Like any woman with a pulse, I have had times when my back was against the wall, and I have had seasons when I certainly lost more than I have gained. Dreams of a marriage, a child, or a new venture did not turn out as I had hoped, but all was not lost.

I was left with the Dream Giver, the one who loves me, longs for my good, and will never leave me for dead. He was behind the scenes, working everything for good. He was with me and for me, leading me all the way. There was never a moment when I had to fight for the dream on my own. We were in it together, partners every step of the way. He was kind to me. He held me. And I found abundant life tucked in His presence.

In the end, I wanted Him more than the dream.

In our lives, we will experience dreams dying, dreams being resurrected, and dreams becoming a reality. Through it all, may the Dream Giver always be the One we long for—more than our dreams, more than our plans; may the Dream Giver be the One we are after.

I promise you this: the One who created us will always be enough for us. As we place Him on the throne of our lives, we can run toward our dreams with the Dream Giver, never apart from Him. He is the Giver of the dream, our Partner as we pursue the dream, and the One who gives us the victory.

To dream is to trust God with our destiny and live a life worthy of the calling that has been placed upon us. Each and every one of us was born to dream. You and I were built for a much larger capacity than we imagine; we are stronger than we think we are.

And let me assure you of this: you are probably doing a better job than you think you are. The Dream Giver delights in you, loves you, and will never leave or forsake you.

You are the dream of His heart. You are what He is after.

Your life is so very precious to Him. He wants more than anything to draw you in, love you, strengthen you, and unleash you to reach the dreams He has placed within you.

“I desire you more than anything on earth…How good it is to be near God!” Psalm 73:25, 28

Excerpt from She Dreams: Live the Life You Were Created For Copyright © Abingdon Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Why does God sometimes answer us immediately, and other times, we pray and pray and see nothing for months or even years?

There are two things about God and prayer I find to be helpful to remember. The first is found in Daniel 9:23. It says, “The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.”

Sometimes we pray, and immediately a command goes out, and God places the answer to our prayer in our lives. Immediately God responds.

But there is a second example we find in the very next chapter, Daniel 10:12-13. The second prayer we see Daniel pray, is not answered immediately, and it’s interesting to read the reason.

Then he said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come to answer your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way.”

This verse is super important to understanding how prayer works, or, as it sometimes seems, is not working. Bible commentator Charles Ellicott says of this exchange:

Perhaps no single verse in the whole of the Scriptures speaks more clearly than this upon the invisible powers which rule and influence nations… From this chapter we not only learn that Israel had a spiritual champion (Daniel 10:21) to protect her in her national life, and to watch over her interests, but also that the powers opposed to Israel had their princes, or saviors, which were antagonists of those which watched over Israel. The “princes” of the heathen powers are devils, according to 1 Corinthians 10:20.1

In Daniel chapter nine, we see God answer immediately, and in Daniel chapter 10, we see Daniel’s answer is delayed due to the intervention of evil supernatural influences in the region at that time.

What is important to note is that both times, Daniel is loved by God.

A delay in this instance is not brought on by Daniel himself, but rather, is a reaction to the organization of demonic spirits in the supernatural realm.

Sometimes, it is not your turn, and it is also not your fault.

There is a real devil, and a real army of evil constantly organizing to delay your promise. So, we must learn as believers how to pray thoroughly.

Prayer is not a one size fits all experience, and God will answer and respond to you differently season by season.

But prayer does matter, and prayer does change things, and prayer does change us.

~ Excerpt from It’s Not Your Turn by Heather Thompson Day

1 By various writers. Edited by Charles John Ellicott, An Old Testament commentary for English readers, Charles Ellicott & Bible. Old Testament. English. Authorized. (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1882). https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/daniel/10.htm.

They’re called mother-in-law’s tongue, a green plant that flourishes in Florida. I’ve found it is something I really can’t kill. My lack of gardening skills has been the death sentence for so many beautiful plants, herbs, and flowers. This plant has thrived.

It has grown so much that the root system cracked the side of the terracotta pot. The longer I leave it, the wider the crack gets. Water gushes from the side, spreading dirt on the ground.

And yet it still thrives.

The broken pot is a reminder that something is no longer working. Brokenness, in general, is a reflection that the current reality is no longer good. Brokenness encompasses every area of life—things, people, ideas, attitudes, and relationships.

Just like my pot, brokenness in people can reveal things that we often don’t want to be seen by others. Inner pain drives our actions in ways that aren’t our usual behavior, displaying our unmet needs.

About a year ago, I went through a period where I felt like I bottomed out. COVID and the accompanying isolation played a lot into it. Zoom meetings gave me headaches. I’m an extrovert. Seclusion wasn’t working for me. Interestingly, the longer I was alone, the more I withdrew from others. I became non-communicative and sullen. When several of my children pointed out my behavior, I felt real shame.

That was not who I was.

Life tends to wear us down. But being broken by circumstances does not need to destroy us. When King David was struggling, he felt despair and hopelessness. But God.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18

David understood that God was on his side, ready to strengthen him, strong enough to support him no matter how extreme his troubles. When I was condemning myself for how I’d been acting, I remembered that God did not condemn me.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:1-2

We’re all broken pots, leaking the pain of our hearts in places we don’t choose.

But God finds beauty in our brokenness.

“When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Silence! Be still!’ Suddenly, the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39)

I woke up one Saturday morning with my “to-do” list racing in my head. Twenty minutes later, I fell back in bed with exhaustion. I had picked up a terrible stomach bug. Sleep felt like relief from my utter wretchedness.

The day passed in the shadows when suddenly my husband rushed into our room, alerting me, “Ruthie, I’m sorry to bug you, but I need help.” Instantly awake, I asked him a few key questions. I was shocked to see my stoic husband groaning in pain. I called 911 and desperately tried to convey his condition. Finally, when he could not stand upright, I hurried, grabbed his wallet and daily prescriptions, and called my 33-year-old stepson.

As I waited, I sensed “God’s calm” come over me.

Soon, EMTs arrived while I was talking to my stepson. After that, a team of paramedics arrived, and I was suddenly having three conversations simultaneously.

Amid the crisis, I still faced my severe stomach issues. But, as quickly as I could, I ran from my bathroom back to my husband as the paramedics asked important questions, tore open medical packages, and hooked him up to beeping machines.

A few minutes later, the paramedics whisked him out the door and away in the ambulance. Unfortunately, because of my illness, I could not go with him. I frantically prayed and depended on my stepson to update me.

Surgeons put in a stent. Then, a day after my own stomach flu passed, I finally saw him! Amazingly, he arrived home just 48 hours later. He is part of the 12 percent who survived this type of heart attack.

I name that entire experience “a storm of life.”

And through it all, I felt supernatural peace. It is the kind of peace that passes understanding and allows for a clear mind, when Jesus takes control.

So the next time a crisis surrounds you, take a moment and focus on Jesus to calm the storm in your life.

Be in the presence of Jesus and experience his calm.

What do you do when God doesn’t deliver you from hardship, even after He delivered you in the past? What do you do when you have faithfully prayed, but God is not responding as He has before? I have asked these questions myself many times.

I know He is able, but it looks like He is not showing up this time.

We love hearing stories of answered prayers and God’s miraculous intervention in someone else’s situation. We have faith. We are encouraged. We become bold.

We feel convinced that God will answer, but sometimes, we are utterly confused by His silence.

The first church in Philippi shares our experience. In Acts 15-16, we read about their miraculous stories of deliverance and a second chance at life. After being imprisoned in their Philippian jail, Paul and Silas started praying and praising God. Suddenly an earthquake shook the prison’s foundations and set all the prisoners free of their chains.

However, later, Paul is back in a different prison. And, while writing this letter to the Philippians, there is no “prison break.”

What is happening? Where is God this time?

I imagine that the Philippians not only fearfully miss their leader, but they are waiting in expectation to see him soon. They desperately hope to see him free as before.

Instead, Paul writes to tell them that the painful things that are happening to him—the beatings, the imprisonment, the false accusations, the chains—are for a good cause. Listen to what Paul says to them:

“And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14).

While Paul was in prison, the gospel was growing as people gained the boldness to share the message of Jesus!

When I am in pain, trauma, turmoil or affliction, my first response is often to worry. At most, I will pray for a way out of it. Yet, from Paul’s story, we see that when God is in it, He is using it for His glory.

Paul was even ready to die. However, he did not quit because he knew that his life was solely for glorifying God, whether alive or dead.

How about we pray and then let God work it out? How about we quit focusing on our painful circumstances and focus on how God works on us in them?

For even when we don’t see or feel it, God is still with us, and He is still at work.

Women from around the world are connecting with God in a personal way that speaks to their hearts!

Amanda leads a weekly small-group Bible study for international women on her college campus. When she learned of her.BIBLE at a ministry conference, she immediately knew that it would be just right for the women in her study. Amanda exclaimed:

“This app is in women’s voices, AND it’s multicultural! Women gravitate towards those who sound like them.”

Since attending the conference, Amanda has made her.BIBLE an integral part of their study.

As soon as Amanda offered the “her.BIBLE study” to Anuja, from India, and Novia, her Indonesian friend, they signed up. Then Sharon, a new Christian from China, joined. Later Jennifer, a Mexican believer with lots of questions, wanted to belong. Lastly, a woman from the Middle East decided to join.

Six women from six different countries are coming together to listen and study God’s Word in New York City!

The group began meeting every Wednesday to study the book of John while listening to her.BIBLE. At the beginning of each week, Amanda would send texts, assign passages and offer helpful suggestions:

“While you’re folding clothes, walking to class, going to a coffee shop—listen to the app, and let the Word get inside you.”

By Wednesday, every girl had listened to the Bible passage several times. In the past, when Amanda assigned Scripture to her previous group, they never opened their Bibles to read it, but now these women are excited about God’s Word!

Amanda concluded,

“As they’re listening to the Word throughout the week, they see the importance of being in the Bible each day. What I wanted the most was for the women to want to read the Bible, not just once a week, but to hold on to it throughout the week. And that’s what’s happening!”

Women worldwide are seeking meaning, struggling in their faith, and longing to know their true worth. Together, we can help them find Jesus!

Your gift of any amount will help provide the funding needed to complete the Old Testament production, find more women leaders like Amanda who are longing to share God’s Word, and seek out more listeners through the internet.

You can give online here.

Some days, life feels relentless, and God feels distant. Yet, as soon as I pull away from Him, Psalm 43 pulls me back.

Like the psalmist, I cry out, “For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside?” (Psalm 43:2a)

Darkness falls quickly, and the walls of the psalmist’s life close in. He has known the Lord intimately and experienced God’s steadfast love and presence, but now he feels rejected.

So what does the psalmist do? Rather than continuing to listen to himself and spiral downward, he starts talking to God. He says to the Lord, “Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.” (Psalm 43:3a)

The psalmist knows that God’s light and truth can lead him out of his darkness and lies.

This kind of darkness seems impossible to penetrate, and the lies that the enemy loves to whisper sound like the truth. Nevertheless, the psalmist knows the power of God, so he looks past his circumstances, asking God for what seems impossible. He begs for God’s light and truth to guide him.

After the psalmist talks to God, he then asks himself: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” (Psalm 43:5a) These are essential and revealing questions, because often, we can’t articulate our fears in a place of darkness.

But as soon as we articulate and face our fears, we can take hold of God’s vast promises that the Lord will walk with us through dark valleys (Psalm 23:4), will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), and will ensure the waves do not overwhelm us. (Is 43:2).

Lastly, the psalmist exhorts himself “to hope in God” (Psalm 43:5b). He trusts that God will bring him to a place of praise.

He chooses to tell himself the truth, based on who God is, rather than listen to himself, based on his fears.

So today, when life feels overwhelming, will you let God’s Word have the last word?

When we know we need to change, we need a mindset reset. We need to shift from a “fixed mindset” – where life is only a “pass or fail” – to a “growth mindset” that values learning from failure. Why?

Because embedded in the “growth mindset” is the concept of grace. You are not a disappointment to God or a hopeless case. Knowing that you are not perfect, but constantly growing, is a big exhale of relief.

Peter Denies Jesus

But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment, the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)

As I studied this story, I started wondering about Jesus’ face when he looked at Peter. I know how I might look if someone treated me the way Peter treated Jesus. The look on my face would be disappointment, disgust, or betrayal.

Thankfully, Jesus is not like me. Because he is always true to His own character, we know the look on Jesus’ face as He looked at Peter.

He gazed at Peter with love.

Jesus looked at Peter with love and grace when Peter was at his lowest point – the moment of his greatest failure.

Jesus looks at you and me with love and grace when we are at our weakest, most exhausted state. He sees our failures— every single one— that have led to our empty life and our reduced sense of self. Jesus knows them fully while reaching out to us with the boundless grace we need to step into real change.

He stands ready with a Redemptive Flip when we have already blown it. Every single time, he welcomes us back with grace and love just like he did for Peter. For Peter’s story did not end there. One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is in the last chapter of John, where Jesus redeems Peter’s denial.

To summarize, Peter denies Jesus. Jesus looks at Peter with love. Jesus is crucified. Jesus is resurrected. In his grief, Peter goes fishing.

Suddenly, Peter sees a man on the shore. He flings himself out of the boat towards Jesus. In that moment, Peter turns away from his denials into the love and grace of Jesus. Peter’s glorious story encourages us too.

When we turn to embrace grace to live our one life well, Jesus is there looking at us with love.

The Psalms have been my go-to in every stage of life. Maybe it is because of my love of poetry and music. Or, it may be because of my Jewish heritage. Whatever the reason, I have found great comfort, encouragement, and wisdom within each chapter.

I have read and reread all 150 Psalms countless times, and each time have discovered new insights and nuggets of profound truth. I often find myself praying Psalm 91 or 139 over our children.

Listening to the Psalms can bring peace and comfort, as we find in Psalm 23,

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

He leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.

Your road and your staff protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings,

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,

And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

When the sea of life is raging and swirling around you, simply pray, “Lead me beside peaceful streams.”

When you feel burdened and overwhelmed by the circumstances of life, simply pray, “Let me rest in green meadows.”

When all seems dark, and discouragement raises its ugly head, cry out, “Renew my strength!”

And the Good Shepherd will hear and answer because He is good and faithful and full of grace.

He offers each of us a gracious invitation to cry out any time, any place, anywhere with the confidence that He indeed will hear your voice.

Taken from, He Hears Her Voice, by Candy Marballi

I had just made new friends. Now it was time to move again. As a military child, my life revolved around leaving one city and starting again in another. During my elementary school years, I felt the security of attending school on the military base. But, I had to venture out for my middle and high school and mix with students who had been together since kindergarten. With their cliques already established, newcomers had a hard time fitting in.

I desperately tried to join all the “popular” groups in my urgency to belong. The athletes. The smart kids. The rowdy crowd. Yet, it wasn’t long before they discovered I was an “imposter.” I was quickly ousted and labeled some kind of misfit.

My childhood memories of being left out resurfaced. My longing to belong was strong, and I mixed in with the world until the shame of my sins was unbearable. I sought Christ’s forgiveness and chose to only belong to him.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. ~ Colossians 2:13

I soon discovered that my challenges as a military child prepared me, in part, for my adult life as a Christian. Once I became obedient to God’s standard of living, I was again left out. It hurt when my coworkers did not invite me to gatherings at their homes when they knew I wouldn’t party with them. At lunchtime, I hurried to my office to eat alone at my desk. No one wanted to sit with me after I didn’t join in their gossip or cursing. I even choked back tears at church after being passed over for an opportunity because I defended a fellow believer.

I have since learned that the Bible speaks of many left out, even injured and killed, because they refused to blend in with others. Even Jesus was criticized for hanging out with undesirables and sinners.

Now, as I grow stronger in my faith, I know Jesus is always with me even when people walk out of my life or leave me out.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. ~ Psalm 27:10