faith, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Secret Forgiveness

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

(Psalm 103:8, NIV)

Laura’s husband walked out on her to be with another woman. At first, Laura was devastated. She was an orphan and had no family other than her husband. “I felt like she took the one person who meant the whole world to me,” Laura said.

As the years passed, Laura healed from her husband’s betrayal. Eventually, God brought a new man into her life. When he asked her to marry him, she was delighted, and they began to plan for an autumn wedding.

Laura didn’t want to bring baggage from her past into her new marriage, so she reached out to her pastor. “I can truthfully say I’ve forgiven him and her,” she said. “It took a lot of work, but I bear them no malice. My question is, should I share the fact that I’ve forgiven them?”

Laura’s pastor said, “Forgiveness is about your heart, not theirs. If you say you’ve forgiven someone, and they haven’t sought you out, you risk offending the other party and opening yourself up to more emotional wounds. But if someone comes to you, confessing their sin and seeking forgiveness, then offer it freely and wish them the best.”

God, please show me if there’s someone who needs to hear that I forgive them. If they don’t, give me the peace to move on. 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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3o Days of Forgiveness in June: Loving Boundaries

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”

(Psalm 86:5, NIV)

Mary grew up with an alcoholic father. “When he wasn’t drinking, he was a good father. But as I got older, the times when he was sober became fewer.” 

By the time Mary graduated from high school, her father was rarely sober. “He wasn’t physically abusive. He’d just yell and carry on about everything. Anything could set him off,” Mary explains.

For years, Mary struggled with the concept of forgiveness. Then one day, she was having dinner with her friend Shannon when the topic came up. Because Shannon was a dear friend that she trusted not to gossip, Mary shared her past with her. 

“He’s not a bad person. He’d like to see his grandkids. I know I’m supposed to forgive and forget. I just don’t want him to damage my kids the way he damaged me and my siblings.” 

Shannon listened as Mary shared her heart. Then she said, “We’re not commanded to automatically forget someone’s actions. 

“As children of God, we are called to forgive. But it’s also wise to be aware of how your father affected you and how he might affect your children. You can set boundaries to protect yourself and your kids, such as not visiting your dad when he’s drunk. It’s healthy to set loving limits in your relationships.”

God, help me to set healthy boundaries with the people I’ve forgiven. I want to be kind, but I also know You don’t want me to be a doormat. Help me to stand up for myself and shine Your love at the same time. 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: Welcome Home

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”

(Luke 15:13, NIV)

Jordyn was the daughter of a wealthy businessman. One day, she approached her father and demanded her portion of her inheritance. She wanted to live it up while she was still young, she told him. 

Though her father’s heart was saddened by his daughter’s decision, he still gave her the value of her inheritance. He texted her each day she was gone, hoping for a reply. He followed some of her antics in gossip magazines, watching as she seemed to morph into a different person.

One morning when he texted Jordyn, he was surprised to receive a reply. It was short and got his attention instantly: I messed up, Daddy. I know that now. Can I come home?

With shaky hands, her father texted her back: Yes.

When Jordyn told the taxi cab driver to turn down her street, she couldn’t believe what she saw. There, on the front lawn was the biggest party she’d ever seen. As she stepped out of the cab, her father rushed to embrace her. 

Jordyn sniffed and stepped back, “Who are you throwing a party for?”

Her father gave her a watery smile, “It’s for you, baby girl. Welcome home!” 

It can be tempting to believe that you’ve gone too far to be redeemed. But you don’t have to hide out. Your Heavenly Father is waiting to welcome you home, beloved!

God, thank You for Your grace! When others discover Your love, let me be the first to join the welcoming committee! In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen. 

Will Sin Make You Lose Your Relationship with God?

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: Facing Grief

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Matthew 26:38 (NIV)

It was a mild August day when Amelia climbed into the passenger seat of her car. She and her husband were headed to the beach to celebrate her promotion. “We’d only been married five months at that point. We were newlyweds, and I was still learning so much about him.”

But Amelia and her husband never made it to the beach that day. Instead, they were hit by a drunk driver, who crossed into their lane. He hit their car, head-on. 

Amelia’s husband was killed on impact, and she was left with life-threatening injuries. She had broken her back in two places, needed stitches in her face, and had a serious concussion.

Her body began to heal, but her spirit felt broken. “Everyone told me to just forgive the other driver. I got a lot of pressure to move on from other people. One person told me if I didn’t forgive, I was worse than the drunk driver.”

Then came the day Mary showed up in Amelia’s hospital room. She was a widow from a local church who often reaches out to other widows. 

Amelia shared her story, crying through parts of it. “How am I supposed to forgive?” she whispered.

Mary squeezed the woman’s shoulder. “Right now, your only job is to grieve. You need to process what you’re feeling. All of the sadness, rage, and pain. Let it come.” 

Sometimes, it can be tempting to tell someone going through an injustice to “just forgive,” but that advice can stunt the grieving process. 

“It only compounds loss,” Mary explains. “So, now we have someone who’s grieving, and they feel this guilt and sense of isolation added with it. Many people don’t realize this, but Jesus grieved in the Garden of Gethsemane. Grieving is an important part of the healing process.”

God, help me to grieve with those who grieve. Let me be a loyal friend who welcomes the broken into Your presence. 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: 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: Doing Good

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Cassie adopted Ethan when he was just a few months old. Even though it meant becoming a single parent, she felt like adoption was what God wanted her to do. 

But Ethan wasn’t like other kids. He’d been born to a mother addicted to drugs, and he had several health problems because of it. His biggest struggle was with learning new information. So, Cassie had to work hard to help Ethan understand basic information like the ABCs.

One day, she’d spent all afternoon working with him. She was about to give up when she remembered Galatians 6:9. The verse gave her the strength to keep working with her son.

But even after their session, Ethan didn’t appear to have absorbed a single letter. Discouraged, Cassie wondered if she’d ever be able to get Ethan to understand letters and words.

The next morning, Cassie went to get Ethan out of his bed. But she stopped when she heard singing. She kept listening, and then smiled as she realized Ethan was singing the alphabet song. 

God, when I encounter hard things, help me to lean in. Give me strength to keep going, even when I feel disappointed or discouraged. 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.

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: The Comfort of God

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…”

Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)

When Cindy’s daughter was a toddler, she had a fear of the dark after an older sibling accidentally let her see a scary movie. Cindy would put her little one to bed, only to have her up a few minutes later, asking her mom to check for monsters.

Each time she asked, Cindy would put down her crossword puzzle to come check. She would look under the bed, in the closet, and anywhere else her daughter wanted her to investigate. Again and again, Cindy was patient, remembering how fearful she’d been as a child, too.

Eventually, Cindy’s daughter grew into a teen. Because of the sweet relationship Cindy had nurtured, her daughter would come to her for advice and guidance on just about everything.

One night, her daughter called out to her in the night. Cindy stumbled from her bed and went to comfort her child. The girl was upset over some cruel text messages she’d received. Cindy stayed up most of the night, talking with her daughter and encouraging her.

Just as Cindy always ran to reassure her child, God does the same thing for His children. It doesn’t matter if you call on Him in the middle of the blackest night or in the deepest distress of your life, God will always come to comfort you, His precious child.

God, thank You for the gift of Your presence. You promise in Your word that You will never leave me on my own (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). You come to me when I’m sad, discouraged, or in need. Thank You for that! In the beautiful name of Jesus 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.

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30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: Praying Mama

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…” 

Philippians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Tessa didn’t know much about her mother-in-law, Deanna. By the time Tessa met her husband, the older woman was suffering from severe dementia. Deanna didn’t recognize her son or other family members.

Still, Tessa felt a bond with the woman that she couldn’t shake. When Deanna was too fragile to live on her own, Tessa welcomed her into the home she shared with her husband. She paid the woman’s bills, drove her to her doctor’s appointments, and tenderly cared for her. 

When Deanna passed away after several years of living with her son and daughter-in-law, Tessa cried. She grieved as if it had been her own mother she’d lost. 

As Tessa was helping her husband go through his mother’s things, she discovered a box of journals. They were Deanna’s prayer journals, where she’d recorded decades of prayers, hopes, and dreams.

She found entry after entry where Deanna prayed for her son’s future wife. She prayed for her health, her career, her relationships, and her spiritual walk. Again and again, the older woman had been faithful to pray over Tessa’s life, thanking God for a woman she hadn’t even met.

God, thank You for the gift of praying mothers! Show me how to be a prayer warrior for my family, and for others around me. 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 Mothers: Mother in Search of Identity

Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

Genesis 29:32 (NIV)

Perhaps there’s no story in the whole Bible more poignant than that of Leah … the girl who was used by her father and who was basically unloved by her husband. At least, I’ve always felt that Leah’s story was a sad one.

Leah watched as her sister, Rachel, flirted with Jacob. She watched as they courted. She saw the secret glances they stole at each other when they thought no one else was looking. She watched in admiration (and maybe a little jealousy) the way Jacob worked for seven years just so he could marry Rachel.

Then her father came, just hours before her sister’s wedding. He shoved the bridal clothes at Leah, demanding she slip into them and marry Jacob in her sister’s place.

The next morning, she could hear Jacob shouting at her uncle, demanding to know why he’d been betrayed. Then, seven years later, Jacob finally married Rachel, the sister he truly loved. And Leah had to wonder where that left her.

But God had the answer to all her questions … He always does.

Leah was trapped in a loveless marriage, but God saw her misery. He sent her a son, and she named him Reuben. She was certain that now her husband would love her. In doing so, she made the mistake of placing her sense of worth in her husband and her children, rather than God – the one who had given her both, and even her very life. That’s why she spent years feeling so empty as she chased after Jacob.

But somewhere along the way, Leah accepted her true identity as a favored daughter of God. She understood that God loved her unconditionally, and she let His love fill her with peace and joy.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Genesis 29:35 (NIV)

At least, she stopped having children for a while. We know that she had five more children after Judah – four more sons of Jacob, and his daughter Dinah. Leah may have been unloved by her husband, but she was favored by God in motherhood.

Her sister only had two sons. And neither one of those was the ancestor of God’s promised Messiah. Leah’s son Judah was.

God saw Leah’s her pain. He knew all that she had been through. And He used it all for her good (and for the good of the rest of us throughout history too) … and, of course, for His glory.

God, help me to remember my worth does not come from my relationships. Like Leah, let me rest in You, content with the knowledge that I am Your beloved child…and You will work everything that happens in my life out for Your glory. 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: A Difficult Pregnancy

Yesterday, I talked about one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Today we’re going to talk about another one. I love how God showed Himself to Hagar after she’d been so mistreated by one of God’s most faithful servants, Abram, and his wife.

“The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’”

(Genesis 16:7-8, NIV)

After having a pretty secure (if not entirely free) life as one of Sarai’s handmaidens, Hagar suddenly found herself alone and pregnant. She’d been instructed to sleep with her mistress’s husband, and the union had resulted in a pregnancy that Sarai wanted. But even this did not make her mistress happy.

So, Hagar felt she had no choice but to flee. She was traveling alone in the desert when God reached out and started a conversation with her.

When Hagar explained that she was running away, God instructed her to return to her mistress. Then He went on to speak of her unborn child, promising that he will live freely in the land among the rest of his family … even it wasn’t going to be quite a happily ever after situation:

“The angel of the Lord also said to her:

‘You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.’”

Genesis 16:11-12 (NIV)

Still, Hagar got the point. The conversation led her to a beautiful revelation about who God is and what He was doing in her life.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her:

“You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

Not every pregnancy is easy or fun. Some of them, in fact, are very, very hard.

Maybe you’ve experienced a difficult pregnancy of your own due to disease or illness. You may lack the support of a community, or be under a heavy load of stress. But, just as God saw Hagar in the midst of her pain and fear, He sees you. He sees your difficult pregnancy, and He is watching over you.

God, when I’m tempted to worry or fret, help me to turn to You. When discouragement calls my name, let me remember that I am seen by You, my loving Heavenly Father. 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.