• Devotions

    First Thoughts

    My first steps in the morning are typically toward a large cup of black coffee.

    My first thoughts of the day?

    Well, I would like to say that everyday they rise up to Him with a song of praise or a prayer of gratitude.

    But honestly, that is not everyday.

    And especially these times, when school openings, business closings and the physical and mental health of those around me is constantly in question, my first thoughts tend to be all over the place.

    Maybe you are in that season, too.

    Some days these thoughts swirl around in my mind like a cyclone, picking up anything it can scoop up in its grasp.

    The neverending saturation of news, others opinions, and general chaos loom around me before I have had my first sip of motivation for the day, twisting my first thoughts away from Him.

    So each morning, before I put my feet on the floor and head towards the coffee pot, I need to make a choice.

    Where will my first thoughts go today?

    Friends, as easy as it sounds to choose door number one or door number two, I can say with complete honesty I struggle with this daily.

    My worries and fears sometimes get the better of me.

    And yet, when I choose to let my first thoughts rise to Him, my days always go exceedingly better.

    My perspective of what lies ahead changes.

    I am no longer focused on the world, but on His promises.

    Here are a few verses that help me stay grounded and not swept up in the cyclone of despair.

    1. “He remembers His covenant forever, the promise that He made, for a thousand generations.” 1 Chronicles 16:15 NIV    

    Our God is a covenant keeping God.  The promises He made to His people thousands of years ago still covers you and me today.

    1. “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” Psalms 119:50 NIV God sees us as we struggle.  He knows our daily challenges.  And yet it is our relationship with the Almighty and His promises to be with His people that reminds us we are never alone in our suffering.
    1. “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV 

    Most of us are worried about what lies ahead.  But our heavenly Father goes before us.  If He is already in the days ahead, we can embrace the promise that He is waiting there for us and preparing the way.

    What verses give you grounding?

    Focus on these words.

    Let them penetrate your heart and your mind.

    My prayer is that your first thoughts rise to the One who gave us life.

    Could that be your prayer for me as well?

    Less worry, more peace.

    Not our perspective, but His promises.

    “Look to the Lord and his strength;

        seek his face always.”  1 Chronicles 16:11 NIV

    May each of us find strength in Him today.


  • Devotions

    Cut, Color and Counsel

    My shoulders tightened.

    That is where I typically hold my tension.

    As I waited for the door to open, I could feel my anxiety rise.

    This was the longest I had left my son since his surgery.

    But I really needed a cut and color, like so many other women.

    Oh the joy of finally getting an appointment when our area was given the green light in these COVID times to open salons.

    A small sense of normalcy.

    The days of restriction and isolation felt multiplied following my son’s surgery.

    If I am being honest, despite the amazing support from so many, there were days I felt exhausted, emotionally and physically.

    I longed to feel understood.

    And then the door opened.

    Literally and figuratively.

    I don’t think my friend even knew how she ministered to me as she mixed my color.

    This was more than an appointment for a cut and color.

    It was a divine appointment.

    As she spoke of her own child, who also recently had surgery and was stuck at home, my shoulders relaxed.

    She shared the frustrations and difficulties they experienced, and the things that helped.

    With my mask covering my face, I fought back the tears.

    I needed to be in the presence of someone who understood.

    My son jokingly told me I needed a cut and color.

    But my heavenly Father knew what I needed even more was counsel.

    I am so profoundly grateful for that gift and for His provision.

    It overwhelms my soul.

    Friends, do you really know how much He sees you?

    I don’t know what difficulty you are facing today, but know this: He knows you.

    Listen to these words from the Psalms.

    “You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
    You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
    You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
    Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
    You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
    Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
    If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
    If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
    even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
    For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
    My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
    Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
    How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
    Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139: 1-18

    Whether our movement is restricted or we go across the continent, He is always with us.

    Even when we feel isolated, we are not alone.

    When we think no one understands, He knows our thoughts and feelings.

    That knowledge is too wonderful not to share with a broken world.

    Will you share His love today?

  • Devotions


    As the rain gently falls, I watch out the window at the bird feeders in our backyard.

    An array of colorful feathered friends feast on the seeds my husband has put out.

    But this tasty feast attracts another creature.

    A squirrel.

    In an attempt to deter our furry friend from trying to ascend the pole to the feeders, my husband has put up a squirrel stopper.

    These are sometimes also referred to as squirrel baffles.

    Ironically, these deterrents that do not stop the squirrel from trying to reach the treasure above.

    Over and over again.

    His attempts are in vain.

    The abilities of the squirrel and birds differ.

    A squirrel can climb and scamper.  

    A bird can fly through the air with ease.

    Both God’s creatures, but with different gifts.

    Just like you and I.

    I love how God uses these moments to whisper a message into my heart.

    In a world that fosters competition, we do not always recognize or value the fact that we all have different gifts.

    We compare ourselves to those around us.

    And like the squirrel trying to ascend the pole, we want to put ourselves in someone else’s spot.

    Maybe you have been there.

    I know that I have.

    And when I have tried over and over again to fit somewhere I think I should be versus where God wants me to be, I turn to His word.

    “ For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”   

    Romans 12:4-8 NIV

    Just like the squirrel baffle does not prevent this creature from his attempts, so too our human nature does not prevent us from comparing ourselves with others.

    But take heart, friend.

    God has a special gift for each of us to share with the world.

    When we embrace rather than compare our gift, we can offer it cheerfully with those around us.

    And we can encourage others to share their gifts as well.

    What is the gift you offer to the world today?

  • Devotions

    Tearing Off the Bandages

    It had been five days since Dan had his hip surgery.

    Today was the day we would be tearing off the bandages.

    His father and I supported him as he stood briefly in front of the mirror to examine the scars.

    After today, the multiple stitches would no longer be covered.

    The wound would be exposed.

    When the next morning came, my youngest son was in even more pain.

    Removing the barrier of the bandage left him vulnerable.

    Healing would take time.

    Even though we know that healing is a process, it almost makes us want to cover the wound back up again.

    Over the course of the next 6 weeks, he will be moving about gingerly with his crutches until he gains his strength back.

    Many of us try to cover our wounds.

    The ones we can see and the ones that remain invisible to the eye.

    We do not want to expose our brokenness to the world.

    Because when we tear off the bandages, we experience more pain.

    Busyness, like a bandage, might serve as a barrier to shield the hurt.

    Food, shopping, substances, unhealthy relationships can also cover pain.

    The list is long.

    In our most painful moments, God whispers.

    God tells us in His word that He is close to those who are broken.

    “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3 ESV

    Notice that God does not say He will make sure that we don’t experience pain in this world.

    But in His word, our heavenly Father tells us that He will be our strength.

    “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 ESV

    As a mother, I wish that I could have prevented the suffering that my son had to endure.

    All I can do I remain close as he heals.

    When we are hurt by this world, we may also walk gingerly until we regain our strength.

    But take heart, friends.

    There will come a day when we will no longer work hard to hide our brokenness.

    “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall

     there be mourning, not crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 ESV

    Until that day comes, may He be your strength.



  • Devotions

    Yummy Food

    “Can you make me some yummy food?”

    This is the request that my college aged son has asked almost daily since he has been home.

    My selections of foods to make as his appointed short order cook are limited to his favorites.

    If anything new or green touches the plate, the eye rolls appear.

    And when I am not home to prepare yummy food?

    Pop Tarts, cereal and potato chips are the quick and easy ways to fill his empty stomach.

    Sometimes I shake my head at this request for “yummy” food, but this morning I woke up with a new perspective that God placed on my heart.

    There is always a lesson if you are listening.

    As a woman of faith, don’t I try to fill myself up with the same yummy food?

    I like the verses that I know and comforting stories that make me feel good.

    I heard Steven Furtick say in one of his messages (Become the Bridge) that at times we make our Jesus like a talking doll with the string on the back.

    Remember those dolls?

    You pulled the string and the doll said a few favorite phrases.

    Sometimes I want God to feed me my favorites.

    But anything that touches my plate that challenges me or that I haven’t tried before, don’t I give God an eye roll like my son?

    Somedays I choose something familiar instead of trying something new.

    But that only leaves me feeling satisfied for a moment.

    I cannot toss down a verse like a bag of chips and expect to be nourished.

    That is when I need to expand my selection.

    Friends, there is so much in God’s word that He has to say to us.

    But sometimes, just like our diet, we keep with what is familiar and comforting to us.

    I wonder what my son would do if I was not there to make his yummy food?

    He could not live on junk food forever.

    Eventually, he would have to learn to be responsible for what he puts into his body.

    It is tempting to want to fill ourselves with what is immediate..

    But when Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He said this:

    “”…the Scriptures say, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 NLT

    I cannot only rely on the words my pastor feeds me on a Sunday morning.

    I need to be fed daily.

    But I am pretty sure that even if I asked, my pastor could not come to my home each day with a word from God.

    It is my responsibility.

    God is not a short order cook.

    Just like a balanced daily diet, we need a balanced daily portion of His word.

    Our heavenly Father is not going to feed us the food we have selected on our preferred menu.

    We may want a portion of love, joy and peace, but God may serve up a helping of forgiveness, self-control and humility instead.

    He is going to nourish our souls with what we need.

    Our heavenly Father will change the menu selection to grow us.

    And the more we grow, the more we will hunger for His word.

    “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.” Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

  • Devotions

    We Belong to Each Other

    “So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26

    Kenny was a gentle giant.

    When he would stop by the counseling building to say hello or talk about what was happening in the dorm, it always brightened my day.

    But this day was different.

    His usual smile was replaced by unmistakable pain.

    This student whom I had grown so fond of quietly asked to use my office phone to call home.

    His friend back home had been shot and killed.

    Sadly, this was not the first person he cared about whose life was lost to gun violence.

    Far from home, there was no family to comfort him.

    So I sat with him in his pain.

    In my early twenties, I remember feeling so inadequate.

    Our backgrounds were different, just like the color of our skin.

    I grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania with little diversity.

    He was an inner city kid who had witnessed tragedies that were hard for me to understand.

    So I offered the only thing that I could.

    My presence.

    He poured out his feelings.

    I listened.

    He wept.

    I cried with him.

    I did not pretend to be something I was not.

    I remember saying something to him like, “I don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but I do know what it’s like to lose someone I love. Let’s start there.”

    He taught me things that the college degree I had just earned did not offer.

    Kenny became my teacher.

    He and so many of the other students I got to know and care for during my first job as a counselor gave me a lens to a world that I had not experienced before.

    I have thought about Kenny so much this week in the midst of the horrific death of George Floyd.

    Twenty odd years later, I wonder if he is safe or has children of his own now.

    I know the prayers I pray over my own sons will look different than his.

    In my heart, I am certain Kenny is grieving along with the rest of the country over this senseless tragedy.

    I wish I could turn back the clock, and invite him into my office for a while.

    And even though I still feel inadequate with what words to share, I would offer my presence.

    God tells us in His word that when one part of the body is hurting, we all hurt.

    Our body is in pain right now.

    The differences we share make up the beautiful tapestry of those our heavenly Father calls His children.

    “So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:5

    One body.

    We all belong to each other.

    Friends, where is God calling you to offer your presence now?

    Stop and listen.

    Sit in the pain with our brothers and sisters.

    In a world that feels broken, bring the light of His love and offer peace.

    “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18


  • Devotions


    Forgiveness is hard.

    We take hurts to heart.

    It is personal.

    Sometimes it is about us.

    Sometimes it is about someone we love.

    How many times have I held onto hurt for the sake of being right?

    “He should be the one to apologize.”

    How many times have I thought this is the one thing I cannot forgive?

    “I don’t know if I can ever forgive her for what she did.”

    Maybe we feel justified in being angry and holding on to the bitterness that seeps into our souls.

    If we left it up to our own feelings and emotions, many of us might choose not to forgive.

    But there was this man…..

    A man who chose not to hold onto the hurt.

    A man who chose grace instead of bitterness.

    A man who was blameless and right, and forgave before an apology came.

    “Jesus said, Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

    He would have been justified in His anger, but chose gentleness instead.

    The same gentleness that He wants us to choose.

    “Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Colossians 3:13

    Even when we feel like it is something we cannot forgive, we are called to show grace.

    Over and over again.

    “Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18: 21-22

    Forgiveness is hard.

    But not as hard as the sacrifice that was made for us on the cross.

    No matter how many times we have to forgive others, it will never come close to the price that was paid for us on that cross.

    How many times has He forgiven us?

    Our heavenly Father is full of grace.

    “He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His son and forgave our sins.”  Ephesians 1:7

    Father God, help us to always forgive each other as you have forgiven us.

    Thank You for Your unending grace and love for each of us.


  • Devotions

    What Are You Waiting For?

    “What are you waiting for?”

    This is the question asked of a little boy sitting on his bike when Bob, aka Mr. Incredible, pulls into his driveway in the movie, The Incredibles.

    “What are you waiting for?” 

    The little boy’s answer?

    “I don’t know….something amazing I guess.”

    Maybe you don’t know exactly what you are waiting for either.

    It feels like we are always waiting for something.

    For the phone to ring.

    For the other person to admit they were wrong.

    For the apology that might never come.

    For the test results.

    For our finances to be more secure.

    For retirement.

    For the RIGHT time.

    Maybe at that time, something amazing will happen.

    But especially today, amidst the pandemic, waiting feels like a way of life.

    Waiting in line at the grocery store.

    Waiting for the stimulus check.

    Waiting for stores and businesses to reopen.

    Waiting to see our loved ones and safely give them a hug.

    The wait feels like a heavy weight crushing us.

    Finding patience while we wait is as challenging as finding toilet paper and Clorox Wipes today.

    But it is not the wait that is important.

    It’s how we wait that matters.

    God tells us in His word to wait patiently for Him.

       “Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”  Psalms 27:14 NLT

        “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.”  James 5:7 NLT

    We can be patient while we wait, because we trust that something good is coming.

    The little boy in the Incredibles didn’t know what he was waiting for, but he was expecting something amazing.

    Don’t miss this word.

    He was expectant.

    As God’s children, we are hope filled and expectant.

    We know that something amazing will happen when He returns.

    “I wait patiently for the Lord, my soul expectantly waits,

    And in His word do I hope.”  Psalms 130: 5 AMP

    Friends, waiting is hard.

    Like you, I long for the day when the wait is over.

    But as we wait, be hopeful.

    He sees you.

    He hears you.

    “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for my God my Savior, My God will hear me.” 

    Micah 7:7

    Trust that on the other side of the wait is something amazing.


  • Devotions

    Full Access

    It is after midnight.

    Our family has been keeping odd hours since the pandemic began.

    The boys are upstairs playing a video game with their friends.

    My husband and I are settled in on the couch, halfway through an episode of Homeland.

    That’s when it happens.

    The WiFi goes down.

    Understandably with everything else going on right now, this disruption pales in comparison.

    But it did create some chaos in our household.

    Not only did it mean no Madden or binge watching a favorite show, but it also meant no streaming of church services or bible study on Zoom the next day.

    We lost our access.

    Not having personal contact with those we love has been a struggle for many throughout this pandemic.

    But we never have to worry ourselves with losing personal contact with the One who loves us the most.

    We can rest in the promise we always have full access to our Heavenly Father.

    “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Ephesians 2:18 NIV

    God will never deny us access to His glorious presence.

    That does not mean that the enemy will not try to put up obstacles to weaken our connection.

    The technician who came to restore our internet explained that there were several nicks in the cable wires outside of the house.

    However, for safety precautions he could not travel inside to access the situation further.

    My son ran up and down the stairs, taking pictures of the wires connected to the modem so the technician could see where the problem was occurring.

    We were looking right at it, but he could see something we couldn’t see.

    But it was up to us to fix the problem inside.

    Does this speak to anyone else?

    We may not always see obstacles, even when they are right in front of us.

    What can we do when we feel like we have lost our connection?

    First, pray.

    God never withholds Himself from us.

    “Praise be to God,

        who has not rejected my prayer

        or withheld his love from me!” Psalms 66:20 NIV

    Second, get into the Word.

    The Bible is God’s love letter to His children.  

    “You have searched me, Lord,

        and you know me.

    You know when I sit and when I rise;

        you perceive my thoughts from afar.

    You discern my going out and my lying down;

        you are familiar with all my ways.

    Before a word is on my tongue

        you, Lord, know it completely.”  Psalms 139:1-4 NIV

    Finally, stay connected to other believers.

    Sometimes our brothers and sisters can help us see problems when our vision is blurred.

    “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 24-25 NIV

    Friends, it is up to each of us to take care of what is happening on the inside.

    But take heart, we are not alone.

    We have full access to the One who knows how we are wired.