Reflection

Are You Focused on the Most Important Things?

Are You Focused on the Most Important Things?

By Kimberly Amici

Last winter I took a 4-week photography class called Understanding Your DSLR. It covered the fundamentals of taking great pictures. I was thrilled to no only learn how to use the numerous buttons on my camera but to cross an item off on last year’s goals list. I learned a lot in that class...and it wasn't just about taking pictures. [Continue Reading...]

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Susanne Says - Are You Stuck? Have I Got the Resource for You - Part 2

Susanne Says -  Are You Stuck? Have I Got the Resource for You - Part 2

by Susanne Ciancio

Last month I shared about a wonderful resource I highly recommend to our Circles of Faith community called Foundations of Freedom. It's a five-part DVD set presented by Bob Hamp, a pastor who also has mental health credentials/licenses.

I will continue to write about the content of the series and why I'm so excited about it next month.  This month, however, I would like to devote my space to a dear friend's wonderful testimony about how the series impacted her life.  [Continue Reading...]

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Mama…Please Don’t Cry When You Say Goodbye!

Mama…Please Don’t Cry When You Say Goodbye!

By Elise Daly Parker

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, Philemon 1:4 ESV

It was THE day…the day we actually left my baby at her new home, Eastern University, a few miles outside Philadelphia. I was told I was not allowed to cry. “Mom, we’ve done that…no, I don’t want you to cry.” “Okay, I won’t.”

I defined the meaning of stiff upper lip. When the inevitable quivers came, I straightened up, took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and tightened my mouth. [Continue Reading...]

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I’ve Got Birthday Issues… Reflections on the Down Side of a Summer Birthday

I’ve Got Birthday Issues… Reflections on the Down Side of a Summer Birthday

by Noelle Rhodes

Do you know how many people ask me, “Oh, were you born on Christmas Day, Noelle?”  Assuming that’s how my parents came up with the name. You should see the look of disappointment on their faces when I break their hearts with my response: “Nope. I was born in August.”  

Besides having a name that doesn’t match the season in which I was actually born, there a few complications and misfortunes that comes with having a “summer” birthday. [Continue Reading...]

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Sowing Seeds Is an Act of Faith

Sowing Seeds Is an Act of Faith

by Micalagh Beckwith Moritz

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. (Ecc. 11:6, ESV)

At the end of the school year, I was having a conversation with a teacher at one of the schools where I worked as a social worker. We were talking about a student who has had a difficult year academically, and was struggling to keep up with her classmates. [Continue Reading...]

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Who Am I? Who Are You?

Who Am I? Who Are You?

An opportunity for a little self-reflection…

This past June at the Collyde Summit I attended a workshop by Joan Ball.Joan is the author of Flirting with Faith: My Spiritual Journey from Atheism to a Faith-Filled Life

She has a fascinating story that we’ll be sharing in the future here at Circles. Joan spoke with great enthusiasm. She was interesting and straight talking. What really struck me was her challenge to answer the question, “Who am I?”  [Continue Reading...]

 

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The Bathing Suit is Not My Best Friend

The Bathing Suit is Not My Best Friend

By Noelle Rhodes

Bathing suit shopping is evil. I am convinced of this. If you need to torture me, all you need to do is kidnap me and make me shop for bathing suits with a 21-year-old, size 2, fashion model. I’ll talk!  I’ll turn!  I’ll hand over any and all the classified information that is in my possession.

Just please - be merciful. Don’t make me go bathing suit shopping!


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Memorial Day

These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.  Joshua 4:7

So here we are at Memorial Day weekend, often thought of as the unofficial kickoff to summer. But Memorial Day itself, which falls on the last Monday of May, means much more than that, especially to those who have lost loved ones in service to our country.

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How Can We Trust God in the Hard Times?

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"So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation." 1 Peter 5:10

This verse above was how I ended my last post - a post about rubbish being restored. Who knew? Who knew what devastation was to occur within 36 hours of that post? Only God. 

It'shard, no it’s impossible, for me to hold it together seeing the images and hearing the stories from Oklahoma. The children. The destruction. The seeming randomness of it all. Why were some spared while others were obliterated?

Here in New Jersey, we had similar experiences at the hand of Hurricane Sandy. Seven months ago, total destruction randomly meted out.

This morning’s Jesus Calling lends some insight:

I, the Creator of the universe,am with you and for you. What more could you need? When you feel some lack, it is because you are not connecting with Me at a deep level. I offer abundant Life; your part is to trust Me, refusing to worry about anything.

It is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events. Your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation, to bring about the result you desire. … you forget that I am in charge of your life. The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence. Stop all your striving, and watch to see what I will do. I am the Lord!

I feel conflicted when I read this. Yes, God is the Comforter who offers worry-free abundant life. But He’s also the Creator of the universe, so couldn’t He prevent this?

Well yes, He could. But in this instance, He didn’t. My earthly mind thinks this is harsh. But my spirit seeks truth from the Word. And this is where it starts to make a little sense. Often we never fully know the whys of situations like this. But we can know in part.

The Word tells us that God used hardship and persecution to accomplish His purposes:

- of bringing His people, the nation of Israel, back into relationship with Him.

- of leading His people, the church, out of Jerusalem to share the Gospel in the outermost parts of the earth.

- of allowing His people individually to seek comfort, solace, strength, purpose, vision, courage, in Him the Source.

If we trust in Him in the good times, how much more do we need to trust in Him during the hard?

Seven months ago, the Jersey Shore appeared without hope and beyond repair. Many areas still remain just as they were. But other areas are being given new life. They are restored stronger and better than they were before. Progress is being made daily. Most of the beaches and boardwalks will be open next weekend for Memorial Day even though the construction continues.

If in the physical realm, we can achieve more than we imagine possible at the moment of heartache, how much more can we as believers, with infinite resources to call upon, rise above our circumstances in hope.

Right now, things in Oklahoma appear to be without hope and beyond repair. But that’s just the beginning of the story. The Psalmist said:

I waited patiently for theLord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mudand mire;

he set my feeton a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new songin my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear theLord

and put their trustin him. Ps. 40:1-3

Lord, we pray for those who are experiencing unimaginable loss and destruction in Oklahoma. We grieve with them. We ask that You bathe the area in Your promise of hope for the future, provide the needed resources, burden hearts to offer help, comfort those in despair. May we see You and experience Your peace in the midst and the aftermath of the storm. In the steady rock named Jesus we pray, Amen.

How you can help:

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

http://www.worldvision.org/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/20/how-to-help-oklahoma_n_3308962.html

http://www.weather.com/news/tornado-central/salvation-army-red-cross-providing-help-20130520

 Comments welcome here.

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Susan Panzica is a Jewish Jersey girl who loves Jesus, her family, the ocean, and mangos. Her passion is to bring an eternal perspective to earthly matters through writing, speaking, teaching, and coffee dates. A quasi-emptynester who works with her chiropractor husband, she thoroughly enjoys when her college age children are home, with or without all their friends. Susan is a speaker, women and children’s Bible teacher, and writer of the devotional blog Eternity Café. You can also check out Susan at www.susanpanzica.com

photo credit: ZY-CO via photopincc

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Dear Me | My Story of Reflection (Part 2)

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Last month, I shared with you how God inspired me to write a letter to my younger self. Doing this created a special time of reflection for me. This experience has allowed me to:

  • See how God has moved throughout my life.
  • Identify unforgiveness of myself and others so I can walk in obedience, forgiveness, and freedom.
  • Use this time of journaling/writing to encourage myself when future disappointments happen.
  • Encourage others about the beauty of His loving hand as evidenced in my life.

Have you ever wondered what you would say to the younger you, if you had the opportunity to write a letter with the perspective you have today?

What would you say? How would you say it?

Here is what I said:

Dear Diana – Age 15

There’s so much I want to say to you but don’t know where to start.

I know that sometimes you cry because you are so scared of your dad coming home drunk and screaming at your mom or at you and your sister. You don’t know what to expect day to day. I want to share with you that God is with you and sees every tear you cry.

You’ve felt that there’s so much uncertainty and instability in your life, He is right beside you holding you. You live a life of fear and intimidation, but Dad is not representing God in the right way because there is no fear in love and God’s Word says that perfect love casts out all fear.

God will not withhold his love from you like the people in your life have. I know it’s because you haven’t received the right kind of love from Dad that you have made bad decisions. You have accepted false representations of love from boys and young men.

When you accept Jesus in your heart, God will make you a new person and redeem those experiences. Jesus died on the cross for your sins and mistakes. There will be no more guilt, no more condemnation, and no more shame.

The devil will try to convince you that you aren’t forgiven, but Jesus paid the highest price…His death for your salvation, forgiveness, deliverance, and healing of your pain. And as far as the east is from the west, that’s how far God has removed your sins from you.

The empty void that you feel inside, that doesn’t seem to get filled, will overflow with God’s love, mercy, tenderness, joy, and peace. You will no longer feel alone and forgotten. I want you to know that God has created YOU with a divine purpose and plan. That He thought about you before He placed you in your mother’s womb. His plans for you are for your good and not for evil and to give you a hope and a future.

I know it’s so hard to see this beautiful future. There is so much more to endure before believing and living its truth, but it’s true. The inadequacy of how you feel now will develop and turn into an assurance because you are the daughter of not just any god but the most High God, Creator of Heaven and earth, The King!

Your inadequacy will turn into authority because you are His child. Hold on! Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. God has given you gifts and talents that He hasn’t given to anyone else. Use them!

God has forgiven you and you are commanded to forgive others. He will continue to forgive you, so you will not be bitter and make decisions out of your wounds. Forgive, just as you have been forgiven!

God will demonstrate deep love from His Holy Spirit; this will be one of the ways God demonstrates how alive He is today. So love others just as He loves you!

__________________

I’m sharing this personal writing because maybe you can identify with my pain. I want you to be encouraged. I hope that the healing I’ve experienced will give you hope to go through a time of reflection that can lead to your own healing. This freedom is available to you. My healing only happened by developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is that relationship with Him that has allowed me to forgive. If you don’t know Him, I pray you will open your heart and take the best step of your life; to accept Jesus into your heart and life today.

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Diana Jones is a compassionate wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She is passionate about sharing God's love and all that He has done throughout her life. She is also looking for opportunities to grow spiritually through reading, prayer, singing, and being in fellowship with others. She is thankful for the opportunity share her stories here at Circles of Faith. You can follow her at Twitter

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Today’s Feast: Mulligatawny Soup

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I gave my daughter my last dollar this morning.

Looking into my wallet, I thought, “I got nothin’.” I was expecting a deposit to hit my account this morning; it hadn’t arrived. (Good thing I didn’t make a pre-drop off production of getting to the bank; that could’ve proved embarrassing…)  Clearly I needed to remember from whence my provision comes. I sighed quietly. Clear that it was solely my business, and no one else’s burden, I gave away the cash. That’s what mommies do.

“I got nothin’.”  Not a good feeling.

In reality, I have shelter, food, a car that carries me where I need to go when I need to get there without incident, and I have gas, even at today’s prices. I am not empty, even if I feel that way. I work hard at being the loving mother, the supportive wife, the “ride or die” friend. I’m just wallowing in being human.

Lately, I’ve been paralyzed by my humanness. I believe that all is well, and know the anxiety I’m feeling will soon pass, but I think I need a break.

I’m growing weary.

I’m just guilty of being human. That’s why Psalms 139 is such a comfort and a blessing. It reminds us that we are never alone.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,

   for darkness is as light to you. Psalms 139:7-12(NIV)

Despite what we feel, we are not empty.

Suddenly, that realization is enough. I am sufficiently encouraged to get off my duff, get over myself, and go make lemonade with my lemons. Or, make dinner from what’s in my pantry (yup, that’s today’s feast, so stand by for the recipe). Having re-read Psalms 139, I’m looking up, instead of feeling down, and it didn’t cost me a thing. Thank You, Lord for pointing me once again in the direction of the obvious…my growing pile of evidence that God is Good.

When I’m feeling like I got nothin’, I go to my well-stocked pantry. This is lunch, and I haven’t spent a dime.

Today’s Feast: Mulligatawny Soup

3T olive oil

3/4 c diced onion

3/4 c diced celery

3/4 c diced carrot

3/4 c diced mini sweet peppers

2 heaping T curry

1t salt (only if necessary, taste first)

1.5 T flour

1 box (32 oz) chicken stock in the box (I use low sodium)

1 finely diced medium apple

½ c leftover cooked chicken

Leaves from one sprig of fresh thyme

2 T coconut cream

  • Heat oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium high heat until it shimmers.
  • Cook the vegetables, allowing them to caramelize.
  • Add the curry, pushing vegetables to the side to allow the curry to toast intensifying its flavor.
  • Stir in flour to make a roux.
  • Add broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze and then reduce heat to low and cook for about a half hour.
  • Add the apple.
  • Now add the salt, if necessary (adding salt earlier in the cooking process may cause the vegetables to release their water, steaming instead of caramelizing them). It’s important to taste the soup at this point, because with seasoned leftover chicken, you might not need salt at all.  
  • Cook another 10-15 minutes, until apples are tender.
  • Finally, add coconut to finish.

When life gets particularly rough,

there is comfort in that

in an imperfect world,

a perfect God loves us,

and abides with us,

through all things 

What's your favorite comfort food? Tell us HERE.

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Rochelle Wilson

Rochelle blogs at Treat Me to a Feast about her life lived forward, reviewed backward, through the lens of faith. She’s a PK (Pastor’s Kid), who’s been a Baptist church musician since she was five. Always a dancer and athlete, as an adult she turned to liturgical dance to deepen her personal worship.  It worked. Rochelle laughs a lot, is married to her first love and prom date nearly 20 years ago. Together God gave them two children and a boxer who is the other love of her life, confidante, therapist, and physical trainer.

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Choosing to Be a Mother

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This past January there was a lot of chatter on television and the Internet surrounding the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.  While over the years I have not thought much about it, the buzz online stirred up thoughts that began circling around in my head about one fateful decision I made 39 years ago concerning the birth of my firstborn child.

I was 24 and my husband Michael was 29.  I was working as a hairdresser in a prestigious hair salon when I discovered that I was pregnant.  I was excited about the idea of having a child, but I was concerned about whether or not we could afford one.  When I married my husband I had also married his debts.

I immediately called my husband with the good news only to find out that he wasn’t as excited as I was.

He said he wanted me to get an abortion. 

“What?”  I couldn’t believe he said that to me.  I was surprised to find out that we had such different reactions to this pregnancy.  He had always wanted more than one child, and I wanted less than five.  However, I thought that he believed as I did, that an abortion was the shedding of innocent blood.“I am not killing this baby!”  I said to him.

Even though I did not have any church or Bible teaching on the subject, I knew that there was a baby growing on the inside of me and the idea of ending its life was out of the question.

In December of 1974 I gave birth to a 7lb., 6oz., baby girl. 

In the early years of our marriage, my husband’s job kept him on the road traveling most of the time so it was left up to me to raise our daughter the first few years of her life.  Four years after she was born, our small family relocated to New York, where the home base of my husband’s company was located. I soon discovered I was pregnant with our second child. 

Michael’s reaction to this second pregnancy was not the same as the first.  Our daughter had been such a delight to us that any fears my husband had about having children quickly disappeared.

I surrendered my life to God when our daughter was in third grade. 

We attended a church where the uncompromised Word of God was being taught.  It was a small church and my children sat next to me every Wednesday night and Sunday morning as the pastor taught the congregation.  After I learned about the power of God and how to take the promises of God and turn them into prayers, I began to pray every day for my children. I was able to encourage and instruct them in the Word of God in everything that we did.

Then I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1997.

 My daughter was by my side constantly speaking words of faith she had learned over the years. She would remind me that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and that With Godall things are possible (Matthew 19:26), even my healing.

Deuteronomy 30:19, Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live.

39 years ago I chose life and I am so thankful that I did.

Michael and I both are so very grateful that we did not abort our little girl.  Our daughter has grown into a lovely Proverbs 31 woman.  She is married and has given us three wonderful grandchildren. They are being taught the principles and character of God and to have a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom, blogger, designer, and entrepreneur.  She enjoys volunteering at her children’s school, running, and reading.  She and her family also enjoy traveling the country with Michael and me in our RV.  She has touched the lives of many people throughout the years with her peaceful and kind manner.  

The joy that our daughter has given to us over the years is priceless.

I made the choice for life and my descendants are now a living testimony to the goodness of God because of that choice. 

If you find yourself being pressured into terminating your pregnancy by having an abortion, I want to encourage you to remember my story concerning my daughter.  God has plans of a future and hope for both you and your child.  If you cannot find support from your family, there are many people and agencies that will lend a helping hand. Click here for a comprehensive resource.

My prayer for all moms is that you will find as much joy and delight in your child as I have had in mine.

Are you struggling with a hard choice? 

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Martha Wentz has been married for 41 years and is a mother of 2 grown children, grandmother of 3 small children. She ministerd to children, ages 7-9, for 18 years.  She also ministered for 9 years in Victorious Overcomers, a support group. Her body was healed of cancer and her marriage saved from divorce by the power & mercy of the One True Living God! She is the author of Unforgiveness, Cancer, and Healing. Click here to follow her on Twitter.

photo credit: storyvillegirl via photopincc

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Dear Me - My Story of Reflection

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REFLECTION - A fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.

Have you ever taken the time to reflect on the beauty of who God is and the many ways He has shaped your life?

Recently, I felt a tug on my heart to take time to dig deeper into my relationship with God. I sensed God leading me to write a letter to my younger myself.

I have to admit, at first, I thought this was a great idea. Then, as I started journaling, I wasn’t so sure. I soon realized how hard this was going to be. Not necessarily because it was painful to look back, but because there was so much I wanted to share with this young, precious girl.

What is the purpose of reflection?

While it’s not healthy to live in the past, I have found there are times when the Holy Spirit prompts a time of reflecting back on my life.  He’s at work in ways I may not recognize at first, but proves to always benefits me in the end. (Instead of the above sentence: I don’t always understand the purpose of the prompting, but this Spirit-led process always benefits me in the end.

In writing this letter to myself, God has taught me:

To See God More Clearly

Psalm 106:2 (NLT) | Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?

As I looked back on my childhood, I experienced an eye-opening recognition of how God has loved, saved, rescued, healed, provided, protected, guided me throughout my entire life. Even though I have been through many hard experiences, knowing looking back I know that God was there for me through it all. It is a wonderful comfort.

To Encourage Others

Psalm 40:10 (NLT) | I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Walking down memory lane and having the Holy Spirit show me all the ways He cared for me, gives me great joy. That joy overflows to others as I share the good news of Jesus Christ and all that He has done for me. We all have a story to tell and our story is powerful…yes, even the good, bad, and the ugly!

To Forgive Others and Myself

Matthew 6:14-15 | If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The Lord used times of reflection to reveal where that has been unforgiveness in my life. I have found out how important it is to forgive. Forgiveness frees me from the bondage of bitterness and pain, and closes the door that can allow the enemy access to my life. Sometimes we can easily see our unforgiveness; other times we have to ask God to show us. Regardless, unforgiveness holds us captive. Let’s not wait another day to forgive the offenses others have committed against us. We also need to forgive ourselves so we can be free.

To Remind Myself That Disappointments Happen…But God Is with Me

John 16:33 (NLT) | I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

The Bible is clear that we will encounter trials and sorrows even as Christians. There may be times that we have a life altering experience or endure a circumstance beyond our understanding.  During those times we may be tempted to take our eyes off of Jesus. This is when reflection can be one of the most powerful tools we have, especially if we’ve written down our reflections. Not only can we read His Word and renew our mind with His promises, but we can also take out our journal and revisit what God has shown us about the past. This empowers us to fight, to praise, to worship Him in the midst of any circumstances!

Even though reflection typically happens at the end of December as people make resolutions for the New Year, we need not wait until then. Periodic introspection is beneficial. Doing this through writing a letter to my younger self helped me clearly see how far God has carried me in my past. I am encouraged knowing He will continue to carry me into my future.

Do you ever reflect back on where God has been in your life? Do you journal or write this down…or maybe even write a letter to your younger self? Tell us here.

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Diana Jones is a compassionate wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is passionate about sharing God's love and all that He has done throughout her life. She is also looking for opportunities to grow spiritually through reading, prayer, singing and being in fellowship with others. She is thankful for the opportunity share her stories here at Circles of Faith. You can follow her at Twitter

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Seeking and Finding Retreat and Renewal

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An Unconventional Way of Celebrating 60

I recently turned 60. Months before the date, my loving family and friends began asking me how I wanted to celebrate: a party, a weekend with friends, a trip, etc. Each was fun in its own way, and I considered them all. But when I finally gave myself permission to stop and consider—apart from any of these ideas—what my wish would be, I realized that what I longed for was something very different. I longed for time to be still, to listen for the voice of God; I longed for renewal. 

The seeds of this birthday wish were planted eight years ago when I began my work as a hospital chaplain. As the sole Protestant on the Spiritual Care staff at a Catholic hospital, I learned—and continue to learn—so much from the godly Sisters and priests with whom I have the privilege to work. Perhaps most impressive for me early on was this: the Sisters were obligated by their communities to designate time each year for retreat. This, I must emphasize, was separate from their vacation days. It was considered part of the work; a requirement for sustenance and growth and fidelity in their vocation. How enlightened!  The little bit I have tasted over the years of the benefits of retreat have only served to make me want more, but lacking a community or authority mandate….it hasn’t  happened. Here, in the context of a milestone birthday when I felt free to choose whatever I wanted, was my opportunity.

I took the time to pray until this longing metamorphosed into a concrete plan that would actually serve as a birthday celebration. 

As I prayed, the steps became clear. 

1. Where—The meeting place would be a local retreat property run by the Sisters of Mercy. 

2. Who to Lead—The leader I asked was a woman I’ve long admired: a Christian counselor and godly, prayerful woman who passed her 60th birthday milestone nearly 20 years before mine. 

3. Whom to Invite—I felt strongly that I wanted to spend the day with women, but didn’t want to exclude men—especially those in my family, from the celebration. The solution was to spend the day with sisters, and in the evening, have a dinner celebration in our home with spouses, etc., included.  

4. The biggest challenge—Do I invite only my friends with whom I share a faith? My like-minded sisters? Or, with full disclosure, do I invite all of my closest friends and let them decide whether or not to come to the Christian retreat and dinner, or just the dinner. In the end, that’s what I did, trusting the Lord to sort it out. 

Following is an excerpt from the invitation that I sent to my family and friends: 

I’m turning 60. As I’ve considered the options for marking such a milestone I realize that what I want most of all is time to be still; to trace the movement of God in my life over these past 60 years, and to re-tune my focus for whatever is ahead.

I want to know that this adventure of trying to live for God will only deepen and grow. I want to defy that still, small voice within me (and the huge, monstrous, deafening voice within culture) that relegates these years to a post-peak descent, sprinkled with occasional perks and graces. I want to know that this temporal existence—even and especially NOW—has the potential to explode beyond the boundaries I have drawn with my own subtle but potent (and fear-fed) values to stay safe, stay in control and look good while you’re doing it (with, of course, only a modicum of success at any of them). And I KNOW that “explosion” can happen because we follow Jesus—the unpredictable, uncontrollable, unsafe incarnation of love and goodness and truth and freedom. 

So that’s what I want to focus on, but I don’t want to do it alone.

I want to have a “retreat” day. I want to invite my sisters and a few close friends…..

To my surprise, of the 15 women I invited, only one declined the retreat day. 

It felt like heaven. Sitting in this holy, prayer-soaked retreat center with the women who mean the most to me in the world; knowing each one had worked hard to wrest this time from their busy schedules. For my Christian sisters, this was familiar territory. For those who may not be practicing Christians…what joy to see them all together!!! And, how brave of them to accept and open themselves to this new experience. 

The morning began with Jessie—our facilitator—reading a well-chosen Scripture, inviting us to respond, then sending us out to enjoy the beautiful grounds in silent contemplation. That order was repeated throughout the day. 

My greatest gift of the retreat: 

I had stated in the invitation that I wanted to “trace the movement of God in my life.”

Little did I realize that so much of that that movement would be reflected in the faces of those women in the room.

My only complaint: 

One day was not enough. Sharing in group time and over our meal was so sweet; sharing quiet together, even sweeter. We all left, I think, longing for more. 

Perhaps that longing had something to do with the verse that Jessie chose to form the substance of our meditation that day.  I offer it to you now: 

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

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Susie Minno is a hospital chaplain living and working in Bucks County, Pa. She is married to David, and the mother of three adult children. Chaplaincy is a second career for Susie, and she is daily delighted and forever grateful that God surprised her with this calling so late in the game, granting a desire of her heart that she never realized she had. (Her hero of the moment is Mother Antonia, founder of the Servants of the Eleventh Hour.)

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Still Hungry

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Blessedarethey which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 Matthew 5:6

I sat on the deserted beach

watching the Gulf's waters rise and fall.

Hearing them pound the shore.

There was in my spirit a longing.

A craving.

An intense, deep hunger....

to find my Creator.

To talk with Him.

To hear His voice.

To sense His presence.

So jaded was life.

So tired was I....

of the chaos that surrounded my existence.

I searched for peace.

I longed for inward rest...

that would sustain me..

and not leave in the days to come.

I sat on the rock...

alone...

wind sweeping long hair,

drying quickly-falling tears...

almost as quickly as they fell.

How I longed to just fly away...

on its wings...

through the turbulent, stormy skies...

and be at rest.

I turned my face upward...

closed my eyes....

spoke with my heart.

My mouth didn't move.

Just my soul.

He heard....

sensed my hunger....

for Him.

He nourished my soul.

Dried my tears.

Brought calm.

I watched the sun set,

then disappear,

and melt into the waves.

I hesitantly climbed down from the rock,

wishing things were different, but knowing I was.

 I was filled with His presence.

So, I could go on.

Since then,

God has led to greener pastures.

One thing has not changed.

I am still hungry.

As I prayed this morning,

I told God so.

I hunger for Him...every, single day.

In calm or chaos,

grief or joy.

Whatever the external.

My heart craves...

longs for...

seeks after....

God.

He fills me to the point of overflowing.

To the point of feeling I will never hunger for Him again.

But every day, the hunger is fresh.

Like I've never been filled before.

I need God.

I crave His presence.

When I feel separated from Him,

due to the stuff of life,

I sense a strong, inward tug...

to find a place alone.

Remember the children of Israel?

Their journeys,

trials, tribulations, and circumstances....

all recorded as natural types and shadows

of the spiritual lives you and I now live.

We can learn so much from them.

The 78th chapter of Psalms paints a vivid portrait

and gives their story in a nutshell.

At one point, they were wandering in the wilderness.

They were hungry, physically,

doubting God,

not believing He could feed them there...

surrounded by such desolation.

The foolishness of their doubtful words found in the 19th verse?

"Yea, they spake against God; 

they said, ‘Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?’"

I call their words foolish because they knew what God could do.

He had already miraculously parted the Red Sea...

caused the waters to stand in a heap on both sides...

dried the muddy ground in the middle...

right in front of their very eyes...

and kept it dry until the last one

of their doubtful feet crossed over to the other side.

He had caused water to gush from a rock,

when they were thirsty.

He had rained down manna from Heaven,

when they were hungry.

How could they doubt what God could do?

Perhaps, due to circumstances beyond your control,

you are surrounded by spiritual desolation.

Wilderness.

Where no sustenance grows.

Can God feed you there?

Can He furnish a table?

Right there....in such dry conditions?

Yes, my friend!

He is the Creator, remember?

He made the world...

out of nothing.

To furnish a table, 

with all the trimmings,

overladen with spiritually-charged nutrition,

is an easy task for God.

Even in the most desolate wastelands of your life.

You don't have to be seated in a pew

or in the midst of the sanctimonious.

On a beach,

in a church building,

in your living room,

in the car,

at the foot of a mountain,

on your knees,

flat on your back,

in the woods,

 at the stump of a tree,

seated on a fallen log,

surrounded by unbelievers,

in the midst of persecution...

wherever you are.

He will come down...

right there...

whereyouare,

and He will furnish a table...

just for you.

It will contain an "all-you-can-eat" buffet.

Each time you go back,

you will find a fresh supply...

of goodness,

and everything you crave.

His creativity is endless.

He is the Creator.

He never runs out of ideas…

on how to feed your soul...

as long as you are hungry.

His table is spread.

He waits for you.

Just take His hand....

and follow Him...

to the table.

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Cheryl Smith is eternally-grateful wife to Kevin and homeschool Mama to Zachary.  Daily walks with God, conversations with the Potter, peaceful married life, the beautiful way God still opens barren wombs and sets the solitary in families, homeschooling, aging parents, grief, family ties, & the endless joys of being in the center of God's perfect, abiding will...these things she lives and breathes and knows.  These things she writes from her heart at Homespun Devotions at www.cherylsmithministries.blogspot.com.

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A Place for My Soul to Breathe

This is the time of year when everyone needs to breathe a little fresh air.  

Our hot-air-pumped suburban homes are stale and stuffy. They seem like they are suffocating under the weight of a long, long winter. With the first nodding needs of miniature daffodils and the first waving purple crocus blooms, I long to throw open the windows and simply let the house breathe.  

The house is not the only thing that needs to breate. My soul feels that same weight of winter -- burdened and heavy with holiday expectations, claustrophobic winter nesting, and sunless days that seem to closet our soul's ability just to breathe.

I know...you think I'm going to get all preachy on you today.  Well, I am, but not really.  You see, the way I interact with God -- the way my soul grows -- it isn't very preachy. I grew up in church and I went to a Christian university and we still go to church faithfully. All added up?  That is a lot of preaching.  I get a little tired of preaching.  Don't you?

What I don't get tired of are those moments when I can feel my soul breathe.

I don't know if you have had those moments, the ones when something lifts in your heart and you are simply at peace. You aren't crazy happy. You aren't even full of elation. You aren't necessarily joyful. You are just at peace.

For me, that peace is directly tied to the way God speaks through nature. Perhaps it is childish of me that I find God the most through His tangible, smack-dab-in-your-face gifts instead of His more lofty spiritual gifts. I just love the feeling of freedom when my soul breathes.

Perhaps you are wondering when I'm going to get to the point.  I'm getting there I promise.

A few years ago, we had just moved to Pennsylvania and we were living in a townhouse. We were supposed to live there for a year, but I was a little baby and needed a garden and a place for the boys to run. Looking back, I know that, realistically, we should have stuck it out. Quite honestly, I knew I was being ungrateful in my heart, but I just couldn't stand it. I couldn't stand the babies waking the other babies up because the quarters were too close. I couldn't stand the stark whiteness and "townhouse-i-ness" of it all. I couldn't stand the fact that my poppies bloomed 1/4" wide because they were being grown in pots that couldn't support them. I was tired of not having potatoes and tomatoes growing in my backyard. I was tired of not being able to paint walls and hang things on them. I was just a plain old baby about it all.

However, I am a little bit glad that I was a baby because we ended up with a house that lets my soul breathe.

I still haven't told you what I'm talking about....  Let me show you.

It is those places where sun glints through the plants like diamonds and that place where the sky goes on forever.  It's that place where the green fills your eyes and then coats your veins and tumbles down into your heart.  It is those moments when you breathe in the air and feel it giving you life. It is the country and the woods and the beaches and the ocean. It is the rocks and the grass and the trees and the sky. It is the place where God reaches out and can physically touch us. My soul can breathe when there is space, life, light, and growth. My soul can breathe when I can feel God.

Those photos? Those aren't of my home. They are of the [incredible] Rapid Canyon Ranch in Wyoming. The problem? We can't afford hundreds and thousands of acres of unbroken sky. We can't afford a home where neighbors are invisible. We can't afford a mountain.

However, we can afford a home that lets my soul breathe. Sometimes you have to get on your knees and look under the plants to see the way the sunlight glows through the leaves. A blanket and a baby and that view?  Your soul can breathe.  Sometimes it is looking in the right direction. Maybe you have a busy street in front of your home, but out back you can see rolling hills in the distance. You don't have to own those hills for them to grace your heart.

All that said...my soul can breathe now. If I wouldn't have been such a baby, my soul could have breathed in that townhouse, but I was too stubborn. I wanted grass and trees and room to plant. I wanted sky and breeze and trees to climb. I wanted to own my little piece of land and raise chickens and chase groundhogs.

It's understandable, but still childish. 

I missed out on a few months of breathing because I was so busy worrying about finding a place to breathe. 

Are you in a space where it feels like you can't breathe?  Re-evaluate your space, add some life, try to embrace your space. You might try a few of mystyling tips to help. In any case, breathe. You can't live without it.

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Amy Renea is a freelance writer and photographer based out of Hershey, PA.  She lives with her husband, 3 boys, 5 chickens, and a feisty pair of bunnies on a couple acres in deer country. If you ever stop by, she'll have an iced sweet tea and sweet potato chips waitin' for you! You can find the bulk of Amy's work at A Nest for All Seasons. Amy is also a design writer for the award-winning Houzz.com, a designer for Crafts Unleashed, and contributes to various home and garden magazines.

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Susanne Says - How to Revolutionize Your Relationships with Friends and Family

How to Revolutionize Your Relationships with Friends and Family

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Last month we looked at how to revolutionize our relationships with our teenagers by "moving in the opposite spirit" or doing the opposite of what seems natural. 

This month, I'd like to generalize this same technique for changing our relationships with friends and other family members as well. I have heard it said that relationships need to be renegotiated every three to five years. Things get stale, we get into ruts, the quality of our connections with friends and loved ones can always use an upgrade.

Managing Expectations

Sometimes we romanticize what life and relationships should be like. We forget connecting with people takes work and that we must examine the expectations we have for people and events. It helps to go into situations with our expectations rooted and grounded in reality: not the romanticized view that "we should all just get along" nor the pessimistic view that things will be tense or difficult.

Dealing with Offense

One of the key things that hurts relationships is criticism and its unfriendly cousins sarcasm and defensiveness. Being on the receiving end of one of these three lovely attitudes is definitely one of life's challenges.

Moving in the opposite spirit means we don't pick up the gauntlet that may have been thrown down through an insult or criticism. (Remember, through verbal communication, people are always telling us who they are, they're not defining us by their remarks.) So if someone makes a snarky comment and we don't "pick it up," then we’re free to respond instead of react. What's the difference? When we respond, we see the choices or options present in the interaction; whereas when we react we usually feel compelled to do something like get angry and hurl a criticism back, etc. In short, when we’re being reactive we have a very limited range of options.

It's in being able to press the pause button in the tense moment that we may find the freedom to move in the opposite spirit. Instead of attending to our feelings only, we choose to think.

WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE?

Sometimes it may be covert. A friend or family member may be negative or hostile. For the sake of my example, we'll say they're extending us the rope to argue with them. Alanon admonishes its members, "Just because someone extends you the rope (to argue, debate, or play the one-upmanship game, etc.) doesn't mean you have to pick it up."

Just because you may want to argue with me doesn't mean I need to engage. I was explaining this to my daughter recently and she said, "I think I know what you mean. Is it something like:  it takes four lips to argue and two of them are yours?"  Yes, that is exactly what it means!  (I think she heard that on a TV show.)   There's also an old proverb that says, "Be careful when you argue with an idiot. People passing by won.t know which one you are." 

What Moving in the Opposite Spirit Isn’t…and Is

Moving in the opposite spirit is not being more patient although that would help. It's also not being a doormat--women particularly become fearful and angry if they think that's what’s being asked of them. It's more like the modern martial art of judo. Judo is translated "the gentle way."  The strategies and techniques of judo rely on yielding to the oncoming force of your opponent. It is a disciplined sport that can be readily adapted to a very effective type of self defense.

Here's the bottom line:  judo is a way of using the enemies power by yielding to it. Moving in the opposite spirit accomplishes the same goal! We sense the force of our verbal critic or angry friend, husband, or colleague coming our way. We sidestep the intensity of their emotions (or possibly attack) by yielding our own right to defend ourselves. That is not to say that we volunteer for abuse. It's more like a mindful (self-aware) approach to disarm the negative emotions of someone who is coming at us with negative intent. Maybe someone is being mean spirited about your cooking or your home or your kids. While I'm all for giving a petulant friend or colleague a little push back if some bad behavior is occurring, that's not the strategy we're talking about today. Today we're talking about disarming our critics by giving way to the aggression that’s coming our way. We sidestep their opposition, instead of resisting it or defending ourselves against it.

The Spiritual Aspect

We wrestle not with flesh and blood but with powers and principalities, Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12. What does that mean? Sometimes we're going around in circles in our relationships trying to figure out someone or trying to figure out what’s going wrong or where the communication is breaking down. But sometimes the problem may be a spiritual one.

As I stated above, moving in the opposite spirit means dismantling that power of the enemy by yielding to it. Last month, I talked about the paradox of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. In the words of the old Johnny Mercer song, “Something's gotta give."  When we move in the opposite spirit, we choose not to pick up the gauntlet that's being thrown down, but we do choose a strategy. This isn't passive at all. It's strategic! 

Imagine what it would feel like if you wanted to give your husband a piece of your mind and in your fury you approached him with eyes glaring and steam coming out of the top of your head. Instead of saying something defensive, rude, or dismissive, he just sits down to listen to you! (I know some of you are thinking you may be in the wrong house with someone else's husband if that ever happened!). It won't be hard to imagine how differently that argument would go if you had your husband’s full attention. That is the basic essence of moving in the opposite spirit. It's doing the opposite of what people expect you to do. What a challenge! 

Proverbs 14:12 says:  There is a way that seems right in a man's eyes but it leads to destruction. The still small voice of the spirit warns us that our ways are not His ways, nor our thoughts His thoughts. His ways and thoughts are as different from ours as the heavens are from the earth (paraphrased Isaiah 55: 8-9.)   Moving in the opposite spirit separates us from our natural or carnal reactions to life's challenges. Even our most precious relationships bring strife, stress, and trauma. We need to be prepared. As I quoted last month, "If I always do what I've always done I'm always going to get what I've always gotten." (Henry Ford)

When someone lays down the gauntlet to argue with us, we don't have to pick it up. International author and speaker Graham Cooke says, "If you meet an accusation with an accusation, you do the work of the enemy." One of the names of the enemy of our soul is The Accuser of the brethren. When we’re upset and react naturally or carnally, we’re yielding to a negative or soulish emotion and permitting ourselves to be used by the Accuser.

DO YOU WANT MORE INFLUENCE?

Do you feel stuck in a relationship where you'd like to have more influence? Permit that person to influence you and watch what happens. I sincerely want to challenge you to train for some judo-like emotional training. We have to pass the test, Beloved!  For more on this type of emotional training, see Graham Cooke's book, Manifesting Your Spirit.

Your comments welcome HERE.

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Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website. 

EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us

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The Art of Mothering

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It was the time of night where I like to settle into the hollowed out spot on the corner of the sofa, the one next to the lamp for reading and the table for setting down a cup of tea. Dishes washed and laundry folded, I sat down and anticipated an evening with a hot mug, a cookie or two, and complete control of the TV remote. I hung up my invisible “Mom Off-Duty” sign, and propped up my feet on the coffee table.

My son, lounging on the chair next to me, tried to engage me in conversation.

This is the same son who spent the last three hours challenging my authority, bickering with his sisters, and, truth be told, driving me a little bit mad. Deep down, I felt the warning light flash, “Do not engage. Off-duty. I repeat, do not engage.” He was minutes away from bedtime, and I was not prepared to go another round or five with him. Didn’t he see my sign? Apparently not, because he pressed more and more for an answer. I turned to look at him, and I could see his need sitting on the surface of his eyes like tears.  He wanted more than a nod and a mumbled word or two.

He asked me what he is good at…

“Like, what am I really, really good at Mom? What are my talents?” and an answer like, “You’re really good at antagonizing your sister” didn’t feel entirely appropriate.  When I looked at him, I saw the truth behind his question; his real need to hear who I think he is, apart from the bickering and the fussing and the constant admonitions for him to behave. I shifted from my hollow spot, to the floor near his feet. I looked up into his big brown eyes and I told him. I told him that he is smart and artistic—how he sees beyond the surface of things, to the heart of them. I told him his ear is gifted for music, and his head for numbers, and he’ll always read deeper, wider, and with more passion than any kid his age. I told him he is one-of-a-kind and a gift.

After he went to bed, and I sat down to my, now cold, cup of tea, I thought about how easy it is to remain disengaged and off-duty.

Motherhood often feels like a checklist, one that looks the same every single day.

Too often, my parenting focuses only on the tasks—those items I can check off as complete. But the work of motherhood isn’t simply about the baked chicken or the ironed shirts or the clean sheets. The true work of mothering happens when we pull ourselves out of the hollow places. The hard work gets done in the sitting by their feet with a listening ear, where mothering becomes less a series of tasks and more of an art.

Mothering is an act of creation that begins in the womb and continues in the heart.

We create a safe place where our children can ask the difficult questions and we give them the truth about who they are in our family, in this world, and in Christ.  We paint and draw and build these truths into them like artists, and with an artist there is no such thing as off-duty. 

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Kimberly lives in Switzerland with her husband and favorite little people.  She copes with life’s biggest questions by drinking lots of tea, writing, and God’s grace. You can find her writing at www.kimberlyanncoyle.com or tweeting @KimberlyACoyle.

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Where Does Your Faith Come From?

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Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5

On St. Patrick’s Day, I can’t help but think of my beloved Grandma who traveled here, a young girl, barely 20, to the United States from Ireland 90+ years ago.

I wish I could talk to her today, but she is long gone. She died in 1972. There is so much I’d like to know more about.

What was it like for her to leave her mother and father in one country to join brothers and sisters in a new land that lay across the sea? To go to an unknown city, leaving behind the stone farmhouse in the country hills of Fermanagh, the only home she had ever known?

Was she scared? Excited? Did she feel courageous and brave…she surely was!

There are things I know about Grandma, but so much more I wish I knew.

When Grandma arrived here in the U.S., about 1920, she went to live with her sister in New York. I recall Grandma telling me she met her husband, Grandpa Daly, a.k.a. Charlie Daly, through her brother Patrick, who used to drive an ice truck back in the day when there were ice boxes.

I don’t know what Grandpa did for a living. I only know that he had difficulty keeping a job during the Great Depression. And, in fact, grew quite literally depressed from lack of work. Grandpa fell ill, was hospitalized, and never returned home. He died when my dad was 13.

Around this time, Grandma started working as, basically, an “Irish washerwoman” or “domestic” for wealthy doctors. Once Grandpa died, Grandma couldn’t keep her home and she and Dad moved in with one of the doctor’s families…living in the back rooms of the doctor’s office.

Dad was a good boy, but the class clown. He was being educated for free at St. Peter’s Prep School as a poor student of promise. Because of his antics, Grandma had to cry to the dean of students more than once, begging Dad back into the dean’s good graces…and allowing Dad to graduate by the skin of his teeth.

Dad went to St. Peter’s College at night, so he could earn money during the day. Eventually, he did not fall short of Grandma’s high expectations and belief that the only way up out of poverty was through education. Dad had a very successful publishing career and was most assuredly the apple of his mother’s eye.

Meanwhile, Grandma went from washerwoman to nanny of another doctor’s family. She worked hard, scraped by many times, and when she was too old to work anymore, at the age of 65, Grandma came to live with us. She walked with a cane due to a leg that had broken in two places and never healed quite right. Her hands were gnarled with arthritis and her back bowed in pain much of the time. She could barely see from the effects of macular degeneration.

BUT Grandma was the most thankful person I have ever met.

She was positive and encouraging. She was an advocate for…everyone. She prayed wholeheartedly for all she knew. In fact, when she could no longer do much besides help care for the crazy brood of five children that were the Daly Kids, prayer became her life’s work.

Whenever I picture Grandma, I see her in her big plaid buffalo chair in her corner of the sun porch in heaven. There is a line of people waiting just to share their prayer requests with her, knowing she is a constant, consistent, powerful prayer warrior.

Grandma had nothing of material worth…yet for many years she was everything to me. In the midst of my parents’ messed up marriage, Grandma was an anchor in the storm. In the midst of middle school insecurity, she was blessed assurance that I was loved. In the midst of my growing need for something bigger, surer, more certain, she was a glimpse of the Jesus she so loved, the God I have come to know.

Grandma never preached. She just lived…quiet, prayerful, sure, faithful. And she passed this legacy on to me.

I wish I knew when and how Grandma came to such strong faith. I will never know this side of heaven.

But I am thankful every day for her gift of faith that keeps on giving to me.

Is there someone who left you a legacy of faith? Someone who was a beacon of Light in your life, whose faith drew you to faith? Tell us HERE

photo credit: Randy Durrum via photopincc

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Elise has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, familly, friends...and really likes travel!

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What Have You Got to Lose?

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Recently I was watching a message by Joyce Myer. At the end, she had a video testimony of Danny Cahill. When Myer came to visit his church in 2006, he had a life-changing moment.

You may recognize Danny's name. He won The Biggest Loser in Season Eight. Before the show and before he heard Joyce Myer speak, Danny and Darci, his wife, were struggling financially, in their marriage, and family life. He was gambling and binge eating, which created chaos in his family. He ended up $45,000 in credit card debt and weighed 460 lbs.

The Way Out

One Sunday, Danny and Darci knew things had to change, but they did not know what to do. They prayed for God to show them the way. They went to church in the evening, and heard Joyce Myer speak.

She said, "The only way out (of bad circumstances or problems) is through. If you are running and hiding from something, it has power and authority over you."

Danny finally realized his addictions had power over him. The way through was to change his habits one step at a time. He paid off his debt by taking a second job, and tried out for The Biggest Loser in Season Seven. He finally made it in Season Eight. He lost the most weight of anyone on the show ever, and has kept it off for over two years now.

Routines Propel Us

We all have routines and habits we do every day. Some we have chosen intentionally, and others we do without even thinking. Routines propel us through our day.

How is your spiritual routine?  What are your spiritual habits?  Are you exercising your spiritual muscles each day to grow your faith? 

God desires to speak to us each day and give us power through His living word. <-Click to Tweet 

Most people think of routines as boring and ordinary. Yet, when I spend time in God's Word daily, He never ceases to amaze me. When I read His Word, even a passage I have read many times, I glean something new. I see it differently or God speaks to me.

Trusting Him

The word God has pressed on my heart for 2013 is trust. Recently, I read a Jesus Calling (Sarah Young) devotional as I started my time alone with God, and can you guess what it was about?  Trust.

The verse for the day was, Trust in the Lord, with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. [Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT] 

While watching Danny's testimony, my heart resonated with Darci as she had watched her husband struggle for years with his weight and their finances. She asked God how she could help her husband, and God responded to her, “Do not do anything.”  God asked her, "Do you trust me?" 

God Reveals

Wow! I felt like an arrow had hit my heart. That was it! God has been asking me, "Do you trust Me?" for almost two years now.

Until that moment when Darci was talking, I was not sure why God kept asking me, "Do You trust Me?"  Then I realized, I had not trusted God to handle situations in my marriage. I believed nothing would ever change, and it would always be this way.

God overwhelms me when He speaks to my heart so lovingly. He reveals His heart for me when He reveals His truths to me.

Keep Connected

My spiritual routine keeps me connected to God throughout the day. My spiritual life is exciting, because I am open to hear God speak through other people, books, and whatever means He chooses. God has spoken to me through music, through messages on church marquees or bumper stickers.

How can you change your spiritual routine? 

What do you need to do differently?

Each morning many of us grab a cup of coffee or in my case, hot tea. I challenge you to grab your Bible before the newspaper or the morning show on TV.

It is my desire for every believer to have a thriving, growing, and healthy relationship with their Savior.

If you desire a more intimate relationship with your heavenly Father, read The Daily GPS ~ An Intimate Journey with Christ. Learn ways to grow closer to God, pray with intention, and seek to serve Him daily.

Click Here for The Daily GPS FREE download available on my website.

In what area of your life is God asking you, “Do you trust Me?” Let us know in the comments HERE.

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Joyce Glass is a writer and speaker, and lover of God’s Word. She shares how people are living their life for Christ on her blog at www.thedailygps.com. She inspires believers to grow more intimate with Christ, and encourages them to live out their faith by serving Him. 

Photo Credit: Joel Palmer at www.palmerphotography.com

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