How To Thrive For 24 Hours

6:21 am Wendy van Eyck 16 Comments

{Guest Devotional by Alison Lam}

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. 2 Corinthians 9:8 (TM)
God's grace is enough
photo credit: nicksarebi via photopin cc | Design: Wendy van Eyck

I’m a feeler and a thinker. 

I feel things deeply and intensely, and I am continually thinking about things (sometimes way too much). 

There’s always a dialogue going in my head, where I’m pondering things from the present day, things from the past or things that are around the corner in the future. 

It seems that my heart and mind are always awake, with just the occasional mental “nap” and reprieve. I’m pretty sure my brain keeps going even when I’m sleeping, because I’m quite an active dreamer.

I’ll also admit that I’m an “all-or-nothing” kind of person. 

This means that I’m a little dramatic. I’m one of those people that either jumps in fully with enthusiasm or I just seem to give up and get discouraged.

Growing up, the word my mother would have used to describe me was ‘intense’. 

I feel things intensely: intense joy and intense despair.

It can be gloriously beautiful to live with such an intensity and passion, but it can also get a little out of control! A little tiring! A little burdensome! While some others may live in a naturally carefree, relaxed, “chilled out” way, I have had to intentionally work at relaxing, resting and trusting. I don’t come by it honestly…

It’s my natural inclination to take on the entirety of my life (past, present and future) and get really overwhelmed by all the unresolved things in my life, coming to the conclusion that:

“I just can’t do this anymore!”

“I can’t bear to carry this one minute longer!” 

“If _______ doesn’t change, I’m going to go crazy!”  

“I won’t survive one more day of ______!” 

“I’m going to be ______ forever!”

I get tripped up over the idea that something will never change, and that somehow it is going to go on forever. (<-- tweet this) 

I make the emotional decision that I’m at my wits end, that the situation is impossible and that I am unable to carry it any longer. Not one minute longer.

A few years ago, God interrupted this unhelpful pattern of mine and asked me a question that rocked me. It was so simple, yet so life altering. He asked me,

“Alison, could you accept this for just 24 hours? Not a lifetime, but just for 24 hours?”

He continued to pose the question in another way, 

“Alison, could you thrive for just 24 hours?” 

God’s question stopped me in my tracks. 

I was cornered. 

But somehow, I sensed real hope and peace would arrive at my doorstep if I could embrace His words.

I answered,

“Why yes, God, I really could bear this for just 24 hours. Accept it, yes. And… I think I could even thrive in this for 24 hours!”

A heavy burden was lifted off of me. 

I realized that if I just looked at the next 24-hours ahead of me, I could bear a great many things that before had seemed impossible. 

Not only that, but I realized that I could even thrive and flourish if I just took the grace and power for just one 24-hour period of time.

Let’s call it “one day grace”. 

It’s the tangible power of God in our hearts that we are given for just one 24-hour period at a time. 

It’s the only way that God likes to pours out His grace. 

He gives His power to us for one day, and then the next day we trust that He will give us the grace for that new day.

Someone who lives a life that thrives and flourishes, really is just simply someone that wakes up each new morning and says, 
“Yes, I can thrive for just 24 hours!” (<-- tweet this)

So, today, will you open your heart and open your hands to receive the “one day grace” that God longs to give you right now? Say yes to thriving for just 24 hours!

{About Alison Lam: The Author Of This Guest Devotional}
My pretend title is Missionary. My real title is Child of God. I'm a combo deal. Serious and silly. Deep and dorky. East meets West. I'm a "plant-roots-at-home" girl and a "go-ye-into-all-the-world" girl. I love everything to do with the heart of God and the heart of humanity and the transformation that happens when the two connect. I believe that the heart thrives in vulnerable expression, so that is why I write online at: http://alisonlam.com and on Twitter: @alisonjoyful

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God Never Kicks You When You're Down

10:44 am Wendy van Eyck 7 Comments

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:18 (NIV)

Hope in God lifts us up
photo: seyed mostafa zamani via photopin cc | Design: Wendy van Eyck
Ever experienced a moment when you realize your hope isn’t in God?

I experienced that last week. 

I was angry. I wanted to hit someone and at least yell at someone on the phone.

The medical aid had sent a letter to say they would not be paying for the chemotherapy treatment that my husband needed. 

I felt like the medical aid were killing my husband and I was not happy. 

It felt a lot like being kicked when you’re already down. 

Isn’t having a husband with cancer bad enough? Let alone having the medication he needs turned down.*

I thought of Job in those moments. I thought of how it must of felt to just have everything ripped away from you and then get sick on top of that. 

To be honest thinking of Job made me feel a little better because my life wasn’t that bad.

It also made me realize that my hope was misplaced. 

I’d been hoping in chemotherapy to heal my husband. Instead of putting my hope in God to do the best for me.

When I realized that it felt like I’d been kicked again. 

I thought of the friends that came and counseled Job in his misery, how one of them told him, “You will be secure, because there is hope”.

I wondered how I’d misplaced my hope, how I’d put it in something man does and not in God.

I’d felt so secure when I knew that my husband could have chemotherapy with a 80% positive outcome. It felt easy to have confidence in God then.

Then it was all ripped away. The crutch that I’d be calling hope was removed and I realized that I’d been leaning on medicine and not on God.

False hope kicks us when we're down, Hope in God reaches out and lifts us up. (<-- Click here to tweet this)

I prayed right there, that God would help me to put my hope in him and not in man. That God would teach me to place my confidence in him especially when trusting God is harder than hoping in what I can see. 

It was hard to pray those words. Hard to give up my hope in medicine but what peace came with putting my husband and myself back in his hands.

I think some days that’s all God wants from us. 

The Lord just wants us to have a quiet confidence in his promises even when we don’t feel like they can be true.

God doesn’t want a declaration that everything will be okay or that it’s not hard. (<-- Click here to tweet this)

God just wants us to believe that he can when we are sure that we can’t. 

The Lord wants us be secure in him and find our hope in him.

When we do we’ll discover the safest place is in God's arms.

We’ll also discover that when we hope in God it never feels like we’ve been kicked when we’re down.

Is there an area of your life where you’ve been putting your hope in something else instead of God? If not, please pray this: 
Lord Jesus, help me to put my hope in you and nowhere else. Show me how to place my confidence in you instead of what I can see. As I put my hope in you God please give me a peace in my heart that no matter what happens in your arms I am safe.

* For those of you following my husbands story. We contacted the medical aid the next day and they said the letter was a mistake and his treatment was approved. 

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When You Feel Alone

6:16 am Wendy van Eyck 6 Comments

I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b (MSG)

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc | Design: Wendy van Eyck
You are not alone. 

Whatever you are going through or how you feel or what you’ve been told: you are not alone.

It’s easy to feel alone isn’t it? 

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one going through something and that no one else will understand, easy to forget that the feeling of being alone is a lie.

Recently, I’ve been feeling alone. My husband and I were told his cancer is back and I felt like I was on my own. 

When I was at my worst God sent some people to encourage me, some people who told me they were there were for me.

They swooped in with offers to pray and bring food and told me their stories of how they made it through hard times and I realized I am not alone.

In James Prescott’s e-book, 5 Steps To Encouragement, he writes that the most encouraging thing a friend could have said to him when his mother died was, 
“I’m here for you.”

Four simple words that would have told him, “You are not alone”.

A sentence that breathes hope when one is gasping for air.

I think there is a reason that there are so many bible verses that tell us God is with us always and that he will never leave us and forsake us. 

I think there are so many because God knew that when we feel alone we will listen to the lies and believe we are alone.

God knew when we feel alone we might even think God has forsaken.

But there is a very important phrase hidden at the end of Matthew 28:20. 

A promise that Jesus will be with you as you go through hard things, feel terrible and wonder why you have been forsaken. 

Our assurance is this, Jesus has promised: I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day…

No matter what you are going through right now I want to encourage you that you are not alone. (<-- Click here to tweet this)

Even if you look around and see no one standing there, you can believe that you are not alone, that Jesus is there.

And if you’re on the other side, feeling supported and loved why not take a moment to reach out to someone and tell them, “I’m here for you.”

If you’re feeling alone today please share in the comments so we can encourage you and remind you that you are not alone.

5 steps to encouragement - James Prescott ebook


James Prescott is offering his e-book 5 Steps To Encouragement for FREE right now. So if you are needing to be encouraged, or to learn how to encourage, go download it now by clicking this link.




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What Have You Thanked God For Lately?

8:58 am Wendy van Eyck 3 Comments

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence…Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. Psalm 100:1-2 & 4 (MSG)
Thank you God
Photo, Words & Design: Wendy van Eyck

When was the last time someone sincerely thanked you for something you did?

I don’t mean a quick thank you after you passed someone water I mean a beautifully written note or email. Or someone coming up to and looking you in the eyes and saying, “thank you, what you did meant so much to me, it made a difference?”

Chances are the last time someone thanked you like that was a while ago. 

Most of us are not really good at thanking people. 

Even when we really appreciate something that has been done for us we don’t think of saying thank you. Or maybe we just don’t find the time to show our gratitude. 

This got me thinking that if we are this bad at thanking our friends and family how much worse are we at telling God how much we appreciate all that he’s done in our lives?

Sometimes I think we treat God a bit like someone bringing us a glass of water. We think that a quick “thank you” shows our gratitude.

But what would we do if we really wanted to show God gratitude for all he has done?

Psalm 100 gives us a few ideas of how we can thank God: 
We can stand up on our feet and just applaud him. 
We can laugh our thanks. 
Or sing out our gratitude. 
We can make ourselves at home in his presence. And speak out our praise. 

Let us become people who are really good at thanking God for all he has done for us. 

Take a moment today to thank God for one thing he has done in your life. Tell him you’re grateful, sing to your thanks, applaud him or paint him a picture. But whatever you do thank him!

If you've thanked God in a unique or different way recently. I'd love you to share it in the comments to inspire us!

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This devotional originally appeared on Gateway News

Does Your Relationship Status Define Your Life?

7:52 am Wendy van Eyck 6 Comments

Relationship status Corinthians 7:17
And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. 1 Corinthians 7:17a (MSG)

I stumbled across a friends profile on Twitter the other day. 

I hadn’t seen her for 10 years so was interested to see what she was up to. 

What I didn’t expect was that in her twitter profile she’d put: 
…Married…

What? 

Married?

I wasn’t surprised that she was married I was surprised that she wore it as a status symbol.

There is so much more to life than a relationship status. (<-- click here to tweet this)

There is so much more to live for than whether or not you have a ring on your finger.

I think too often we make things that aren’t really that important our focus. 

Relationships are one of those things we often do that too. 

1 Corinthians 7:17 is a verse that I’ve read almost daily for years - when I was single, dating or married. 

It is a reminder not to put small things (like relationships) in the place where the big things (like living, obeying, loving and believing) should be.

A prayer for those struggling with their relationship status
If you allow it to, this verse will remind you, that no matter where you are or who you are with, you are exactly where God wants you and in the best place for him to use you. 

If you are having a tough day today write this verse down, put it in your pocket and read it every chance you get. 

Then talk to God and ask him to show you how he would like you to live, obey, love and show your belief in him right now, where you are, with the people around you.

I think that what God really wants from us – married, single, divorced or in-between – is to be content with where we are and who we’re with. 

The key is to let God - not your marital status - define you. (<-- click here to tweet this)


Single? Married? Divorced? In-between? Who cares! God not your marital status defines your life. 

Prayer: God, sometimes I wish I was someplace else or with someone else but I’m realising that where I am right now is where you want me. Lord, show me how to live and obey and love and believe right here. Thank you God, that you - not my marital status - define my life.

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Photo Credits Clothes Pegs Jsome1 Flowers & Tree seyed mostafa zamani | Design: Wendy van Eyck

This One Is For The Caregivers… {Because (in)couragement Is A Superpower}

9:15 am Wendy van Eyck 8 Comments

Matthew 11:28
photo: Alfred Hermida via photopin cc | Design: Wendy van Eyck
I cried in the car on the way to work today.

It’s not an unusual thing for me either. 

I never thought I was a crier but then my husband was diagnosed with cancer and I tear up over almost anything. I rarely cry in public, but in my car when I’m singing worship music at the top of my lungs, I often find moisture running down my cheeks. 

I also have been known to yell at my husband when his vomiting has kept me up all night, and I’m really tired, and I just want to sleep. 

My husband and I would have starved last year while he was having chemo if it wasn’t for a constant supply of food from friends and ready-made meals from the store round the corner. 

When it comes to me being a caregiver I’m far from perfect, which is probably a relief to most of you, at least I hope it is. 

Caring for sick parents, husbands, friends or children is no easy task which is why when Lesley Miller (you can find out more about her on her blog) asked me if I would co-lead an (in)courager group with her for caregivers I thought

“Um, me? I cry, I yell, I eat other peoples food. What can I share?” 

Then it clicked. 

I can share my reality. 

I can share the real moments, the funny moments, the I’m-so-glad-I’m-here moments and the I-can’t-do-this-anymore moments.

So Lesley and I would like to invite our female readers who are caregivers, in one way or another, to connect with us on Facebook. You can request to join our Facebook page by clicking here.

We’ll be posting encouraging bible verses (like the one in the pic above), articles and thoughts to help you out when you feel like giving up. 

We’ll also be offering you grace on the days when you roll into work with puffy eyes, or when you shout at the person you’re meant to be caring for or when you just don’t have it in you to cook a meal.

But mostly I’m looking forward to hearing from you, discovering your stories and finding out what makes each day as a caregiver rewarding - even when it sometimes makes you cry, yell or eat someone else’s food. 

I hope you’ll join us!

About Me
In one-way or another I’ve been a caregiver my whole life. First with a mom who was in and out of hospital with a heart condition while growing up, then in my twenties my younger brother was diagnosed with Crohns Disease and had at least one op a year while we shared a flat. In fact if my husband hadn’t been one of the healthiest men I’d ever met, before his cancer diagnosis, I might think that I’ve got some kind of caregiver-dependency problem. Eight months after we married he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma so for the last year we’ve been coming to grips with chemo, scans and biopsies. He will be starting a second round of chemo in the next month as the first round wasn't successful. 

About Lesley

I reluctantly found myself in a caregiving role in October 2011 when my husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. At the time we were also caring for our first baby, Anna, who was three months old. For most of her first year of life I was learning to not only care for a baby, but also a husband whose health fluctuated depending on the week. At the time I knew I could benefit by talking to other women in a similar situation but I didn't know how to find them. I was really happy to help start a group this spring for other women who may need a support network. 

About (in)courager Groups
The (in)courager community groups exist to build safe, Christ-centered, welcoming, small groups for women through the (in)courage website and social media. With a variety of topics to choose from, the groups and your co-leaders are here to serve you, just as you are and where you are, in this season. We invite you to find a place that feels comfortable, where you can kick off your shoes, snuggle into the comfy couch and share your life with like-minded, Jesus-loving women around the world. It’s a place where you can grow in your friendships with other women and be encouraged to deepen your relationship with God. (in)courager groups will be led by a team of women who have a heart for serving. They aren’t experts, but have a willingness to walk with others and (in)courage them along the way. (You can find out more here)


(in)couragers

Jesus Would Do Anything To Take Your Pain Away

5:00 am Wendy van Eyck 18 Comments

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. John 3:16 (MSG)

Love offers itself
photo credit: * Cati Kaoe * via photopin cc | Design: Wendy van Eyck
“I can confirm it’s positive.”

That’s the phrase my husband and I heard from the doctor on Friday. 

At first I thought maybe positive meant he didn’t have cancer. 

Then the doctor said, “The biopsy showed that there are malignant cells. We will need to start the second round of chemo as soon as possible.”

We finished the conversation. Hung up the phone. And my husband just began sobbing.

The one thing we really didn’t want to happen had happened.

All I could do was hold him.

As we lay there, I kept thinking, “I’d do anything to take your pain away, anything so you didn’t have to go through this.”

Later that night as my husband and I chatted, I told him how I think God must have felt like that when he saw the pain, destruction and hurt that sin causes in our lives. 

It made sense to me why God sent Jesus. 

God sent Jesus because he was able to do something to take our pain, able to do something so we didn’t have to go through hell. 

That is what love does. 

Love offers itself in place of the one it loves. (<-- Click here to tweet this)

When Jesus hung on the cross and took my sin – our sin – on his shoulders, it was because of love.

It was because Jesus could actually do something when he saw brokenness in the world. 

God didn’t just say, “I’d do anything to take your pain away, anything so don’t have to go through this.” He actually did it. 

Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life. Amen.

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Trusting Even When God Doesn’t Give You A Sign

9:06 am Wendy van Eyck 2 Comments

{Guest Devotional by Ellen Williams}

“The Lord said to him, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites.  I am sending you.”  Judges 6:14 (NLT)

God has no limitations
photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc | Design: Wendy van Eyck
Sleep was unattainable.  

A 2 a.m. call from my oldest son to let me know he had been arrested six hours away from home left me baffled.  

I sought refuge and guidance from the Lord. 

I felt hopeless.  

As I read His promises I felt Him whisper “Ellen, this is not the worse that can happen.  Your son not knowing me is.  Trust Me and keep your focus on Me.”  

I thought maybe this would be my son’s rock bottom, and maybe this was what was necessary for him to turn his life around, and give it back to God.  

I then recalled some of the amazing testimonies I have heard or read about on how God has taken similar situations and done extraordinary things through them.  

It was these reminders and thoughts from the Lord that helped me go back to sleep peacefully.  

Morning came, and well meaning family members started stating the what-if’s, could’ve been’s, and worst case scenarios, I turned my focus away from the peace the Lord offered and towards my fears.  

I was literally consumed with fear by the time we reached the jail.  

When they released him to us, I hugged him and cried and then…. I unloaded my fear and anger on him.  

“Mom, I thought you would go Jesus on me,” he responded. 

It didn’t really sink in deep what he said for a few days but when it did, it hit me hard!  

I didn’t “go Jesus” on him, I went “Ellen” on him.  

My focus was not on Jesus, my focus was on what is seen and judged in this world to be acceptable, not the Truth He whispered to me the night before.  

I could have responded like one who fully believes the most important thing in life is to know Jesus and His redeeming love, full of trust in the Lord and what He is infinitely capable of doing, in any circumstance…. but I didn’t.   

God sent me, just like Gideon.  

He didn’t send me off to war. 

He sent me nonetheless to shine His Light full of grace and redeeming love on my son. 

Instead I went “my” way focusing on my fears instead of focusing on the Lord’s strength.

When the angel of the Lord first appeared to Gideon and told him he was a mighty hero and the Lord was with him, Gideon had trouble believing him, because he thought God was not performing miracles for them like He did for their ancestors.  

Gideon believed the Lord had abandoned them and handed them over to the Midianites.  

Reading this, I started to wonder why is it that when I am going through something difficult I question God’s presence.  

Like Gideon, it is easier for me to see the Lord’s provision in other people’s lives when they are going through difficult times but difficult to see Him in my own.  

I mean think about those same ancestors Gideon referred to, the ones who saw the sea parted and who received manna from heaven.  

Looking back Gideon saw God’s provision for them and yet those ancestors missed it and wandered for forty years.  

Obviously, I do the same thing!  

Are my descendants going to say how clearly obvious it was that God’s hand was at work in my life while I miss it in the here and now?  

The Lord tells Gideon “Go with your strength and save Israel…I am the one who is sending you” (NCV).  

Gideon’s strength would never have been enough and yet the Lord tells Gideon to go in his strength, why?  

I have to believe the Lord wanted Gideon to acknowledge his own weakness to humble him but also to give him encouragement by telling him “I am the one who is sending you”.  

That is exactly how the Lord reaches me at times and corrects my perspective.  

The Lord wants me to realize I am weak so He can remind me He is not!  

Where I have limitations, God does not. (<-- Click here to tweet this)

I can’t help but think about how vividly my son might have SEEN God’s love for him if I had responded with peaceful calmness and certainty… one who’s hope and trust was in her Savior and what He is capable of doing.

Prayer: Lord, if you are willing, please engrave this on my heart.  It is not always about the signs You give me but about Your beautiful acknowledgment of my weakness and that if I walk in faith relying on Your strength, You will take my weakness and use it mightily to bring glory to Your name.

{ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THIS GUEST DEVOTIONAL}
Ellen WilliamsEllen Williams says, she was a girl who became a teenage mom, who became a teenage wife, who was out to prove “I” could do it...and God let me…knowing “I” would fail but that He would pick me up, dust me off and give me a hug while gently whispering “Let’s keep going E, but this time follow ME”. She blogs about her walk with the One who saved her and the mess of life WE encounter at who is leading e

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