Sow & Gather

Season in the Desert

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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Some  wandered in desert wastes,     finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, 
    their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,     and he delivered them from their distress.  He led them by a straight way     till they reached a city to dwell in.  Let them thank the Lord  for his steadfast love,     for his wondrous works to the children of man!  For he  satisfies the longing soul,    and the hungry soul he fills with good things
Psalm 107:4-9 ESV 

My four-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer a month after we moved to a new state. Our support network of friends and family were now almost 800 miles away. The moving boxes were barely even unpacked when we received the cancer diagnosis. Our life was plunged into a desert season.  As we watched our precious child struggle through chemo side effects, we felt like we were wandering in the desert wastes.  As we saw his hair fall out and he stopped eating because of mouth sores, our souls fainted within us. 

We spent three long months in the heart of that desert. During his five rounds of chemo, we cried out to the Lord. His deliverance felt slow in coming because of our desperate need.  However, HE was there with us and sustained us. The Lord was teaching us to depend on Him. This wasn’t an easy time. Deserts never are.  Sometimes we desperately prayed to even make it through five more minutes of watching our son suffer.  

We learned, like the Israelites, that God was leading us by a “straight way.”  As we cried out to God during our trials, we trusted him to get us through.  God can refine you to not rely on anything other than Him. From our desert season, we emerged with a deep dependence on God. 

Pediatric cancer wasn’t our first desert season and I know it won’t be our last.  But with each trip through the desert, we learn greater dependence on God and greater trust in His love for us. I can truly say that God satisfies my longing soul, and that He fills my soul with good things and I can thank Him for His steadfast love. I’m happy to share that my son has been in remission for over a year.  Praise the Lord! 

Your desert might not be a physical illness. It might be an extended period of singleness while you desperately long for marriage. It might be a turbulent time in your marriage where you just can’t seem to get on the same page with your spouse. It might be a career issue, a wayward child, struggling with depression, or any number of things. 

Please know that whatever your struggle is, the Bible shows us that we can endure the desert. We know that God is by our side and the desert season will eventually end. It is only a moment along the straight path God has planned for us and God will certainly use it for good. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! 

Dig Deeper | 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8Psalm 107Romans 8:18-28 

Action Item |

If you find yourself in a desert season, cry out to God and trust that He will satisfy your longing soul. 

Prayer |

Heavenly Father, I know that your will is to sometime have me endure a period in the desert. While my circumstance might not change, I know that you can satisfy the deep need and hunger in my soul. God, deliver me from this time with a greater appreciation of your goodness and steadfast love. Amen. 

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 107:6-7

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Psalm 107:6-7

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Broken-Hearted Worship

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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Open my lips Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.  Psalm 51:15-17 NIV

Ok, I have to admit it. There have been many Sundays that I have faked my way through church. I am embarrassed to admit this and it’s not something that I’m proud of. There have been Sunday mornings when I have passed many of you in the hallways at church, we both smile and greet each other with the customary, “hello,” or “good morning.” But on the inside, I’m not feeling particularly “good.” 

Sometimes during small group time on Sunday mornings, my mind has drifted. My eyes and facial expression display an attentive and compelling listening face, when in reality my heart and my thoughts are miles away. Sadly, I have “participated” in the church service, going through the motions of standing, singing and selectively hearing the sermon as my mind recounted and rehashed all of the things on my to-do list for the coming week. 

So many distractions; so many opportunities to get bogged down by the weight of our circumstances. Many times we walk through life just going through the motions, not really present in the moment and definitely not in a good place spiritually.  

Psalm 51:15 says, “Open my lips Lord and my mouth will declare your praise.” I admit that the last thing I want to do when I am feeling down is sing praises, but in times of trouble it does help me to talk it out.  

I find that when I am desperate for God’s grace, if I will just focus on one thing that I’m grateful for in my life, and give Him thanks for that one thing, my cloudy outlook suddenly begins to spring forth glimpses of light. I begin to stop feeling sorry for myself, and start seeing all of the benefits that God has provided for me. 

As you begin to think about praising God for all He has done, something happens to your heart. Your spiritual heart warms and you begin to see things in a different way. You start to wonder why you weren’t happy and your attitude shifts from self to God. This is the preparation your heart goes through as it prepares itself for you to worship God. You can praise anyone or anything, but God is the only One who deserves and commands our worship. 

In the Old Testament, people would sacrifice animals, offering them to God as an atonement for their sins. It was also used as a form of worship. The preparation of the animal was preparing their hearts to worship God. I am thankful for Jesus who became that sacrifice for us. If nothing else makes you smile, the fact that Jesus died for you and me warms my heart and changes my attitude and outlook. 

Is your heart broken? Are you faking it, or are you ready to get real, get on your knees and lift your hands to the heavens and praise and worship your King of Kings? 

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 138:4; Psalm 18:3; John 4:23

Action Item |

If you’re not having a good day, take time to think about one thing you’re thankful for. See if that thought doesn’t lead to other thoughts of thankfulness, and hopefully, your heart will begin to transform. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace. I’m sorry for the times that I’m fake. Help me to be authentic in my praise and worship to You. Transform my negative thoughts into a thankful heart.  

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 51:15-17

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It

Open my lips, Lord and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heartyou, God, will not despise.  Psalm 51:15-17

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Do We Use Our "Season of Life" As an Excuse?

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding.
Daniel 2:21 ESV 

A few years ago, a friend mentioned that during certain "seasons of life" I might need to modify my expectations or commitments. That sounded really good to me. As transitions and responsibilities were changing at home with a teenager and with my work, I needed to give myself some grace and let go of a few things. 

In the past I've been known to willy-nilly pull back from commitments when life gets overwhelming. This time I was going to be intentional about what commitments and responsibilities I would add or keep in my already full life. There was prayer about my priorities and asking myself tough questions about the long-term and short-term impact of my choices.  

I pulled back on volunteering related to my career and added volunteering related to our child's involvement at school. There are so many good things we participate in, but it doesn't mean it is the right thing at the right time. 

Lately, I'm pondering if pulling back and saying no because of my "season of life" has become an excuse to avoid commitments that God is calling me to make. I find when I'm not motivated to take on a new task, I think, "It's okay. It's my season of life." It's starting to feel like an excuse because it is an excuse.  

In the book of Judges, there is a man named Gideon. Gideon is scared because his community and surrounding land is occupied by the enemy. Gideon is hiding out from the enemy and hiding out from God. God repeatedly calls Gideon to step out of his comfort zone and trust God in the next right choice.   

Gideon finally trusted God. The path God set Gideon on was not always easy. Over and over Gideon had to make the next right choice to align himself with God's will and purpose for his life throughout the ever-changing seasons.  

For reasons I haven't narrowed down yet, I am avoiding an opportunity and a blessing from God. I took a positive concept of focusing my time and energy on the next right thing and turned it into a way to avoid answering God when he calls me into the next season of life.  

Don't miss out on a blessing. Follow God into the next season. 

Dig Deeper|

Judges 6

Action Item|

Ask God to show you where He wants you committing your time, energy, and money during this season of life. Here are two books I've found helpful: Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman and You're Made For A God-Sized Dream by Holly Gerth. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, I don't know why I often run in circles looking for the right "thing" to do. I know that you will always clear the path and guide me. Give me clarity on what is the next best thing for me to do that serves you first, serves my family, and serves my community. Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Daniel 2:21

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.  Daniel 2:21

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And Then There Were Others

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
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Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) 

The hurricanes of 2017 will most definitely go down as catastrophic.  I was recently in Houston and it actually looked like a war zone as I passed through the streets.  Home after home was completely emptied of its contents.  Cabinets, furniture, floor coverings and clothes lay on the curb as a representation of a lifetime of memories created in one place. 

As I saw such devastation, I couldn’t help but wonder why God would allow a catastrophe of this level?  As God always does, He nudged my spirit straight into His presence through His Word.  Hebrews 11 begins with some precious words, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  The chapter proceeds with a list of many heroes of the faith that God used to accomplish great and mighty things.  God performed miracles for them and He protected them in many ways.  Then, almost at the end of the chapter, comes these words, “And then there were others.”  The writer of Hebrews continues to speak of these others who were beaten, mocked, killed and tortured for their faith.  “The world was not worthy of these” the writer states.  ALL of these were the heroes of the faith…those who experienced miracles and those who didn’t.  It wasn’t the outcome of their circumstances that proved their faith, but their simple faith in God, who was with them. 

In God’s tender voice, He reminded me through this scripture that your faith cannot be in things that you see.  God reminded me that my faith is not in a circumstance, an action, or an outcome.  My faith is in the one and only God…the God who can do miracles, who can accomplish great things and who can be present with those who are suffering. 

So, my encouragement for you today:  resist the urge to use your eyes to measure the work of God.  Know that the ways and movement of God cannot always be seen.  Whether God delivers you in a miraculous way today or whether He simply is present with you in your suffering, know that He is God and He loves you! 

Digging deeper |

Hebrews 11

Action items |

Do you find yourself evaluating the movement of God by observing the circumstances in your life?  If so, use your smart phone or even a piece of paper and write down Hebrews 11:1 as a reminder to keep your eyes upward.  Are you in a storm today?  Is that storm causing you to question God?  Allow God to gently remind you today that you cannot see all that God is doing.  Place in your faith in Him and not the outcome! 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, it is so very hard not to question You at times.  Make my faith strong, Jesus.  Give me the courage to place my faith in things not seen.  God, give me peace in my storms and deliver me when it is Your will.  Amen. 

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 119:103

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

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Total Eclipse of the Heart

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
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"He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.”  Psalms 104:19 NIV

Ok, so I know what question you’re asking yourself…what does Bonnie Tyler’s song Total Eclipse of the Heart have to do with a Bible devotional?  I’ll get to that in a minute. We heard a lot about the solar eclipse that happened on August 21st, 2017. It was amazing to witness the incredible events that occur when God’s forces of nature are thrown out of their normal daily routine. 

The path of totality, named for the area of the United States that was able to view a complete eclipse of the sun, demonstrated how much we rely on the sun and moon to help keep us regulated throughout the day. On Monday, August 21st, several unusual things happened along the path of totality during the full eclipse. First, many animals weren’t sure what time of day it was. Some animals slept, thinking it was nighttime, while others ran around crazy not knowing what to do. In Washington State, over 305,000 salmon washed ashore because of a strong tide brought on by the eclipse. Flowers that had opened their petals for the day to receive their daily dose of sunlight, closed, thinking that it was night, and then reopened after the sun came back out. In some areas the temperature changed more than 10 degrees in a few minutes because the sun was blocked out. 

In areas that were not along the path of totality, individuals were able to see only a partial eclipse, but the effects were still felt. For one thing, it felt strange to be outside. Although a total eclipse wasn’t visible, there was still an eerie feel to the sky and it was strange to drive around and see so many people standing outside, staring up at the sky. As humans, our day was interrupted by a natural phenomenon, and it seemed like everyone stopped and had to take a peek (hopefully with approved eyewear and homemade cereal boxes). 

We are such creatures of habit that God knew we needed something to help us regulate our body clocks. If you look in Genesis 1:3-5, one of God’s first tasks in creation was to separate the light from the darkness.  He called the light day and the darkness night. The sun, with its rays of light and heat reaching the earth, creates a powerful one-two punch, but the moon’s proximity to the earth also plays a dominate role in our everyday life as well. 

The moon is partially responsible for our seasons.  The Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees. The angle tilt is responsible for the seasons. But, the tilt angle is not fixed. The moon's gravitational pull on the Earth causes precession, which is a small, 21,000-year cyclic change in the angle of the Earth's tilt. Basically, the Earth is tilted and it is the moon’s gravitational pull that keeps the Earth on that tilt, thereby giving us our seasons.   

I know you weren’t thinking that you would be getting a science lesson as part of a devotion today, but I think that sometimes it’s important to remember that God’s hand is in every aspect of our lives.  From His creation of the sun and moon, to the intricate angle of the Earth’s tilt and gravitational pull of the moon, He thought of everything. So why do we sometimes doubt His ultimate power when it comes to our lives? Well, it comes down to an eclipse of our heart.  I told you there was a reason for my title choice. Instead of allowing God to work in our lives, we cast a shadow over it, which blocks God out. Many times we act like the animals did during the eclipse and run in circles or become confused because we’ve lost our direction. Stop eclipsing God and let Him work in your life. 

Key Verses |

Galatians 4:10; Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Action Item |

Are you blocking God from working in your life? Open your heart and let Him in. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the Sun and Moon. Thank You for thinking of how the moon and sun affect our daily lives.  Thank You for events in the sky like eclipses that remind us of how vast the universe is and how powerful You are.  Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 33:11

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. Psalm 33:11

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Trusting God With Your Children

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
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“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. “  Philippians 1:6 ESV 

This week I send my firstborn to kindergarten. When I was a new mom, someone told me that the days are long and the years are short and I feel no truer words are spoken about the early childhood years. I look forward to watching him gain knowledge and independence yet if I’m honest, I actually have quite a few fears about this new journey he’s on. Did I pick the right school? Should I have homeschooled him instead? Maybe I should have been willing to pay private school tuition to keep him in a Christian environment. Will he make friends? Will he decide he hates school and be the problem child?  

In my own life, it’s easy for me to claim Philippians 1:6. I am a work in progress. I know that God will continue to work on me and refine me until I stand complete before Him. Yet why is it so hard for me to let go of my child and trust that the same God will be faithful to work in his life? Every mom I’ve talked with in this same season of life has similar struggles. We hold ourselves responsible for how our kids turn out. We agonize over every little decision, secretly convinced that if we put them in the wrong activity, in the wrong school, or even can’t get them to eat a perfectly balanced healthy meal every single day, then their lives will end in abject failure and it will be our fault. 

This is what society teaches us. But thankfully, the bible teaches a much different story. We can trust that God will finish the good work He has started in our lives and in our children’s lives. We can and should prayerfully consider big decisions but realize that any control we hold is an illusion. God is in control. We can make all the wrong decisions and God can work it for good. We can make all the right decisions and still have a wayward child that we have to depend on God to draw back to the truth. 

So as you start this new school year, pray fervently for your kids. But leave your fears and anxieties at God’s feet. He’s the one really in control. 

Dig Deeper |

Romans 8:28Proverbs 22:6Hebrews 2:8-10 

Action Item |

When you find yourself worrying about your children, pray first for God’s presence in their lives and seek Him as you make decisions for them. 

Prayer |

Heavenly Father, you will complete the good work you began in me and in my children. Help me to trust you through hard circumstances and realize that you are in control of how my kids turn out, not me. 

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Deuteronomy 6:7

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7

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Facing Failure? Persevere!

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
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Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV

The title of Certified Public Accountant or CPA rang loudly and seductively throughout my college years. I dreamed of this title and the job opportunities it would give me, and I worked diligently to achieve it. At the end of my senior year, I sat for the CPA exam fully expecting to pass with flying colors. However, upon receiving my results, I realized I had failed miserably. I was shocked…upset…and cried buckets.  

I desired to be a CPA, but I failed.  I couldn’t believe it. What do I do now? 

As I began to deal with the failure, I found God was there helping and reviving me. He was with me. Immanuel, meaning God with us, is a name referring to Jesus. (Matthew 1:23 NIV) He was my strength, and I relied on Him during this moment of setback. 

After recovering from the heartache, I found God was telling me to persevere. I was to continue to pursue this dream and try again. 

Well, guess what? I did. 

I decided to retake the exam, and this time I studied. I placed myself on a study regimen and took a review course. I even limited my social activities. Bummer! But what helped me most was my prayers to and reliance on God. It was God who gave me strength to continue. 

Now, I’m sure you are expecting me to say I passed the second time. Well, no, I didn’t. In fact, it took me five times to fulfill that dream of being labeled a CPA. 

Yet, it’s true. God was with me every single time! 

Digging Deeper |

Hebrews 12:1; James 1:12

Action Item |

Never give up! 

Prayer |

Immanuel, You are the God who is with us and strengthens us. As I move through life and failures come my way, help me to rely on You and persevere. In Your name, Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

Peaceful Families

Vacations/ReunionsMarci AnthonyComment
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“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18 ESV 

Why does it seem that it’s easier to live at peace with friends than with your own family?  Family relationships seem fraught with tension, stress, and conflict.  My family got together this summer for a family reunion.  We rented a 6 bedroom home to share.  Three sisters, three husbands, four children, ages 3-7, and a grandmother.  It sounds blissful, right?  Or does it sound like a nightmare?  It all depends on your family dynamic. 

Our family comes with its fair share of baggage.  My dad passed away 7 years ago and my mother fell into a deep depression that never lifted. She also has early onset dementia.  It’s hard not to resent her for her illness and to mourn the mother/grandmother she should be.  I’ve struggled greatly with anger and disappointment on past family trips.  It’s hard to explain mental illness to your young children and to not blame the person suffering with it.  I spent time praying before the trip and intentionally sought harmony with her. 

That mindset of wanting to live peaceably made all the difference.  Instead of reacting with anger and frustration, I found myself responding with love and understanding that clearly had its root in God’s love and not my own selfish human love.   

Whatever tension and stress comes over you during a family reunion or trip, I encourage you to go to the Great Physician and ask for healing of the relationship and the ability to live peaceably with your family.  I’ve heard it said that your family is the best at pushing your buttons because they helped install them.  With God’s help, you can rise above the squabbles and annoyances and truly enjoy the family that God has placed you in. 

Dig Deeper |

Romans 12:16-18Matthew 5:21-24  

Action Item |

Spend time thinking about your family relationships and seek the Lord to know what actions you can take to live more peacefully with them. 

Prayer |

Heavenly father, help me to live at peace with my family. Help me to take responsibility for the tension that I may cause.  Help me let go of past hurts.

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Proverbs 27:6

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.  Proverbs 27:6

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Is It Time To Throw Your Baggage Overboard?

Vacations/ReunionsMarci AnthonyComment
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Cutting Loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. Acts 27:40 NIV

Do you have a family vacation tradition? Maybe you had a favorite vacation spot as a child where your family would go every year and it became known as your family vacation spot. Every year my family goes to a small town on the Eastern Shore. It’s a sleepy town that was once a bustling port for ships traveling up and down the East Coast. It’s so small it doesn’t even have a stop light. It’s a calm relaxing town that harkens back to the days before technology and the hustle and bustle of urban life. I love it because it’s a great place to lie on the beach and watch the ships go by and do absolutely nothing!

This year in particular my family needed a break. We were spinning out of control with school schedules, sports activities, work commitments, travel, aging parents; just to name a few. Stressed out, run down and ragged is how I would describe our family life at the time just before our breaking point. Paul in Acts 27 describes an account of an actual voyage he took where things didn’t turn out as he thought, but by the grace of God he was saved.

Paul was a prisoner on a ship that had set sail towards Rome on what should have been a quiet and peaceful journey. Instead, it turned into a fight for their lives. Paul warned the crew that the voyage would be a disaster. The crew ignored the warning and when the storms came, the crew fought to keep their course but was driven back. They went so far as to tie ropes around the bottom of the ship to keep it from bulging. They threw important goods and merchandise overboard to lighten their load. Finally, in verse 40 they decided their only hope for survival was to head for shore.

My family was in the middle of a storm. We were trying to hold everything together but life kept pushing us back bombarding us with activities, meetings and commitments. Soon we were so over committed and stressed out that we began to neglect the important things like family time, sleep, and, let’s be honest, God. Summer vacation was like a shining beacon and we couldn’t wait for it to arrive. From the moment we set off on our trip towards relaxation, the stress and all of the baggage we had been carrying was tossed overboard. It was as if the seas of life had finally stopped rocking our boat and we were able to steady our course and set sail for a calmer way of life. Finally, I could sit on the beach,  gaze out on the horizon, and watch the calmness of the waves as they lapped against the shore.

Is your life in the middle of a storm? Do you feel the weight of the world crashing down on you? You may not be able to take a vacation but you can ask God for a break. Don’t be surprised if He suddenly throws what you’ve been holding onto overboard. Just relax knowing that he is in control and you are not. He may even tell you to drop anchor and rest. If he does, stop trying to steer your ship into the headwinds of life and let God guide you instead.

Key Verses |

Acts 27 & 28

Action Item |

If you are in the middle of a storm, ask God to take over your course. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for summer, thank you for vacations, and most importantly thank you for reminding us of our “real” priorities. Help us as we navigate life’s course and help keep us anchored in your word. AMEN.

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

Treasure God's Word--Exodus 23:9

Marci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. Exodus 23:9

What I've Learned This Summer

Vacations/ReunionsMarci AnthonyComment

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 

Learning doesn't just happen between Labor Day and Memorial Day each year. While those of us with kids adjust to the rhythm of the school year, I find the months of summer often yield the greatest growth. 

It feels like our child matures overnight during the summer. Each May I think he'll never grow up. By August, I'm asking myself what happened to my baby.  

God can use these warm (hot) months, where things move a little slower, as teachable moments. I've tried for this season of summer to focus and be present every day and not just slog through. In doing this, I've asked God to teach me these last few months. 

Here are a few things I've learned: 

If I don't Rest, God Will Force Me

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 27:2 

The hamster wheel of life spins faster and faster. If I don't take intentional actions to slow down and enjoy this life, God will slow me down. My body will give in to the overload of stress – the laboring in vain. I'm constantly working for things that are good, but not of God. In those times of rest, I have to remember to seek God's will and prioritize my actions. 

I'm fortunate that during the summer months my business slows down. In the past, I've not accepted this as an offering of rest from God, but rather worried about the financial consequences. This year, I've gotten better about accepting the rest and knowing that God always provides. 

Eating Good Fat Makes Me Full Longer 

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Romans 14:3

Name the diet and I've been on it . . . several times. I try and remind myself daily that as a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives within me. My body is God's temple. Why do I act in such a way to destroy the value of the temple?  

Every day I make choices that are hard for me regarding food, exercise, and rest. Even when God shows me the path He wants me to follow, I still want to take a trail to the right or the left. This issue doesn’t just come up with food, but in all kinds of matters where clear direction is received, but I don't like what God is telling me to do. Even when I feel like I am not maintaining the temple, I know that God's mercies are new each morning. God allows me to begin again. 

Garbage In Equals Garbage Out

Ears to hear and eyes to see--both are gifts from the Lord. Proverbs 20:12 

No longer is summertime TV viewing limited to re-runs. Many programs actually run a short summer season of new episodes. I love TV and I love books. Both are amazing modes of transportation for me to pursue a grand adventure in far-off lands. Well-done media tugs on my emotions. I find when I'm not resting and I'm not eating healthy, I tend to binge on TV and books.  

I have to back up and ask myself, why do I feel the need to binge watch or binge read? Is there something that is stressing or frustrating me that I need to take to God in prayer? Am I avoiding something? 

Then I have to assess the impact of what I'm doing. Am I consuming media that does not align with my values? Writing that sentence challenges me. Where are my eyes and ears focused? How am I using the good gifts that God has given me? 

As I'm writing this, summer is not over yet. I've still got about four weeks to enjoy before the grind of the next school year is in full swing. God has challenged me to grow in trusting Him with three areas of my life. Growth can be uncomfortable, but I'm ready to embrace the change. 

Dig Deeper |

James 1:1-18 

Action Item |

Ask God to show you what He's been teaching you over the last few months. Jot those items down and find scripture to support your journey. 

Prayer|

Dear God, You are the giver of good gifts, the provider of warm summer evenings and refreshing rain showers. Help us to see the lessons You have for us in the everyday things we do. Guide our choices and help us to honor You with our lives. Amen. 

Join Us |  

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--2 Corinthians 5:17

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

Watch for the Rock

Vacations/ReunionsMarci AnthonyComment

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 NIV 

Summer is my favorite season! It is the season to enjoy the outdoors, wear summer dresses, hang out with your kids and go on vacation!! Every year my family attempts to travel to a new destination and last year we had the privilege of visiting Yosemite National Park. The mountains, waterfalls, trees and rock formations were amazing. And as you can imagine, we saw several signs along the park roads which stated, " Watch for Rocks." Yes, in this park, rocks, big and small, are everywhere including on the road. 

Actually, these signs began to make me think about “the Rock”. (No, not Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Yikes!!) but the true Rock, Jesus. Yes, Jesus is truly the Rock. I know because he has been with me throughout my life. When I have struggled in life’s lowest moments like the death of family members, loneliness, and failures, the Rock has been my refuge and fortress. I have depended on Him and He has never let me down. And, even in the highest moments like my marriage, a new home, children and just going on vacation, I know the Rock is there providing strength and stability. 

He is strong, solid, and dependable. The LORD is waiting to be our refuge, fortress, shield and especially deliverer. 

So, start today and watch for “the Rock.” 

Digging Deeper |

Psalm 18

Action Item |

Search for rocks in your yard or park and meditate on Jesus. 

Prayer |

Jesus, Thank you for being the rock. Thank you for abiding with me during the lowest and highest moments in my life. Help me to always seek your strength. I love you. Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.