Sunday, September 29, 2013

More Than A Wedding Day

Linda Thomas is our guest blogger today--what a treat. She brings us her message, an analogy of marriage. All the girly-things we love and being the bride of Christ...a relationship that should be growing stronger every day. 

More Than A Wedding Day

Who doesn't love a beautiful, romantic wedding? Especially us girls! I, for one, am a complete girly-girl. I love all the foo-foo, frilly, feminine things that make being female such FUN. (Alliteration overkill?) Oh well!

From high tea at the Grand Floridian... princess parties and ballet...


to my fairytale wedding day on a Caribbean island…


I simply adore being a girl. In fact, next to Christmas, my favorite holiday is Valentine's Day; because in my girly ways I love the whole idea of love itself.

But candidly, if I were to hang my hat on this thinking, it would not be healthy at all. Being in love with love doesn't bode well for enduring the relational difficulties and conflict that are sure to arise. To put it bluntly, a lover of love won't care as much about the person as much as what that person can do for them.

As I was lunching with a friend this week, she made a sweet and meaningful analogy about our relationship with Christ. In a nutshell, it's this:

Coming to faith in Christ = wedding day
Ongoing relationship with Christ = marriage

Frequently it seems many Christians associate their testimony with their "wedding day" when they first came to Christ. But in reality, we are to have an ongoing testimony - a marriage relationship with Christ - that will continue to grow and thrive and transform us over time.

Now to be fair, it's absolutely a blast, and even important, to reflect on our "wedding day" when we came to Christ. Just as those of us who are married reflect on our wedding day - sometimes in an effort to rekindle that first love we had for one another. But let's also make sure we aren't simply in love with love where Christ is concerned. Ask yourself:

Am I in this relationship because of what Jesus can do for me?
When I do what he asks of me, do I expect him to do something good for me in return?
When things go poorly, do I turn my back on him?
Am I striving to cultivate a relationship with Jesus; to really know him more?

If our only testimony is to tout how awesome our wedding day was, it's time to get busy building the testimony of our marriage relationship. After all, it's during the daily ups and downs; joys and heartaches; victories and failures where true intimacy happens - and the true love story comes to life. Our relationship with Jesus is to be an ongoing testimony of an on-fire love life. And that's what this girly girl finds both irresistibly attractive and delightfully satisfying about life with Jesus. It's so much more than a wedding day...

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bride with her jewels. {Isaiah 61:10}


Linda Thomas is the author of a 6-week Bible study titled, In Step with the Spirit – A life of passion,power, and purpose. Having been set free from decades of sin and shame, Linda’s love for God has developed into an unwavering commitment to understand and apply God’s word with simplicity to the real, and often difficult, circumstances of life. She resides in Indianapolis, IN, with her husband Mick; and is a loving mom and stepmom to Jensen (now serving in the U.S. Air Force), Jordan, Noelle, Ben, and Lauren.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Making Room for the Light

Gloria Ashby is a wonderful storyteller and my guest blogger today. Thank you, Gloria for offering your gift to us and letting your light shine.

Image courtesy of

The child's wavy blond hair fell around her face as she peered into the hole carved into the top of the pumpkin. "Gross. Isn't this clean enough? It's icky. Isn't there enough room for the light?" she whined to her brother, who kneeled close by and bent over his own pumpkin with both hands thrust inside.

Remembering my past pumpkin carving rituals, I paused in the middle of sorting pansies to see if someone would rescue the child and finish the task for her.

"Not clean enough," the brother declared after examining his sister's pumpkin. The girl rolled her eyes, sat back on her heels and sighed, tossing her scoop to the ground. Her brother shrugged his shoulders and returned to his own pumpkin preparation. She'd get no help from him.

The girl's mom paused from leaf raking and glanced toward her children.

Ahh, mom to the rescue, I assumed. Wrong.

Mom leaned on her rake where she stopped her yard work. She encouraged her daughter to continue. "Scrape it clean — all the way to the walls. Get all the seeds and stringy stuff out."

"Why?" the child still resisted the disgusting task.

"So you can put the candle inside and let the light shine through."

The young girl cocked her head, as if considering whether she wanted a light in her pumpkin. After 60 seconds of weighing options, her wrinkled forehead relaxed. She picked up her scoop and kneeled to finish cleaning the pumpkin's icky insides.

Microsoft clip art
"Now I'm done," the child's voice drifted with the breeze into my yard. I watched the father round the corner from back of the house and walk over to the newspaper full of pumpkin goo. He inspected his daughter's work, nodded and smiled as if to say, "Well done." Then, without a word, he lowered himself to the ground and began to carve the pumpkin's face through which the light would shine.

In that moment, I understood the Father's call on my life. Only when I choose to be emptied of the goo of self-will, self-control, and self-love, can God transform me to make a difference. The more I empty myself of the goo, the more room I make for Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit. I am called to do as my young neighbor did ... to hand my life to the Father and let Him shape me into the person He created me to be.

But first, I must choose to empty myself. To make room for His Light.
"You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14, 16, NIV).

For more of Gloria's story devotionals, link to her web page at
 Gloria Ashby's passion for teaching began at the age of five with stuffed animals as her audience. Drawing from over 20 years experience, Gloria speaks with wit and wisdom to faith-based as well as professional business groups. She is a Christian Communicators graduate and contributing author to Love is a Verb, The Heavenly Company, and The Plight Before Christmas. Her stories appear in The Secret Place, The White's Chapel Herald, and several Chicken Soup for the Soul publications. Gloria lives in Texas with her husband, Jim. They have one daughter who lives close by with her husband and four dogs.
Find more of Gloria's speaking topics and reflections at her website,
Email Gloria at  
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Is There a Better Way to Work?

My guest today is Dr. Michelle Bengtson. I think her illustration of the hamster wheel is one I can relate to. And, the Lord has slowed me down many times when I have fought my common sense.  I am thankful for her message; I know her words will be an encouragement...

Image courtesy of

Allow me to introduce myself.  I am a recovering Type-A personality.  All my life I have been a
do-er, a very goal-oriented individual.  Often, it has served me well. I have been able to work full-time, help manage the family responsibilities, stay active in church, and respond to emergencies when they arise.  Yet, sadly, there have also been times when it has not been to my advantage:  Times when I’ve taken on too much and felt like a hamster on a hamster wheel, going faster and faster and faster with no way off until I just collapsed.  In those times, I often had a hard time saying no…I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or I felt like if I didn’t say yes than a vital need of someone else’s would go unmet, and sometimes, if I’m being honest, I just didn’t want someone to not like me. 

There are many different motivations for work. Sometimes we take on for curiosity sake, to see what we might learn. Sometimes we take on tasks for the approval or admiration of others. Other times, we take on tasks with the express purpose of accomplishing a specific goal.

If you were to ask me about my motivation for work, I’d have to honestly say, that I usually take on tasks to accomplish a goal.  I tend to be fairly performance-driven with a goal of perfection whenever possible. I can think of numerous times when I have spouted my general philosophy to my children: “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

I remember being taught in Sunday School that whatever we do, we should do it as if we are doing it for God:
“And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father...Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:17 & 23 (NLT)
I believe we should strive to do whatever we do well, yet for the majority of my life I equated that with striving for perfection, working longer, or working harder to achieve. Somehow I missed the rest of Paul’s encouragement to give thanks to God for the work He has given us to do and to work cheerfully at whatever you do.  Many times I have worked long and hard hours toward some end, but have neither been cheerful about it in the process, nor particularly thankful for the task.

As I began to practice thanksgiving and cheerfulness at work, an amazing transformation began to take place.  Work began to feel less like work, and more like opportunity. I began to enjoy each phase of a task rather than just looking toward the point of completion. Others around me seemed to enjoy their work more also. We could encourage each other to stay the course then celebrate each others’ “successes” in jobs well done.  Paul seemed to have the right idea: work hard as if we are working for God, and in the working, be thankful and cheerful for the work we have the opportunity to do. 

How would your work change if you practiced thankfulness and cheerfulness at work?

                                                           Hope Prevails!



Dr. Michelle Bengtson is a speaker and writer in Southlake, Texas, where she shares hope for hurting hearts.  She has learned to see the joys of life through difficult situations by remembering the promise found in Jeremiah 29:11. Her desire is to share this joy and encourage others to hold fast to hope. In her writings and when she speaks to churches, groups and other organizations, she draws on 20 years of professional experience as a neuropsychologist and over 25 years of marriage and family life offering sound biblical advice on all types of emotional issues. 

If you would like to read more of Michelle’s posts, or are interested in having her speak at one of your events, visit her website:

She can also be found on facebook at or

Twitter: @DrMBengtson

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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Does God Laugh?

My guest, Danie Marie incites a good discussion starter: Do we think of God as having a sense of humor?

Photo by Danie Marie, taken in Colorado

Sounds like a silly question, doesn't it. But think about it. From the earliest pictures depicting Jesus, artists painted Him with a somber countenance. Some view God as an angry Judge, because they compare Him to their earthly father. 

And for those of us who are older, we had nothing more to draw from, so we imagined Jesus always being solemn as he spoke to the multitudes or taught in the synagogues. If you were looking for a new church, would you join if the preacher never smiled or made you laugh? 

And what about the children who flocked to Jesus?  

Have you ever received a child into your arms and not been joyful? 

Thankfully some modern day artists paint Jesus laughing or smiling. The first time I saw such a likeness of my Savior, a thrill rushed through me as I stood on the sidewalk outside an art studio staring at the painting through a plate glass window. Yes, I thought, that's my Jesus. He who gives me joy, is joyful! 

The Bible, especially the Old Testament and Psalm, has much to say about dancing and rejoicing. Remember the story of David as he brought the ark of the covenant from Obed-Edom back to the City of David, how he danced with great abandon before the Lord? Do you think God looked down on him with solemnity?  

No. Just as David brought God joy, we to are capable of bringing Him joy. It's the same as seeing our children happy, makes us smile. 

Our Creator is the one who made our mouth, our voice. The one who created laughter. When was the last time you laughed in joyful abandon? Don't stifle that which God loves. Know that He smiles down on you when you experience His joy.  

I long to hear our Savior laugh with all His children finally gathered round Him. What a glorious day that will be. 

Luke 6:21, "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." (NIV) 

Lord of laughter, we give you thanks for the joy that You alone can truly give. Bless my friends who are hurting today, and give them a spirit of laughter to ease their pain, in Jesus name. Amen.

Love and blessings,

             Danie Marie


Danie Marie's passion is to make Christ known through her writing and speaking. Evangelistic by nature, she's had the privilege of leading several to the Lord, including on airplanes. She has mentored women and teens throughout her life, sung in choirs and on worship teams, as well as led and written Bible studies.

After working five years to birth her novel, Kellen's Hope, it's now available as an e-book through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, and other sites through Smashwords, as well as Kindle. Two novellas previously written, will follow as soon as she spruces them up.

You can find her blog at: www.DanieMarie'
and her speaking website: www.speaking–hope–


Thank you Jeanne, for giving me the opportunity to share with your readers.

Thank you Danie Marie for this--so, readers, what do you think? Share a time when you have seen God's sense of humor and joy. And take time to enjoy the funny things in life.

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Homeless but not Hopeless

Our guest blogger this week is Sue Badeau. She and her husband, Hector are passionate about their kids. Their book, Are We There Yet?: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids, releases this week. I know you will be blessed by her story. For a chance to win a copy of her book, be sure to leave a comment for Sue.

Homeless but not Hopeless
Sue Badeau

“Do not let your hearts by troubled . . . *“ 

Emerging into adulthood presents extra hurdles for youth who grew up in foster care.  While many amaze us with their resilience in the face of incomprehensible odds, far too many fall dramatically behind their peers.  Research provides staggering numbers to confirm the bleak facts but the statistics belie the real story – behind each number is a real person with a beating heart, thirsty soul and deep scars from multiple early life traumas. 

I speak often about these sobering facts, but it is hard to reveal that one these “statistics” is my son.  After starting life in foster care, he joined our family through adoption, bringing heavy baggage and countless scars.  Our love, commitment, nurturing and relentless prayers weren’t enough.  As a result of risky decisions and poor choices, he can’t safely live in our home, nor successfully support himself  - so he lives on the streets. 

This breaks my heart.  I cry out to God in anguished prayers on his behalf alternating between grief and anger – anger at those who hurt him when he was small and helpless, anger at him, now, as a young adult, for continuing to make poor choices, anger at myself, anger at God  . . . 

While lost in these thoughts, I notice a recent photo, when my son was here, at home.  We’re hugging. He’s smiling.  He’s not “homeless,” I realize.  He’s “houseless.”  He cannot live in this house, but he still knows it is home.  It – and we - are always here for him.  He can come by for a hug, a smile, a cold drink of water, a word of comfort at times, or admonishment at others.  He has the hope of home . . . . as he wrestles his demons, he has the hope of a home that will always be available and this provides an anchor for him in life’s storms. 

And I’m reminded that his situation is not much different than mine.  I have a home, a heavenly home, where I cannot live at this time.  I can hope for it, long for it, catch glimpses of it from time to time, but as a result of sin – I cannot live there . . . yet.   I can “drop by” for a hug, or drink of cool water from my Father, but for now, I must remain on the streets of this earthly realm.  I know it breaks His heart when I turn away from Him, returning to the streets, just as it breaks my heart when my son returns to the mean streets of Philadelphia. 

And yet, I know I am not homeless.  My home is promised, prepared for me and my room is paid for! My Father is waiting with love and longing to welcome me home.   What a magnificent hope!  I pray that this hope – of an eternal home, where noone is turned away – will truly penetrate my heart, my son’s, and each person in a condition of “houselessness” here on earth.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places . . . . I go and prepare a place for you . . . I will come again and receive you that where I am there you may be also.” (*excerpts from John 14:1-4, NASB)

Be sure to leave your comment for a chance to win a copy of her new book. Winner will be drawn on Saturday,  September 7, 2013. You can find out more about the Badeau family on their website. You can contact Sue to speak at your event,

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