My Special Mother’s Day Shopping Trip

by Evelyn Horan

shopping“Dad, I’m on my way now,” I called hurriedly, trying not to show how anxious I felt that Saturday morning as I peeked in the kitchen doorway.

“All right, Emma,” Dad said, standing at the counter scraping carrots for a vegetable soup. “Hope you can find something. It’s really not good to wait until the last minute,” he reminded.

“I know, Dad,” I agreed. “I hope I can find something, too!”

I had to shop in a short time. I needed a special Mother’s Day gift for my mom and a nice card. But, I didn’t have much savings. Would I have enough money?

When I arrived at our neighborhood shopping mall a few blocks away, I remembered that department stores are more expensive, so I decided to look in a “penny-saver” store first. I walked up and down the long rows of aisles, but nothing was right for my mom. I couldn’t find anything like a Mother’s Day gift there.

“Now what am I going to do?” I wondered, as I walked outside and leaned against the storefront window. I tried to think.

I remembered a Christian bookstore a few blocks from the shopping mall. “But probably everything is expensive, and I’ll have taken a long walk for nothing.” I felt really nervous. When I calmed down a bit, I could still feel an inner urge, almost like a kind of quiet voice, telling me to shop at the Christian bookstore for my mom. So I took a deep breath and began walking.

When I entered the store, I went up to the smiling saleslady at the counter. Then I noticed a gold cross on a chain in the glass counter case.

“I guess they’re pretty expensive,” I said, hesitantly.

“They’re l4 karat gold,” she said, “but we’re overstocked, and we’ve just marked them down to $l5.99.”

“Really?” I exclaimed, happily. “Could you please wrap that one as a Mother’s Day gift for me?” I pointed to the gold cross.

“Why, of course, young lady, I’ll be glad to,” the saleslady said smiling.

“Thank You, God for helping me find Mom a nice Mother’s Day present,” I whispered.

While waiting for my package, I browsed along the shelves of books in the young people’s section. I found an interesting and informative book about the lives of Old Testament heroes that included Moses, Noah, and Sampson and others. It had many beautiful, colored pictures. I wanted to buy it for myself.

“Later,” I told myself, “I’ll buy the book after I’ve earned some more allowance.”

Then, across the aisle I saw the greeting cards. Wonderful! I didn’t know the Christian bookstore sold greeting cards.

Looking closer, I found a perfect Mother’s Day card for my mom. Inside it told my mom how much I loved her, and it asked God’s blessing on her life for years to come.

“Thank You, God,” I murmured, happily. “Two special favors in a half hour!”

As I left the store with my mom’s Mother’s Day gift wrapped in a big gold colored bow, along with my special greeting card in a bag, I had to hold myself back from skipping and racing joyfully all the way home! I even had some allowance money left over.

While Dad and I enjoyed a bowl of his tasty vegetable soup for lunch, I told him about my shopping experience and about the gentle voice that encouraged me to go to the Christian bookstore to shop.

“Emma, do you have any idea Who might have helped you today?” Dad asked with a little smile.

“That’s easy, Dad,” I said quickly. “It had to be the Holy Spirit. I’m sure of it. Things worked out too perfectly. Isn’t it neat, Dad, how God can be real in your life?!”

“Yes, Emma, He’s always there when we need Him”

“And I want to go back and buy a beautiful picture book for myself, telling all about the lives of many Old Testament heroes. I’m hoping to buy it when I earn more allowance money .”

“Hmm,” Dad said thoughtfully. “ Because you are being careful with your allowance and trying to budget wisely, how would you like it if I bought the book for you as a special gift from Mom and me for being such a thoughtful young woman? And you can continue to save your allowance money for other special things you’d like.”

“Oh that would be wonderful,” I cried happily. ” And now, I even have enough money left over from shopping today to put in the offering basket at Church on Sunday as my way of thanking God for His help today.”

“Wonderful,” Dad said. “You are being one of God’s good stewards. Let’s go back to the store for the book after lunch. We don’t want the book to be sold too quickly. So, I’ll drive you in the car.”

I gave my dad a big hug. “Thanks, Dad,” I said. “I’ll clean up the soup dishes right away. And, Dad, I’ll do the dinner dishes tonight too, I promise.”

“All right, Emma,” Dad said, smiling. “Sounds good to me.”

Grace in a Soup Bowl: How God healed my obsession with perfection

Grace in a Soup Bowl: How God healed my obsession with perfection

by Tiffany Dawn

angel soupGrowing up, I never felt quite up to par. I was hard on myself. If I got a 98 on an exam, I’d cry because it wasn’t perfect. If I messed something up, I’d fix it or go crazy trying.

The other day I was reminded of my past perfectionism when I dropped my bowl of tomato soup on our ceramic kitchen floor. (Typical me.) Glass went flying in a thousand directions and red splotches appeared all over the floor.

When I was in college, I felt like that bowl of tomato soup: Broken. Messy. Unworthy. I had lost control of my life and was exploding into a million pieces.

It all started my freshman year, with the most wonderful guy I had ever met. He was a youth leader, worship leader…and super cute! Love at first sight would be an understatement. But underneath his perfect resume, warning bells were ringing – bells I chose to ignore.

He told me that he had a hard time falling in love with me, because his ex-girlfriend was so much prettier than I. When I asked why, he said it was because my face was crooked. I started losing weight from a body that was already at a normal, healthy weight, and he rejoiced over every pound I lost. To top it all off, he had a certain way he wanted me to dress and do my hair. If I didn’t keep it together at all times, he’d become withdrawn. Or just leave.

I couldn’t make myself perfect enough for him, no matter how hard I tried. And that killed me inside. So I figured that maybe, just maybe, if my boyfriend thought I was too skinny, it would mean I was good enough for him.

Thoughts of weight and food swirled through my mind as I began to drown in disordered eating. My weight dropped too low, but never felt low enough.

When I ended the relationship with my boyfriend, I reached my breaking point.

Did the unthinkable.

Walked into the bathroom, knelt down over the toilet. Tried to make myself throw up.

But I couldn’t do it. And I hated myself for that.

I sat there on the floor like a broken soup bowl. I didn’t cry, didn’t know where to begin. I felt numb, angry, disappointed, frustrated. Like the ultimate failure.

I was determined to fix myself. Day in and day out, I resolved to get my eating habits under control. When I failed over and over, I spiraled deeper. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t fix myself. I desperately needed help.

When I spilled my tomato soup this week, the strangest thing happened as I knelt down to wipe up the soup stains. My little sister walked in, picked up the broom, and started sweeping. Mom came in to make sure no glass had bounced up onto the counter (which happens with our ceramic tiles). Dad went to find the vacuum.

I knelt there, looked around, and said, “I dropped the bowl; I should clean it up!”

My sister responded, “Tiff, when this happens to me, I love it when people help me clean up.”

What a beautiful picture of the grace of God! How many times have I said, “I’ve got this God. I made the mess; I’ll get myself out of it!”

I can hear Him saying: “Tiffany, let me help you. Let me kneel with you in the broken shards of glass, let me pick them up. Let me wipe up what’s spilled and mend what’s broken. Let me hold you while you cry. I already paid the price for your mistakes, you don’t have to try to re-pay it. Just come and stay close to me. I’m less concerned with whether or not you’re ‘good enough.’ I just want you to stay close enough to me.”

That’s exactly how He responded as I knelt with the broken pieces of my heart laying around me. He paid the price for my mistakes; He died to set me free. He healed the hurt that spilled over from my ex-boyfriend. He mended my heart and made me whole.

It was a long healing process – longer and more painful than I ever wanted. But I wouldn’t trade that journey for the world, because letting Him hold me in my brokenness brought me closer to Him. I began to see Him for who He was, as my gracious, loving Father. I began to see who I was, based on who He said I was. Slowly He taught me how to walk in freedom from my disordered eating and obsession with perfection.

God taught me that He loves me not because I’m good enough, but because I’m His daughter. Now I live in the freedom of that revelation.

I’ve stopped trying to clean up my own messes. I know I need help. So when my sister comes with the broom, she can have at it! And when my heavenly Father comes with His grace to pour over my mistakes, I will gratefully receive it. I’ve learned that this life is not about being good enough; it’s about staying close enough.

Amazing how He reminds us of His grace even through broken soup bowls.

To hear the rest of Tiffany’s journey to freedom, check out The Insatiable Quest for Beauty book and visit www.tiffany-dawn.net.

Break Your Silence

Break Your Silence

by Nadia Gyane

lipsThere will be times when you will need to speak up. When you will need to tell people of the good things that God has done in your life on purpose. There are times that the ministry of keeping quiet will not be in operation and the ministry to declare and reveal what God has done in your life will be called into action.

There are times to speak up, and be bold in what God has delivered to you, even if it means that people may not be pleased, because they expected it first. Speak up because with every testimony you are helping someone stay in faith. You are helping someone to continue trusting in God and you are helping God and yourself by releasing and telling people what He has done in your life. Silence does not glorify God when it comes to Him blessing your life. So be ready to speak up and out, about the good things that have happened to you and that you have received. Nothing should be too small or too big. If it was an answer to prayer say it, if it put a smile on your face declare it, if it kept you from danger preach it.

All you have to do is break your silence.

Lift Up Your Eyes

Lift Up Your Eyes

by Kelsia Lynette Barkman

Driving along, watching the yellow lines stretch out in front of me, taking in the deep blue sky without a cloud in sight…lovely surroundings.
My heart should’ve been singing, my lips smiling and praising God. I should’ve been excited about life and wanting to embrace it, instead I felt like giving up. My heart was heavy.

Walking along, watching the gravel stones blur beneath my feet as tears run down my cheeks, struggling to be strong…the sun is radiant, the sky is stretched out in blue but my heart is heavy.

Laying in the still of the night with my head down and tears coarsing down and soaking my pillow, wanting to hold on to the things I love and not wanting to give up…I feel the weight of a heavy heart.
At the dusk of eve and sitting outside, clinging tight to the sweetness of today and not wanting to embrace the newness of and challenges of tomorrow…I cry again.

It is in these moments when He speaks, “Lift up your eyes. I am your strength and hope. I see your tears. I feel your pain. I love you with overflowning love.”

In these moments, don’t give up. Lift up your eyes, you may face challenges, sorrows, tears and trials; but know this, you will never face them alone.

Who Are You Listening To?

Who Are You Listening To?

by Crystal Kelly

sitting under tree, listeningJohn 5:31-32 (NIV) If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that His testimony about me is valid.

The word testimony is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a firsthand authentication as a fact. John 5:31-32 are the words of Christ Himself. He knew that man’s testimony would only be based on outward appearances and not on heart facts. Besides that Christ knew that man’s mind was in a fractured state so any opinion or declarations made by man were likely to change. Jesus understood who He was and where He came from. He understood that God’s testimony about Him was the only one He needed to validate His life and His purpose.

Why don’t we all follow in Jesus’ footsteps? We are in a process of continual growth to have ourselves defined by mistakes through growth is a false testimony. Instead of lending our eyes and ears to what man has to say about us, let us fall on our knees before God and receive His testimony about our lives. God’s plans for us are still being unveiled. We are a masterpiece in the working. As I heard a great woman say, “Masterpieces take time so there’s no hurry”. There is no hurry only precious time spent between you and your God.

Allow God’s love to pull you from beneath the testimonies of man and into His everlasting light. For in His light you will be able to see your true reflection. The beautiful individual God has created you to be. The more you listen to the testimony of man about your life the more you will shape your purpose towards man’s expectations, which are constantly changing from day to day. God has a set course for your life and He will lead you into everything you need. If God has ordained it or spoken it over your life you will succeed. Start today by closing your ears to what man has to say about you and open up your heart to hear what God has to say and keep it before you daily. Write it down and look at it every day it will become more and more real to you as you allow God to lead.