By Candace McQuain –
In my opinion, springtime is by far the loveliest of seasons. It ushers out the cold and harshness of winter and welcomes the long, carefree days of summer. When spring arrives, it brings with it fresh, new life. Flowers burst into perfect full bloom, as if thanking their Maker with all of the colors of the rainbow. Trees dance in the gentle spring breeze, displaying their splendid new growth with stunning shades of green and red.
So what do we humans do in the spring? Well, many of us clean and organize areas of our homes. Baseball fans prepare with eager anticipation for the first pitch. And many of us just sit back whenever our crazy schedules allow to enjoy the mild weather and beautiful sights around us.
But should we be doing more? Don’t we have as much to offer and eagerly show off as God’s botanical creations do?
After a long pity party involving an insane amount of chocolate and Lifetime movies, I learned that the answer is most certainly yes. My woe-is-me, somebody-give-me-a-break-right-now attitude had consumed me, but a tugging at my heart was undeniable.
During a commercial in the middle of one of my chick flicks, I saw a post on Facebook. Nope, it wasn’t about a new recipe or someone “checking-in” somewhere, just a simple, relevant Bible verse.
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV).
With tears and mascara streaming down my face, desperate for God to fill the huge void that had overcome me, I called out and asked Him to tell me about those great and mighty things.
Within the next few hours, through a divine set of circumstances and encouraging words from friends completely unaware of my state of mind, God showed me something very powerful.
He did not create me to sit around and wait to fit into someone else’s opportunity. He gave me unique abilities that only I possess, that only I can use, that only I can devote to glorify Him.
I’m no different than the flowers that bloom or the trees that flourish, each one, offering a distinct importance to the world around them.
We have all been blessed with gifts from God. Those valuable, one of kind gifts were not put there to lie dormant or to use only at our convenience. They were put there to bring us new life, to set us apart as His.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8 NIV).
By Candace McQuain –
As a writer, and a human being with goals and aspirations, rejection is not an uncommon occurrence. As a matter of fact, it’s become a way of life.
For a while, I allowed every rejection to hit me in the gut.
We appreciate your submission. We are sorry to say that we don’t have a place for it in our publication at this time.
Thank you for your interest in the position, but after reviewing the applications received, yours was not selected for further consideration.
For various reasons you are not what we are looking for at this time. Really? There are various, as in more than one, reasons?
The constant rejection became debilitating and forced me to lose sight of my goals and God’s calling on my life. Beat up and exhausted, I eventually kissed the canvas. No need for the ten-second count.
In this darkness, God showed me something very special through His word that forever changed me.
“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the LORD has done this, And it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-23 NIV).
Understanding that the person delivering the successes in my life was the same one sending the rejections changed my whole way of processing the good and the bad. Every Yes was His yes and every No His no. No longer did I feel personally attacked at the sight of rejection and gone were days of giving myself kudos for what God orchestrated for me.
My perspective on the way my life unfolds has grown substantially at the realization that it’s not about me. Each success, rejection, and everything in between are but tiny pieces of a gigantic puzzle that I will never see completed until I meet Jesus. Agonizing over the no’s of yesterday when the yes’s of today requires my full attention is selfish and will only keep me face down on the canvas.
Jesus was rejected, not only by strangers but also by those in His own hometown. Through all of the pain and loneliness, He never once stopped and said, “This just isn’t worth it. I’m giving up!” He persevered, remaining focused on His goal—to spread the Gospel.
I pray Lord, that we never lose focus on our goals when we get into the ring with rejection. Fill us with the strength to instinctively lift our head upwards and seek you and the assurance of Your perfect love and direction. In Your glorious name, Amen.
By Candace McQuain –
When the month of February rolls around, I can’t help but reminisce about my past Valentine’s Day classroom parties. It makes me smile when I think about those cute little boxes we made for our Valentine cards and candy. I fondly remember pink crate paper, lacy red hearts pinned everywhere, and the overall sweetness of the day.
Then came time to exchange Valentines and fill those cute little boxes we worked so hard on. That part of the celebration wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. My decorated shoebox was never as full as the popular girls’ boxes. Only by accident, or because his mother made Valentine cards for everyone in the class, would I get one from the boy who always made me bashfully smile.
In middle school and high school, we no longer had Valentine’s Day celebrations, but those same feelings of inadequacy and feeling invisible were still present. And not just once a year.
Luckily, my adolescent circumstances did not define my future.
As an adult, I was able to find love in the form of an incredible man and dear friends. By the grace of God, I found true love in His son, Jesus Christ. That unconditional, forgiving, unending love continues to encourage my heart and fill my proverbial decorated Valentines box every day.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 NIV).
Every day God allows me to remain on earth, I have the honor of being His. I see these days as an opportunity to reach out to someone I meet or know and help them to understand their worth in Christ. I want them to know His love truly will conquer all. His conquering love sets out to replace those inadequate feelings of not fitting in or not feeling loved, wanted, or needed.
Friends, it’s a new year and we are in the middle of a month filled with opportunities to spread love and encouragement. During a time when many feel lonely and left out, spreading the word of an unfailing Love could become the greatest Valentine’s gift we could give.
Many of us have been in a place where we needed rescuing. Freedom rushed in from a place of love and changed us completely. Let’s stand together, strong and firm, in the promises of our Savior. Let’s step out into a hurting world with enough love to fill every desperate soul’s decorated Valentine’s Day box.
Who do you want to encourage today?
Who will you let encourage you today?
By Candace McQuain –
God’s Word provides believers with precise instructions on how to live as Christ-like as we possibly can. Why is it then, we seem to pick and choose when and how we apply those instructions in our everyday life? Why is it we think there are acceptations within our own circumstances that give us permission to side step around His truth?
The “why” my friends is actually a “who.”
Satan does not want us to follow any of God’s commands as they are written. He puts in our head that our situation doesn’t match up with what our Father is asking of us. He feeds our minds with lies that our situation requires a different set of rules. His rules.
If it were up to Satan our relationships, our homes, our work lives and well, every aspect of our life would be in constant turmoil. His hope is that, this constant “turmoil” which we allow him to create, will eventually lead us into a very long season of sin. Then he’s got us.
Believers, we need to keep a vigilant eye on the enemy’s approach and we must fight back.
In Colossians 3:12 (NIV) we are reminded that we are chosen and we are “holy and dearly loved” by God. That right there should stop us in our tracks and force us to take a long look at ourselves and our relationships, and correct everything we are doing that would not be pleasing to Him. Our heart should feel convicted to make changes, to incorporate that “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” which God has instructed us to “clothe ourselves in.” The truth is, we typically only correct a few minor things and conveniently, with enemies help, we ignore those larger issues that are still looming in the distance.
Our God deserves so much more than that. He deserves unconditional obedience. He deserves to see His children, at the very least, be cordial and forgiving to one another.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13-14 NIV).
That grudge we have been holding on to, that apology we owe someone, or that genuine connection we just can’t seem to make with a loved one, those are all spiritual strongholds that are all pulling us farther and father away from God.
I know it’s a painful process to put ourselves out there in order to ask for or to grant forgiveness and ultimately love unconditionally again, but I can say from experience that when we finally get over ourselves and put God first, He will change our hearts and tender healing, will replace the grudges and the anger that have been on our hearts for so long.
Let’s start living that Colossians 3 life that the enemy is so afraid of!
By Candace McQuain –
My pastor is an endless fountain of knowledge. He is consistently sprinkling out incredibly meaningful and thought provoking words. He never ceases to amaze me in what he will come up with next. One Sunday, he told a story about a woman he had seen when he was out and about. She had approached him and told him that she goes to his church.
Well pastor always loves hearing that, so he asked her what sermon she had heard last and what she thought of it. She then told him that she couldn’t remember because it had “been a while” since she had attended. What he then wanted to say to her was, “Thank you, but you don’t go to my church, you’ve been to my church.” What he did say to her though was this, “Do you go to the gym?” She answered, “Yes”. He asked her, “How often?” She answered, “Very often.” He then said, “What would happen if you just went every now and then, or maybe only just once?” She answered with, “It wouldn’t do any good.”
I’m not exactly sure how he finished the rest of the conversation, but I’m sure you see where he was going with that line of questioning.
Building an intimate relationship with Christ is indeed a lot like building muscle tone at the gym. If we want a true and meaningful relationship with Him, just going to church one Sunday and then taking a couple weeks or months off before heading back again, isn’t going to cut it. Just like muscles that aren’t worked out regularly, our hearts and minds can become weak and vulnerable.
As regulars we become planted and when we do, our roots (faith) can extend, thick and strong.
From experience I can tell you that finding the church of your dreams is a lot like finding the man or woman of your dreams. The first time you meet him or her you get warm fuzzies all over and you can’t wait to see them again. Now the date wasn’t perfect, but you knew down deep in your heart that they were the one for you. Finding a church home is the same way. No church is perfect, but God is, and He is behind everything. So if your heart is telling you to attend that church up the street again or the one your sister has been telling you about for months, try it. These are the vessels God is using to get you there or to get you to return.
Once you’re there and you feel those warm fuzzies, because I know you will, let yourself fall in love and become committed.
Stay planted, and let yourself grow.
“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV).