faith, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Forgiveness in June: The Cost of Covering Up

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

(Psalm 32:5, NIV)

Sarah overcharged a client for a large project that her firm was handling. It was a mistake, but when she found it Sarah freaked out. She was still new at the company, and she worried she’d lose her job if anyone saw it.

So, Sarah rearranged numbers on one of her spreadsheets. She put the money into another fund and hoped that accounting wouldn’t look at the numbers too closely. 

When she left the office that night, she couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d done. She couldn’t eat that evening and had difficulty falling asleep. It was an honest mistake, she kept telling herself. 

Later that week, Sarah met her mentor for lunch. As the two women talked, Sarah eventually told her the whole truth. “I didn’t mean to do it, but now that I’ve covered it up I feel even worse. I keep a constant knot in my stomach.”

Her mentor nodded. “That stomachache is guilt eating at you. When you try to hide things, you make a situation worse.”

Sarah took a deep breath and asked the question that had been on her mind all week. “How do I make this right?”

Her mentor said, “Confess. First to God, then to your employer. It’s far better your boss hears about it from you instead of your client.”

God, help me when I’m tempted to hide my mistakes or sins. Give me the courage and integrity to tell the truth, no matter what. Help me to walk in honesty. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can con

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness: Healing Power

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”

(Ephesians 1:7-8, NIV)

Michael Rowe was part of a drug gang in New York. In 1992, he and two of his friends killed another drug dealer. 

He was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He used this time to better himself. He earned his GED, then went on to get his associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. He married his girlfriend and fathered three children with her. 

In September of 2006, Michael was working in prison when he glanced up to see Anthony Colon, the brother of the man he killed. Anthony had been there to visit another inmate, unaware that Michael was there.

Michael tried to duck out of sight, but it was too late. 

Anthony had seen him. 

Michael’s heart sped up, and his mouth went dry as he wondered what Anthony would do to him. Would he yell at him? Cuss him out? Spit on him? Start a fight?

When Anthony approached him, Michael tensed. But the other man held out a hand and said to him, “I’ve been praying for you. I forgive you. I was praying for a chance to see you again and tell you that.”

Years later, the two men are friends. After being released from prison, Michael went to work with Exodus Transitional Community Center, the same organization where Anthony volunteers. 

God, help me to accept forgiveness when it’s offered, and to grant others that same mercy. Teach me to be gracious in giving and receiving forgiveness. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: A Heavy Load

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

(Matthew 5:23-24, NIV)

A seminary professor had a habit of starting each new semester the same way. He would pass out a bag to each of his students. At the front of the room, he had a large bin filled with hundreds of baseballs.

He would invite all of his students to come to the front of the classroom. Then he would hand out markers. He instructed each student to write down every wrong they’d ever suffered. 

When they were finished writing, they would put the baseball into their bag. After they were finished, the professor looked at the class. “Now, I want you to carry these bags everywhere you go until our next class. You take them everywhere, from your dorm to the cafeteria to your job. Keep it with you always.”

A week later, many of his students arrived with their bags. The professor pointed to a young man in the first row. “Tell us about your week…how do you feel?”

The young man sighed. “Tired. Lugging that thing around was exhausting. My neck ached from it.”

The professor nodded. “That heavy bag represents unforgiveness. Every time you hold onto a wrong, you add weight to your bag, and it’s a weight that God didn’t intend for you to carry.”

God, help me to put down the load I’ve been carrying. I don’t want to hold onto unforgiveness. Show me how to release this burden, so I can walk in freedom and healing. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Love Is Kind

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

(1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV)

Ellie lived with her grandmother, who regularly criticized her from the time she was small. 

“Nana always seemed to have a list of reasons why things didn’t work out for me. In junior high, she told me I didn’t make the cheerleading team because I wasn’t pretty enough. In high school, she said no one asked me to prom because I was too fat.” 

Ellie spent years accepting her grandmother’s painful words. Like many kids and teenagers, she simply believed that when an adult tells you something, it must be the truth. She never thought to question it.

Then she shared with a college friend the painful things her grandmother would say during their daily phone calls.  

“I still remember his face when I told him about it. He turned to look at me, and there was such compassion in his eyes. He said, ‘That’s abuse. Love is kind, Ellie, and you deserve love.’” 

For Ellie, it was the first time anyone had ever stood up for her. She’d never had that validation, and it made her think there could be people who loved her simply for being herself.

“I started working with a counselor not long after that. She helped me see myself as a precious child of God. It took years to work through all of the verbal abuse, but I eventually forgave my grandmother. I didn’t want to carry those wounds with me for the rest of my life.”

God, when the people in my life aren’t kind, help me to remember that You speak love over me. Let me feel the warm embrace of Your love every day. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness: Choose Compassion

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

(Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Andy lived in a small farming community in Idaho. When he was fifteen, he took a gun to school. He showed it off to his friends, who crowded around him at the lunch table.

While he was handling the gun, Andy accidentally discharged the weapon. Another student, seventeen-year-old Larry, was shot. Paramedics were called, and Larry was taken to a local hospital.

After several days, Larry woke up to the news that he was paralyzed. Overnight, his baseball scholarships had disappeared, and his girlfriend dumped him. But he couldn’t stop thinking about Andy.

“I know most people would think I hated him. But I didn’t. All I could think about was my younger brother. He’s done some dumb stuff, and I couldn’t imagine how he’d feel if he seriously hurt somebody.”

When Andy was brought to trial, Larry was there. He testified on the other boy’s behalf and begged the jury to show mercy. “He’s already changed my life forever….he knows that, and I know it. I don’t want his life to be messed up, too.” Larry explained.

Because of Larry’s compassion, Andy was sentenced to only a year in a juvenile detention center, with a few years of probation following.

Just like Larry forgave Andy and showed him mercy when he didn’t deserve it, God does that for us … every time when He sin against Him … if only we ask (see 1 John 1:9). And, because of that, we are called to show that same kind of forgiveness and mercy to others.

God, thank You for loving and forgiving me. When someone else’s decisions impact my life, let me be forgiving and gracious. Not because of me and what I want, but because of Jesus and the forgiveness He’s granted me. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: A Quiet Season

“Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Titus 2:4-5 (NIV)

Barbara was in her fifties when a drunk driver hit her car. She was blessed to survive, but the bones in her left leg had been shattered. She needed extensive surgery in order to repair those bones.

The doctor explained that during recovery Barb would need to avoid putting weight or pressure on the leg. Since Barb’s job required her to be active, she had to take time off from work.

As Barb was healing, she thought of the Bible study on motherhood that she’d often longed to write. When she shared the idea with her husband, he encouraged her to use the next few weeks to work on it.

A few months after Barb had recovered from surgery and was back at work, a woman’s leader at her church called her. She explained that many of the women in the worship services looked up to Barb and she wanted to know if Barb would be willing to teach a Bible study class geared toward new mothers.

Quiet seasons of rest or recovery may feel like you’re “wasting time.” But every season in your life serves a purpose. But God has a plan for you to fulfill during this waiting period…even if you can’t see it right now.

God, help me to be faithful to You in every season of my life. Even when I don’t understand what’s happening, I know You are at work. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: Rest for the Weary

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

When Amy learned she was pregnant with her first child, she was overjoyed. Although she hadn’t been trying to get pregnant, she always knew she wanted to be mother…even if the timing was earlier than she’d planned.

Amy’s pregnancy was uneventful, and she took her beautiful baby daughter home. Everything was going well until Amy’s mother noticed something strange when the baby was a month old. She said her grandchild’s eyes appeared yellow in the light.

Listening to her mother’s instincts, Amy took her baby to the local children’s hospital. The doctor quickly diagnosed Amy’s daughter with liver failure. She would need a transplant … and soon. 

Fortunately, Amy’s mom was in good health. Since she was a match for the baby’s blood type, the doctor had decided to take a portion of her healthy liver and give it to the baby. 

The night before the surgery, Amy couldn’t sleep. Her baby seemed restless too, so Amy paced the tiny neonatal unit. She went up and down the halls. Finally, at about 3 AM, a wave of peace came over Amy. The baby quieted, and the two fell asleep. 

When Amy woke the next morning, she saw a text message on her phone. At three in the morning, her friend had been woken up to pray. She’d contacted other friends, and they’d begun praying together over the phone. They were specifically asking for peace and rest for Amy and her baby.

After the surgery, Amy’s daughter recovered – and so did her mother. The liver transplant was a success. Both are now enjoying a healthy present, and they’re looking forward to an equally healthy future.

God, I ask for peace and rest for friends who are struggling today. Grant them the comfort of Your presence, and let them feel the love being sent their way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms: Speaking with Wisdom

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”

Proverbs 31:26 (NIV)

Shannon smiled when her dad handed her toddler a brightly wrapped gift. “What did Pop bring you?” She asked her daughter as together they removed the wrapping paper. 

Inside a pink box was a toddler phone. Her daughter squealed when she saw it and immediately began playing with it. She pushed the buttons, hummed along to the music, and played with the blinking lights. 

Shannon moved to pour her dad a cup of coffee as the two of them discussed the past week. As they were sharing with each other, they stopped when they heard Shannon’s daughter babbling into the phone, using many of the same expressions Shannon heard coming out of her own mouth on a regular basis. She laughed when she heard her toddler’s voice.

Shannon’s dad smiled. “She sounds just like her mama, doesn’t she?” 

Shannon blinked, and her expression sobered. “I didn’t realize how much of my speech she was picking up. She was just tossing around funny phrases I’ve said. But it made me stop and think. She’s absorbing everything. I’d better commit to speaking with wisdom, whether my conversations are on the phone, on Skype, or happening in real life.” 

God, please help me to speak with wisdom. I want to be a good example to other believers and the little ones all around me. Guard my mouth, so that my words would be loving and kind always. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: Purple Flowers

“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (NIV)

Four-year-old Jacob frequently stopped to admire plants.

“He’s fascinated by them,” Nancy, his mom explained. “I think he gets it from his grandmother. She owned a nursery when I was a young girl.” 

Normally, Jacob’s mom had to pull him away from plants. She always considered it to be a major distraction and nuisance until one sunny Wednesday a few weeks ago.

“Jacob bent down on the sidewalk to study a cluster of purple flowers that had managed to grow in the cracks of the sidewalk.”

Nancy was about to urge her son to keep moving when 1 Thessalonians 2:8 came to mind. “I thought about what Paul said. He talked of not only sharing the gospel of God with others but also our very lives.” When Nancy thought of this, she smiled. “I can’t think of anything more important than sharing life with a little one.”

So, she got down on the ground and spent time admiring the flowers with her son, cherishing the ordinary moment.

God, help me to share my faith and my life with my children. I want them to see You in everything, even flowers in sidewalk cracks. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: Pondering Mother

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19 (NIV)

When the shepherds came to visit baby Jesus, they shared the story of the Star of Bethlehem and how it had led them to find the Messiah. In hushed tones, they repeated the words of the heavenly choir and shared the awe they felt in the presence of such praise.

Mary tucked away their words in her heart to ponder them. She probably thought on them during the long nights she rocked Jesus to sleep and the day His tiny tongue formed His first word. 

Little ones require around-the-clock care and need constant supervision. Even older children sometimes require a lot of attention.

In the day-to-day work of raising children, it’s hard to find time to do more. You may not be able to read lengthy devotionals or have hours to dedicate to searching the Scriptures.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be close to God. Like Mary, you can take truth with you and reflect on it as you nurture your children. It could be as simple as singing a song of praise while you’re doing laundry or whispering a prayer for your child as you unload the dishwasher. By doing these things, you can transform ordinary moments into beautiful experiences with God.

God, we want to be close to You. Like Mary, let us ponder Your words in our hearts as we care for our children. Please meet us in these ordinary moments. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: Recognizing God’s Favor

“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.”

(Luke 1:13-14, NIV)

Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, followed all of God’s commands. He was a priest in the temple, and they were active in their community. They didn’t just love God, they served Him with great reverence.

Still, Elizabeth lacked one gift—a baby of her own. She lived in a time when a woman’s worth was determined by how many healthy babies she could deliver. Since she had none, others judged her.

Some suggested the infertility was caused by a hidden sin in Elizabeth or Zechariah’s past. Others seemed to think God had pronounced judgment against Elizabeth for unbelief or another perceived flaw.

After she realized she was pregnant, Elizabeth said:

“The Lord has done this for me. He’s shown me His favor!”

(Luke 1:25, paraphrased)

Just as was the case with Job and his “friends,” God showed the people who were judging Elizabeth a thing or two.

When you’re going through a difficult time, you may be tempted to believe that God doesn’t care about you. Perhaps you worry that God is angry at you, or you fear that He has given up on you. Maybe other people are telling you this like it’s the gospel truth … but it’s not.

Have faith, dear one. Elizabeth’s late-in-life pregnancy wasn’t because God didn’t love her or was angry with her. He hadn’t given up on her.

It was a matter of Divine timing, and this might be true in your situation, too. Perhaps God still intends to save your marriage or heal your daughter from her addiction … or whatever it is you’re waiting and pray for.

He will show you favor. He has done it before, right? And He’ll do it again. But He’ll do it in His timing, not yours.

God, thank You for Your favor! You have blessed me richly! When I’m tempted to focus on what You haven’t given me, let me be patient and remember that Your timing is always perfect. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Did you enjoy this devotional? Want to read the others in the series? Here’s the complete list so far:

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

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How Would You Like a Free Book That Will Help You Teach Your Kids About Gratefulness?

gratefulness

Maybe you’ve heard the VeggieTales’ “Thankfulness Song.” If you have young children, I’ll bet you have. I know I have…more than a few times. “A thankful heart is a happy heart,” that song teaches…and how true is that?

VERY!

Gratefulness is such an important thing to teach children, and it goes hand in hand with generosity–another important lesson that my husband and I were able to offer to our children just the other day.

Last Sunday evening, I wasn’t planning on going to church. But I changed my mind… which meant the kids had to go too.

And they wanted to go to the Chinese restaurant afterwards. Our favorite one is on the other side of town from where we live (and where our church is). We didn’t want to go that far because it was late, so I suggested the buffet just down the road a few miles. We passed several other Chinese restaurants on the way, and I thought about stopping at one of these, but I decided to let my husband keep going. …

As we were coming out of the restaurant after our meal, a man came up to us in the parking lot, asking if he could ask us a question. I got the children in the car while my husband talked to him.

He and his family had just moved from New York and were staying in a motel while they were trying to find a more permanent place to stay… except they were within an hour of getting kicked out of the motel and being homeless.

He wasn’t asking for money. He was asking for a motel room for the night. My husband and I looked at each other, and we both knew what we needed to do. We stepped out in faith and paid that man’s motel bill for him so his family wouldn’t get kicked out.

We were also able to give him our church’s address, where his family can find food if they need it…and maybe a church home after they get settled. And now I know who they are so I can pray for them.

We could’ve just brushed that guy off. We could’ve just said we didn’t have the money to help (which is not far from the truth). But we understand how things can happen sometimes. We know. We’ve been there.

God comforts us so we can comfort others; God helps us so that we can help others. And I’m grateful we had the opportunity to share that lesson with our children the other day.

And that’s a big part of Compassion International’s mission–to instruct and enable people to extend generosity to others, especially children, around the world. That’s why they’re offering this free ebook for kids called Goggles of Gratefulness.

Amelia_Cover_Mock-300

It’s a children’s picture book (in digital format) that follows the story of Amelia the Bird as she learns how important it is to be grateful for what we have and generous with what we share. And, did I mention, it’s FREE?

Go click on the link (or the image) above, and grab your copy today (you’ll also gain access to the free Family Generosity Challenge devotional).