Vacation

April 15, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Janet Morris Grimes –

In a couple of weeks, our family will be on vacation. This particular year will not bring us to the peaceful beaches or massive theme parks we see in the photos of our friends. Instead, the Grimes Family will be headed to Branson, Missouri.

Jealous?

Branson has become America’s variety show theme park; the vacation capital of the world, for those over 80 years of age. But it is here that we find our oldest daughter performing in the live show of Veggie Tales, and nothing is more rewarding than watching your child do something they excel in, no matter where that happens to take you.

Branson also offers a great water park, some beautiful lakes, and what we crave most in this particular year. Togetherness.

It is our much-needed vacation. Swimming pool, nothing on the agenda, quiet walkways beside lakes we didn’t know existed until we arrived, and conversations that don’t take place over Skype or with a text. We get the chance to be together, under one roof at the same time, something that has become a rare occurrence for our family of five.

This is the place where we will reunite, rest, and probably order a pizza or two. We might grill out, rent a jet ski, catch a movie, or choose to do nothing. But we will do it together.

And we will sing a few songs with the most adorable dancing vegetables you have ever seen.

The memories we create will be as unique as the quirky family God created us to be.

And personally, I am counting down the days.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the sights, smells, scents and touch of summer. Thank You for this time to be together. Bless it and be glorified, and continue to direct our paths.

Happily Ever After

April 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Janet Morris Grimes –

“I did not see that coming.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have uttered that phrase in the past month and year. Well, make that four years.

Over this time span, our family has relocated due to my husband’s job transfer. Twice. My daughter has started over at two new schools, once in her Freshman year and again for her Senior year of high school. I have given up two jobs that I was good at, only to find that my value was tied in to the amount of money I made much more than I realized. Our twelve-year-old minivan, all 250,000 miles of it, surrendered in a trail of steam, smoke and a stream of what I interpreted to be curse words coming from its exhaust pipe. I have applied for a bazillion job openings, only to find that I am not the only one doing so.

I have questioned my existence along the roadways of four different states, and come up with only one explanation for the strange path my previously predictable life has taken.

I am not in control of it. After all this time, that’s all I can come up with.

And somehow, that frees me from both the past and the future, enough to enjoy the present.

Whether I saw it coming or not, God did. He’s got it covered.

And I can add this to the list of the things I did not see coming over these past four years. Our daughter graduated from high school with honors, and with new friends in several different states. God has expanded our territory and introduced us to some of the nicest people we have ever met. I have been given the opportunity to focus on writing—an answer to prayer I had forgotten I had prayed. God calls me to meet Him outside on a daily basis; on the deck, on morning or evening walks, by the lake, in the woods. Wherever He calls me, He always seems to be thrilled to find me ready to listen.

And this is what He’s proven to me, after 28 years of marriage. Happily Ever After comes one day at a time, one week at a time, one year at a time. Or in our case, one state, one new job, one transition, one new home at a time. Happily Ever After does not depend on our revolving circumstances. It depends on our ability to let God shine through those circumstances.

Because God is never surprised by our circumstances. He is already there, in the midst of them.

“You hem me in, behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5 NIV)

A Crippling Fear

March 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Relaying my family’s medical history is like reciting a death wish – Heart Disease, Diabetes, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease. But the one that fills my heart with the greatest fear is Alzheimer’s. My mom started showing signs of this mind-robbing disease in her early 50’s. That’s way too young to forget how to balance your checkbook or to pick up your daughter from piano lessons. As an adolescent, I experienced up close and personal the effects of this disease; not just on my mother, but on our whole family.

So as I approach this same time of life as my mother’s battle began, I am having to beat back the fear “what if early onset Alzheimer’s is my fate?” In my darker moments. I challenge myself to remember the billboard slogan I read five miles back on the freeway and I test myself to see if I can recite the names of all my neighbours. Focusing on the fear prompts me to exercise my brain, but it also cripples my soul. Fear has a shrivelling effect. My focus becomes narcissistic as I pull in to protect myself from the horrible future my mind exaggerates. Fear takes me out of the present and suspends me in a future that is warped with shadowy unknowns.

Enter God. “My eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in You I take refuge” (Psalm 141:8). “Do not lose heart or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land (Jeremiah 51:46). “Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 1:21). There are close to one hundred commandments in God’s Word to not be afraid.

When I am trusting God to hold me in the palm of His hand and protect my future, my fear dissipates. Fear is the antithesis of trust. Trust and fear cannot coexist. When I feel the rising tide of anxiety, I must take heed and pursue greater faith. God knows and holds my future. He will never leave me now or in the future.

PRAYER: Father, protect my mind from fear of the future and instead replace it with trust in Your ever present faithfulness.

“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

The Perfect Accessory

March 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Carin LeRoy –

I received my first piece of jewelry from my grandparents when I was only five years old. One day they took me to the store to help me choose my first ring. I remember being so excited and admiring it on my hand. Over the years family members have given me other special gifts: the opal necklace my parents gave me on my 20th birthday, the diamond band from my husband on our 20th anniversary and the birthstone heart necklace that my children bought me one Mother’s Day. These gifts are special as I wear them to compliment my outfit or adorn my hand.

God has picked out the perfect accessory for us too. In Proverbs 3:21,22 He says, “Preserve sound judgment and discernment , do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.”

With all the characteristics God could choose, what makes these so important that He wants to emphasize our need for them? God desires for us to navigate life well, and that requires good judgment and discernment.

Judgment can be described as the ability to logically compare and understand the best results and outcome, and discernment is the skill to see and comprehend what is not obvious or evident in a given situation. Both of these help us make wise decisions. In a culture where wrong is only relative, the ability to make wise choices has become obscured. No longer is the firm foundation of God’s Word used in making wise choices.

Just as a necklace that adorns our neck is the first part of our wardrobe that people see, so, too, our sound judgment and discernment (or lack thereof) will be the first thing that people notice about us. God’s adornment of sound judgment and discernment give us a life with meaning – not a life with bad decisions and regret. Let’s remember to adorn ourselves with God’s perfect accessory.

PRAYER: Lord, give me sound judgment and discernment. As I make decisions, help me to have wisdom to make right choices for my life. Give me a heart that desires You to lead and guide me each day.

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared,” (Proverbs 3: 21-26 NIV).

The Fatherhood Theme Park

February 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Janet Morris Grimes –

Father’s Day. It gets me every time.

As a child, it was as if I was standing outside the gates to a theme park. I see all the families entering, hand-in-hand. Their Daddy clutches the tickets, counting to make sure he has enough for everyone. No one goes in alone. The lines are long, but the wait just makes it better once they click through the turnstiles of triumph.

Costumed characters welcome them with waves and hugs, their plastic faces etched with permanent smiles. But the smiles of the kids are even wider. Cameras capture a thousand photo moments before they reach the first ride. Even walking, together, is an adventure inside the theme park.

The scent of something wonderful wafts over me. Maybe it’s cinnamon. Fudge? Or corn dogs? Definitely a mixture of all of them; as if happiness were a smell. Ten different versions of carousel music provides the soundtrack to the day. Their day.

Screams of delight ruffle through the tall trees that hide the fun things they get to do. Just enough of a roller coaster taunts me from above. A train of silver buggies crank their way to the top. They careen down the other side, twisting in ways I didn’t see coming. Terror turns to thrill on their faces. They line up to do it again. Just because they can.

The sun drops behind the trees, bringing a breeze that didn’t exist before. Maybe it will cool off the sunkissed cheeks of those who are now leaving. Strollers are filled with too many shopping bags to hold the children who once belonged there. Instead, their parents carry them, asleep, draped across their shoulders. The leftovers of something sticky and wonderful still dribbling down their smushed up faces. They wear hats, or ears, or both; something they didn’t have when they arrived.

There expressions reveal the most perfect of days. Content. Exhausted .Together. As if whatever they anticipated before entering was even better than expected….

Peering through the bars is no way to experience a theme park. It’s impossible. I would have given anything to get inside. Not for the rides, the characters, or the ice cream. What I longed for, more than anything, was to be that little girl sitting on top of her father’s shoulders.

But you have to have a ticket to get inside. And I never had a ticket.

This is what it feels like to be fatherless. No matter how many times you watch, from a distance, you can’t imagine yourself being allowed to go inside.

But you know you are missing out on something wonderful.

PRAYER: Father God, bless the fathers and the families that You created. Give them strength to shine for You. Mend any broken relationships, and thank You for being such a loving father to each of us. It is because of You that we know how to love unconditionally.

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