Thursday

Will Work for Doughnuts

You’ve seen the homeless men who camp out on exit ramps holding signs that say, Will Work for Food? My sign would say, Will Work for Doughnuts. Especially Krispy Kreme doughnuts. An apology to my Yankee friends, but Dunkin Doughnuts doesn’t hold a candle. 

My love affair with Krispy Kreme’s chocolate-iced, crème-filled wonders began in my teens, shortly after my family’s southern migration. Dunkin Doughnuts north of the Mason/Dixon had only primed the pump. Of DD’s lineup, my favorite was the cream-filled version dusted in enough powdered sugar to ruin any outfit. 

Enter Krispy Kreme. 

Known for its neon red HOT NOW sign that draws bears out of the woods and causes traffic jams whenever it lights up, Krispy Kreme takes doughnut consumption to a whole new level. 

It was the HOT NOW sign that drew me in that first day. I didn’t leave, however, with one of the fresh-from-the-fryer golden O’s dripping with the perfect amount of glaze. Oh no, that was the day I spotted the chocolate-iced, crème-filled beauty that would become my go-to source of gustatory glee. I’ve loved them ever since. 

Thankfully, there’s not a Krispy Kreme store within 10 miles of my house, or I’d be shaped like the doughnuts I dearly love. They remain a rare and wonderful treat. 

Which is why I was so happy when my thoughtful sister called to say she was bringing me a doughnut. 

And why I was so sad when I left without it. 

We’d divided and conquered that day. If you are an adult with aging parents, you understand this. She took Dad to run errands and go to the grocery store, and I took mom to handle a particularly unpleasant bit of business. 

I drew the short straw, and my sister knew it. 

 I suspect that’s why she called midway through the morning with a consolation prize. “We’re stopping at Krispy Kreme,” she said. “I’m bringing you a doughnut. Meet ya back at Mom and Dad’s.” 


Instantly, all was right with the world because there was a doughnut at the end. And not just any doughnut, a chocolate-iced, crème-filled, Krispy Kreme doughnut. Though the skies were grey that morning, they parted over my head, and a little sugarcoated sunshine beamed upon me. 

Mom and I completed our task quickly—so quickly in fact that we beat my sister and my dad home. We waited, somewhat impatiently, eager for our doughnuts. As more time passed, a horrible thought occurred to me: What if they don’t make it back before I have to leave? 

I had squeezed Mom’s errand between two appointments of my own, and if I didn’t head back soon, I knew I’d miss my last appointment. A quick call to my sister confirmed my worst fear. “We’re about twenty minutes away,” she said. My sugarcoated sunshine vanished in a doughnut-less eclipse that turned the skies back to grey all the way home. 

Five days later, my doughnut disappointment was far from my mind as I sat in Sunday school waiting for the lesson to begin. Suddenly, standing before me, was my friend Margie. In her hands was a green and white waxed bag. With red lettering. And a doughnut inside. A chocolate-iced, crème-filled doughnut. “We stopped by Krispy Kreme on the way in this morning, and I told the lady I needed a special order,” she said. 

“You have no idea what this doughnut means to me,” I babbled, trying to tell the convoluted story while cradling my treasure. 

I thought of my doughnut again this morning when I read the account of Abraham and Lot in Genesis 13. The men had traveled from Egypt, and God had prospered them. Their flocks and herds had grown so large that the land could no longer support them. They knew they would have to separate. 

Abraham was the patriarch, the one with seniority. It was a no-brainer that he would take the best land for himself. But he didn’t. He deferred the decision to his not-very-bright, kinda-selfish nephew, Lot, who snapped up the prime piece of real estate quicker than you can say SOLD

Abraham moved on to the land of Canaan, satisfied that he’d done the right thing, much like I did the day I missed my doughnut. 

But God wasn’t finished. Because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. And Abraham had learned that the greatest way to be exalted was to humble himself—to die to his own wants for someone else’s benefit. 

 God met Abraham there and said, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward: for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (v. 14). 

You missed the doughnut today, Abraham, but trust me. I’m going to give it back to you. And when I do, it’s gonna be sweet. 

  

Do you feel like you’ve missed the doughnut in some area of your life today? Maybe you’ve set aside your dreams to help others accomplish theirs. Perhaps you’re caring for an elderly parent, a sick child, or a difficult husband. Maybe you’re stuck in a dead-end job or ministry with little or no recognition. Be comforted. God sees, God knows, and God will reward you at the proper time.



“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb. 6:10). 


“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22). 

If you’ve experienced a doughnut story, I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below and join the conversation. 

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of writing a book? I share some of my secrets on Vonda Skelton's blog, The Christian Writers' Den. Why not hop on over for a visit?

 I'm linking up with Arabah Joy today.




If you enjoyed this devotion, may I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
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Monday

Lost with a GPS in my Pocket

Jill and I were lost in the woods.

And our GPS was no help.

It was a crisp fall morning, and we had set out early to hike the trail around the conference headquarters. The woods, decorated in the rich colors of autumn had beckoned to us from the window the day before, but workshop after workshop kept us indoors. 

“Let’s get up early tomorrow,” I proposed, “and take a hike before the first session.” My friend Jill was all for it. She’s a Texas girl who loves wide open spaces and the joy of physical exertion.

The thick woods of the mountain didn’t exactly qualify as a wide open space, but the mild temperatures and the heavenly scent of newly fallen leaves was incentive enough for her. After reminding ourselves of the general trail layout, we chose a path that would bring us back to the conference center in 30 minutes or so—plenty of time to freshen up before the first session.

At least that’s what we planned. And the plan worked well until 30 minutes had come and gone with no sign of the conference center. After we had hiked an hour through thick woods with no clearing in sight, we pulled out our technology. Both of us had smart phones, but technology only goes so far in the hands of not-so-smart operators.

I swiped open my Google maps and sure enough, there we were. We weren’t lost after all. Google knew right where we were. We were a steadily blinking dot in the middle of . . . well . . . a forest. 

I don’t know what I expected, maybe a little red arrow saying Conference Center this way, or, The Right Trail is 1,000 Yards to Your Left, but no, just that steadily blinking dot telling us You Are Here.

But You Are Here doesn’t help much when you really don’t want to be HERE anymore. To make matters worse, we couldn’t remember the name of the conference center, so we didn’t even have a value to put into the destination slot of the app.

I’m sure there are a hundred readers who can tell me how we could have used my program to navigate ourselves out of those woods, but spare me. I’ve made mental notes to prevent a repeat performance.

Instead we tucked our phones back in our pockets, took a good look around us, and headed in the opposite direction of the sun. We remembered noticing how the sun had shined through the windows of the conference center the day before, so we knew that heading away from the sun would eventually bring us to our starting place.

An hour and two and a half miles later, we saw the outline of the buildings in the distance.

A surveyor friend commented recently how GPS makes his job so much easier than it used to be. Once he finds his reference point and hammers one of those familiar orange-ribboned stakes into the ground, he says, he can use his GPS signal to walk off the perimeter. “But I have to have a reference point,” he says.

My lost-in-the-woods experience and my surveyor friend’s observations confirm what I’ve learned during 32 years of living. If we don’t know where we are and where we’re going, we stay lost. We spend our lives wandering, expending great amounts of time, energy, and resources, and never really “arrive.”

 I was 18 years old when I first realized where I was. I had the world by the tail, yet I was wandering, purposeless, and empty. I had everything I thought should make me happy—I’d graduated fourth in my high school class, had a steady boyfriend, had a full tuition scholarship to the college of my choice, but there was an ache, an empty place I could no longer ignore.

Scientist Blaise Paschal described it this way: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”


St. Augustine said something similar: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."

The most important step for me was realizing where I was. Then I had to figure out where I wanted to go. For me, I’d lived enough of MY life MY way to know that being the “master of my destiny” wasn’t working very well.

So I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

I couldn’t imagine how praying a simple prayer could really change anything, but I was desperate enough to try it. 

That was 32 years ago. That simple prayer gave me direction, peace, and purpose. Best of all, it helped me know not only where I was, but where, one day, I wanted to be. These are the two things we all need to know if we don’t want to spend our lives wandering.

And that is the moral of my story.

So where are you? And where do you want to go? Figuring out the answers to these two questions could change your life forever.

If you'd like to know more about the simple prayer that changed my life, CLICK HERE. If you've prayed this simple prayer, I'd love to hear how it changed your life. Leave a comment below and share your story.

I'm linking up with Arabah Joy today.



If you enjoyed this devotion, may I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
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Thursday

Between Behemoth and the Belly of the Whale

Other children splashed happily in the pool. Confidently swimming from one side to the other, her peers had crossed the threshold from fear to faith. 

But not my daughter. 

My daughter was stuck. 

Stuck on the diving board six feet above the water with her jaw set, arms crossed, eyes squinting defiantly against her swim instructor. No matter what, her posture said, I’m not jumping in. 

The board was too high. The water was too scary. And the instructor waiting directly beneath the board with outstretched arms to catch her? Altogether untrustworthy. 

“If she doesn’t jump in,” the instructor had said in one of those off-to-the-side-so-the-kid-doesn’t-hear-you conferences, “she’ll never learn to trust me. You have to back me up.” 

And so, unbeknownst to my child, I vowed to betray her. Pledged not to rescue her when the standoff reached high noon. 

“If you don’t jump,” the instructor told her, “we’ll have to drop you in.” 

How a three-foot-tall four-year-old thought she could stare down a five-foot-something behemoth, I’ll never know, but she gave it her best shot. Perhaps she was sure her mother would come to her defense. Or that a clap of thunder would miraculously clear the pool. Or that her pint-sized defiance would intimidate her Volkswagen-sized adversary. 

Whatever the source of her bravado, she wasn’t budging. Until a second instructor, backup to the first, stepped onto the diving board. 

And she was trapped. 

Wedged between an unknown future and certain death, she eyed her options one more time, her scathing glance now including Judas, the mother who had betrayed her. 

As the second instructor approached, she backed toward the edge. The instructor took each trembling hand in hers, lifted her squirming body as gently as she could off the board, and deposited her safely into the first instructor’s waiting arms with nary a splash. 

“Hooray!” shouted one of the onlookers watching the drama unfold, and other swimmers joined in the applause. 

“See,” her instructor said, “I told you I would catch you. That you didn’t need to be afraid. That you could trust me.” 

“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 

He said: ‘In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 

. . . When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD. 

And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jon. 1:1-3, 7-10). 


What about you? Are you standing with your toes on the edge of the board peering down into an unknown future? 

 Fear not. 

If you don’t jump, you’ll never move forward. 

And you’ll never learn to trust. 

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). 


 Jump. 





If you're a homeschooling mom and live within driving distance of Summerville, South Carolina, I'd love to invite you to join me and the Low Country Home Educators for a morning of encouragement.

On Saturday, January 24, I'll be sharing one of my most-requested talks, "8 Mistakes I've Made While Homeschooling." It's a candid look at what NOT to do as you homeschool your children. 
The gracious ladies of LCHEE have opened their meeting to guests, and we'd love to have you join us.
Here are all the details:
When: Saturday, January 24 at 9 a.m.
Where: The Nursing Building, Room 132, at Charleston Southern University
For more information: Contact Melissa Rhoton at  email mom2sjr@yahoo.com





May I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

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Hungry for God is on Facebook! Will you take a moment and LIKE my page? CLICK HERE to help HFG share 5-minute devotions.
 

 

 

Monday

Life's dark hallways -- A Guest Post by Laura Poole




Today I'd like to introduce a friend and fellow blogger, Laura Hodges Poole. Laura has accomplished an impressive feat--she's launched two books in two months! The following devotion, "Life's Dark Hallways," is adapted from her latest devotional book,  While I'm Waiting .





“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ~ Mark Twain 

 Have you ever been really afraid? I mean heart-pounding, palm-sweating, knee-shaking, throat-choking afraid? 

My parents live in a ranch-style block house in Florida. Like most homes built in the 1950s, it has a long hallway with bedrooms on one end, the living room and kitchen on the opposite end, and a bathroom in the middle. 

At night when I was a child—and especially during stormy weather if the power went out—that hallway loomed dark and sinister. When I came out of the bathroom, I’d peek around the corner to make sure nothing was there to get me. Convinced there was something scary out there, I’d summon the courage to outrun “it.” As I streaked down the long hallway, my little feet barely touched the linoleum. I only felt safe again once I was back in bed with the covers tucked tightly under my chin. 

If we’re honest, we all have dark hallways and monsters we try to outrun. If we can just reach a certain level of financial, physical, or emotional security, we tell ourselves, we won’t be afraid anymore. Meanwhile, we sprint down the hallway before “it” gets us, and we survive until our next encounter. 

Fear is everywhere. It’s consuming and debilitating. We gain nothing positive from it. When we apply our own strength to situations beyond our control, we fail to leave room for the security God offers us. 

Before King David became king, he probably slept with one eye open and looked over his shoulder constantly. After all, King Saul, a madman, had a vested interest in him not becoming king. Ultimately, God’s strength and wisdom provided physical and spiritual protection for Israel’s future king (See 1 Samuel 23). “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). 

What are you afraid of today? Impending results from a medical test? The risk of stepping into the unknown to walk a path God designed for you? Maybe something less life threatening like boundaries you need to draw in an unhealthy relationship or the need to stand up for yourself? Perhaps you’re afraid of the bitterness and chaos in in your soul. 

Reflection: Fear often traps us. Whatever your dark hallway, I encourage you to reach for God’s comforting hand to guide you. Living in his will and leaning on his strength is the best security you’ll ever experience. 

Laura Hodges Poole is a freelance writer with dozens of articles, devotions, and short stories in publication. She is a 2014 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and a 2012 RWA Emily finalist in Christian fiction. Laura is also a non-fiction ghostwriter/collaborator. Her passion is encouraging others in their Christian walk through her blog, A Word of Encouragement. You may contact Laura at laurapoole565@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @ Laura_Poole and like her Facebook page

Her Christmas novella, A Christmas Chance, is also available on Amazon. 


While I’m Waiting is a compilation of Laura Poole's blog posts. A 31-day devotional, While I’m Waiting will inspire readers to patiently and reverently wait on God to answer prayers according to his perfect timing. Laura shares her own struggles and shortcomings in a way that is encouraging and hopeful, even in the most difficult circumstances. Her devotions show that it is possible to walk through the valley of trials and not despair while praising God and choosing contentment. 

As Jim Elliot once said, “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”


 
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Thursday

Can We Earn God's Favor?

I know I’m on shaky ground. 

The topic of this post is a theological octopus. It has the potential to make people angry, cry “FOUL,” shoot me scathing emails, and unsubscribe. 

It’s my Sunday school teacher’s fault, really. She led me to this verse, although I noticed she left the ticking time bomb untouched. Me, well, I had to pick it up, sparking fuse, sizzling flame, and all. 

“. . . he (Ezra) arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him” (Ezra 7:9). You may remember the story. 

Ezra the priest, with the permission of King Artaxerxes, was leading a contingent of 5,000 Jews. They were carrying precious metal back to Jerusalem. Ezra’s troupe comprised the second wave of exiles returning to their homeland after the diaspora (dispersion). 

The journey was 900 miles long and dangerous, yet Ezra and the Jews made it safely, successfully transporting over 24 tons of silver and bronze to build the new temple. 

What caught my eye in the story was the phrase, “and the gracious hand of his God was on him.” 

The gracious hand of God granted Ezra safety, protection, favor, and provision on his 900-mile journey. Imagine what the gracious hand of God would look like in our lives. 

We’d be crazy not to want it, but how do we get it? 

Can we earn God’s favor? 

I’m not talking about earning God’s love—Scripture tells us that is unconditional. Ask the toddler in the church nursery lisping through John 3:16; God’s love is undeserved and unmerited. 

 I’m talking about God’s favor. His inclinations to bless us, help us, and answer our prayers. Can we earn the gracious hand of God upon our lives? 

I think so. 

Let’s read the next verse: 

 “. . . the gracious hand of God was upon him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” (9b-10). 

By studying God’s Word, obeying what it said, and teaching it to others, Ezra positioned himself to experience the gracious hand of God upon his life. 

It’s a no-brainer, really. A loving Father blesses his obedient child. We do it all the time. Which child are we more inclined to favor, the obedient, loving, compassionate one, or the lazy, rebellious, selfish one? This doesn’t discount the mercy of God, nor does it limit his compassion only to those who obey him. It does, however, acknowledge the primary way God responds to his children—in response to their actions. 

But herein lies the potential for confusion. The gracious hand of God is not a spiritual Coke machine. We can’t just feed the God machine and expect it to pay out. God doesn’t invite us to check off the boxes in an attempt to manipulate him into doing what we want. 

God wants us to seek him diligently, obey him sincerely, and share salvation with others because it’s the best for us. And the best for the world. He wants our motivation to be love for him, not lust for stuff. And when we study, pursue, and tell others about him, the natural outcome of these actions is that we will be about his business. And the gracious hand of God will be upon us. It all comes down to relationship. 

Ezra loved God, and God called him to do some pretty amazing things. Then, through his gracious hand, God provided everything Ezra needed to accomplish it. 

I want this. 

How about you? 

What are your thoughts on the subject? I’d love for you to leave a comment below and chime in. 

 

If you enjoyed this devotion, may I tell you about my new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women?

 Today's women want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you. 

 
If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.



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Hungry for God is on Facebook! Will you take a moment and LIKE my page? CLICK HERE to help HFG share 5-minute devotions.