Advent, Christmas, Jesus, gift, salvation, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

His Warmth: God’s Gift of Eternal Life through His Son

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God’s fire warm your life.



I love a good fire on a crisp cool night. The light of the fire dancing as waves of heat move over cool skin feels elemental and natural. The smell of smokey wood burning brings a flood of childhood memories washing over me.

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God's fire warm your life. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #gift #salvation

Memories

My grandparents loved to go camping. We spent lots of time living out of their little camper. When I was in Girl Scouts some of my fondest memories are of the Jamboree where we would tent camp near the lake in Louisburg, NC. Now we spend time by the fire pit listening to nature, eating s’mores, talking and just being.

So, a few weeks ago while sitting by the fire, we were listening to “old school” songs. I pulled out an old Colin Raye song “What if Jesus Came Back Like That.” I remember the first time I heard this song. Lying in my dorm room listening to the CD I had gotten for a cent from BMG. Colin Raye had won Entertainer of the Year and I had recently gotten into country music. I listened to this song over and over again, intent on hearing and learning all the words. Tears streamed down my face because this song spoke to my soul.

Seeing God’s Fire

This song tore me apart. What if Jesus came back as anything other than the King? What if the homeless person on Franklin Street was how He came back? Or if he came from a drug-infested hovel? Didn’t he come so humbly before? Why would he come back differently?

He came to town on a cold dark night
A single star was his only light
The baby born that silent night
A manger for his bed

What if Jesus comes back like that
Where will he find out hearts are at
Will he let us in or turn his back

Feeling the Warmth of God’s Love

As we race toward Christmas, I think we need to stop and consider the story. A young pregnant girl engaged to a man who wasn’t the father of her child. Talk about being out in the cold…

They were on a journey across rough roads to be counted for a government who held them in contempt. They finally made it to the little town of Bethlehem but found nowhere to stay. A stable full of animals was the best they could find. And it was in this situation that Jesus was born.

Mary wasn’t in a nice soft bed, attended to by nurses and doctors who were seeing to her every comfort. Smelly, dirty, cold conditions surrounded the newborn. God, our Father, allowed His only Son to be born into such humble conditions. But, His love for us through His Son kept everyone warm.

Spreading the Warmth of God’s Love

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:40, NKJV

God has given us clear instructions. He is in each of us and that is why we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Those who are in crisis need our help, not our condemnation. We need to pray for them and with them. Give joyfully of our resources to help others. And take it back to the old-school question: “What Would Jesus Do?”

Jesus came to bring fire to our spirit. To be a light in the world. He came to warm us from the coldness of separation from God. We need to take Him into our lives and love Him wholeheartedly.

It rises at one end of the heavens and runs its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple…

Psalm 19:6-7, NIV

Dear God,

I am in awe of your love. Help me to pay attention to Your warmth. Let me share it with others. You were humble enough to have your Son born in a lowly stable. Let me see you in others and remember to love others as you would. 

love,

me

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God's fire warm your life. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #gift #salvation

unsplash-logoKarina Carvalho
Advent, Christmas, Messiah, gift, Jesus, tradition, anticipation, salvation, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

The Messiah: Preparing Our Hearts During Advent

Before celebrating the arrival of the Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during Advent. Only by preparing, can we truly rejoice in the gift of the Messiah.



When I was a little girl Christmas meant visiting Santa in a large downtown department store. Whether it was cold and snowy, sunny or rainy, my lower-middle-class family also feasted on the magnificent Christmas scenes in display windows at the giant Sears store. Each window portrayed winter wonderlands or Santa’s workshops that captured our dreams and imagination. Afterward, dad would treat us to dinner at the now defunct Miller’s Diner. Of course, I loved presents, but the warmth of those memories linger longer and deeper in me than any tangible gift I opened in my childhood.

And Jesus? He was an afterthought. Mom was a Sunday church attender and dad did not attend at all.

Advent? That’s something the Catholics did…or something.

Before celebrating the arrival of the Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during Advent. Only by preparing, can we truly rejoice in the gift of the Messiah. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Messiah #Jesus #salvation

Arrival

Until several years ago, I’m embarrassed to admit, I continued to believe that Advent was “something the Catholics did” to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

The first Christmas season my husband and I were attending our current church, the pastor announced Advent services toward the end of November. My husband and I looked at each other quizzically. What had we stumbled into? Um. Was this a Cathobaptist Church?! We had some research to do!

As we discovered, Advent isn’t a magical word (or a Catholic word); it simply means “coming” or “arrival.” Our faith tradition had never acknowledged it, to our loss.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John 1:9, ESV

Advent Preparation

I think where we might get confused is that we think of this season leading up to Christmas as one of mere celebration, but its origin was “primarily as a season of preparation – a time for prayer and self-reflection,” (Because of Bethlehem Study Guide by Max Lucado and Christine  M. Anderson).

I hear what you’re you’re thinking…Wow! Why don’t you just pour cold water on my Christmas?! Do you want me to take down the tree? Pull the lights down from the roof and take the cute snowmen off of my porch? What about the presents, are they to go, too??

Hold on…there’s more.

The Messiah: Celebration

I have found that when I make time to reflect and pray, the Holy Spirit reveals areas of my life where I am weak, where I am needy, where I have been hiding from Him. But I am not condemned! I have Emmanuel: God With Us, God With me. Therefore, Christmas is also a time of celebration and rejoicing!

Can we not hold these all together? Self-reflection, prayer, and celebration? I believe that we must.

In an Advent sermon in 1928, the then 22-year-old Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!

Are you troubled in your soul, poor, and imperfect? Rejoice! The Savior has come!

Before celebrating the arrival of the Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during Advent. Only by preparing, can we truly rejoice in the gift of the Messiah. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Messiah #Jesus #salvation

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
care, Holy Spirit, prayer, renew, silence, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Care: Caring for Our Whole Selves in a Godly Way

Self-care is a hot topic these days. It is difficult to assess what it looks like to take care of ourselves in a Godly way, but when we practice self-care we honor God and His incredible blessings. 



There are days when I do not feel like taking care of myself. Taking a shower doesn’t seem important, eating is not a priority, and even getting things done that will help relieve stress don’t happen. A lot of times I know that I need to be doing more to take care of myself, but I still choose to prioritize other things.

We hear so much every day about “self-care”, but what does that actually mean and what does that look like for a believer?

It is difficult to assess what taking care of ourselves in a Godly way is, but when we practice self-care we honor God and His incredible blessings. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #care #prayer #self-care #renew #scripture #devotional

Physical Care

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own

1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV

When we make the decision to be a Christian, we sacrifice our bodies. Our bodies become a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. When we look at our bodies as a temple, our perspective should change. We should crave to take care of our bodies. When we live in the mindset that our body is essentially the house of God we are forced to take care of it.

Caring for our temple comes by eating well, exercising, and having good hygiene. I am not saying that we all need to start dieting and going to the gym every single day. Trust me, I am the first to admit that I have terrible habits I need to work on. This message is as much for me as it is for you. What I am saying is that we need to all take steps to ensure that we are caring for the body that God gave and that the Holy Spirit dwells in.

Spiritual Care

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 1:35, NIV

After a long day of preaching, healing, and casting out demons, Christ knew he needed to take care of himself spiritually. In that moment He practiced solitude and went to a place to pray. Jesus needed to be filled spiritually so that He could continue preaching and feeding into others the next day.

We must do the same. Part of everyday life is pouring into others. While that takes root in many ways, there is one thing that remains the same… We can not give from an empty cup. If we are not filled spiritually, we cannot lead spiritually. We have to take time to be alone with God. We need to hear from God on a regular basis. This not only gives us the ability to fill others, but it also helps us learn to hear the voice of God.

If we do not practice solitude and take care of ourselves spiritually, we can’t hear God’s voice. Listening requires attention and quiet. When we talk to a friend we don’t constantly look at our phone or interrupt the conversation to do something else, so why do we do this when spending time with God? We have to spend time with Him in order to be healthy and care for ourselves.

Mental Care

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test what God’s will is: his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2, NIV

Our mind should not be like that of the world’s we have to renew our minds. This leads to transformation, which leads to being able to know what God’s will is. Every minute of every day our mind has the opportunity to be distracted by something of the world. Whether it be a negative thought about ourselves, an advertisement, or something on social media, there is always a distraction available.

We need to practice mental self-care by freeing our mind from those distractions. When a lie pops into our head, we can replace it with God’s truth. As we watch TV and see an advertisement with a beautiful model, we can remember that we are uniquely created. When we see people’s picture perfect life on social media, we can remember that nobody is perfect and everyone has struggles. Our minds need to be focused on things of God that we may have a healthy mind.

Godly Self-Care

Caring for ourselves is crucial. There are many things out there that teach a skewed version of self-care. We need to focus on Godly self-care. When we take care of ourselves, we take care of the gift God gave us. Not caring for ourselves is a disservice to our Creator. How can you take care of yourself today?

There's a lot of confusion and skewed versions of self-care. We need to focus on Godly self-care and nurture the gift God gave us. Not caring for ourselves is a disservice to our Creator. Click To Tweet

It is difficult to assess what taking care of ourselves in a Godly way is, but when we practice self-care we honor God and His incredible blessings. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #care #prayer #self-care #renew #scripture #devotional
Evie Shaffer

creation, creative, create, gift, salvation, worship, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Gift: Remembering the Intricate Work of God’s Hands

Our human hands can create such beautiful things. But nothing compares to the intricate work of God’s hands or His beautiful gift of salvation.



I have made the earth and created humans on it. It was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded everything in them. 

Isaiah 45:12, CSB

I am amazed by what our human hands can invent, create, build, design, craft, and even restore. Our hands have the ability to do so many wonderful things. It blows my mind how a surgeon’s hands can heal the inside of someone’s body.

I’m speechless when I see a piece of architecture beautifully designed and brought into existence by human hands. It’s truly an incredible gift to have the unique capability to use our hands to create things that bring us joy, comfort, and help.

Our human hands can create such beautiful things. But nothing compares to the intricate work of God's hands or His beautiful gift of salvation. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #create #creation #gift #salvation

God’s Hands Create

With all these amazing things our human hands can muster up, some things remain untouched by our hands. The planets and stars in the universe, the oceans, the mountains, and the spirit inside of us are just a few examples.

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1, CSB

This allows us to know that we, and the beautiful world around us, were handcrafted by our Creator. God’s hands have done a perfect work and He alone has accomplished it all.

We are creatures made to create just like our Creator. Whether we use our hands to produce art, write, farm, build, craft, sculpt, dig, fix, measure, or sew. No matter what we choose to do with our hands, we still are unable to create EVERYTHING! Why do you think God designed it this way? I personally think He did this to show that He is in complete control.

Making Idols

When we marvel at the works of our own hands, we can easily idolize and forget where our ability to create came from.  

Their land is full of idols, they worship the work of their hands, what their fingers have made.

Isaiah 2:8, CSB (emphasis added)

God sees all, knows all, and creates all. He knows when we forget where our abilities came from. And He calls us out when we do. As God’s people, we are called to understand His divine mystery behind creation. Simply by acknowledging at our highest intelligence, we still cannot create the heavens, the earth, or even the stars in the sky.

Safe Hands

The hands God gave us, create many good and useful things. They also create many evil and sinful things. Satan will use his deceiving, sneaky hands to tempt us with sin. He corrupts our minds and hearts faster than we can blink. This deception begins chasing after us the moment we’re born. We, as God’s children, are not immune to Satan’s conniving schemes. We are very much prone to wander as the hymn suggests. 

As Children of God, we must be aware of this and do whatever seems necessary to keep ourselves from falling into Satan’s trap. Satan’s hands, like our own, were created by God. I know, kinda mind-boggling isn’t it?

Many people, including myself, at one point or another, have wondered why God allowed the devil to even come into existence. This is such a good question that requires much knowledge and wisdom to comprehend. We can’t expect to understand the answer to this without seeking to know who God is first.

To know God is to know His son, Jesus Christ. If you want to get to know anyone better, then you need to establish a relationship with them, right? Otherwise, how will you learn who they truly are? We are incapable of understanding these profound mysteries we crave to know, without establishing a relationship with Jesus. Holding hands with Jesus is the only way we can stay safe against the devil and his demons.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 10:28, CSB

Hands that Heal

There is a story I love in the Bible that is found in John 9. Jesus bends down to use his hands to spit and stir up the dirt to create a substance that would heal the sight of a blind man. Just like the blind man in the story, we have been blind in our lives.

We need a Savior’s hands to wipe us clean so we can see HIS way instead of our own. Jesus didn’t use clean water to heal the blind man; He used mud in the ground that was made from His spit! I believe He did this to show His followers that He, and only He, has the ability to use our filthy sin and make something good come from it.

The Gift

I was once dead in my trespasses and now I am alive in Christ. My guilt and shame are the very things Jesus used to humble and restore me. When I was confronted with my sin, I immediately became aware of my need for Jesus.

Jesus was sent to us from God as a precious gift for us to observe and follow. He is the example and role model we are supposed to seek in order to understand how to navigate this life correctly. Without Jesus, we go through life blindfolded, having to feel our way through with our own hands.

My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Isaiah 66:2, CSB

Jesus’ Hands Paid The Price

Creation is a magnificent use of God’s hands. But the most amazing use of God’s hands is found on that rugged cross. Jesus’ hands were nailed to the cross so ALL would see! The same hands that healed the blind and calmed the storms are the very same hands put on full display to show God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and good news.

Oh, but we serve an even greater God than this! His love didn’t stop there; It went all the way to the grave where Jesus resurrects from the dead to reveal the very same holes in his hands from that historical day. What better use of His hands? God made a way for His children to find the light in a dark world that separates us from Him. I can’t think of anything better! The love God has for His children is always seen in His hands…

The same hands that calmed the storms are the very same hands put on full display to show God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and good news. Oh, we serve a great God! His love went all the way to the grave for us. Click To Tweet

Lift Up Your Hands

God’s hands hold us when we are crying.

His hands mend our broken hearts and restore our souls.

God’s hands heal us and save us from Hell.

His hands mark the starting point to where our salvation is found.

Today believer, I implore you, to lift up those beautiful, hardworking, helpful, creative, useful hands of yours and worship in awe our Glorious God above! Let’s fold our hands in prayer and thank Him for the wounds His hands endured so we could have the gift of everlasting life with Him. This is the best gift we will ever receive… Hands down!!!

With Folded Hands, I Pray

Oh Lord Help Me to see that your hands are not my own. Help me to use my hands in a way that will glorify you and make your name be known. Teach me to follow Jesus in all my ways and seek to know Him more.

Thank you for the sacrifice your hands endured for me upon the cross. I am so undeserving of this free gift of salvation, but I receive it with a full and thankful heart.

Help guide me Lord to show love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness with my own two hands the way you did with yours. I lift up my hands today and surrender my life into your hands, God. In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.

Our human hands can create such beautiful things. But nothing compares to the intricate work of God's hands or His beautiful gift of salvation. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #create #creation #gift #salvation
Amaury Salas

unconditional, love, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, mentor, ministry

Unconditional: Accepting God’s Gift of Full Force Love

Our love has limits and conditions. But God’s love is unconditional. He is waiting for us to open His gift of full-force love, and share it with the world.



School had started back and I was going through a list of “Thoughts of The Day” that I use to start my class. One stuck out and made me really stop to reflect about what love is.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

– Mother Teresa

I had the immediate thought that if someone has to earn love, then they aren’t really being given love.

Our love has limits and conditions. But God's love is unconditional. He is waiting for us to open His gift of full-force love, and share it with the world. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Conditions…

Reflecting on my relationships I began to wonder how many times I had made that stipulation. Have I ever made a friend feel like they “owed” me? Probably. Can I say I have never said “If you would just (blank) I would love you more”? Nope, I think I may have said that qualifier a time or two. At this point in my self-reflection, I’m not proud, but I think it’s important to face my shortcomings and correct them as I can.

It is my goal to reflect God’s light in my life. I have a lot to work on. When I have something to work on, I try to make a road map. Where am I? Where do I want to end up? How am I going to get there?

So, obviously, I am at a place where my love is sometimes given with conditions. I want to love without reserve, wholeheartedly. How to get there? That’s the question.

Unconditional…

When I started thinking about love, I went to the Bible’s definition in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. Paul lays out very clearly what love is and isn’t. This is something that I have heard, recited and contemplated most of my life.

So I went looking for other verses that talk about how to love like Christ. I came across Ephesians 2.

Essentially, these verses tell us that we are all sinners and because we are sinners we deserve to die. But God is so merciful and loves us beyond measure. He sent us His Son to die to save us forever. Grace is what saves us. God’s love. We are God’s creation. He loves us and wants to be with us. So He gave us a gift.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

There is nothing I can do to save my life. I can’t be nicer, wiser, more polite, or do more service. All of that would be great, but it won’t buy me salvation.

Full Force Love…

Agape love gave me salvation as a gift. The only condition is acceptance of the gift. Nothing can change the gift, except a rejection of it. WOW! That is overwhelming to reconcile. And gloriously liberating at the same time.

You are my source of strength! I will sing praises to you! For God is my refuge, the God who loves me.

Psalms 59:17

I have been incredibly lucky in my life to know really good, full force love. My parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, husband and children have all shown me abundant love. I try desperately to give it back in equal measure. Some instances are more successful than others. I would be willing to say, they have felt the same. When I am tired, angry, overwhelmed or distracted I can snap at the wrong person, ignore a need, or put conditions on my emotions (“I would love you so much more if you didn’t need to argue with everything I say”).

God never has and never will do that. His love is always. It is a gift just waiting to be unwrapped, lifted up, and held dear. If that isn’t enough to sing praises over, I don’t know what is.

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Friends, I want to encourage you to shred the paper and ribbons off the gift. Open it with abandon. Let’s celebrate this gift of full force love and try to give it back to one another.

Shred the paper and ribbons off the gift. Open it with abandon. Let's celebrate this gift of full force love and try to give it back to one another. Click To Tweet

Dear God,

 I am coming to you with shame and sadness in my heart. I have failed to give love openly. Help me to share the gift You have given so freely. Thank you for the greatest gift ever given – salvation.

Love,

me

Our love has limits and conditions. But God's love is unconditional. He is waiting for us to open His gift of full-force love, and share it with the world. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All scripture reference is from the NET Bible.

Warmth: Bask in the Overwhelming Love of the Lord

We have been given new life, and the gift of eternity with the Lord. Nothing will change His passion for us. May we all know the warmth of His overwhelming love.



I love the sun. The way it feels on my skin, how it makes everything so bright and mostly how it lightens my mood. I spend the last month or so of winter every year with a slow creeping sadness moving through me. It starts the end of February and lasts until the sun’s energy pushes through the atmosphere at just the right angle to warm the earth and give us warmer weather. The day I put on shorts and go outside and dig in the dirt for the first time in spring is a day my soul sings.

This year, I went outside to clean out a bed; literally, a wrought iron bed that had been turned into a overgrown weed pot. It took me two days to dig out the bed. I had to dig down about 18 inches, hack through several roots that had grown over the top of the side rails and saw through a tree. It took almost a week for my muscles to recover. And I loved every second.

We have been given new life, and the gift of eternity with the Lord. Nothing will change His passion for us. May we all know the warmth of His overwhelming love. #Godslove #love #spritualgrowth #Christianwomen

A gift…

While I was in this struggle with nature, I was playing music and singing. I just put my playlist on shuffle. Billy Joel played right along side Matthew West. Alabama Shakes played next to Big Daddy Weave. I mix my genres all the time. About an hour in, Pentatonix Mary Did You Know started playing. I love this Christmas song, but my brain rejected it. I went to push “next” thinking “today is a day for bright sun, work in the dirt to bring order to my garden, bringing life back to my spirit…Oh, wait…I see you God, it’s Christmas”.

No, I’m not getting out my tree and decorating. I’m not going to go shopping for gifts or bake more cookies than anyone should really eat. I’m feeling the spirit of Christmas. God’s son, Jesus, was given earthly form to bring us a way to salvation and give our spirits a bridge to rest with our Father for eternity so we never have to fear death. Sounds like springtime to me.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you?

I am sure Mary anticipated amazing things from her son. But I wonder if she could comprehend the scope. Two thousand years later we are singing songs about her and praying to her son. We are studying his ministry and reading his words. That seems a lot to take in for a new mother. Then again, Luke 2:19 does say, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

A passion…

As I’m in the dirt, hacking away at a very stubborn root. All these thoughts are rolling through my head. Christmas in the spring, Mary being the mother of God, and the message He was laying on my heart. Another song came on: Cloverton’s Hallelujah. If you haven’t heard this version you really should. It moves my spirit and implores me to raise my arms to the heavens.

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Overwhelming love…

Okay at this point I’m feeling a little schizophrenic. Christmas and Easter. What are you saying to me, God? I kept hacking at the root in the garden, occasionally switching off to dig up more of the bed. I really felt God pulling at me trying to get me to understand something. More music plays: Cyndi Lauper, Alan Jackson, Adele. By this point my muscles were aching, my hands beginning to blister, but my mind was really wrestling with what God was showing me so I really didn’t notice yet.

Then, in succession came Greater by Mercy Me,

There’ll be days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn’t matter
‘Cause the cross already won the war
He’s Greater, He’s Greater

Next came, He knows My Name by Francesca Battiselli

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn’t choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I’d understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that’s just not my story
True to who you are
You saw my heart and made
Something out of nothing

And then, Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave.

I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise
Oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming.

Warmth…

Do you see the message? It hit me square in the face. I was washed in love, God’s love, agape love. I am His and He is mine. No matter what, that truth CANNOT and WILL NOT change. So simple, so powerful, and yet I forget it from time to time, or push it aside while living my life.

David said about him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand,I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ 

Acts 2: 25-28, NIV

I hear you, God! I am rejoicing and hope that you, dear reader, find God’s love as overwhelming as I do.

Dear God,

Thank you for Your Word and for those who use Your word to inspire and uplift. I feel Your presence in my life and want to strive to hold on to that every day. Forgive me for forgetting You in my winter blues, but thank you so much for the Son that died for me so I can stay in Your warmth forever.

love,
me

I was washed in love, God's love, agape love. I am His and He is mine. No matter what, that truth CANNOT and WILL NOT change. Click To Tweet

We have been given new life, and the gift of eternity with the Lord. Nothing will change His passion for us. May we all know the warmth of His overwhelming love. #Godslove #love #spritualgrowth #Christianwomen
Conner Baker

Refuge: Where Can We Find Solace in Times of Anguish?

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?



I just got news that a friend’s cancer screening came back CLEAR. We are high-fiving and rejoicing all over Northern Virginia, and beyond! Several of us waiting and praying needed the win – to see God’s mercy displayed. I am crying tears of joy.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10, ESV

So much loss and heartache is swirling around in my sphere. I talked to someone earlier who feels like they’re fighting off despair with a baseball bat. We spoke about how we come into this world with nothing and we leave the same way. Everything we receive in life is a gift, but it is freaking painful when we lose them. It is difficult to believe we won’t end up humiliated if we place all of our trust in God.

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

But once you’ve experienced God, His presence is not something you want to be without. There is always more to discover about God. Still, it has to be personal. I can tell you my homemade chocolate pound cake with chocolate buttercream frosting is scrumptious. (And it is) But if you haven’t tasted it, how can you possibly know?

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 34:8, NLT

When you lose another job, how can you not be perplexed? When your spouse cheats on you, or you have a miscarriage, how does it not absolutely crush you? Exactly how do you not give into despair when you’re sitting in a jail cell because someone lied about you?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Psalm 46:1-3, NASB

Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

Throughout my life God has been a refuge for me. He sustained me and brought me out of darkness. He restored my marriage from the brink of divorce. I’ve experienced His deep peace in times of anguish. The kind where you tune into yourself and realize, this isn’t natural. I should be way more upset right now.

God does not often clue me in ahead of time to His plan, but I know He is at work. I am familiar with His goodness. When I feel like I’m tottering on the edge of despair, I recall to mind how He has been my refuge in the past. Then I have unwavering hope.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4, ESV

What does it look like to make God your refuge?


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Despair surrounds us. Trials abound. Where do we find refuge? Can we truly experience peace when we are feeling anguish?

m wrona

advent, messiah, preparing, celebrating

Advent: Preparing and Celebrating the Arrival of the Messiah

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only by preparing, can we truly rejoice in the gift of the Messiah.



When I was a little girl Christmas meant visiting Santa in a large downtown department store. Whether it was cold and snowy, sunny or rainy, my lower middle-class family also feasted on the magnificent Christmas scenes in display windows at the giant Sears store. Each window portrayed winter wonderlands or Santa’s workshops that captured our dreams and imagination. Afterward, dad would treat us to dinner at the now defunct Miller’s Diner. Of course I loved presents, but the warmth of those memories linger longer and deeper in me than any tangible gift I opened in my childhood.

And Jesus? He was an afterthought. Mom was a Sunday church attender and dad did not attend at all.

Advent? That’s something the Catholics did…or something.

Advent: The Arrival

Until several years ago, I’m embarrassed to admit, I continued to believe that Advent was “something the Catholics did “to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

The first Christmas season my husband and I were attending our current church, the pastor announced Advent services toward the end of November. My husband and I looked at each other quizzically. What had we stumbled into? Um. Was this a Cathobaptist Church?! We had some research to do!

As we discovered, Advent isn’t a magical word (or a Catholic word); it simply means “coming” or “arrival.” Our faith tradition had never acknowledged it, to our loss.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John 1:9, ESV

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only in preparation, can we truly appreciate the gift we were given.

Advent: The Preparation

I think where we might get confused is that we think of this season leading up to Christmas as one of merely celebration, but its origin was “primarily as a season of preparation – a time for prayer and self-reflection,” (Because of Bethleham Study Guide by Max Lucado and Christine  M. Anderson).

I hear what you’re you’re thinking…Wow! Why don’t you just pour cold water on my Christmas?! Do you want me to take down the tree? Pull the lights down from the roof and take the cute snowmen off of my porch? What about the  presents, are they to go, too??

Hold on…there’s more.

Advent: The Celebration

I have found that when I make time to reflect and pray, the Holy Spirit reveals areas of my life where I am weak, where I am needy, where I have been hiding from Him. But I am not condemned! I have Emmanuel: God With Us, God With me. Therefore, Christmas is also a time of celebration and rejoicing!

Can we not hold these all together? Self-reflection, prayer and celebration? I believe that we must.

In an Advent sermon in 1928, the then 22-year-old Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!

Are you troubled in your soul, poor, and imperfect?  Rejoice! The Savior has come!

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only in preparation, can we truly appreciate the gift we were given.


If you would like to read more, check out these resources. Please consider purchasing them through these affiliate links. This does not raise your cost, and a small percentage will go to help support this ministry:

Because of Bethlehem: Love Is Born, Hope Is Here

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy


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But I am not condemned! I have Emmanuel: God With Us, God With me. Click To Tweet

Before celebrating the arrival of Messiah, we must prepare our hearts during advent. Only in preparation, can we truly appreciate the gift we were given.

Annie Spratt


We are broken, but through His redemption we are made whole. Glory to God!