down again. This time, the repercussions were worse. Between a frantic trip from the toilet to my cup of ginger ale I heard God’s voice, loud, clear and gentle as a dusting of mist.

“Katie, do you know me?” I almost choked on my saltine cracker.

“What? Yeah. Of course.” He was silent for a moment before continuing.

“Then why do you strive?”

“Uh…” I was left speechless, with an attractive half-eaten cracker hanging from my gaping mouth. He continued, His points hitting their mark, “Katie-bug, I don’t measure success by what the world sees. Millions of people might applaud you, but it won’t make you happy. My affirmation is all you need. In the end, you will stand before me, not them.” I nodded my head, stunned at hearing His voice so clearly.

“When you stand before me do you know what I’ll ask you?” I shake my head, no.

“Did you learn to love?” I dropped my head into my hands, my heart wrenched. Tears started streaming down my face. At this point, I didn’t know how to love God, much less people. Truth be told, I hadn’t even learned to love myself.

After that conversation, much prayer and wise counsel I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life. With one practicum and four classes left, I chose to not finish my degree. I didn’t apply to law school. I started modeling less and auditioning for fewer acting gigs. I took a low-stress job with the City of Lethbridge and released myself of writing deadlines.

As the Lord gently led me beside still streams, I started my time with Him on my knees, hands lifted, giving my dreams to Him. I sat with God and listened, dove into scripture and sought His Fatherly heart. I received less attention from people but I felt peace, so much peace.

The more time I spent with Him, the deeper in love I fell. Instead of anxious pandering and tears of stress, joy filled my mornings.

I have discovered that the joy of knowing our Abba is nothing compared to human accomplishments. That’s not to say that God is going to keep us from our heart’s desires. Far from it, He tells us in Psalm 37:4 to delight ourselves in Him and He will “give us the desires of our hearts.” The key is: we spend time with Him and become enamored with what He values. When that happens, our will comes in line with His. We get to partner with God, not with the world.

Not only do we get to live a life filled with peace, we can escort others into the multifaceted, backwards thinking delight known as the Kingdom. There’s nothing more valuable than leading God’s beloved ones deeper into His crazy heart.

Nope, not even a law degree.

With much love,

K.L Pezzutto

Katie Pezzutto lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her business-dude husband and freak circus budgies. She is currently working on her first novel “The Fisherman’s Daughter” and earning her Masters in Old Testament theology from Briercrest Seminary.

 

[Closing Editor’s Note: If you have any questions about accepting Jesus into your heart, or just want to talk about Jesus, as a Christian this is my duty!  I would love to help answer any questions as best I can. My contact info is below.]

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

The post What is God’s Version of Success? appeared first on Devotional Diva®.

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Devotional Diva by Maggie - 3w ago

Wait on God

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Maria Drayton. I feel like, even though as Christians we are taught to “wait on God” and that He has His own plans and timing, there are literally never going to be too many devotionals or stories demonstrating waiting does, in fact, pay off!]

“It’s nice to meet you!”  I said, excited to finally have another young person working in my office.  She had seemed nice enough.  With many years of experience in the industry, I was hopeful that we would work well together.  The office only consisted of 4 people and that included her.  One day as I walked past her office, she even yelled out to me “Maria, I know you are the praying type, I am going to the doctor today to find out if I can have a baby.”  I was honored by her request so of course I prayed.

Within only a few weeks I noticed a change in her.  “Good morning,” I would dutifully say daily without response.  She began walking by me without a word.  At one point, I even asked her, “did I do something to you?”  “No!” she quickly snapped. So the office environment changed and I wish I could say for the better.  In an effort to bridge the gap, I even gave her a book of prayers and dedicated it to her without a “thank you.”  So I didn’t know what else to do, didn’t know what I had done, and hated going to work now (considering the other person in the office didn’t care for me either and they had rallied against me without my knowledge).

I prayed every morning before I went just to help me get through the day.  But things got worse.  I would try to ask her questions and if she answered back at all it would include an attitude.  I did everything possible to nullify the situation.  Construction was also happening right upstairs and it was a struggle to have a decent phone conversation.  My job depended on my daily calls.  Now as God would have it, I worked for a Christian whom regularly did mission trips to Africa and served as a deacon at his church.   I had gone to him and explained my plight with my co-worker but it fell on deaf ears, he never addressed it.  So all I had was prayer as my lifeline.

Months went by like this until I began to prepare my resume.  I wanted out.  But this day things would change.  I went into work, said my “good mornings” and proceeded to my office.  I tried to work but was unsuccessful due to the hammering going on directly on top of me (sounds coming thru the floor).

I sat and asked, “Lord, can I please go and ask my boss if I can work from home?”  “No” was His response.  I sat and continued to try to work.  And later asked again, “Lord, please can I talk to my boss about my situation?” 

“No” He responded again.

So I sat longer.  By this point it was almost the end of the day and my office door opened.  My boss peaked his head in, “On Monday, I have to talk to you about something,” he said.  It was Friday and I really didn’t want to ponder all weekend what he needed to discuss, so I asked him “Can we just talk now?”  “Sure”, he responded as he came in and closed the door behind him.  “What do you think about working from home and coming in only 2 days a week?”  I sat there and couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  All day I had asked the Holy Spirit if I could ask this EXACT THING!!!!  And now here my boss was asking me?  “YES!!!” was my answer.

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Now things should have gotten better after that.  But they didn’t.  Now that I was out of the office the new girl decided to throw me under the bus more frequently.  But because I was working from home I knew nothing.  Until one day my boss called me while I was working from home to say, “It appears Marsha (the new girl) has gone to the Department of Banking and Insurance Industry on everyone at this office and our licenses are now being threatened.” 

I responded, “I’m not surprised at all.  I tried to tell you before that she couldn’t remain professional and that everything was personal with her.” 

Psalm 23: 5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

He went on to explain, “Since you’ve been working from home you don’t know the half of how she’s tried to get you fired.”  “Again, I’m not surprised by any of this,” I replied.  What I realized is he was now finally seeing what I had been saying all along

1 Corinthians 3:13, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”

“You know you tried to tell us a while ago but I just didn’t believe it,” He said as if regretting his unbelief in what I had told him long before.  Now that his license was under fire and he was being required in a deposition, he finally believed me.  I also was required in a deposition, but I had no fear because I knew the Lord was with me

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”(KJV)

I even found myself reminding my boss of this scripture and told him “don’t worry.”

Matthew 6:34 (NIV), “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

So of course we were cleared by our depositions but she continued on and now was continuing to threaten my boss, so much that he had to get his own attorney involved and have her fired through the lawyer.

After she was fired, the office manager found the book of prayers I had given her in the bottom of her desk and gave it back to me.

Moral of the story, wait on God

Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”

Maria Drayton, originally from Seattle, Washington is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism through the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications. Maria currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with the Lord. Purchase Maria’s newly released book, “The King and I: Steps for Living in Today’s World Through Intimacy with the Lord” on her website: www.mariadrayton.com !

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Not Nice or Knot Nice

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor June Windle Bare. June is so great with metaphors — if you read her last post, Spiritual Garbage Disposal, you’ll know what I mean! This devotional might make you re-evaluate some “knots” in your life!]

My favorite necklace! How in the world can I get this knot untied? If I attempt to wear it without taking the knot loose, my neck will get sore. It will drive me nuts. And it won’t hang at the right place on my neck. The chain on this necklace is a very delicate, fine-gauge gold chain with a lovely heart pendant. My sweetie gave it to me, and I want to wear it to please him.

I work the knot out. It takes time, patience, eye strain, and a challenge to my arthritic fingers. I work at it for seemingly a life-time until” Eureka!” it comes loose.

As I look at it against my neck, I reflect on the knots and the “nots” in my relationships with other people. Why should I bother? Why encourage a relationship with others who are “not” my faith, my family, my friends? They are not my style, not the kind of necklace I want to hang around my neck. Why should I care? But those “nots” are like the many knots on a fragile chain that links people together.

I think of a woman down the street, who calls me every so often to tell me about the problems in her life and remind me I am a praying woman. She ties up my phone and my plans for so long I worry my ear will fall off. As I think of her, I try to call. No answer. I leave a nice message, but do I hope she won’t call back, and let someone else unravel her knots? But I do care.

I think of my friend who, because of aging concerns, has been sidelined. She has dropped so many of her interests in the church and her social life. Should I offer to do something with her, or just let that knot alone? I call and offer to take her to lunch and to visit another friend in worse condition than she is. She is delighted. Me too. A knot untied.

I think of a relative—well, the widow of a relative. I am the one who always initiates the call or sends the card. Why bother? She never gives me the time of day unless she wants something. Why not drop that knotty chain to the bottom of the box? No, I will try to pick that knot apart, too. I write a note, telling her of family things. I hope she writes back.

A visit, a phone call or a letter may be one way to untie the knots, but what about an e-mail, a text, an emoji as a response to someone’s Facebook posts? These efforts seem so impersonal. Why not spend a few minutes commenting on their post with a word of encouragement? This may be the only way to engage the nots and the knots. Cannot God use any reasonable means to connect us in His greater family? And then sometimes the only way—and the first way—to loosen a knot is to pray for the “nots.”

I am reminded of St. Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 12: 24-26 (NLT):

God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

I want to be “knot” nice.

June is a retired nurse, poet, and widow, living in southern Georgia. Now in her eighties, she remains active in her local church. Among other church responsibilities, she teaches a Sunday school class of her peers. She writes a weekly blog on Facebook, entitled “Monday Musings.” Prior to moving to Georgia, she was a regular contributor to “The Watauga Democrat” newspaper, and “All About Women,” a monthly magazine, both in Boone, North Carolina.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Heidi-Marie Ferren. This is the story of Heidi’s church (“The Little Church That Could”) and I just adored it. Way back in 2014 in my “How I Became a Christian” story, I talked about my home church and reading Heidi’s story brought back so many memories for me! One is truly blessed to find a little church home like this.]

The Little Church that Could

Deuteronomy 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Miss USO, Singer, Speaker, Actress, and all of the titles we give and get in life; One would never think ‘former homeless person’ would be in that list, but it is. However, this story is not about being homeless.
It’s about our journey to a home full of gifts that only God could give through the kind and generous hands of a church. A church that brought new meaning to the term “good works.” This story begins at the end of my 7-month stint living in a car with my mother in Southern California; After my mother’s feet had turned pitch black from diabetes and we had been turned out of the hospital that feared we couldn’t pay.
I’ll never forget the ache as we drove away from Los Angeles, a place I rested the realization of all my dreams. While it felt like a failure, there was also relief. It had been so hard and we had lost so much. We left with hope and money and came back with less than zero of both.
Suddenly I felt pangs of shame; remembering the faces of church members at our going away party. I started anticipating the “I told you so’s,” and, “oh well’s,” that were in my future. We arrived home late at night to find a raccoon had clawed its way through one of the walls in the living room. There was a family of wild cats living in the crawl space, a skunk den in the bushes and a broken A/C and heater. Too exhausted to think, we pushed boxes in front of the raccoon hole, pulled out blankets from the car and huddled on the floor of a bedroom for heat until we finally fell into a restless sleep.
I awoke the next morning to a man banging on the front door calling out our names. I hid in the hallway, hoping he would leave, not ready to face the music just yet. But, he didn’t leave, he wouldn’t leave and I couldn’t bear more guilt than I was already nursing, so I meandered to the door.
It was David Gates, a deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Rogers, Arkansas; a kind man who happened to be one of the people that planned our going away party. I opened the door with a smiling, yet heavy heart. At this point, I was just grateful to see someone who made me feel home and David was just that. He had sparkling white hair and the friendliest love filled eyes you’ve ever seen.
He was a tall man, and, like most of the folks at our church did not look his age, which was 82. He leaped at me with a hug and told me to grab mom we were going to breakfast. I stumbled to the bedroom where mom was still tangled in blankets. I tried not to startle her awake too much, since she was still heavily medicated from her pre-gangrenous foot. However, despite my efforts she sprung like a zombie from her uncomfortable slumber.
“What is it?! What?! What is it?!” “Momma, David Gates is here to take us to breakfast.”
“What?! How’d he know we were even here?” “Guess he saw the car.”
That is exactly what happened. The only part we missed was that he had been driving by for days to see if we had made it back yet.
Apparently our little church in Rogers, Arkansas, whose average congregational age was at least 70, had organized and executed a plan to get us back to square one.
David had submitted us to Rebuilding Together, a non-profit that helped repair uninhabitable homes for those who can’t afford it.
Charles Hudson had a job for me at his appraisal firm and the church needed help on Saturdays. David had four bags of groceries from the food pantry that didn’t need to be refrigerated, since our refrigerator didn’t work either.
They also wanted mom to come be the drama director again when she felt up to it. It was a tidal wave of met needs before those needs had even been uttered.
We were flabbergasted. How on earth could they have known? They hadn’t even stopped to think if our pride would be hurt, or whether, or not we wanted help.
No, they loved us and took us in the palm of their hands like family. Family like neither of us had ever known. David dropped us home a few hours later to find Ed Molitor waiting with a mattress and a chair.
A few hours after Ed left, I heard the sound of a bag drop on our porch. It was Pat and Charles Teeter hurrying off, so their kindness wouldn’t be caught. The Teeters had more zip in their 90 year-old bodies than I had at 16. Pat always filled the church with what she called her “roadside bouquets,” wildflowers she had picked from the road. She took flowers someone else might call a weed and made them magic in a vase. It turns out Pat heard I was starting work with Charles the next day and thought I’d need clean clothes. I fought hard to hold the tears back.
As I opened the bag and pulled out the first item, I saw it was a solid black turtleneck. It’s silly, but I had always wanted a black turtleneck. I never told anyone. It was silly and small, but to me, it was a giant glaring message from God…I have you. I have the smallest desires of your heart in my heart. Even in the lowest of lows I will shower you with your heart’s desires. I hear you. I remember and you are never forgotten.
My mother and I had never had one church we went to regularly before the First Presbyterian Church of Rogers. In fact, the only reason we started attending regularly was because we thought it was the prettiest church in the area to have a wedding. It’s funny how God blesses us beyond our plans. I never went through with the wedding, but I never let go of that church and thank God they never let go of me.

Heidi-Marie Ferren is an award winning writer and content creator. She has directed and written for Comedy Central Stages and is the producer, director and head writer for Defiance Theatre Company’s award winning sketch comedy series. She is a founding member of ValleHo Productions and her content has been featured on Funny or Die, YouTube and a number of streaming platforms. For six years she served United States and Allied Servicemembers and Veterans as Miss USO, performing and speaking across the globe as an ambassador and steward of gratitude. She has performed and lectured in over 1,000 venues including performances at CitiField, Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden, and President Clinton’s Inauguration. As a country, jazz and gospel recording artist, Heidi’s credits include performances with Taylor Swift, Joan Jett, Patti LaBelle, Lee Greenwood and Tony Orlando. Heidi is currently in pre- production for a major feature franchise and series slated to premiere at Cannes in 2019. She is a resident writer for two production houses in Los Angeles and a songwriter for the Roundtable. Heidi has her BFA from Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts and her MFA from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program. She is currently recording her second album to be released early 2018 as well as preparing for the launch of her latest speaking series and book. Heidi also continues her work in support of service members through time, song and service as an Ambassador, Performer, and Volunteer.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

The post The Little Church that Could appeared first on Devotional Diva®.

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Healthy Lessons from Life

[Editor’s note: This is a guest story from Pam Williams. Hope you had a great Easter weekend. I think this is a great story for spring! Let’s get out walking and eating fresh food! PS the photo this week is by Pam, too!]

My Mom is the reason why I am aware of healthy eating and healthy living. If it was left to me, I would have made colorful meals with gummy bears, peppermint sticks and lollipops. My Mom would take the candy away and remind me how important it was to get my colors from fruits and vegetables rather than candy. I complied but back then, I thought candy was a better choice.

She also believed that walking every day was good. Never mind that my brothers and I  had train passes and could ride the train for free. She would help strap our backpacks to our backs and for five long miles we would walk the distance to our small school. I believe this is how I learned to count into the thousands. Everywhere, the sidewalk had cracks and I knew the number of each one. Number 4376 resembled a wiggly worm and was at the corner of Halsey and Broadway. I knew I had at least 5,624 more steps to go. This is how I learned to appreciate walking.

As a young adult I loosely kept to the rules taught by my Mom. Although, candy didn’t appeal as much to me as when I was a kid; cheese cake and chocolate cookies brightened my world. Don’t worry, though. I still ate zucchini and collard greens to stay alive.

The impact of these habits didn’t become clear to me until my older brother had his first heart attack. Even though he knew we were supposed to keep physically active, and eat green, yellow and red vegetables, he just stopped. Fried chicken and potato salad filled his plate but he didn’t know that the pressure increased in his heart and veins. Mix in other factors such as stress, and the perfect disease storm made its way into his life. He didn’t know that his heart was not as efficient as it once was. The exchange of fresh oxygen for waste material went sour. A heart attack. In my mind, this wasn’t supposed to happen. My parents were as healthy as oxen. No heart attacks should have ever enter our household. But I was so wrong.

Although I was heartbroken, the reality before me became clearer. I understood a little better the whys of healthy eating and physical activity. I encouraged my brother to do what we did as kids. Let’s eat right and keep moving. Unfortunately, the importance of healthy habits didn’t kick in and by the time my brother had his third heart attack and passed away, I was devastated. My family lost him because of poor lifestyle habits.

I looked back over our lives and started to understand more than I thought I could. Apparently the stuff that made these diseases may have been in our genes. By eating healthy and exercising, I could keep heart attacks, diabetes and cancer from developing in my body, or at least reduce the risk.

It took awhile for me to finally understand that God made our bodies and he made fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods to give us exactly what we need for the best health possible. It’s almost like a hand in a glove. I need fiber, vitamins and minerals to live and when I eat what God made, I get what I need to live healthy. I also get all the colors that help fight these diseases. These and other foods give me energy and when I walk or exercise, I use the energy to keep my muscles in good working order and keep my blood vessels as clean as possible.

Today, I am still saddened by the loss of my brother but I am also overwhelmed by the idea that when God spoke fruits and vegetables into existence, it would have what I needed to live. When I pray before a meal, I can imagine creation and get a little insight into what it means when God saw that vegetation, plants and fruit trees were good. (See Genesis 1:12) They are really good for life. I thank Him for my Mom, her God-given wisdom to exercise and for making plants to help me live. 

Pam has three passions and a quest. She loves to write about nutrition, health, and Jesus. She loves taking photos of people, nature and cityscapes. And Lastly, Pam loves helping others in the field of nutrition. Her quest is to go deeper in her walk with God. Each day, she explores her relationship with God through writing, photography and working with others.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

The post Healthy Lessons from Life appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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[Editor’s  Note: This is a guest story by contributor Maria Drayton. I’m still planning on doing one post a week for now, but when Maria sent me this Easter post (and I realized, Oh man, I really don’t have an Easter post this year…) I decided to post it this week too! P.S. Have you ever wanted to know what Easter was called in Italy? Pasqua! So this Sunday, happy Resurrection, Easter, and Pasqua!]

Easter on Resurrection Sunday

1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

It’s almost that time again. The time that all the stores fill up with Easter baskets, eggs and candy. The time that the shopping begins for the perfect Easter outfit. The time that the people you haven’t seen all year show up to church. It’s funny what things become about when it comes to Easter. A national holiday that encourages everything EXCEPT what it really is.
I fell for it. I saw a sale and jumped on it. I had everything and was prepared. I had a 20% off coupon, plus a $70 gift card to use. I was ready. I chose my son to focus on this year. He has grown a lot in the year, needed a new dress shirt, pants and shoes. I saw the sale and moved in for the kill. There I stood in the middle of the boys section going back and forth.

First, it was the green shirt with the blue tie and the blue pants. But then I couldn’t find the right size pants in the navy blue. Then I switched to the blue shirt with mixed blue and gray tie with gray pants instead. But the shirt was too small. When the lady came to ask me if I needed help to find anything, I immediately said, “yes!” She went to the back to look for the right sizes of either and could not find any that would fit. I switched again to the tan pants instead.

Then I found the right size pants but the shirt didn’t look quite right. Eventually I left the store settling on the green shirt with the blue tie and the navy blue slacks (just got a bigger size). I figured he could “grow into them.” All of this over Easter Sunday. Not only did I go and make the Easter outfit purchase an event but the pants definitely didn’t fit and I had to go back again for round two.

Then it happened, a church that we often visit, proclaimed “we will not be dressing up this Easter we want everyone that comes to feel comfortable”. I thought to myself, “After all I went through for the perfect outfit for my son?!” Instead I made the decision to go to another church where “tradition” still rules.
It really didn’t hit me until after the postcard came from the church (in which I decided on) to advise that there would only be two services on Easter Sunday. One at 6am and the other at 10am. My family often went to the early service since we lived so far away- traffic generally wasn’t as bad in the early morning hours.

Then I showed it to my husband and said, “We will probably have to wake up at around 4am on Easter- I just wanted you to know.” He answered, “Maybe we don’t have to go to this church but the one we visit instead.” “What?!” I thought to myself. Maybe it was me that needed to change. After all, tradition doesn’t have to “stay” tradition.

As a child, I knew I could always count on this time of year for a new outfit from my mom. We would all walk in church with our crisp new dresses, stockings and shoes. That was the tradition, Easter Sunday meant dressing to the tee. Now here I was, being challenged in my thought of this tradition. Realizing, “Why do we need to get extra fancy?” Even as my son grew, it was filled with Easter baskets and egg hunts in addition to the church attire. I’m not even sure if my son even really knows what it’s really about at this age. I have to admit; I’ve dropped the ball. After all, Easter is about Jesus’ resurrection not about outward appearance. It’s about the offer of salvation from our very own sins through His resurrection.

Romans 3: 21-26 (NIV), “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

I’ve decided it’s not too late. This Easter Sunday, we will be visiting the other church. This “Easter” we will be dressing casually instead, giving “Easter” its proper focus. What an awesome God he truly is! Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Romans 4: 23-25 (NIV), “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Maria Drayton, originally from Seattle, Washington is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism through the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications. Maria currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with the Lord. Purchase Maria’s newly released book, “The King and I: Steps for Living in Today’s World Through Intimacy with the Lord” on her website: www.mariadrayton.com !

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

The post Resurrection on Easter Sunday appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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