Tag Archives: prayer

Precious

I Peter 2:4–To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.

It is hard sometimes as adults to feel a sense of preciousness about ourselves. We aren’t cute, innocent children anymore, after all. We are grown-ups with busy schedules and responsibilities. Even the people we love fail to treat us as special and we them. We take each other for granted and assume they know how precious they are to us.

This verse struck me as I studied. I may not always be treated like a gift by humankind, but I was chosen by God. Precious in His sight. Special. Dear to His holy heart.

On days when I feel ragged, discouraged, beat-down, all I have to do is remember God thinks I am priceless. A treasure that He personally chose each trait to imbue. A soul He selected and offered His Son for payment of my sins. Highly valued. Loved. Precious.

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God’s Sovereign Ways

I have a special guest for the devotional today, Cynthia Roemer. Cynthia is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. She is kind enough to share her thoughts about God’s Sovereign Ways.

Why does God allow bad to happen? It’s a question each of us has asked at some point in our lives, when we witness needless tragedy, innocent lives lost, or experience hardships of our own. It’s a mystery that has been considered through the ages of time, and yet continues to go unresolved.

In my debut novel, Under This Same Sky, my main character, Becky Hollister, ponders this question when tragedy strikes her family, turning her once secure world upside down. Her heartaches cause her to doubt God’s power and authority and to ask why He didn’t spare her and her loved ones the tragedy of loss. In the months that follow, she battles anger and bitterness toward God before coming to the realization that He is wise and loving and that He wants only the best for us.

The novel’s key verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “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 a future and a hope.” Under This Same Sky allows readers to walk alongside Becky as she journeys from the depth of despair to the place of acceptance and understanding.

Though my novel doesn’t seek to answer the question of why God allows pain and difficulties to infiltrate our lives, it does convey the message that God is able to work all things for our good when we seek Him. No matter what we go through in this life we have the comfort in knowing the Lord walks beside us.

I showcased Under This Same Sky on my blog with a review a few months ago. It was such a well-written and inspiring story. If you want to check it out on Amazon, here is the link. It was a great read. Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing your thoughts with us today. I hope all of you will seek out God’s plan for your life, and that all of you recognize He wants good for each of us because He loves us so very much.

Under This Same Sky cover image

~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~

Illinois ~ 1854

Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.

Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

You can learn more about Cynthia at her website, http://cynthiaroemer.com/,Cynthia Roemer Headshot image on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/, Twitter,  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer, and Goodreads,  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer.

Thank you again, Cynthia. I will see you all Thursday over on my blog for an interview with author Gail Kittleson!

Freedom in the Lord

Today, I have special guest, June Foster, for our devotional entry. Thank you, June, for sharing your heart with us!

For the Christian, walking in close intimacy with God is the most rewarding way to live. I am never more joyful and at peace when I remain in fellowship with Him. But unfortunately it’s not always easy.

I’m a first born child and type A personality. All my life, I’ve felt the demand to accomplish tasks expected of me. There’s also a bit of OCD in the mix, too. Therefore, I take the job of being a Christian seriously. Too seriously. But what’s wrong with that?

The prayer list from church, the prayer needs I read about on Facebook, our country that needs a revival, these and many more weigh on me. Sometimes I practice self-talk and say if I don’t pray enough, God might not be pleased with me. What else? Sending get well and sympathy cards, calling friends who need encouragement. What if I skipped somebody? Is this pointing to legalism? I think it is. So what’s the answer? While all of those things are important, I allow the sense of obligation to stand between me and a close walk with God. I need to take to heart when God says “Be still and know that I am God.” And “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and He will direct your path.”

I am slowly learning the Christian walk is not about me but about God. Lord, “Direct my footsteps according to Your word. Let no sin rule over me.” Psalms 119:133.

I can do nothing to improve my status before God. When I relax and allow God to work, He’ll place His will in my heart—at His perfect pace. When I’m totally resting and trusting in Him, that’s what pleases Him.

Thank you, again, June, for appearing on Finding the Silver Linings Daily. I know I am guilty of feeling pressure and stress and wishing I could rush God into action. I need to sit back and let Him direct my path, always.

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon IMG_6653.jpgChristian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.

Her novel, Letting Go: A Small Town Novel, released on June 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon (along with all her other awesome novels and collections).

Pastor Zackary Lawrence lost his wife and unborn child when an embolism took her life. After questioning God why, Zack couldn’t find the will to continue as pastor at Oak Mountain Bible church in his small town of Oak Mountain, Alabama. But when his Letting Go.jpgparents encouraged him to continue his work, he reluctantly returned to the pulpit. Now, six months later, the congregation has dwindled to less than a handful, and Zack witnesses the closing of the church’s doors. Desperate, he takes a job at the local hardware store and reluctantly moves in with his parents.

Though Ella Russell had secretly been in love with Zack since high school, her hopes were shredded when he returned from seminary, accompanied by a wife. Trying to forget the only guy she’d ever loved, she threw herself into her profession as a high school counselor, working with rebellious youth. When Zack’s wife died, Ella grieved with him. Now as one of the few remaining members of Oak Mountain Bible Church, she tries to encourage Zack yet abandons her dream of a future with him. But when she drops by the church, the worst has happened. She finds a distraught Zack locking the doors for good with the bank’s immanent foreclosure.

Can God resurrect Zack’s life and allow him to finally discover the woman he’s always loved? If Ella entrusts her heart to Zack, will he shatter her hopes once more?

I hope you enjoyed today’s devotional and will come back on September 1st to read Cynthia Roemer’s devotional. In the meantime, check saralfoust.com for the Summer Spotlight Series interviews. I am learning a lot about some amazing authors and artists.

(Butterfly on flower picture taken by my mom, Barbara Campbell)

My Weakness

II Corinthians 12:9–And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I am a very independent, headstrong, strong-willed person. And it has gained me a lot of ground in my life. Valedictorian. Swim team captain. A job of some sort steadily since I was fifteen. Marriage with land and house purchase at twenty-one. College graduate with honors. Three healthy biological kids before thirty. Foster parent for three years. Adoption of two kids. Full-time at-home medical transcription job through all the kids (until two years ago). And now, a writing career that is the first truly fulfilling career I’ve had (not counting marriage and kids). You get the point. It isn’t easy for me to be weak. I don’t like to feel out-of-control. I don’t like to fail. And most of the time, that’s a good thing.

Sometimes, though, it gets me in trouble. I know God is far more powerful than I can even imagine. Yet, I take on the weight of my world and try to go at it all alone. Usually this lasts for a time then implodes around me, with my body, mind, spirit, and emotions completely exhausted.

It is okay to admit that I am not as strong as God and let Him take over. If I did it from the beginning of my struggles, they would go much more smoothly, I know. He wants me to rely on Him. To trust Him. To let Him lead.  I would like to do better with this, so I’ll be praying that I allow myself to be weak in His presence so that He might be a stronger presence in my life. Do you? I’d love to hear your comments below.

I want to allow myself to be weak with God so He might be a stronger presence in my life. #prayer @Sfoust25 -Tweet that!

(Photo taken by me in Hot Springs, NC)

Increase

I Corinthians 3:6-7–I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

I can plant the flowers and water them, but I cannot force them to grow. Sometimes, it is the opposite (like this flower above that surprised me) where I try to eliminate a plant and it continues to grow. I have no control over whether a seed chooses to sprout or a flower provides a fragrant bloom. God is in control of those things. He oversees the rain and wind, the lights in the sky, and the growth of my children. I can be a good steward of the earth and of the children He has entrusted to me, but I cannot force their growth or change their nature.

It is my responsibility as God’s child to honor His amazing creations. To make sure that I am respectful of the earth and all that grows on it. To be certain I am caring for my children’s physical, mental, emotional, and, most importantly, spiritual health. To ensure that I am caring for myself also. What we put into a thing, we get out of it. If we plant a huge garden, weed it properly, feed it well, and water it thoroughly, we are more likely to get a large harvest. If we teach our children every single day how to be faith-filled Christians, upstanding citizens, and reliable workers, they are more likely to be successful. If I nurture my relationship with God, get enough rest, pray constantly, and follow His path for me, I am more likely to bloom.

How has God shown you His power to increase and grow your life?

Doors

Revelation 3:8–I know thy works:  behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:  for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Have you ever prayed about something and felt like the answer would never come? I have, I’m sorry to say. I didn’t mean to get weak or let my faith waiver, but I am human and it’s happened. I can look back now at some of those long-in-coming answers and know that God heard me all along. It took two years before our adoption of our daughter was a for sure, 100% guarantee. That’s a lot of long days of wondering and waiting. God had a plan the whole way, and I may have gotten weak at times, but I am so thankful that He stayed by me.

After our son came to us, I was no longer able to work. Caring for five kids and a work-from-home job were simply too much for me to accomplish in one day. We chose the kids, obviously. But there were prayers that I sent up asking God what was next for me. Was it finally time to pursue my true passion, my true dream of becoming an author? His answer was a resounding yes. And now, almost exactly 18 months after choosing to focus on my writing career, He has opened the door for me to become a published novelist. Wow. No joke, it seems like a dream. I have literally thought about and longed for this day since I was a little girl, and never thought it would really, truly happen. Words cannot describe how thankful I feel.

There was a time when I wrote with an aim toward the traditional market. I prayed and realized I had to lay aside those words and pick up solely Christian-geared themes, tones, and writing. And God has opened doors ever since. One by one I can see His hand at work.

What do you need to turn over to Him? What leap of faith is He asking from you? Do it. He will open the doors you need to move forward.

 

(Picture taken by me at Biltmore in Asheville, NC)

Responsible Speech

Colossians 4:6–Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

When I was a kid, I got picked on quite a bit. I had glasses and I was “the smart kid” who actually liked to answer teacher questions and get good grades. For some reason, this was seen as a weakness to prey upon by a few of the other children. They would say the most awful things, and my response was to cry. Which, of course, only made it worse. Another weakness to be poked at. It wouldn’t be until hours later that I would think of that perfect, hot retort. This was after mulling over their comments, relentlessly torturing myself, and wondering why, oh why, I had to be the brunt of their cruelty. It was torture, and I was furious with myself that I couldn’t fire off those harsh words in the moment. I never got to say most of them to anyone other than myself.

There was one girl in high school that had a particularly vicious tongue. Like a whip that stung and tore your flesh. If you cast an accidental glance her direction it was likely to fly at you. I was terrified of her. I have no idea where she is now or what her life is like, but I hope it’s a good one. I’m also happy I wasn’t that type of teenager. I don’t think anyone was afraid of me. Ever. And I’m glad.

As a grownup I have learned to be thankful for this element of myself. That in the heat of a word battle, I usually go blank. And I’ve come to embrace it as a strength. For it’s kept me from ‘spouting off at the mouth’ many times. I’ve kept my cool, kept my peace, and not said things I’m sure I would regret later on. (Now, my husband might disagree from time-to-time, but let’s, for the sake of argument, look at interactions with people other than him. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.)

God doesn’t want us to be sharp-tongued and nasty to people. He wants us to make sure we think through each and every thing we say. To meditate on the words and make sure they are wise (seasoned with salt) before we allow them to escape. Sometimes that’s easier said than done (pun intentional here). But, you know what helps? Prayer. When someone angers you and you are tempted to make a smart retort, pray first. Pray that you are speaking God-given words, not just ones that feel good in the moment. Sometimes you will find that God wants you to walk away, cool off, and come back with a level head before you address the issue. Sometimes you may never get a chance to address the issue, and that’s okay. But what if that person who just said something mean and nasty to you is someone who needs you to be a witness? If you spit back something inappropriate that makes them feel equally awful, how can you come back later and proclaim God’s goodness and love? They won’t be receptive because they will never forget the harsh words exchanged.

I am far from perfect at this myself. I definitely get angry right back when someone says something terrible to me. But I have to learn to ‘be angry and sin not’ by biting my tongue and continue to embrace the silent response until I am calm and reasonable again. With prayer and God’s help, I can make sure that my speech is always responsible and respectful. And therefore not tearing someone else down right alongside me. I want my responses to be helpful, not hurtful. The old adage is still around for a reason. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Hard at times. But true.

Do you have a story about bullying you’d like to share? Or a comment about how to keep from reacting negatively to someone’s mean comments? I’d love to hear them!