Thursday

It's Great to Be Adopted

I celebrated my birthday recently, but my friend Melanie celebrated an equally special day—her adoption day.


Like a birthday only better, her celebration marked the day her parents chose her. She knows her position in their family came about because two people deeply desired her. They were willing to sacrifice to bring her into their family. They chose to pursue her, open their hearts to her, and give her their name.

Some of you know our family also has an adopted child. His name is Winston. Winston’s birthday is somewhere in mid-December, but his adoption day is March 26, my birthday. I tell him he’s the best birthday gift I’ve ever received, because I know he came from the Lord.

Several years before we adopted Winston, we had lost our 17-year-old “firstborn.” The only member of the family with brown eyes like me, Polly was a buff Cocker Spaniel with silky fur and a tiny stub of a tail. Her death left a gaping hole in our family, and we knew we needed another pet.

Instead of purchasing a dog from a breeder, we chose to pursue a rescue. Like many adoptive parents, we researched the best adoption (rescue) agencies. We carefully filled out an application, submitted letters of reference, and agreed to a home visit. Then I spent hours poring over picture after picture of adoptive dogs. The details overwhelmed me, and I finally cried out to the Lord.

Lord, if we’re going to adopt, I need you to send the puppy to us. May I please have a girl dog, because I can’t stand that leg-hiking thing? And if she could have a coat that doesn’t require much grooming, that would be wonderful. I loved Polly’s sweet Cocker Spaniel face and ears, and her easy-going disposition worked well with our family. And would you please send one big enough to take long walks together? Thank you, Amen. 

I prayed, and God, through my sister, worked. An email popped up in my mailbox one Sunday afternoon. “If you don’t look at any others,” it said, “look at the first one.” She had attached ten pictures.


This is similar to the first picture I saw.

A Cocker Spaniel/Irish Setter mix, Winston has the face of a Cocker, the smooth coat of a setter, loves to take long walks, has an easy-going disposition, and, though he’s not a girl dog, almost never hikes his leg.

He is a precious and beloved member of our family, and I know he is a perfectly chosen gift from God to us.

My friend Melanie will tell you that there’s something very special about being chosen. If Winston could talk, I think he’d agree.

This is why, when I read in Ephesians 1:4-5 how God chose us to be adopted as his children, I feel pretty special, too.

“For he chose us in him . . . In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

He sought me. He bought me. He wanted me. He welcomed me into his family, and he is my forever Father. He is yours, too, if you’ve trusted him as your Savior.

By law in every state in the union, a parent may never disown his adoptive child. It is a forever contract. Parents may disown their biological children, but adoptive children are theirs forever. So it is with Christ. When we are adopted into his family, it is forever.

 Doesn’t this make you feel special? Cared for? Secure? Loved?

If you’re struggling today, I pray the words of Ephesians 1 will remind you how much God loves you, what great lengths he went to adopt you, and how secure you are as his child.

If you haven’t yet experienced the joy of adoption, I encourage you to click here to read more about how to become part of God’s forever family.

As Melanie, Winston, and I say, “It’s GREAT to be adopted.”




You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you.



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Monday

Do You Have Spiritual Alzheimer's?

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember where I’d put the stamped envelopes my husband asked me to address. “They were right here on the counter,” I said in frustration, “but I moved them when I cleaned before the party.” 

And that check. Did I deposit it or just think about depositing it? 

And how many times have I gone to the back of the house to get something only to forget what I went there to get? 

I see you nodding your head, because, if you’re busy and over 40, you’ve done the same things. We’re overextended and trying to do too many things at once. 

And it’s not a new problem. My grandmother used to say, “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t sewn on.” I know the feeling. 

In an article titled “10 Early Signs of Alzheimers,” The Alzheimer’s Association states, “One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.” 

Thankfully, the other nine signs are not a regular part of my life . . . at least I don’t remember that they are. . . . 

I don’t have physical Alzheimer’s, but I am often plagued with SPIRITUAL Alzheimer’s. I suspect you might be, too. 

I forget how God saved me, and how he transforms me. 

I forget the thousand prayers God has answered. I forget how, for over 30 years, God has met my family’s needs. 

I forget how God provided scholarships, grants, and anonymous donors to provide for four college educations. 

I forget how God has protected my family in cars, planes, and trains. In the United States and out of the United States. On land, on sea, and in the air. 

I forget how God has been with us as we rejoiced at the birth of babies and wept at the death of saints. 

Spiritual Alzheimer’s—do you have it, too? 

People with physical Alzheimer’s are fearful and anxious. They question their caregivers and struggle with trust. They fail to seek help and often panic in uncertain situations. People with spiritual Alzheimer’s are also fearful and anxious. We question our Father and struggle to trust him. We fail to come to him for help and instead panic when new challenges enter our lives. 

Perhaps this is why, every year at Passover, for thousands of years, Jewish fathers have retold the story of God’s deliverance, care, and provision for the children of Israel. 

Remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt,” Moses reminded the Israelites. 

“You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out” (Deut. 7:18-19). 

“Remember well.”

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years” (8:2).

“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God . . . Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 

“He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ 

But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant” (12-18). 

If you’re struggling with uncertainty and fear today, perhaps you’re suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. 

I have good news for you. 

There is a cure: Remember what the Lord your God has done for you. 

Would you like to remember well what the Lord has done for you? Why not begin by leaving a comment? Maybe your comment will help someone else remember.


Upcoming Event:
Praying with Power Women's Conference May 9, 2015
Hosted by Good Shepherd UM Parish in Brookville, PA

Session 1: Why Pray?
If God's going to do what God's going to do, why bother praying? Does it really work? The answer is YES, and this session will show you why.
Session 2: How to Pray
If you find yourself bored, distracted, or repetitive when you pray, you'll love creating your own personalized prayer journal.
Session 3: What to Pray
This session will show you how to discover God's dreams, desires, and power for your life.
Session 4: What Happens When We Pray
Is your spiritual life dull, dry, and lacking excitement? This session will show you how prayer can energize your faith and help you fall more in love with God.

For more information or to register, contact Lori Henderson (navymomkt@gmail.com) or Kathy Shaffer (flokat1990@gmail.com).

If you live within driving distance of Brookville, I'd love to see you there. Too far away? Invite me to come to your church or women's ministry event. Click here for my speaking information.


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Thursday

Because Not Every Day Is Your Birthday

I’m still basking in the glow of my birthday. It was a really good day. 


My husband started the fun the night before by revealing his latest project—a quirky, colorful planter filled with happy spring flowers. When I arrived at work, my coworkers surprised me with a scrumptious raspberry-filled birthday cake and a Trader Joe’s gift card. Chocolate covered almonds with sea salt, here I come! My patients were kind, cheerful, and generally well behaved. 

My sister  met me for lunch and treated me to my favorite food—Chinese at Miyo’s, and then my husband and I rendezvoused with friends at a favorite seafood restaurant for dinner. Both daughters Facetime called and told me they loved me, and throughout the day dear friends phoned, sang, and left birthday messages on Facebook. 



It was a wonderful birthday. 

As I opened my Bible the following day, however, I remembered that not all my birthdays have been wonderful. 

A note in the margin reminded me that this time last year my husband was injured, out of work, and awaiting surgery. Underlined verses from another year show where I had claimed a promise for a loved one who was far from God and breaking my heart. A final note transported me back to a year marked by financial insecurity and fear. 

Looking at those dark and uncertain times against the backdrop of today—a time when life is peaceful and my heart is happy—brought to mind a promise from Psalm 30:5: 



“. . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” 

We often ride the wave of health, happiness, and security all the way to the beach, but sometimes the wave crashes, and we find ourselves raw and wounded in a sand-covered heap on the shore. 

“When I felt secure,” Psalm 30:6 says, “I said, ‘I will never be shaken.’” 

Somehow we think every day should be a birthday and every sky saturated with sunshine and warmth. 

But some days are not happy birthdays. They feel more like sad deathdays. 

“. . . when you hid your face, I was dismayed,” the Psalmist admits.

“To you, O LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: ‘What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?’ (Ps. 30:7-9) 

We cry out, “Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help’” (v. 10). 

And God does. 

Eventually the clouds change from the color of iron bars to the color of soft kittens. We receive grace to pray and persevere. The same waves that flung us roughly upon the shore carry us gently toward smooth water. The sun peeks through, the birds begin to sing, and our hearts start to hope again. 

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.

"O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever” (v. 11-12). 

Perhaps today is a birthday day for you. I celebrate your joy. 

Maybe your day is more like a deathday. I weep as you weep. I ask the God of all comfort to strengthen your heart and give you hope to carry on. 

The number one reason for suicide, according to those who have attempted it and survived, is feeling hopeless, convinced that life is going to be miserable forever. They mistakenly believe killing themselves is the only way out. 

If you’ve thought about ending your life, please remember that circumstances can change in a moment. Suicide is a permanent act based on temporary feelings. Those who have attempted suicide and failed almost always express relief that they weren’t successful. 

Wherever you are on the sea of life, hold on to Jesus. He is your hope, your future, and your salvation. Say in faith with the Psalmist: 

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” 

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Ps. 27:13). 

 Morning is coming. 



If you or someone you love is struggling with thoughts of suicide, I’d like to share two excellent resources:

A compelling article by Jennifer Michael Hecht: 10 Things I Wish People Understood about Suicide 

The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


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Monday

Prodigals and Those Who Wait - A Guest Post by Andrea Merrell

Eighty-eight percent of children raised in evangelical Christian homes will leave the church by the age of eighteen. Most will turn away from authority, parental values, and biblical teaching, losing their potential, their health, and their destiny — sometimes even their life. As a parent, guardian, or loved one, what can you do to prevent this from happening? If it does happen, how do you fight the battle? Is there hope?




It's my pleasure to share a post from fellow author and friend Andrea Merrell. If you love a prodigal, I pray her words will fill you with hope and encouragement.



Prodigals and Those Who Wait
By Andrea Merrell


It seems everywhere I go someone is dealing with a prodigal. 

As the mother of two former prodigals, my heart breaks anew as their story unfolds. Depending upon the circumstances, the pain can be almost unbearable at times. Watching your child march boldly into a life of destruction is heart-wrenching. It can bring an extra burden of guilt and condemnation, especially for the Christian parent who feels they’ve done all the right things. 

The staggering truth is: even good kids rebel—and even good parents can end up with a prodigal. 

My husband and I found this out the hard way, and we were devastated. We didn’t know what to do or who we could turn to for help, so we fought this battle alone for five long years. During this time, we shed many tears, experienced sleepless nights, and lived in fear for the lives—and souls—of our children. 

 The two questions I’m asked most often are: 

 • Is there hope? 

 • What do I do in the meantime? 

The first thing I want people to know is that there is always hope. God’s Word is full of promises, and he is waiting for us to take hold of those promises and believe he will do what he says he will do. 

The Bible says God is not a respecter of persons. In other words, he doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t esteem one of his children higher than the other. He loves each one of us with an extraordinary unconditional love. God is faithful and there is always hope when we put our trust in him and pray in faith according to his will. 

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for each of his children. He desires to prosper us and give us a glorious future full of hope. The problem is that God’s timetable is different from ours and camping out in God’s “waiting room” can be tough.



If you are currently dealing with a prodigal, what can you do while you wait? 

In Praying for the Prodigal, I not only share my story, but what I learned during my journey including: setting boundaries, avoiding the blame game, and learning to pray the Word of God over my children daily. You will be encouraged by advice straight from the prodigals, and your faith will be strengthened by thirty days of prayers and Scriptures, equipping you for the battle ahead. 

 No matter where you are in your own journey, the key is to hold fast to God’s promises, and never, never give up on your children—no matter how hopeless the situation may seem.

Praying for the Prodigal is available on Amazon.com.









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Saturday

When God is Gone

When was the last time you sobbed?  I mean heartbroken, gut-wrenching sobs - the kind that erupt from a crushed and broken heart.

Maybe someone close to you drove a knife into your heart and then walked away.

Perhaps you had been betrayed.

Or abandoned.

Or forsaken.

Or lied to.

Maybe someone you loved had died, and all your dreams died with them.

You were left hopeless.

Alone.

Afraid.

Mary felt that way. As she walked to the tomb early that Sunday morning, her heart ached for what might have been. All the dreams. All the promises. All the hopes. Gone.

How could things have gone so wrong?

By the time she reached her destination, grief and sorrow overwhelmed her, and she sobbed. Gut-wrenching, heartbroken sobs. 

The kindly gardener's words did little to soothe her grief, "Woman, why are you weeping?" 

Forming an answer required her to acknowledge the reason.

"God is gone, and I don't know where to find Him."

Has sorrow ever made you feel this way?

When the resurrected Christ encountered a heartbroken Mary outside the tomb that first Easter morning, he spoke one word that changed Mary's life forever. It righted her world. It brought comfort and hope. It eased her sorrow and soothed her pain.

"Mary."

If you, like Mary, are heartbroken, close your eyes and open your heart.  Picture the Savior stepping into your grief and your pain and calling you by name.  He knows you.  He loves you.  He IS alive in your life.

Allow the hope of that first Resurrection Day to push everything else out of your heart.

REJOICE!

"He is not here!  He is risen, just as He said!"

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness." (Ps 30:11)

"And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty."  (1 Cor. 15:14)






You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you.


If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.



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Hungry for God is on Facebook! Will you take a moment and LIKE my page? CLICK HERE to help HFG share 5-minute devotions.