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[Editors note: This is an excerpt from the book Exstresso: Taking a Coffee Break with God by Leah Whitton with Jessica Casarez. I received a copy of the book for review, and this excerpt is uesd with permission. I absolutely love this devotional! I’m not a big coffee person (in fact, I really only like espresso) but the coffee break theme of the book just makes it cute. It’s refreshing to read (and I go through a lot of devotionals!) with its STIR method which stands for Scripture, Thoughts for the Day (the devotional/story aspect) Invitation to Prayer, and Respond (questions for the reader). I chose a devotional from the second week of the book to share, aptly titled “Exstresso.” It really summed up what the whole book was about for me! Enjoy.]

Week 2, day 1

“Exstresso”

By Leah Whitton

Scripture 

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:5-6

Thoughts for the Day

Have you ever been stressed? I would imagine most of us have been or currently are under a lot of stress. Life is stressful and messy at times.

When you combine “ex” with “stress,” you get “ex-stress,” which means without stress. How can we live without stress?

When we call out to God, he answers us and can help us live a life with less stress. One of the Greek words in the Bible for stress is thlipsis, which means pressure, burdens, affliction, or trouble. When Stephen was preaching in Acts 7:9-14 about Joseph from the Old Testament, he used the word thlipsis to describe Joseph’s plight. If anyone had a right to be stressed, it was Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of rape by Pharoahs’ wife, and thrown into prison and forgotten-all while being completely innocent and serving God. Joseph could have asked God: Where are you? Why have you left me?

Have you ever caught yourself asking those same questions? I know I have had times in my life where I had to go through extremely challenging, stressful, and heartbreaking situations, yet God was with me through each of those seasons.

In the year of 2001, I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were thrilled and anxious for our son’s arrival. On December 27, around 10:00 p.m., something was about to change. We had not anticipated any problems—we expected joy, not stress—but suddenly our situation changed. Hudson was born with an aggressive infection called Strep B. This infection was so powerful it began to shut down every working system in his little body. The doctors estimated that he only had a 50% chance of survival. So, here we were, brand new parents, not knowing what to expect, and feeling the heartache of possibly losing our newborn son.

Hudson was placed in the NICU and was not improving. He was living on a respirator and IV antibiotics. The worst of it was that I was not able to hold him or touch him because it affected his blood pressure too much. I was at the end of my rope and I remember screaming out to God saying,

“If you are really God, you will send someone here face-to-face to tell me audibly that my son will be healed and that he will come home with us.”

That evening, a young pastor who we were friends with felt a strong sense that God was telling him to drive to our hospital. He wrestled a bit (especially because of the time and the distance) and he asked God if he could just called the hospital. “No,” God said, “You must go.” Around midnight that evening, this young pastor showed up in our hospital room. He told us God had woken him up and that he was supposed to come and tell me face-to-face that my child would live and he would come home with no complications. I called out to God in my stressful time and He answered my prayer in a powerful way. God showed himself faithful. The next day, Hudson began to improve and two weeks later came home 100% healthy.

During Joseph’s distress, he called out to God. Joseph didn’t allow stress to overwhelm him, and thus “God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.”

Joseph could have let stress swallow him up, but instead he brought his stress to God. Life will bring stress, but before letting that stress consume you, drink a good cup of God’s exstresso” (God’s grace, mercy, and love) and allow him to bring healing to every area of your life. 1 Peter tells us to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Hold onto that scripture when you walk through stressful times. God was with us through the horrible nightmare we faced when my son was born, and he will be with you also.

Release your stress to him today and have a coffee conversation with God who is ready to carry your burdens.

[Closing Editor’s Note: This is a good opportunity, in light of a blog post about “stress” to say that I’m experiencing a lot of it in my life and I’m going to honor taking more time for rest and family. I’m transitioning, starting now, to a one post per-week Devotional Diva Lite schedule for the time being. Thanks for understanding!]

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 Exstresso: God’s Way to Live without Stress appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Agnes Amos. Please check out her last guest story here. So it’s February and we are still beginning our New Year…but maybe you feel like you’re struggling with your resolutions, or maybe in a rut. I felt like this was the perfect time to place this devotional on Transformation from Agnes.]

Are You ready for a Transformation?

My friends, as we still begin a new and glorious 2018 that the Lord has blessed us with, it is noteworthy to give God all the praise, honor and adoration for His provisions that include our life, health, physical, spiritual and emotional needs. So, take a pause with me as you read this month’s devotion and meditate on (Psalm 148).

What is transformation? The dictionary defines it as a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. Personally, I like the Biblical definition in 2 Corinthians 3:18.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

So, what gets in the way of our transformation? In my experience, SHAME is the number reason. Again, the dictionary defines shame as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Friends, there are two types of shame – (a) a well-placed shame that comes because of our disobedience and (b) a misplaced shame that comes because of not meeting standards.

Regardless of the of the type of shame we are confronted with, to live a transformed life this new year, I encourage you to:

Break the cycle of shame – by accepting you can’t change the past. There are many things in my past that have caused me great shame but I am emboldened by the word of God in ( 2 Corinthians 5:17) that I am new in Christ, the old is gone and the new is here.

Do the work of forgiveness – by simply confessing your sin(s) and making a total turn around and not touching that sin again. Be intentional about your decision by staying away from behaviors that will lead you down the path you have forsaken (James 5:16).

Do the work of freedom – by embracing the reality that God can forgive and remove your shame and that Christ can and wants to change your future – after all, that is why He died on the Cross of Calvary. The Lord reminded me recently not to allow my past to weaken me – how cool is that! (Isaiah 43:25).

Christ follower, live in transformation this new year and let God manifest His glory in your life.

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 begin the work of transformation in your life.

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 DivorceThe Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and  Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals

The post Are You Ready for a Transformation? appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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3 Days in Paris (with a toddler!)

Happy Galentines & Valentines! I thought, in honor of such a romantic season, I’d finally share my travel diary from Paris, the city of love! I ended up with such a backlog of guest stories over the Christmas season that getting those up were priority over this. I almost didn’t bother with even sharing this since we went just before Christmas, but I know a lot of you guys enjoy my travel stuff and I really enjoy sharing it, too. And, is Paris ever a bad idea?

We had a wonderful holiday in Paris. We did about a week in Paris overall, with 3 days in Paris (including a trip to the Palace of Versailles) and then the rest at Disneyland Paris (and traveling) because we have a major Mickey Mouse fan on our hands. This post is just about the first half in the city, which really was romantic.

The Seine, near Notre Dame. Great time for a photo! O and the Eiffel Tower — he’s showing off a leaf he found. This is Les Invalides, which we ended up spending quite a lot of time standing outside of thanks where we had to switch our hop/on hop/off bus. O did pretty good on the hop on/hop off bus! We were on it all day, Day 1, and it enabled us to quickly see what we wanted and take in a lot of sights! Ah, Notre Dame! The lighting was PERFECT when we were there and the clouds looked 3D.

This is pretty obviously the Arc de Triomphe! We were on our way to shop the Champs-Élysées because we had no clothes! Our luggage was lost en route to Paris. O at the gates of the Palace of Versailles! Just a little world traveler! Versailles’ gardens were everything. This is the grounds of Versailles. We got O a coloring and sticker book at the gift shop. We could have walked around for hours. Days, really. In 10th grade French class, I wrote that Versailles was one place I wanted to visit most. In the world. Dreams come true!

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 3 Days in Paris (with a toddler) — A Diva Travel Diary appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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Devotional Diva by Maggie - 1w ago

Unwanted Growth

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kathryn Boyd-Trull. I don’t have an editor’s note for this devotional…it really speaks for itself. However, I’d like to thank Kathryn for sharing her powerful story with us today.]

Bad news filled my ears:

“…tumor in your ovary”

“ Cancer markers elevated in your blood stream…”

“ another tumor even larger on your colon…”

“ You will need surgery.”

“ We may need to take everything out.”

“ You will forever be marked and changed no matter what.”

“ This started with you wanting a child, that won’t happen.”

“ Getting the bad out of your body is the only thing that matters.”

But…all the rest matters to me too, God.  Remember me the one who loves you.  The one you love.

There is a still small voice that answers, “you will have to have it taken out but it will not kill you.”  My thoughts circle and I ask myself, “Was that God or my own wishful thinking?” Time passes with doubt, pain, and more bad news.  I remember how this all started because I could see another child in our home.  I ask the doctors, “Can we freeze some of my eggs before we take everything out?”   The answer is yes, as long as we move quickly.  I must try.  I can hear the little one running through my house.

More bad news, “ We are sorry, none of the eggs survived.”

Surgery date arrives.  Consents are signed.

“We have your permission to remove everything.  You may die.  You may end up with a colostomy bag.”

Me: “Okay, where do I sign.” I can’t see the words through my tears.

God, do you see this? Remember me, I am the one who loves you.

Silence….

Surgery…darkness…pain…me screaming…darkness…sleep. Repeat.

Why is nobody talking to me? I can feel tears running down my cheek but I can’t use my arms to wipe them away.  The pain is too much.  They must have had to remove everything.

God, give me courage.

I hear in the background, “She’s crying.  Give her more medicine.”

Sleep.

Someone is holding my hand.  This makes the darkness feel less powerful.  I open my eyes.  My husband and girls are with me.  My husband says, “Did you hear the news?”

“No, I have heard nothing.”

“No cancer.  They took out your ovary, part of your colon, the other mass, and no cancer.”

I go home to heal from the surgery.  The days are filled with wound care, pain, and bleeding, but my heart is filled with gratitude.  I know I won’t have any more children from my body but I have life today.

God, why all this?  I don’t understand?

He answers me as He often does with a bible verse that He repeats during my healing days.

John 11 “Jesus your beloved is sick…Yes, I won’t let it kill her.  I will use even this to bring Glory to God.” Emphasis added.

God whispers to my heart, “You see I never left you.  I carried you.”

Kathryn Boyd-Trull lives with her husband and two children in Commerce City, Colorado where she is a medical doctor and works at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  Katy founded a non-profit, YHC Clinic, providing free medical care to homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless.

The post Unwanted Growth appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tara Canady. I saw so much of myself in this devotional — It is amazing, thank you Tara for sharing your story. So, I just want to say, Divas, trust in God, believe in love, believe in yourself, believe in the beauty of your dreams, believe in your marriage and don’t ever give up on the things God won’t let you give up wanting. Amen.]

Trusting God: How I Met and Married the Love of My Life in Two Months (and what happened after)

My name is Tara and I’ve been saved for twenty-four years. I just got married to my best friend last year, May 2016. I grew up in Charleston, SC but am now residing in Johnson City, TN. I have two cats, a love for books, and a passion for following Jesus and writing.

The past year and a half have been some of the most challenging times of my life. It began with a whirlwind romance to my now-husband, Justin. We met online at Christian Mingle. We texted for about a week and then decided to meet in person. We dated for a month and a half. During this time, I prayed ceaselessly about him.

I had never dated anyone before Justin. I’d gone out with a handful of men, but they never went past the first date. Justin was different. He was the first man I’d ever felt completely comfortable around – as though I could just be my weird, quirky self without having to put on a mask. And every time I asked God if Justin was “the one,” He always responded, “Yes.” In two months we were engaged and married. We went to the courthouse downtown Charleston on a Wednesday. Justin’s boss wouldn’t give him the day or week off work, so we had to rush through it during his lunch break. The only family present were my parents, whom I lived with at the time.

After the wedding, I moved into his condo. We stayed there for one month and then bills became too much for us. I didn’t work and he worked solely on commission. I cried a lot that month because I wasn’t used to stressful situations. My parents had always provided everything for me and I never really had to work at anything. Even the few years I trained in ballroom dancing, and the few months as an instructor, weren’t much of a struggle. Dancing had come easily. Being married didn’t.

As an only child, I grew up self-centered. I had been saved at age five and I did truly try to follow the Lord my whole life. I never rebelled against my parents, stayed out of trouble for the most part, and did what I was told. After I got married, I had to start thinking about someone besides myself. Although Justin and I are very much alike, truly two halves of one whole, we still think differently, as all men and women do. He wasn’t sure what to do about my mood swings (made worse because I had to go on birth control), or my anxiety and panic attacks I’d dealt with my entire life. He was more laid-back, trusting God with our problems instead of worrying about them like I did.

Because we were financially unstable, we decided to move in with my parents when they offered that as a solution. But that brought a whole new set of stresses because my parents barely knew Justin and weren’t sure what to make of him. We lived with them for a little over a year and by summer of this year (2017) it was time to move.

After months of fruitless search, Justin could finally quit the job he had when we got married and thought he’d found a new job. Within two weeks the women there forced him to quit. I’m not sure if they did it because he was a man in a female-driven environment, just didn’t like him, or God simply didn’t want him there. Whatever the reason, he couldn’t find a job after that.

We had a good amount of savings and Justin focused on starting an e-commerce business. But after reading Joyce Meyer’s book, Get Your Hopes Up! I knew we needed to make a leap of faith. So, we rented a home in Johnson City, Tennessee – a place neither of us had been before.

Now we are in the process of trusting God every single day to supply our needs, especially financially. I’m writing my own blog, a young adult fantasy novel, and working as a freelance writer. Every day we choose to trust God, and I’m excited to see where this adventure leads.

I am a blogger and a wife, married for less than two years. I was saved at five, homeschooled, and brought up following Jesus. My goal is to be a godly wife and mother, a successful blogger, and a published author. I want to travel the world, follow the Lord, and have a lot of cats (and a few kids too).

The post Trusting God: How I Met and Married the Love of My Life in Two Months (and what happened after) appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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Devotional Diva by Maggie - 2w ago

Royalty

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by contributor Maria Drayton (read her last devotional here). Congratulations to Maria on her new book, The King and I: Steps For Living In Today’s World Through Intimacy With the Lord available now on Amazon!! This post is a great tie-in to that book. God’s children ARE royalty.]

“Do you really understand your position?”  I found that to be a tough question for me to answer when I was asked by the Holy Spirit.  I thought I did.  But honestly, I was unable to fully comprehend my true position.   My true position in Him, that is.  Sure I can understand my position as a mother.  I am learning to understand my position as a wife.  I’ve nailed my position as an insurance counselor.  But do I truly understand my position in Him?  Perhaps I really didn’t understand my position.  In fact, at the same time I heard this whisper in my spirit, “you are royalty.”  I even had a quick response to this.  “Yes Lord, I know that in “your house there are many mansions.” (John 14:2).  Yet, I had to seek His meaning to my position to get a clearer picture.  He wasn’t speaking of inheritance but position.

1 Peter 2:9, tells us, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 

Being the researcher that I am, I decided to break this scripture down and dive into each of these words so that I could get true understanding.  Chosen by definition means “having been selected as the best or most appropriate.”  Whoa!!!!  I thought to myself.  I never really looked up the word “chosen” I never thought to clarify or understand its meaning.  But now that I did, I felt even more humbled than before.  Royalty defined “people of royal blood or status”, and Royal, having the status of a king or queen or member of their family.   Holy, dedicated to God.  Special, different from what is usual.  Possession, the state of having, owning or controlling something.

I’ve never thought of myself in any grand way in fact I’ve always seemed to struggle through life not expecting the best but only enough to “get by.”  My thought was, “if I don’t expect good things then I won’t be disappointed when I don’t get them.”  Now, I am now being challenged to elevate my thinking and my expectations.  Not only to “expect good things” but pursue them.  I’m not perfect and fall short every day but I do have a desire to grow, learn and change.  And “no”, change is not easy for me.

Here’s an example, I love thrift and consignment stores.  I’ve had to rely on them for a lot in my lifetime.   It is always so great when I can pay $3 dollars for something and then make it look like it cost $30 or more.   I really love it.  Every year (two times a year) a consignment store in my area has sidewalk sales and every year I call the store to make sure to put the event on my calendar so that I don’t miss out.  Everything clothing/jewelry item you can stuff into a small bag they hand out, you pay only $20 dollars for the entire bag of contents!  I loved it and got a real rush every time I waited in that line for the doors to open.  I would bring my own rubber bands so that I could make sure to be able to take advantage of every space in the bag.

Once those doors opened, I rushed in with the crowd, collected everything “I could make work” and found my corner.  I would roll each clothing item then rubber band it to ensure I got full use of the bag.  This year, I forgot about my favorite event and when I remembered I thought, “Man!  I missed out! I can’t miss the next one.”  I even called the store to ask them when the next event would be so that Iso that I could mark it on my calendar.  A few weeks passed and that’s when the Holy Spirit began to deal with me about “position” and “royalty.”  He even said, “You didn’t miss out, I’m elevating your thinking….you don’t have to shop at thrift stores anymore and get other’s hand-me-downs.”  I sat contemplating this because for so long I’d been waiting on the “other shoe to drop”, waiting on “the bad thing” and though I was now in a “position” to buy new, I still had my old mindset and still strode to the clearance and sales racks when I couldn’t shop “thrift or consignment.”  Don’t get me wrong there is a time and place for “thriftiness” but I guess not all the time.  So I am learning and growing.

So my “position” is not situational, it’s not a location, it’s a state of mind.

Here’s the thing that I didn’t understand.  Royalty acts a certain way.  They go to certain places and they do not go to others.  They don’t lose their titles when they leave the palace, they are still Princes and Princesses everywhere they go and act accordingly.  I was beginning to understand what He meant.

With this new found understanding, I am learning to accept my “position” in Christ Jesus, I am royalty.

We do have to wait to get to heaven to get our inheritance.  But inheritance and position are two different things!  I’ll wait for my inheritance but right now I’ll enjoy my “position.”

1 Peter 1: 3-5, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Maria Drayton: originally from Seattle, Washington she is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. Maria has traveled all over the United States but currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she has been serving and walking with Him since the early 90’s and desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with God. Since 2001, she attends Bethel Deliverance International Church and desires to begin a women’s ministry for young women to learn to apply God’s word in our daily lives. Follow Maria’s new women’s group S.P.A.R.K.L.E. on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sparklewomen/

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[Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog by Maggie Meadows Cooper. You may remember Maggie from the Christmas guest blogger series — and she is back with another toddler-related tale!]
Maybe, Just Maybe, He Has a Plan

This. This may be the greatest thing in my life right now.

Image provided by Maggie Meadows Cooper

Not the door, although it’s super awesome (shout out to my amazing hubby who built it), but the hook…that little silver hook to the left of the door. 

 
“It’s just a hook,” you say. But it’s not just ANY hook. It is the hook that is keeping my pantry door closed. It is the hook that is keeping my very curious, mischievous, mess-making, independent, “I can do it myself” thinking two-year-old out.

It is my saving grace right now.

But to one little two-year-old it is a whole ‘nother story. Is she happy about it? Not so much…She can’t get into Lucky Charms and Goldfish and cookies and any number of other things that she’d love to get by herself, and in the process, dump all over the floor, so I have 35689654 messes a day to clean up.
It is keeping her from electrical outlets and scissors and nails and hammers and batteries and other objects that she thinks are totally awesome, but might hurt her (our pantry doubles as an office and random drawers kinda place).
 
It is her nemesis right now.

Two people, two totally different perspectives.

As I was looking at that lock, full of thankfulness, and my daughter was looking at it full of frustration, I couldn’t help but think about how the Lord closes doors in our lives.
And how we feel like that little two-year-old.
Jobs that we don’t get, relationships that go sour, financial opportunities that fizzle, school tests we don’t pass, tryouts where we don’t make the team, etc…

The Lord knows what’s behind those doors… and it could be He is closing them because we aren’t ready to handle what’s behind them. Maybe he’s protecting us from greater disappointment and hurt. Maybe He has a plan. Just maybe…

Hard to hear, right? I usually think I have a pretty good idea about where I need to go, what I need to do, what I’m prepared for, what my heart longs for, and how I feel about certain situations. And I’m ready to give the Lord my opinion at any given moment.
But he doesn’t need my opinion. And He doesn’t need my direction. And He especially doesn’t need my “constructive criticism” of how He’s handling things.
He needs me to let Him be Him and me be me.
Each closed door is a puzzle piece to a perfectly designed plan. There may be one moment in time that is specifically orchestrated, by an amazing Father, that otherwise would not happen if you don’t accept His plan and follow in obedience.
Trust Him, y’all.

Trust that He knows more than you do. 

Trust that He has your best interest in mind. 

Trust that He loves you so much that, in His time, He will open doors for you that will be so much more amazing than you can ever dream.

And may not be what you expected…or even hoped for.

Just the way I will open the pantry door for my little one, one day, when she’s ready to handle it…but not anytime soon.

“…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Maggie Meadows Cooper is a real-life wife and mom who messes up every day and needs Jesus to save her. She loves Auburn football, real Coca-cola, and chocolate! She serves as a Parent Coordinator in the Opelika City Schools, leads the Auburn/Opelika Teen MOPS group, and is a regular contributor to Blogs by Christian Women. You can follow her here at beautifulinyourheart.blogspot.com.

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[Editor’s Note: This is a poem by Timisha Campos. This is the first poem I’m publishing of 2018 and I think it’s just the right one! It’s a very special poem indeed, and I love poetry. It just makes me feel.]

The Meaning of Living

You arrive, and in the moment of your entrance the elements of the world you now invade attaches its force on you

You grow, and the soils of the earth deep in you begins to sing the stepping stone song

As you take your first steps, your first lessons you are not shielded from the forms all around you

For even in infancy life shall reign

You thrust forward, no more shall you crawl for your mind speaks to your limbs, you no longer can stay down…. stand tall

As you usher through into the span of time reserved for you, you are aging

Out of the old form of what you came as, into the new of what you will become

You will find mercy for a time in the ignorance of your exploration

Surely sounds and wonders were here before you existed, yet they held you, waited upon another like you

It did not change or shift, but you shall change, you shall shift

No longer is there the warmth of a mothers’ communicating arms that speaks nurture, or the protective shields of a father’s adoration

Life sees you, it enters you and it pours unto you ever flowing

Eyes widen, senses explode, now you run

You run to grab, to taste, to touch

You learn to feel, to love and trust

Your discovery isn’t in the footprints once held,

imprinted by meager foundations

For now, you take portions of the soul firmly planted

and the souls of life around take portions of you

Stings and shots of pain fill the senses for a spell

As your life releases the coping mechanism of what it means to recover

Life reserved happiness and joy on the day you entered, yet no promise that you would be cradled there for too long

Though the strife and song of life has brought you through, it surrenders only to its true self

To hold you suspended, for a time that you should accomplish the goal of what it has given

To thrive here, to embark here, to stage the great expectation of who and what you mean to life

What kindness life had, the day you encountered its mercy, for in the joy of your arrival and the happiness of your stay

It is most certainly guaranteed that your departure will leave sadness and a void

For with joy you came and with heartbreak, now you are gone

Timisha (Misha) Campos is a 45 year old mother of two grown children and a grandmother. She was born and raised in the Bronx, in New York City. She is a full time Administrative Assistant and has always loved being a Secretary. Timisha accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior in her early twenties and knew from just being a baby in Christ what her calling was; to encourage, edify and lift up through writing. Today she is ready to step forward by faith and encourage others through devotionals and poetry with the promise  that God is able and willing to change the heart, mind and soul. For though even today Timisha is still walking out some storms in her life, she continues to dance in the rain.

The post My Meaning of Living appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alina. I think this is such a relatable devotional in today’s world– women have so many opportunities (which is awesome) but along with that comes expectations and pressures. Some of us may even have to grow up too fast. Here’s Alina’s story of healing from our Heavenly Father!]

The Adored Little Girl

Families are complicated. I learned this reality in my toddler years, as I clung to my mother’s knit sweater, refusing to let go and soaking in the scents of her perfume so that when she was not near, I could reminisce her by the thoughts of that sweet aroma. I was the first child, adored and cradled, all attention on me with absolutely no cares in my tiny, perfect world.

Years passed, my parents had more children, new homes and jobs, new opportunities. With all the good, came new disappointments and uncomfortable changes in my once so-called tiny, perfect world. The vanity of life took over, and it was no longer just me and my mommy and daddy.

With each difficult situation in our family, I was forced to grow up and mature very quickly because expectations and standards rose high. My parent’s worries became mine as they took care of other responsibilities and I no longer felt as that adored daughter.

Instead I became a goal achieving perfectionist, afraid to let my parents or others down in any way. Teenage years were brutal because I started to search in other places, that, what I pushed away from my parents – love and attention from my father and acceptance from my mother.
Like many girls, I searched for affirmation from the opposite sex, with each guy failing to fill my deepest voids. I searched for acceptance amongst my friends whose lives and families I envied.
“Why were my friends lives so much easier and happier than my own?” I would mumble in frustration to God as I wept like a baby every night.  I started to feel alone and secluded in my own home, within my own family.

With each passing year, I distanced myself from my dad, my mom and my siblings. I would reject family gatherings just to seclude myself as far away as possible. I began to despise going home and would take any opportunity to escape from that sanctuary. Because of the disconnection on my end, my relationship with my father began to decline. Every one of his actions that he proved as love, I took as judgment and rejection.

It was a dreary January morning, weeks after the holiday season had dwindled down, that I woke up, and felt no more. Tears that would flood my face before, I no longer could produce. I became numb. My heart was like a steel shield, with every bullet fired, bouncing off like a ricochet.

Don’t get me wrong, life still continued, as I kept myself involved in community, ministry and work. I kept civil with my family and knew that I loved them dearly, but I allowed the grip of hurt and offense take over me years prior, at the age of ten. Twelve years later, I finally came to the awareness of the uncomfortable truth that it was no longer just a barricade that I had constructed with my own hands, but a spiritual oppression that I allowed to control my destiny. I missed years of living in peace, strained by the grip of the enemy.

My solution? Although it took many years to realize, it was simple. I needed to first and foremost accept that I had become immune to being vulnerable, followed by the conscious decision of allowing God himself to wreck even the most minuscule offense and heal me from within. The freedom did not come in a split second, but I preserved to be completely whole again.

Change was minor at first, like giving and receiving hugs as well as saying “I love you” to my mother and father (which was nearly impossible to pronounce years prior). Within a year of the Lord loving on me in areas I did not even know I lacked love in, I was radically restored. No more feelings of pain, but floods of joy filled my days as I began to feel again.

Although it is true that to a certain extent our childhoods shape us and build subconscious walls and trust issues, I refuse to accept that we are meant to spend our lives in that state. For many years, I would put blame on my parents or on the circumstances that would occur in my life hoping that by doing that, I had an excuse for my dissatisfaction. The honest truth is that our happiness is our responsibility and not someone else’s fault. We can either create or destroy our future by refusing or allowing our past to dictate it.

Today, choose forgiveness over self-pity. Choose vulnerability over putting up walls. Choose joy over fear. It’s your choice that can start the healing process and your choice to live a life full of God’s promises and destiny that he has created for you. You are too beautiful to miss out on that gift. Yes, the process may hurt, but the reward is extravagant.

Today, I am confident that I am my heavenly Father’s favorite little girl, cradled, all attention on me with absolutely no cares in the world.

My name is Alina. I was born in Ukraine and moved to the states in 2001. I absolutely love writing and reading other girl’s stories. Another hobby is fashion and skin care. I believe every girl is beautiful inside and out.

The post The Adored Little Girl appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Agnes Amos’ latest book, God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage, and Divorce.  (I did receive a copy of this book so that I could pick out the excerpt!) Agnes contributes regularly to Devotional Diva and has become a good friend of mine, so I wrote this endorsement that appears in the book; I wanted to include it here, too:

Each of us goes through at least one of the seasons discussed in this book – singleness may be our total path, or perhaps we go through all three seasons into divorce. In today’s modern world, these seasons are indeed normal and like Agnes discusses, trials of faith. I receive emails from women all around the world in the same positions and I know these chapters of encouragement are much-needed. Singleness and divorce especially are not discussed enough in the church, which is why I think this book is so unique. The situations are not unique, but the conversation is. There has been so much shame and guilt around both singleness and divorce, but Agnes reminds us in this book that God never leaves us – not then, not ever. Singleness is not a curse. Marriage may not be perfect (I know mine is not! Marriage is work!) and divorce may be inevitable. But you are always loved, Child of God.]

God Cares for Me in Every Season

I am an avid walker—this is a hobby I inherited from my earthly father, Papa Amos.

Walking is a time when I seek God’s face for my life and for others, and it is during these times that the Holy Spirit gets my attention. So that I don’t forget what He says, I often record it on my cell phone.

For those of you who are wondering, “Does God speak to humans like us?” The answer is Yes, He does in many natural ways. Here are the most common: Impulse, Ideas, Inspirations. The Bible is filled with many examples of how God speaks to His children.

Personally, I am learning to listen when God speaks, and my life continues to be transformed by this experience.

It was during one of these experiences that the Lord laid on my heart to write this book to encourage global Christians (and non-Christians) on His never wavering care during every season of their lives, especially the seasons of singleness, marriage, and divorce. I have to admit that when the idea came, I was reluctant to respond, and asked the Lord, “Why me?” The reason for this question is because the season of marriage is one where I have failed woefully in the past.

I do not consider myself to be an expert in these three seasons—at least that is what I thought. But the Holy Spirit reminded me of a truism I have heard in church many times: “A faith that is not tested cannot be trusted,”

My friends, I have been tested, and have failed and been redeemed in each of the three seasons I share in this book—single, married, and divorced. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I am here to share with you the truth that the Lord is in every one of these seasons. I want you to know beyond a doubt that He is indeed interested in and present with you in every season of your life.

For many years, I found myself struggling in each of these seasons. I was walking through each season with one leg in the world and one leg in Christ. After years of failing to succeed in any season, I finally discovered that living God’s way in every season of life is the best decision I could ever make. I have now begun a journey into a new and fulfilling lifestyle in marriage by focusing on Christ rather than my marital situation. I praise God for the truth of His Word in 2 Corinthians 5: 17 that says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

My prayer for you as you read this book is that you will be encouraged as you discover that our God is the God of the impossible. Nothing that happens in your life is impossible for Him to handle (Luke 1: 37). He will do the impossible for you in each of these seasons. He is the God that can convert your pain to gain and cause all things to work together for your good (Romans 8: 28). I had to learn that lesson, and you may need to learn it too. Perhaps, you will discover—like I did—the God who waits to help you in your seasons of singleness, marriage, or divorce.

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 DivorceThe Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and  Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals

The post God Cares For Me In Every Season appeared first on Devotional Diva.

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