Bend Don’t Break!

Everyone is guaranteed some form of hardship, storms, distress/duress that ultimately forges us into the people God would have us to become. Though not pleasurable experiences, our problems are necessary for our progression from one stage in life to another. The way we deal with these experiences determines how we will come out of them. Some people seem to make it through, scraped up a bit but they come out in one piece. Others, instead, succumb to situations and trials never to come out of them and instead become overcome or swallowed by circumstances. So what is the difference between making it through and remaining stuck in a particular situation?

The answer is simple.  Bend don’t break.

We all have the best laid plans. However, the plans for our life and God’s plans are not necessarily one and the same. Our expectations don’t always transform into our experiences. Delays and disappointments are inevitable. The people who make it through hardships aren’t broken by life’s surprises. Instead, they learn to bend.

Twigs snap. Quick and sudden stress causes them to break into pieces. People can also snap. It is when experiences become so extreme, circumstances are crazy and expectations unmet that we “lose it” and do things we would not do if we were in our “right mind.”

The propensity to bend means that we can weather a storm. We can withstand the course of whatever life throws our way.  It may be uncomfortable, hard and even painful but bending means we won’t become broken by disappointment.  Our attitude determines our outcome when we choose to bend a little.

  Sometimes we have to change our habits. At others, we have to change our minds. And then there are situations where we have to choose to give a little, possibly giving up our own expectations or desires, in order to push forward and even keep peace along our journey.  Being inflexible in our relationships and even our own preconceived ideas only limits us and sets us up to potentially  “snap” under pressure. We should always be willing to bend to some extent by choosing to learn, mature, and submit to God.

Hardening our hearts and an unwillingness to listen to the counsel of others can leave us rigid, frail and easily broken.  Refusing to compromise can leave us frustrated and at odds with ever-changing  circumstances. Flexibility doesn’t dictate that we conform to the world. Flexibility allows us to move with God instead of remaining stuck where we are.

If you want peace of mind, be willing to change it when Divinely directed. If you wish to prosper, set goals but change them when God dictates. We can’t truly prosper out of God’s will. What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work today.  Don’t stay bound to the same ideas or experiences when God is trying to stretch your faith and do a new thing!

Listen when God speaks and then obey accordingly. God has challenged me do things I never would have imagined yet I can definitely say I’much better for it! I’ve been blessed when I chose to follow God instead of my own (sometimes crazy) inclinations.

Bend or Break?

The choice is ours to make!

Get Up!

“For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity,” Proverbs 24:16 NKJV

If life is a race, there will come a time for all of us when we fail to make the time we strive for, fall short of the distance, or even fall by the wayside victim to injury.

Yet, as children of God, we are victorious and need to simply get up!

The disappointment of not meeting some goal or deadline we set for ourselves is no reason to live a defeated existence. There are often achievements that don’t come as fast as we’d like.  The path to reaching a milestone is often harder than we imagine. We may have false starts or stumble over hurdles even as we see others continue toward their finish line.

It is vital to get up and finish our race even if we feel  like we’ve been left behind. We may run slower than others, have to run uphill or even run in the rain when necessary. If we sat around waiting for “ideal conditions” we would never finish!

Proverbs 24:16 indicates a righteous man may fall and fall more than once. We often shortchange ourselves when we fall/fail. We may not rise promptly because we become fixated on the fall. Still, the difference between God’s children and those who are “wicked” is that when (not if) we fall, we can rise.

coneflower-3-8-6-2016-devotional Too often, many are deceived into not getting back up. Doubts about being too late or too old, too weak or too slow keep people from completing their course. Instead of getting up and continuing to run, many go off to the sidelines instead. If we aren’t careful, we can allow the fear of failure to keep us out of the running.

When we embrace the fact that we may fall instead of living in fear of failure, getting up is that much easier. When babies learn to walk they fall.  Yet, children often instinctively and quickly get back up because they haven’t learned what “failure” is. Or, if they fall and hurt themselves they look to a parent (as we should look to our Father) to help them.

Failure doesn’t keep children from trying. Furthermore, once they learn to walk, they start running all over the place!

Don’t second guess the race God has called you to run. If God has called you to run it, He will equip you to finish.

Should you stumble don’t stop. When you fall, get up!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,”
2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV   


Sufficient Grace!

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NKJV

Many people are under the notion that when they surrender their lives to God all will be well.

And it is well, but not in the manner most people initially think. Salvation provides no guarantee for a stress free and smooth existence.

In fact, choosing to submit to God often brings us to a point of doing things we don’t want to do for people we don’t even like!

That annoying friction many of us encounter day to day is there to smooth out our “rough edges.”

Sometimes we wonder why what looks like the worst of circumstances has come our way, oblivious that the very situation we despise will make us stronger.

Gold is purified in fire.

We, being more valuable than gold will ultimately find ourselves in hot situations as well.

Pride, idolatry, and selfishness are often burned away when God allows some of our hardships to mold us.

True compassion and patience are often learned after receiving such. We tend to judge less when we have our own personal failings to serve as a reference point for viewing others.

God does not give us problems, but He can surely allow our circumstances to teach us valuable lessons and provide clarity we would never receive otherwise.

Even when we are doing all the “right” things, storms will come.

Our trials and circumstances don’t have to defeat us. In fact, they are often the very stepping stones we need to propel us into our Divine purpose and Glorify God in the process!

God always imparts what we need to get through our situations. He never pushes us into anything He hasn’t prepared us for. Now, some of our “preparation” is often “on the job training,” yet we can rise up to our challenges instead of falling before them.

sufficient grace b is for blessed devotional 1-2016 The apostle Paul is credited with writing a fair share of the New Testament. Persecution, imprisonment, and shipwreck didn’t lessen Paul’s resolve for doing what God called him to do.

Paul even suffered a “thorn” in his side that God refused to remove. I’m sure we can all relate to Paul’s plight. God’s answer to Paul’s plea for relief was “My grace is sufficient.”

And it is sufficient for us as well. When we resolve to stand strong and walk out God’s plan despite the pain, we ultimately fulfill His purpose for our lives.

And in doing this, we are blessed.

 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 NKJV

Light, Camera, Action…

Great light is crucial for most photographers. As an amateur, I regularly seek proper lighting.  Photographers lust after and chase after just the right light well aware of the role it plays for noteworthy images.

God’s Light is no different. It is crucial for us. We may not readily recognize it but God’s illumination and revelation are what we crave to reach our full potential.

This year, I decided I want to do more than chase light.

I want to create it.

So, I enrolled in an annual photography class that meets next week. It is the same class I’ve considered the past two years but never dared rearranged my schedule to attend.

One of my best friends posted New Year’s Day, “Nothing changes when nothing changes.”

I will talk less and listen more. I will allow God to lead me instead going my own way. I will rearrange my priorities.

These are a few things I’m doing differently to avail myself to more of God’s Light this year.

Some would say my goals are unnecessary.

And they are, for salvation.

Featured Image -- 2230 Still, what I have to gain far exceeds my efforts, just as the work required to create an image doesn’t feel like “work” when the desired photograph is successfully captured.

I want to develop into all God wants of me.

Nothing changes when nothing changes.

Choose to change.

Circumstances may appear unchangeable, yet, altering our attitudes, expectations and actions often allows miracles to find us.

Start small and keep going.

And should you stop, choose to begin again.

May we all see good God’s Light in 2016.

Happy New Year!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27: 1 NKJV

Winter Roses…


I was recently discussing how this would be the first Christmas in over ten years that we have no pets in our home for the holidays.

We would always debate if our cat “Lucky” had been naughty or nice even as he precariously tried to become one with the Christmas tree within weeks of claiming us as his own.

That same year, my Shetland sheepdog was a Christmas gift from my husband, quickly renamed Noel to suit the occasion. We lost them both this year. I didn’t anticipate how much I would miss them this Christmas season.

Christmas is not a joyful time for many.

The holiday season can accentuate grief, spark depression and bring about a range of emotions, many of which we would rather not deal with.

I lost my father one Christmas.

This Christmas will be a first for those grappling with loss and barely hanging in there just trying to get through the season.

bnwrose photo chall 4  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Expecting those who are hurting to be joyful is unrealistic. We can’t always understand someone’s pain, but we can certainly respect it.  At the very least, we can extend peace and good will toward them.

Hopefully, the pain eventually wanes. Or perhaps, our tolerance for it becomes greater.

So what does this have to do with roses?

We are experiencing unusually mild weather. This allowed me to clean up the skeletal remains of summer.

And then I saw her.


She was atop the retaining wall as I snapped dead branches from a hydrangea.

“Marie” sat comfortably trying to figure out just what exactly I was doing.

Now, I may be just one cat shy of the crazy cat lady on the corner, (and yes, I live on the corner!) but I haven’t seen any snakes so I figure it’s a fair trade. Regardless, I enjoyed Marie’s company and I suspect she enjoyed mine.

As I finished, I noticed the rose blooming.

We’ve already had one freeze so “technically” it should have stopped blooming by now.

Yet, God will occasionally remind me that He is not moved by any calendar. He provides streams in the desert. Roses in the winter?

Why not?

Marie filled my void today.

God can provide a bit beauty in the bleak. And sometimes when we feel we can’t hold on, God brings a bit of spring to us.

Unexpectedly.  And with Love.

If you’re hurting this Christmas season, may spring find you soon…

Peace to you.


Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NKJV


Mary’s Christmas!

As many of us gear up for the “holiday” season I think it’s important that we take time and reflect upon all the fuss we find at every turn. We are bombarded with sales ads, incentives to buy more, more, more and media outlets doing their very best to push the notion that if we don’t participate we are indeed missing out.

The Virgin Mary found favor with God yet her Christmas was one without the trappings of luxury and hoopla we find marketed today. Mary even had to endure some things as she was favored by God.

Mary was pregnant before her marriage to Joseph. I’m pretty confident she had to endure the scandal and gossip of her peers in that day. She probably received the same stares and crazed looks anyone in this day would receive if making a claim of Immaculate Conception.

Mary birthed our Savior in less than ideal surroundings. I can’t think of many women, myself included, who would relish the fact of laboring in a stable. Some thought the King of kings would be born in a lavish inn and greeted with fanfare yet it was instead a “silent night.”

Later still, Mary would bear the responsibility of actually mothering the Son of God. Talk about pressure! I can only imagine what that did to her relationship with Joseph and their family dynamics. Not only was she responsible for Jesus the child but she eventually watched Him die an agonizing death. If she was so favored by God shouldn’t her life have been easier?

Favor from God doesn’t always manifest itself as we think it would. The Bible doesn’t promise an easy life of happiness and bliss. In fact, it assures us there will be trials.

We are often looking for a “fix” to our situations and may presume that God isn’t listening or that we have somehow “failed” when things don’t go as expected. Many people believe that if they are doing everything “right” in their lives, as best they can, they will be carefree and have no worries.

Mary endured much even as she was “favored” by God. She was blessed to be the mother of our Savior but that blessing wasn’t necessarily an easy path for her. And like Mary, we too must handle situations we don’t fully understand and possibly never will but God IS with us!

So, as the holiday lights sparkle and dazzle, remember that Christmas began without elaborate decor or grandeur, no widespread celebrations or multitudes of gifts. These things don’t define Christmas.

“Christmas” began in the most humble of places, with two people obedient to God and His presence upon them. Like Mary, that’s all we need.

“And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28 NKJV

Merry Christmas!

Great and Grateful

Living here in the “Bible Belt”  I read many a church sign. Some of them are witty and others are down right weird.

I did come across one that I did like. It read  “A GRATEFUL MIND IS A GREAT MIND.”

As I reflected on that particular sign I thought about my various “states of mind” on any given day.

Some days I am focused.

On other’s not so much.

On occasion I can keep a very clear train of thought and accomplish much in record time. Then there are days I’m left looking around having nothing substantial to show for my efforts.

Yet, when I focus on counting my blessings, I gain clarity that at other times alludes me.

When I am grateful it puts into perspective all the minor and petty things that don’t really matter. Annoyances, headaches and temporary trials don’t compare to God’s great grace, mercy and favor.

If I did not continually count my blessings, I would get bogged down in the nonsense of the day, other people’s drama and become mired down in things that aren’t any of my business!

We must renew our minds daily as not to magnify our problems instead of God!

DSC_6110 (2)  When we make a habit to appreciate how good God is to us, we are compelled to offer mercy, compassion and kindness as we have received it. The realization that we are not worthy but God loves us anyway should move us to love our neighbor/brother enough to not just pray for them but actually “do” for them.

Allowing our gratitude to move us into action produces great deeds and great love, the kind Jesus would have us show toward one another.

In this season of thanks, don’t merely settle for being grateful, act grateful. Allow your gratitude to move you to do something for someone else. What you may consider a small gesture can make a world of difference for someone else!

Allow gratitude to adjust your attitude.

Be grateful and B Blessed!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:8 NKJV


I live in the Atlanta area, kind of smack in the middle of the “Bible belt.” This long standing nickname would lead most to believe that Christianity is the most prevalent religion in these parts. It’s not.

The most prevalent religion around here is football.

I rarely see Christians rally together or cheer on one another the way sports fans do. Tailgating is the praise and worship that sets the mood for the sermon game. Season tickets sell no matter the cost. The pews may be sparsely occupied on Sunday but that stadium will be packed!

I can’t say that I’m a die hard fan by any means except for my alma mater (Go Rattlers!) but football occupies a more prominent place in the lives of many far above the basic precepts of love God and love your neighbor.

Yet, I don’t think I have ever seen anything break down barriers between people the way football can. Race, nationality, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and politics become irrelevant as long as you are for the home team. People who wouldn’t speak to one another at any other time will embrace, high five and cheer together.

We “Christians” might just learn a thing or two from these die hard fanatics. 

I rarely see such levels of commitment and devotion for the church like I see for sports. Football season is priority for many.

How often do we “religious folk” schedule activities around God instead of squeezing God into a packed schedule?

Am I bashing football? Most definitely not!

UNEXPECTED GIFTS BLESSED DEVOTIONAL  Athletics provide an opportunity for many people to improve their circumstances. Football also teaches how to win and how to accept defeat. It instills the importance of working together for a common cause. Football builds solidarity among individuals. I would just love to see these same attributes displayed prominently in the church.

What if “Christians” shared this same type enthusiasm for people?

God’s people.

I’m talking about the people we glance over or would rather not deal with. I’m talking about those who are broken and when we ask how they are, we don’t want to hear their truth.

It is our commandment to love them.

I’d love to see Christians help those who are hurting as quickly as we would purchase tickets to enjoy the game.

I’m sure on any given weekend millions are cheering for their team. What about encouraging the addict or the mentally ill?

What if we chose to commit to something that lasts longer than the season?  

What if for just one weekend, we offered our time and money for a charitable cause. Even assisting a neighbor, friend or family member will do.

These efforts, unlike those for the game, leave a lasting impression and demonstrate God’s love. God uses us to do His work.

Every sports team strives to build a legacy. Shouldn’t we want to do the same for God? And not grudgingly, but with that same enthusiasm we show the home team?

Just a few random thoughts today.

I’m off to watch the game.

Good Eats!

Apples and pears have never been my favorites. I eat them because they are good for me. They are hardly as sweet as my summertime berries, yet they fill me up and keep those hunger pains at bay. Fall fruits also last longer, aren’t nearly as fragile and help scrape out the yuck in our gut!

There comes a time to push aside those sweet things that are tasty for those heartier things that will sustain.

I love devotionals and encouraging words but we must diligently seek God and study His Word. We need all of it and not just those verses we pick and choose. It is comforting to know better days lie ahead but we must prepare as best we can to stand strong against dark days and disappointments as well.

DSC_2709 (2)  Spiritual fruit takes time to grow and develop. Many people are led to Christ in a moment. Yet, it often takes years to transform us from who we are into who we can become.

Love, joy and peace are sweet fruits for me.

Long suffering?  Not so tasty.

Faithfulness and gentleness require a bit more from me as well.  It is often our trying experiences that cultivate the characteristics we lack and allow us to produce good fruit.

If we are to mature and fulfill our purpose, we must partake of some things that aren’t so sweet.

Forgiveness. Obedience. Submission.

We grow when we choose to partake of things that are good for us and not merely those things that taste good.

What are you hungry for?

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil,” Hebrews 5:13-14 NKJV

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Turning Points…

We all have times in our lives when we can look back and reflect on events or places where our lives took a turn in a singular direction. For some people this turning point is a positive. Perhaps a birth, a marriage or a graduation. For others, pivotal moments are directly related to a person who was influential in good choices made such as coach, a teacher or even a spouse.

Then there are other turning points that seemingly crush us under their weight.

Death. Failed relationships. Financial difficulties.

Our experiences, whatever they are, help mold us into the people we become. Hopefully, we learn to appreciate the good, endure the bad and gain wisdom from the lessons life has to offer.

Thankfully, we aren’t relegated to circumstances dictating our destination. Our experiences do indeed impact the people we become, but they don’t have to define us.

blsd lvs abg God allows us to decide if the experiences we are forced to endure will build us up or tear us down.

Our lives have many paths that lead to the same destination. Sometimes we take the scenic route.  At others, there are painful detours.  A few people actually do reach their goals with a straight sprint from point A to Z.

Yet, most of us are more likely to walk and even crawl along our way. The fact that we keep moving is all that really counts.

I am reminded, as we transition from one season to another, to allow my turning points to turn me in the right direction.

Sometimes we need to turn away from people, places and even our own negative thoughts. At others, we may need to turn toward God when we find ourselves lost, disoriented and lacking the direction we need to fulfill our purpose.

Take some time to look back on the good and give thanks. Reflect on the negatives and know that they too can serve a purpose.

Make the choice to reassess who you are and what you choose to do.

Turning Point b is for blessed devotional 10-2015 The change you seek begins with you.

If you’ve made mistakes along the way that’s fine too. Simply acknowledge them and learn from them. It is often the worst of times that eventually allow us to receive God’s very best.

It is faith that enables us to turn away from what was and look toward what can be. Turn toward the Light.

For He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit.  Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:10-11 NKJV