Saturday, November 30, 2013
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
This is not easily accomplished, especially during this time of year, but we can have peace when we put everything in perspective and pray. Though a challenge, God helps us to achieve peace when we follow what He instructs. This is not just a glib solution. It takes mental concentration, self-control, discipline and trust in God. I have seen this principle; giving everything to God, work in some of the most difficult circumstances. Here's just one example from the book When God Speaks: 40 Days and Nights Of His Promises:
A couple of years ago, I received a phone call that robbed my peace of mind about a job I was promised. The voice on the other end sounded apologetic, though curt.
“I’m sorry, but the position has been filled.”
I was stunned and stammered, “But I was told I had the job.”
After my tears stopped flowing, and I finished complaining about the injustice of it all, I took stock of my situation. It wasn’t God’s fault that a technical issue got in the way of my employment. He still loved me. In addition, I had three healthy children, a husband with a job, a nice home (albeit lots of bills), and most importantly a loving God to lean on. These were things I could certainly thank God for, and so I did. I prayed daily and kept claiming His promises, especially those that focused on His provision and peace.
And He kept His end of the bargain. Six months later I had a job, but more importantly I gained a new peace of mind. In myself I could never possess this kind of peace. It surpassed my own understanding, and guarded my heart and mind against bitterness, jealousy and anxiety. My three big struggles...
When I finally got a new job, it was something I had wanted to do again—teach art. I was surprised at the opportunity. The salary was better than my last position and it made up for the time I was out of work. I saw God’s hand in the whole situation, bringing me to a deeper relationship with Him.
I learned to trust in Him and gave Him my worries. In return, He gave me His peace. I don’t know any better exchange than that! (You can’t buy that on Wall Street’s Securities and Exchange.)
Today I still have my job, but my husband doesn't. He is struggling with Lyme disease and lost his job for other reasons. So I'm brought back to a similar place. My struggles and strains are a bit different areas because God is reaching deeper into my soul and asking me "Do you really trust Me in this area?" I have to go back and lean on His promises again and again and again. Hopefully He's digging out more and more junk in my life, so my peace won't be so fragile, but endure through all types of circumstances. Perhaps you are in a similar place. If so, I challenge your this Christmas season to really lay hold of this verse and journey though the land of God's peace and promises.
If you enjoyed this post and want to know more of His promises and how they apply to your own life, you might be interested in When God Speaks: 40 Days and Nights of His Promises. The kindle version is on sale for $1.99 until Dec. 7th @ http://tinyurl.com/okj6d9p
Posted by Anita Estes at 7:25 AM
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Looking over what I've written in When God Speaks I'm challenged by my own words:
True contentment can only be achieved through knowing Jesus as our Shepherd. He is the only One who can fulfill our deepest desires. Our constant wanting is often indicative of how spiritually bankrupt we’ve become. All of us are looking to be filled; some recognize their true needs, while others cover it up with more and more things. In order for Christ to satisfy, we must admit our spiritual poverty and recognize our need for a shepherd.
For a shepherd to lead, the sheep must watch and follow where He goes. Where does the Good Shepherd lead us? Beside still waters, to green pastures, and places of restoration. Refreshment of the spirit is the result of following the Good Shepherd. He fills us with many spiritual blessings as presented in these promises—peace, love, joy, health, true happiness, riches and an eternal reward. In contrast, the path of materialism often leads to greed and jealousy. In Christ our Shepherd, all our deepest desires are met—the need for love, affirmation, a sense of purpose and eternal life. On the other hand, materialism often leaves a person feeling empty inside, full of greed and jealousy.
While I don't consider myself a materialistic person, that is not the only area where we need to develop a heart of contentment and gratitude. I often grumble about small things: having to do the dishes, clean the house, get up early for work; while I'm thankful for the blessings of God, family, home and job. But God is challenging me not to grumble even about the small things, but to develop and attitude of gratitude no matter what I'm going though. A challenge for sure! But as I follow the Shepherd where He leads, He shows me where I am lacking and how much I need Him, then he leads me to a place of contentment, not only on the mountain peaks with Him, but in the depths of the valley where real life happens: at work, at home, in the car, on the phone, in the kitchen and wherever else I might be. So where's your place of challenge? Where are you lacking gratitude? Ask God to show you and give you the grace to follow in his footsteps, day by day. Not only on Thanksgiving.
Posted by Anita Estes at 5:22 PM
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Valerie Howard lives in Maine with her husband, their toddler, and two insane beagles named Pepper and Tucker. She has been writing since the second grade and reading and writing have always been her passion. She seeks to show how good God is through every book she writes. Valerie now has nine children's books, two women's fiction books, a "how-to" book, a children's Christmas play, and a compilation book coming soon!
Avalon is an allegorical novella, written in the spirit of Pilgrim's Progress, that follows a young slave girl through her unbelievable journey of escape from the slave yard. Fairytale meets reality as each symbol reminds the believer of how God has done the same in their personal lives when He rescued them from slavery to sin. Readers will relate to Mara's feisty attitude and die-hard spirit as she faces the many challenges that come her way.
Here's a short interview:
What made you want to write an allegory?
I wanted to paint a picture of what the salvation story really looks like from our perspective. I think what made me want to make it a medieval theme was the fact that God is called the King of Kings, and Jesus is called the Prince of peace, so the allegory fit better into a Kingdom kind of setting.
What do you want your readers to take away from this book?
I want anyone who reads this book to understand how great God is for saving sinful souls. I want people to think about the fact that God could have left us to ourselves, but instead chose to rescue us from the slave yard and pour His undying love on us, even though we could never deserve it or earn it on our own.
Anything else we should know?
I intentionally made the main character look like me in physical appearance, because I know that I once was lost, but now I'm found. This is my story, as it is every believer's story, and it can be your story too!
Here is an excerpt from Valerie's book, Avalon
"Adelaide awoke to a tremendous crash of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning. Deaf and blind for the moment, Adelaide frightfully wondered if she had been struck. But as the second and third claps of thunder made their way into her ringing ears, she realized that she was still unharmed— though perhaps not for long.
Then came the rain. Adelaide soon discovered a hole in the carriage’s roof that was allowing a torrential amount of water to seep inside. The carriage stopped rolling abruptly, and Adelaide worried that one of the horses had been injured, or Prince Justinius himself was hurt. Somehow, worrying about the Prince’s well-being seemed unnecessary, so Adelaide didn't dwell on that thought for very long before another deafening roar of thunder made her teeth vibrate. The rain was coming down harder now. After realizing she had been keeping her eyes tightly shut, Adelaide opened them and quickly ascertained that the last flash of lightning had struck the carriage. Now one of the door’s curtains was on fire and waving wildly in the howling wind.
Panicking, and with a racing heartbeat, Adelaide screamed, “Prince! Prince! Help! Please help!”
Thunder boomed and lightning struck simultaneously. Adelaide glanced out her window as a giant tree come crashing down next to the road.
Adelaide turned toward the back of the carriage, repeatedly dodging the flaming curtains, and watching the fire rapidly spread to the wooden carriage walls. She took a step backwards, inhaled a deep breath of smoky air, and shouted again.
“Please, Prince, help! Fire! Fire! Help!”
The rain drowned out her voice before it could reach her own ears. No answer. Thunder rolled. Lightning lit up the sky over and over again. Had the Prince abandoned her? Had he seen the flaming fabric and decided that she wasn’t worth the risk?
Adelaide was in hysterics. She felt around the smoke-filled carriage for a dish to collect the rainwater in. She planned to try to douse the raging fire enough for her to make it through the doorway. As she struggled to keep breathing, she reached for the silver bowl on her table. As soon as she set it on the floor and watched it begin to fill with water, she heard something crack above her. She looked up just in time to see a large piece of wood from the carriage’s ceiling sailing through the air. The splintered beam struck Adelaide square on the cheekbone. Searing pain shot straight through to the back of her skull as she was knocked down to the floor. At the very moment when she knew she couldn't take another second of panic or coughing, two strong arms wrapped tightly around her and everything went black.
Avalon is available at Amazon
You can also visit her at her website.
Posted by Anita Estes at 6:31 PM
Saturday, September 28, 2013
There are many things we can put our hope in—a better job, a good marriage, a dream vacation or winning the lottery. Some of these may come true, but they are mere wishes. Hope that bounces along the tides of our desires is merely a bubble that can pop at any time. True hope is different.
Hope that is based on the Word of God is an anchor of the soul. Its life emanates from the Creator to the created. As God breathed life into Adam, so the Holy Spirit breathes spiritual life into us. As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in her timeless poem, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers.” It gives wing to our innermost yearnings. Yet hope that is anchored in the Christian faith is not a flighty creature. It not only promises a return, but delivers one.
As in years past, many Christians today are persecuted and tortured in other countries. They have endured starvation, beatings, imprisonment and even death, but their hope shines forth because of the grace of God. I met such a blessed one at a writer’s conference.She shared with the audience her story of cruelty and captivity. While it was a heart rendering and painful one, there was hope in her eyes as she shared. The seeds of her faith sprouted while in prison, and she grew in perseverance and character. Hope grew within her even in desperate circumstances, as she prayed for a miracle to be set free. Then she explained that she was miraculously released because of a clerical mistake, and now appears before Congress on behalf of her imprisoned brothers and sisters in Christ.
Her hope of freedom was not wishful thinking; it was rooted in Christ.
Even if she had remained jailed or her body starved to death, her hope rested in the promise of everlasting freedom. As the verse says, “Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” If our hope is rooted in God’s love, everything that comes our way can be transformed…trials and tribulations become tools for hammering out perseverance, which forms character and yields hope—a hope that takes flight on the wings of God’s eternal and steadfast love. And that’s not a bubble that bursts.
If you are interested in learning more about the persecuted church, you can find information from Voice of the Martyrs or Open Doors.
Posted by Anita Estes at 6:04 PM
Monday, September 2, 2013
Throwing the Ball
I'm taking all this sorrow Lord,
and rolling it into one big ball,
I'm bouncing it high
till it reaches the sky
throwing it all to you, Lord
to You, Lord.
Watch out,Lord,here it comes
like the big,yellow sun,
spinning through the sky at day
Catch it God, it's heading Your way
I'm bouncing it high to reach the sky,
to you Lord,
to you Lord.
All my problems,
rolled into one
All my sadness and sickness too
I'm giving it Lord
All to you--all to You!!!
I'm taking all this disappointment Lord,
and rolling it into one big ball,
I'm bouncing it high
till it reaches the sky
throwing it all to you, Lord
to You, Lord.
All this hurt that stains my heart
All this fate that drains my heart
I'm rolling it all into
One big ball
and bouncing it across the floor
to you Lord,
to you Lord.
You've got your eye on me I know!
Now watch this ball as I throw
I know you can...catch it Lord
It's closer,God, watch the board.
I'm throwing it now to You, Oh Lord
to You, Lord,
(Casting all our burdens on Him, knowing that He cares for you!)
Posted by Anita Estes at 1:10 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2013
My mood was as tempestuous as the weather, so I spilled out my emotions about my husband all over my friend. So many jumbled feelings rose to the surface. A storm brewed in my heart over my troubled marriage. Though I had brought them to the Lord earlier that morning, I needed someone to sort through the mess. Her answers heightened my fears, so I fell overboard into the raging sea. I hung up the phone in despair.
I needed to do something, anything, so I ripped into the closet with gusto. I dragged the box marked for memories into the hallway and started tossing items in there. With each picture and my children’s tokens of affection, my heart broke a little more. I had already confronted empty nest syndrome, but my failing marriage accented it. Who was in the wrong for all these troubles we faced? My husband had lost his job due to indiscretions, and now he lay on the couch with Lyme disease. But the problems ran deeper still.
The storm tossed sea of my emotions drove me out of the house into the car. A temporary break in the rain helped me escape to do errands. Yet what I desperately needed was some good Christian council. Coincidentally, I ran into a friend at the bank who had some good insight into our marriage. God’s providence, but my emotions still ran high. I felt abandoned by my husband whose tendency was to withdraw from me and the family. Who would still this disquieted heart of mine?
A good night’s sleep and the comfort of the Lord the next morning parted the clouds. The words of the Psalmist David eased my pain. “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly… Blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (Psalm 84:11 & 12). The best thing I could do was to trust the Lord with my marriage and its difficulties. I had to believe this and keep my eyes focused on Jesus rather than my circumstances. Yesterday, I looked at the raging water and fell in because I listened to this world’s vain philosophies. I didn’t want to be blind to my husband’s emotional problems and considered an enabler. But God knew I had not been doing this, but loving my spouse unconditionally while drawing from God’s grace. He parted the black cloud that hung over me when I realized this anew. I would also need to continue to trust God for the future.
Though we’ve been married thirty-five years and went to several marriage counselors, our basic personalities are so different that we often experience conflict. I realized once again that only God can help us work out our differences. I also had to take a good, hard look into my messy closet and recognize what’s out of order. When my needs aren’t being met in our marriage, I can get a little pushy. My husband then withdraws, which hurts me more. For years I’ve buried myself in my children, friends or work and had to look to Jesus as my spouse. But now with my children gone and my spouse always home, there are few distractions.
How then can this marriage work with so many issues to resolve? I have to die to my selfish desires and look to Jesus to fulfill me. I can’t look to friends or having fun or to my children, but only to Him to meet my deepest needs. Not that the above things are wrong, they aren’t, but they will only satisfy temporarily. Only Jesus can fill me up when I empty myself. So here I am Lord waiting on You. He tells me, “Open your mouth, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). He’ll pour out buckets of living water into my dry and thirsty heart when I open myself to Him. If I let Him, He will wash away the emotional dirt in the inner chambers of my heart, throw away the junk and reorganize it according to His priorities. It may take some painful tearing apart, but it will create a clean heart, one like His. Then when we stand before the one who calmed the seas, He will recognize the clean sweep of His hands.
Posted by Anita Estes at 5:07 PM
Monday, July 22, 2013
I’ve been able to travel four times to Europe and this was my third trip to Italy, but it wasn’t always this way. For years I was a stay at home Mom and hardly left the county, never mind the state or the country. I longed to dig my toes into foreign soil and in recent years I’ve been able to visit many islands and places that I once dreamed about. I feel richly blessed. But is that all there is to this traveling gene that I most likely inherited from my grandfather who spoke over seven languages? What is it that prompts me to these adventures? Does God have any place in this?
Indeed He does. While some of my trips were specifically geared for missions to Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador, others were simply for enjoyment, or were they? If I look back and trace some of my exploits I can see God connections all over the place—like the time my guardian angel rescued me from a dangerous situation in Spain and the time I prayed for the older women traveling with her grandchildren in Bermuda and my recent trip to Italy.
My sister had a dream that I would show her around Florence and see the amazing basilicas, museums and art treasures. I agreed and helped plan the side trips to Sienna, Perugia, Assisi and Venice. It was on this trip that I discovered the Old World globe. The basilica in Sienna swept me off my feet artistically and I felt God’s presence, but I really saw the hand of God in Venice.
My sister and I had just finished touring one of the sights of la Biennale de Venzia World Art Show. A young lady approached and asked for directions and I gave them to her. He asked if she could join us for a while and we agreed. We discovered that she had been traveling for two months on her own from Australia. We hit it off really well because she was also an artist and teacher like me, so we asked her to join us for lunch. After a few minutes of learning about each other she began to open up about her situation at home. She had been traveling by herself to try to sort out a difficult situation concerning her sister’s daughter who she adopted. I knew immediately that this was a God appointment. Though my sister never adopted any children, she did help raise one of her teenage nephews and was able to give good advice to this young woman.
I was able to encourage her that God had seen her situation and had brought us to her. She agreed. We didn’t part company until exploring more of the art show together and we exchanged names and e-mails. We also learned that both her mother and father had died recently, and she was going to visit her relatives in Italy. I told her I would pray for her and I am. I believe God cares deeply for this young woman and put us in her path. There are more stories of other people we met and were able to encourage because God is always at work, connecting people together, whether we’re at work or on vacation. We just need the eyes to see and be willing to take the time to do as He directs, whether it’s listening to a friend or stranger and being sensitive to their needs. There are God appointments waiting for us in every corner of the earth!
Posted by Anita Estes at 11:12 AM