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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Conquer Betrayal with Truth


Tension flooded Laura’s body and her head whirled in confusion. Pete’s retreating back disappeared around the corner. She felt her bottom lip curl between her teeth and she stepped back from the edge of the old wooden deck. “What am I supposed to do now?”

His demand echoed in her ears. Her head went back in frustration, allowing her eyes to focus on the star-filled summer sky. A verse from her devotional came to mind. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.* She wiped away a tear and lifted her faithful kitty from the railing.

“You know, Ginger. Every one of those twinkling lights up there was breathed across the sky by the One who made the world.” Her furry companion twitched his tail. “It may not sound like much to you, but there are millions and billions and trillions of stars up there. And some of them are far bigger than the sun whose light you curl up in.”

Calico ears welcomed the gentle movement of her fingers, a calming habit. Slowly she began to compare the massive complication she faced to the truth of who God is. To think her LORD spoke light into existence and that was only His first step to bring the entire universe into existence … out of nothing. A measured breath escaped before her comment. “Maybe this fiasco isn’t too big for the Creator after all.”

She lowered her head to pray and the betrayal that racked her spirit poured out. But when she started to review the details, she went silent. Ginger nudged her hand and she resumed the stroking. “Am I looking through a microscope? It feels like a mountain of hurt, but it’s probably nothing but a pebble. I can dry my own tears.”

Familiarity didn’t make the insecurity detour comfortable. “You know, Ginger. I have to remember that the same God who invented everything made me and knows everything about me.** He probably sees me right here and knows I’m thinking He’s probably too busy or I’m not important enough. Or this struggle is too small to be worth His attention.”

Her eyes returned heavenward. “Since God is powerful enough to meet the demands of creating and maintaining a universe, He can handle this debacle.” Rich purrs filled the air. “And since He watched over the delicate process of creating me and drew me to Himself through Christ, He will surely see me through this trial with or without Pete’s support.”

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Do the big things or the small ones muzzle your prayers?
Take heart. The general and personal acts of Creation are true.

*Psalm 33:6, NASB unless otherwise noted

**Psalm 139:3,13-16



About the Author: 
Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and her current manuscript is Wallflower Women: How to Start Living the Life God Designed You For. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/
You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bookends


And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken,” (Eccl. 4:12 ESV).

She tried to hold her emotions in check but it wasn’t long before the sobs escaped and traveled across the airwaves through our phones. Her heart was broken and I wanted to be there for her. Earlier that same day I received a text from another friend who was on hold with her bank as she proceeded to file a fraud claim. I wanted to be there for her too, if not in person at least to be praying for her and offer her emotional support.

Life is hard. We need people who will walk with us and be there for us. The only problem is we have a tendency to think we have to face life all by ourselves. Peter tells us in I Peter 5:8 that our adversary, the devil, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If we are trying to face life alone, then we are setting ourselves up as an easy target.

He is a subtle enemy. One of the ways he works is by using the power of suggestion—planting a negative thought in our mind or a lie, especially when we are going through a difficult situation—and then he just lets us run with it. Other ways in which he works is by making us think no one cares and by taking our joy away. Yes, he is waiting.

But, if we surround ourselves with others who will encourage us, friends who can and will shed the light of truth on the lies we have believed, and pray for us, the enemy won't be able to hold us in his grasp.

I love the scripture found in Ecclesiastes that says “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken,” (Eccl. 4:12 ESV). Keeping this scripture in mind I reached out to two dear friends who I knew would love, support, and encourage me. They are my bookends. Both of them in their own way walk with me and help me to see and embrace truths not lies from the enemy.

As I look around my home I see a number of different pairs of bookends nestled in with our books. Some are ornate, some colorful, and others are simple. I have heavy ones for larger books, ornate ones that compliment some of our older editions, and some fun ones like Winnie the Pooh that hang out with my children’s books. They all have a purpose.

It’s the same with our bookends. We may want to have more than one pair for the different areas of our lives. I now have bookends to walk with me in my writing world, in my ministry, in my family, and some bookends that I have known for years that I couldn’t imagine life without them standing beside me.

With these confidants by my side I put the enemy on notice by saying, "I am NOT alone and you CANNOT overpower me, for two can resist you, but a cord of three strands IS NOT quickly torn apart . . . I now have my bookends!!!"

Are you walking this journey called life alone? Did you feel like no one cares about you? Are the voices and the lies of the enemy taking away your joy? Well . . . go get your bookends! These will be your sturdy friends who will hold you up as you add chapter after chapter to your book of life.

You don't want to live without them!


About the Author:

The hats I wear are many but with each one brings an opportunity to share heart, humor, and hope. My day job is with a ministry in Greenville, SC but my other hours I fill with writing, speaking, teaching Bible Studies, leading our women's ministry, designing landscape/gardens, rowing at Greenville Indoor Rowing and answering to Beth, mama, and grandmommy. Serving alongside my husband, who is a pastor, for over twenty years, I can say without a doubt that as difficult as it is at times, it's also a great honor. They say that with age comes wisdom, I'm not sure about the wisdom part, but I do know that with age comes the realization that no matter what I go through God is always there with His overwhelming love and grace. 



Connect With Beth:






Tuesday, March 6, 2018

When the Calling and the Children Collide





We’re moving again. The kids will have new schools again. We’ll get to know new neighbors and new local shops again. How can this be good for my children? Kids need stability and routine, and we’re about to toss them in the air. Again.

My ministry responsibilities pull me away when they’re at home. What about my responsibilities as a parent, my calling to be a mom? What if they need me while I’m out counseling someone else?

They don’t know the Bible stories and the Sunday School songs other children know. They have no consistent Godly influences in their lives except my husband and me. I have to teach them everything they need to know about the Bible, God, faith, and Jesus! How can I possibly do that? (This was while we lived overseas.)

Does any of this sound familiar? I’ve thought…okay, said...all these things over the years.

The calling to be a minister isn’t an individual proposition. If your husband is called into church leadership or some other kind of ministry, his family is called as well. Chances are, you too are called, and no matter what, you want to stand alongside your husband in ministry. There’s seminary to consider for one or both of you, as well as possible cross-country moves and the inevitable odd demands of life in ministry: late-night visits, working while others relax, preparation for the next meeting. It takes a toll on your family life…on your children.

In fact, some of those ministry decisions appear detrimental to our children’s development. They go against conventional parenting wisdom. But here’s what I want you to know:

God loves your children more than you love them.

God not only wants the best for your children, but He is actively pursuing it. He knows their future occupations and experiences. He knows what they need right now to move toward their own callings. He smiles on children, loves them, protects them. Even on the days when you should have stayed home but you put the ministry ahead of your own family, He filled in your gaps.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:6-7

If He has called you far away from family and friends, He will take care of you. If the lean years of seminary mean you can’t afford a Christmas tree, He will sustain you. If your kids don’t get to go to Sunday School for all their elementary years, He will open their minds to His Word in other ways.

He did all that for us—and more. I’m counting on Him to continue, too, because we’re planning to move. Again.
Question for reflection: Do you feel the pull of differing responsibilities? Do you sometimes feel the clash between your calling to be a parent and to minister outside your home? How can you cast all that anxiety on Jesus because he cares for you…and your children?

Need more? Check out this post on my blog: When Guilt Grounds Me.

About the Author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.comor on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.








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