Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Undeserved Forgiveness Grace Freely Given

Matthew 6: 14-15 NKJV

 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

"She doesn't deserve my forgiveness! The evil that was done is just too great." This is the story my pastor's wife and Bible study leader, Eva Ruth, shared with us about someone in her life. Though Eva didn't feel this person deserved her forgiveness, she knew God's instruction. She knew that there was also a day when she didn't deserve forgiveness. The forgiveness Eva showed to the person wasn't deserved, but grace was freely given that day. The same goes for us, ladies. We didn't deserve the forgiveness that Christ offers. But again, undeserved forgiveness, grace was freely given.


Father, thank You for the forgiveness You show to us each and every day. The forgiveness was undeserved but the grace was freely given. Thank You Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Beauty of Prayer

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV)

Last week while attending a writers conference, I was able to spend time with a friend I've not seen in 2 years. On the last day, she gave me something I'll never forget. It was something that can't be bought with money, it can't be won in a contest. Susan Stilwell gave me the gift of prayer. Over the last 2 years, I've had her as a sweet prayer warrior. But to have her put her arms around me and say, "let me pray with you," meant the world to me. Out of all the classes I took and all the people I was fortunate to meet, that was the highlight for me. God brings people into our lives when we least expect it. Though we met at a writers retreat, I don't think either of us knew the friendship that would develop. Who in your life is a prayer warior?

Father, thank You for bring such awesome women into our lives. Help us to not take them for granted, to cherish them always. Lord I ask You provide my readers with someone they can call on at anytime for prayer. Lord give them a sweet prayer warrior like I've found in Susan. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Ordinary Day Interrupted By An Extraordinary God?

Eva Ruth
Isaiah 40: 1-8
Today as I prepared to teach, I was reminded of a day last year. It was an ordinary day, a Friday, which was just like any other Friday until the word “snow” was mentioned in the small South Carolina town where I lived. Children everywhere were filled with anticipation as the day progressed. More than one adult mumbled at the sheer mention of the word. BUT when the first flakes began to fall, children from everywhere ran out and danced with JOY at the wondrous sight as the snow blanketed the town. Even the stoic adults hardened hearts melted as the town experienced the first measureable snow fall in over seven years. An ordinary day had been transformed into an extraordinary one. Doesn’t God call us to worship, to spend time with Him in a similar fashion? At the very mention of the word “worship”, we should be filled with anticipation of the coming event, a time to be with God. As God pours out His spirit to blanket us, our hearts overflow with joy as we experience His very presence. An ordinary Friday was transformed into an extraordinary one. You know, snow doesn’t last forever but God’s love and desire to be among us does. Hear what the Bible says:

The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the word of our God, stands forever!”

Let us always be prepared in our hearts to worship God so that the ordinary may become the extraordinary.


Father God, thank you for the gift of your presence in our daily lives. May we be ever aware of you. May we be transformed day by day by your spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No Place Like Home

 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2, NKJV)

Go back with me to a sceen in a well-known movie, The Wizard of Oz. In this movie, Dorothy is looking for that sacred place, home. She tries to take the shortcut to get there but quickly realizes it's a bad idea. She finally understands that if she stays the course, she'll eventually make it home. That's how it is in life. We try to take the shortcuts, but each time we come running back to God wondering why we're in such a mess. This verse lets us know that He has a place prepared for us...if we'll only follow Him and stop trying to take the shortcuts. I know the shortcut may seem easier because we seem to be living on easy street, but I garentee, it will catch up with us. Stay in His will and you'll make it home. As a dear friend of mine, Brenda Blankenship reminded me, "when you're in God's will, you're going to be in Satan's way."

Father, I lift up my readers. Give us all the strength to stay the course-the course you have planned for us. It's so much better than anything we could ever plan or any shortcuts we could take. In Jesus Name, amen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Is Your Baggage too Heavy?

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Mathew 11:28-30, NKJV)

Picture being in an airport trying to carry your bags along with your purse and other items. Now, picture getting to the point of being so exhausted that you just drop everything in your arms to the ground. That's how we feel spiritually at times. We try to carry the "bags" of our lives and get exhausted doing it. We get exhaused, because they weren't meant for us to carry alone. The verse tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Ladies, give up your bags. Lay them down at His feet.
Father, give us the strength to lay our baggage down at Your feet. Help us to not pick it back up again. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Giving Into Life


 My adorable son, a toddler of 15 months sat propped on my hip. I dressed him in his cutest little construction boots, brown corduroy pants and a sweater vest to warm his back and chest. When they found him, I wanted him to look like the little angel he was. The little angel I was going to kill, along with my own life.
Postpartum depression was getting the better side of me. Divorce from my husband wasn't going to happen the way I wanted it. I was too scared of what the results could be. Scared to death that my child would be taken from me. Scared to death of life being hell on earth if I would leave my husband. I was tired of taking care of everyone else but myself. I made every excuse in the world to justify my sad and very sick mind. To me it all made sense. End it and you wouldn't hurt anymore. No one would ever hurt my boy if I took him with me in death.
All those thoughts burst in my head as I walked to the garage where my husband stored a van he was repairing. All I had to do was put my baby in his car seat and he and I could die, not alone, together. It would just take turning the ignition switch, start the van and cry myself to sleep as I would allow asphyxiation to choke us into the grave. My baby would never know the difference and my sadness would be gone. Forever.
D.j. was the picture perfect little boy. He has my eyes and his daddy's smile. He was his sister's best friend. This little man was adored by many. Yet, I struggled with him. He struggled with colic. He cried constantly. I wondered if he also cried because I did. I was being lead by the hand by Satan to rip away the life this little guy that he hadn't even lived yet.
As we walked across the cold driveway, I looked into his eyes. What big beautiful brown eyes he had. He just looked at me and grinned. When I could no longer focus on him through the tears in my eyes, I walked determined that what I was going to do would keep him from harm. Keep him from.....everyone.
I put my hand on the door knob of the garage door and froze. I couldn't move. I couldn't turn back and I couldn't go forward. I wanted to get in that door and get things over with. I stopped and fell to the ground. I sat and cried. I felt the Holy Spirit move within me. This enormous amount of love overcame every feeling caused by depression. And in that moment, I could feel God hold me as I held onto my little boy.
“I am so sorry God. Help me!” I cried out. “Help me, I whispered.” God guided me in his arms as I got up from the hard cold ground and gently walked back into my home. I sat slowly in the recliner holding my sweet innocent child against my chest. Tears dampened the top of his head. We rocked and rocked and fell asleep in the peacefulness of the presence of the Lord.

Not everyday was easy after that. But I knew then that I could rely on God to pull me through the depression that consumed me. The Holy Spirit is constant. He is available for me and for you, to help us out of what feels like the bottomless pits of life. He is here for us every minute of every hour of every day.

My son is now twelve. When I look in his eyes, like I did on that day that life was almost stripped from him, I see life. I see a blessing that God gave to me. I see joy. What a gift to feel love. God is gracious. He is giving and He is waiting for all of us to deeply know and accept His  love gift.

Proverbs 12:28 New American Standard 
In the way of righteousness is life, And in its pathway there is no death.

Can we pray?

Heavenly Father, Let us see Your faithfulness even when we are unfaithful to You. When circumstances surround us with pain, Lord, I ask for peace and for heart healing. Thank You God for letting us come to You, to trust and know that you will bring us through it all. Help all those who feel suicidal. Guide them so that they may receive the help that they need. Protect them, Father and let them feel Your love. Provide all their needs, Lord and ease the pain they feel. Give them hope in You and hope in healing. Bless each one Your treasured children.
In the precious name of Jesus, Amen

(Please see information after this song. )




If You are Suicidal...

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger
because of thoughts of suicide
Please call 911 now
There is help for you. Stay on the phone with the operator and wait for help to arrive. Do not hesitate to call. Your life is extremely valuable, and people care about you. Please reach out for help. Never act on your thoughts of suicide. Never.

If you are not in immediate danger because of thoughts of suicide, but need someone to talk with about your suicidal feelings, please do not hesitate to call one of the following national suicide prevention lines:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 Guest blogger Mary Edwards is a speaker and writer. Her own experiences lead her to focus her speaking and writing on child sexual abuse education, prevention and healing. She founded Be A Voice 4 kids in the spring of 2014. She is a 2013 graduate of Christian Communicators. Mary is a facilitator for Stewards of Children training through Darkness to Light. Visit Mary at www.writeblessings.com or email her at  wordsbyLOU@yahoo.com.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Broken, But Still Usable

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corenthians 5:17, NKJV)

"God can no longer use me. What I've done is just too horrible for Him to be able to ever use me again." Those were the heartbreaking words my friend heard while ministering to another friend. This lady had the picture in her mind that her sin, her mistake was just too much for God to be able to forgive. My friend reminded her of a crayon. Just because the crayon was broken into little pieces, it still colored the most beautiful picture. It could still be used. Ladies, that's true for us as well. It doesn't matter what you've done, God can still use you. You may have had an abortion. You may have had an affair. It doesn't matter. When you ask His forgiveness, you can still be used by Him. You may be broken, but, you're still usable.

Father, remind us all that no matter what we've done, You can still use us. I pray for each reader. Remind her that though she may be broken, You still want to use her. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Yes That Would Change the World

 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38, NKJV)

Picture this sceen with me. A young teenaged girl going about her life, and all of a sudden, here comes an angel. This angel brings her the news that she will have a child. How in the world will this happen, she wonders? She's never been with a man in that way. It's not possible. But, we know that what man deems imposible, God says is possible. Mary said yes to the task God had given her. We've just come out of the Christmas season. Really, it's the only time of year when we hear Mary's story. Like Mary, will we begin our year with a resounding "yes" to God? Will we let Him use us in whatever way He sees fit? To others, it may look crazy, but to Him...it's just the thing we need. After all, He uses the most unlikely people to get done what needs to be accomplished. Will we be part of that Master plan as Mary was all those years ago?

Dear Lord, I pray for each of us. Give us the boldness of Mary to answer Your call on our lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Teacher Sent by God

As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17, NKJV)

Walking into Sunday School just over 8 months ago, I didn't know what to expect. I had heard for the last few weeks that I'd love the teacher, but I didn't think much of it. I thought she would be just like other teacher I've ever had-she'd teach what was in the book and that would be it. Wow, was I ever wrong! Julia McDuffie does so much more than teach. She not only teaches lessons she creates herself from countless hours of studying God's word, she explains what it is she's teaching. You don't walk out of her class wondering, "what in the world did she mean?" And if you don't understand something, she doesn't hesitate to explain it until you get it. I not only found a wonderful Sunday School teacher that day, I found a friend. I found an encourager. And I found someone that would tell me the things I not only wanted to hear, but more importantly would tell me what I need to hear and do it so sweetly and do it all with an attitude of love. I found a teacher sent by God. Who in your life do you have that will do that for you? Share your experiences.

Father, I thank You for Julia and what she means to me and to so many others. I pray for my readers. I pray that if they don't have that teacher that will not only teach from God's word but explain what they don't understand, You will give them that person In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rest

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10, NKJV)

You hear those 2 words, and what comes to your mind? You may think of telling your child to stay in a certain until told differently. But, let me paint another picture for you. To "be still" means to sit...to relax. It means to cease our striving. Ladies, that's what God wants from us. He wants us to stop, to cease striving and to sit with Him. He wants to speak to us, and if we're always on the move He's unable to do that. Today, are you willing to sit still...to sit quietly before the Lore and let Him speak?

Be Still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I Am. Be still and know that I Am. Be still and know that I. Be still and know that. Be still and know. Be still and. Be still. And finally, Be.


 Lord, we want to just "Be" in Your presence. Help us Lord to do that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lord, Why?

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV)
"You're not going to get to attend the Creekside Gospel Music Convention. Your surgery to have your wisdom teeth removed has been postponed. You're not going to get to attend the retreat because of that." These are the things that have come at me in the last few months. And today, I have to ask, "Lord, why?" I have to wonder what He's doing. In my human mind, I can't see the big picture. All I see are the things that aren't to be at this time. But, as I fight the feelings of discouragement, depression and defeat, I know there's a purpose in it all. I know that there are things to be done. As a friend shared, "I need to get away with God, not with people." Are you at that stage in life? What has you questioning. Is the old saying, when it rains , it pours ringing true right now for you? Ladies, I encourage you to get away with God. It's not wrong to question Him. He can take it...I promise.
Father, I ask You to be with my readers. Whatever their "Lord why" is in life show them that you're there and haven't forgotten. Most of all Lord, I ask You to show them that You still have a purpose in the chaos. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If You Want Me To

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:2-3, NKJV)
"I'm sorry, but if your mom doesn't improve, she'll have to be removed." "Your friend only has a few monts." "You will no longer have a job in 30 days." I'm sure we all know someone in each of these situations. And I'm sure that we all have people in our lives that when we watch them go through trials, we're just amazed at the strength they portray. We wonder how in the world they can be so strong in what is the darkest time in their life. I can tell you where that strength comes from. That strength comes from the Lord. It comes from them knowing that though what they're going through is painful, they have their focus on God. Their attitude is, "Lord, though I'm hurting,I'll go through this if You want me to." If it makes them stronger in Him, they're willing to go through it. What is it today you're going through that although you're hurting, you're willing to say to the Lord I'll go through this if You want me to?

Dear Lord, I pray for each reader. I pray You'll give her the grace she needs to make it. When she can't take another step,  let Her feel Your presence. In Jesus Name, Amen
*****If you need prayer, feel free to contact me at: jamiebritt2006@gmail.com*****    

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Tape Won't Quit

 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10, NKJV)

""You're not good enough." They're not going to understand what you're saying." "You'll be the joke of the country." Those are the feelings that my friend, Vonda Easley has dealt with over the years. Like her, I struggle with the same thing. There's a name for it. It's called insecurity. This verse reminds us that no matter what we may face in life, the joy of the Lord is our strength. When the tapes in our brain won't stop running, we need to hold to this verse for dear life. Satan may be throwing all sorts of darts your way today, but remember, He can't steal your joy. That joy is found from the Lord, and what He gives noone can take away. Today, what is it you're facing? What do you feel you're not good enough for? Let me encourage you ladies, Satan is a liar. Take your joy back!

Father, I pray for each reader. Lord, I ask You to feel her heart and mind with Your joy. Remind her that what Satan says are lies. Show her Your truth. Show her she is good enough. Show her she is smart enough. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

His Strength for Today

         Are you at the end of your rope today? Have you struggled with an issue for so long that your stress bank is overdrawn? I was there until God spoke into my heart one day:

 I knew without looking at the calendar what day it was: the anniversary of our first-born’s death. Stacie was born with a heart defect and struggled to live a day. Her April birthday generally falls within the Easter season.
This year, as emotions pulled me back five years, it felt like I was experiencing her death all over again. Our pastor was doing a Lenten series on people at the cross, taking one person per week and looking at the crucifixion from their point of view. This Sunday morning the person was Mary, the mother of Jesus.
I ached for Mary as she looked on while the riotous crowd
chose to set the criminal Barabbas free. She had to know what the consequences of their decision meant for her son. She followed Him along the Via Dolorosa as He dragged Himself up the hill, stumbling from weakness and loss of blood. She was part of the crowd watching at the cross as He slowly died. There isn’t any mention of her weeping during any of this. She exhibited strength in the midst of excruciating difficulty, possibly willing that strength to help her son through this ordeal, as mothers sometimes do.

There I sat on that April morning, on a weathered pew, immersed in Mary’s world. I ran through the similarities and differences in us and our situations. At least my child didn’t have to suffer like yours did, I spoke in my heart to Mary. I thanked God for sparing me that and for knowing me well enough to know I couldn’t have survived it. Still, I coveted Mary’s strength. I wanted it for myself.
And then I heard God’s voice speak into my soul, “Cathy, I don’t play favorites. The same strength I gave to Mary, I gave to you.” My spirit immediately lifted as I wrapped my mind around the fact that God loves me the same way He loves Mary. And He has placed within me the strength I need to weather any storm. I left church that day buoyed with a new resolve, a strength I didn’t know I already possessed, and an appreciation for how God uses people in the Bible to speak to present day needs.
 
The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Exodus 15:2
 
“Heavenly Father, just as Moses and his people sang to you long ago, You are my strength and my song. I will praise and exalt You. Affirm the strength you have placed in the women who are reading this today. Give them a renewed sense of hope for what you are doing in their lives. Amen.”

 


CATHY BIGGERSTAFF writes children’s literature, Christian devotions and poetry. She is published in Pearls of Promise, a Devotional Designed to Reassure You of God’s Love, Mature Living Magazine, ChristianDevotions.us, and is a guest blogger. Cathy is the Director of The Encouragers Christian Writers Group and is on the leadership team for Write2Ignite! Writers Conference. She is also known as “Jewel the Clown” in a Christian clown ministry and uses this unique method to reach people for Christ. Join Cathy as she blogs her “Joyful Journey” at http://www.cathybiggerstaff.blogspot.com and contact her at hiskid410@gmail.com




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Will Be With You


My son, David, was 7 days old when the call from the doctor came with My husband, John’s, final diagnoses. The latest and deepest biopsy confirmed what we had begun to suspect. It was cancer. As I hung up the phone, all I could think or say was, “Don’t let him die on me.” Then I burst into uncontrollable tears. Fortunately, my mother who was visiting and a friend were there with me when the call came.

We had a choice to make. Either stay with the local doctors or go to a specialist in Houston, TX, which was 7 hours away. We decided on the specialist. David was 15 days old, John, my mother, David and I headed out to MD Anderson Cancer Center to start the fight of our lives.

After long endless waits to see different doctors, get blood work, and the other tests needed, we got the final results.  The doctors told us they did not know whether it was Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma so they would need to treat John for both. Hodgkins has a 95% cure rate but Hodgkins is 50%. They told us the tumor was wrapping itself around the vena cava, the main artery from the heart to the brain, and if the doctors could not stop its growth, it would pop John’s heart. Since the cancer was quick growing, there was an urgency to start radiation immediately. After the radiation, chemotherapy would begin. Then at the close, we were told we may not be able to have anymore children because of their uncertainty of what the lasting affect of chemotherapy would be.

My husband had his first week of radiation treatments before we left for home. Then he made the other 7 weeks of traveling back and forth to Houston for 5 days of radiation by himself. Then came the chemotherapy after a three-week break for Christmas. The chemo was given every week for a year and a half at our local hospital.

During all of this, I learned to draw from strength deep within me that I didn’t know I had until I needed it. God’s revealed strength helped me to be what my husband and child needed throughout the crisis. I learned how to keep my eyes focused on God so my faith in His sovereignty would not waver very far. I learned faith in His provisions as I watched God meet every one of our needs.

At some point, I final got the courage to ask God the question that loomed over my heart, “Lord, Is John going to die?”

He answered in my heart with this, “No matter what happens, I’ll help you through.”

In other words, I was going to have to trust Him through the whole process no matter what the outcome.

After 5 years of going back and forth to Houston for checkups, John was finally released with a clean bill of health from MD Anderson Cancer Center. We celebrated joyously in the victory with medical staff, family and friends. AND we had been able to have another baby.
Then, ten years later, John started having trouble getting his breath and tiredness. The doctors found out one of John’s heart valves was defective and he would have to have surgery. We decided to go back to Houston to see a cardiologist and to be near his other doctors. The cardiologist scheduled surgery with the best he knew of in the area.

The night before the surgery, I knelt down beside my motel bed and prayed this prayer, “Whether John comes through the surgery or not is not my call. That is for you and John to decide but you already know what I want. I leave it in Your capable hands.” Believe it or not I slept soundly until the alarm rang.

The surgery went well and the doctors thought after a time of recovery, John would be fine.  As the weeks and months went by, John was not getting stronger. Then, the doctors realized John was loosing heart function. John’s heart was wearing out and there was nothing else they could do except to keep John comfortable until the end.

After John’s death, I started to realize all the things God had done to prepare me for this new life. In that ten-year interval, God had inspired me to renew my teaching certificate so I could find employment, gave me a strong yearning to move back home, 750 miles away and worked on fears and self-esteem issues so I would be strong for my children and the challenges ahead. God had also given me scriptures and stories from different sources that spoke directly to my situation. I was amazed how God had connected all the dots for my future.


It’s been 20 years now. I have learned by trial and error and asking a lot of questions even if they were dumb. I talked to God about everything and he gave me insight. God gave me the hope to continue on when I wanted to give up. After 20 year, God has truly become my first love, my protector, and my friend.

Are you going through "pain-filled" times? Allow God strengthen your heart and fill you with His hope for a brighter tomorrow.



Mary Jane Downs is a speaker, teacher, and writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and children’s stories. She has been published in Awe Magazine, InspiredMoms.com, Writer’s Advance! Boot Camp blog, Schoolbox.com, The Muffin Blog and has judged the weekly writer’s contests for Faithwriters.com. Mary Jane was recently published in a book called Pearls of Promise. Mary Jane’s also writes a weekly inspirational blog, “Joy in the Morning”, which can be found at www.maryjanewrites.com. Contact Mary Jane at maryjanewrites@gmail.com.