UNDERCOVER ANGELS:  Christian Books for Girls - Angela Dusenberry
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Believe in Something Wonderful
What to look for in a Husband
The Power of Encouragement
How to Know if you are Wise or Foolish
Healthy Living

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Devotionals Just for Girls

Believe in Something Wonderful

Always believe something wonderful is about to happen. I can't help thinking of Paul and Silas when they were in prison after being beaten for their faith and put in stocks. (Acts 16) They were complaining... no wait, that's probably what most of us would be doing, but that's not what they did. They were singing praise to God, and then there was an earthquake that broke the prisoner's chains. But then, instead of running free, they all stayed and the jailer and his family became believers that day. Talk about an amazing adventure!!! I can't help wondering if they might have missed out on being used by God and this whole experience if they had been complaining and grumbling. 

It's easy to have a good attitude and have faith when we see things going well, but how about when they don't seem to be going well? That's when we have a chance to shine. People say bad things happen in threes. I don't know if it's true or not, but perhaps our attitude when something bad is happening could actually CAUSE more bad things to happen. 

When Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, by his own brothers, he didn't know that very trial would lead to him being second in command in all of Egypt! And as a result, his entire family, along with whole nations, would be saved from famine. Ultimately leading to the birth of the Messiah and salvation for the whole world. 

The Bible says he was given favor by God, even while he was in prison. (Genesis 39:21) But the thing is, we have to be looking for it in order to receive the favor of God even in trials. And I propose to you that our response to trials can actually determine our destiny. 

When the Israelites were wondering in the desert, they complained to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?" The crazy part is that wasn't God plan for them. He planned to bring them to the promised land, but you know what? Those people who said that... DID end up dying in the wilderness!!! Their words ended up coming true! 

So, since we don't know the future, why not live as though something wonderful is about to happen? Our attitude, our countenance, our speech will all be different when we are thankful/hopeful people instead of complaining people... no matter what trial we are going through. We don't know the end of our story. But I suggest that if our lives were a movie, our attitudes could be a spoiler.  


What to look for in a Husband


 

If you've been in the church a while, you might have heard guys talk about looking for a Proverbs 31 woman. I couldn't help noticing some fun traits Psalm 45 mentions about a man. Perhaps Psalm 45 should be the guys' version of Proverbs 31. According to the Life Application Study Bible, Psalm 45 is "a poem to the king (possibly Solomon) on the occasion of his wedding. While this psalm was written for a historic occasion, it is also seen as a prophecy about Christ and his bride, the church." Of course, Jesus is the perfect husband and these verses describe Him, but a girl can dream, right? 



The List from Psalm 45 (only slightly paraphrased by me ;)

  • Handsome--- "You are the most handsome of all." (verse 2) 
  • Gracious words---"Gracious words stream from your lips" (verse 2)
Ladies, if a guy always puts you down, he isn't someone who is filled with Jesus-like qualities. If he doesn't value your feelings or care about your heart, than he's not a good choice. The mark of a true gentleman is a man who can be gentle. 
  • Blessed by God--- "God himself has blessed you forever" (verse 2) 
Does the guy you like seem to be blessed by God? Does his life look like he knows how to follow God's will and make wise choices? If his life's a mess, don't think you can help him. Your life will become a mess too. 
  • Mighty warrior who defends truth, humility, and justice. (verse 4)
Is he willing to fight for the right causes? The difference between a hero and a bad guy in any movie is that the hero uses their power for good to help those less fortunate. How he treats others, especially his family members is how he will eventually treat you. 
  • Performs awe-inspiring deeds (verse 4)
Is he motivated? Is he successful? What goals has he achieved? 
  • Victorious (verse 5)
Is he stuck in any addictions, or is he walking in victory? 
  • Hates evil (verse 7)
  • Joyful (verse 7)
  • Smells nice (verse 8)
Seriously, some guys have issues with bad hygiene. It might be a deal breaker.  
  • Dresses nice (verse 8)
  • Entertained by beautiful music in beautiful places (verse 8)
Does he make good entertainment choices, or does he have issues with too much screen time? 
  • Gives his lady fine jewelry (verse 9)
  • Delights in his wife's beauty (verse 11)
  • Respected in the community--- "The wealthy will beg your favor" (verse 12)
  • Good role model for future children--- "Sons will become kings like their father." (verse 16) 


For more about the church being the bride of Christ, read Ephesians 5 and Isaiah 54:5.






The Power of Encouragement

Guest Blog Post by Michelle D. Howe


This time last week I was shocked to find out a dear friend, mentor and all-around beautiful woman of God had gone to be with the Lord. My first reaction was shock, anger and busyness so I didn't have to feel - at least not yet. 

Then Sunday came and her life was going to be remembered later in the afternoon. Well, as I always do almost every morning after I read my devotional, I checked some of my Facebook notifications. The first thing that pops up is the message, "you have memories."  

So I clicked on the notification and as I scrolled through the page of memories, I noticed a status of encouragement from this very friend that had passed away. This message was posted exactly three years before.  

Tears began to fall as I felt the grace-filled, loving and comforting arms of my Savior meet me where I was at and on the exact time I needed to hear this again from my dear sister in Christ.  

I love how personal our Lord is with us. Encouragement comes in many forms - a hug, a loving glance, a hand written note and even a personal Facebook status. These messages either verbal or non-verbal hold much power in our walks with God and with each other. I know many times during the day God prompts my heart with a certain person's name and I have a choice in that moment to obey or disregard the tug on my heart. 

It really doesn't take much time or energy to reach out and show love (God's love) to those in our lives and it is so powerful. 

My daughter received a simple postcard from her youth pastor last week and I told her how much of a blessing and honor that was for him to take the time to encourage her.

So I challenge you today to listen to the tugs!! When someone's name comes to mind, stop what you are doing and send them a simple note of whatever God puts on your heart. I promise it will most likely be exactly what they need to hear in that moment. What a win-win!!! 

My friend Mandy was one of those that would encourage through Facebook and text messages - simple messages of truth and love. Even though she was sixty years old she embraced today's technology to be used for building up the body of Christ. 

Mandy ran her race of life and finished strong!!! Her race was marked with abuse, lies and hurt but she chose to change course and head into Jesus' arms for healing, wholeness and purpose. 

This picture above is memorabilia from her training and completing her first half marathon in 2012 at an event I host called Weekend of Wins. She used each win that weekend and during our training to let go of the old and step into the new life God desired for her to live. 

So let me ask you, "How are you running your race?" Are you running as a victim to life's hurts and pains or as a victor in Jesus - healed and whole? When your time on earth is done, how will you want others to say you ran your race? 

These are great questions to ask and ponder this week. Consider journaling your time with God to reveal a possible course change to produce the life God desires you to live. ​

Many blessings, 
Michelle D. Howe


How to Know if you are Wise or Foolish

Proverbs 9:6-10 says, 
"Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live;
learn to use good judgment. 

Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more. 

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment."

How does a person know if they are foolish or wise? The Bible teaches that our reaction to correction gives us the answer. Wow, that's intense. I have noticed this in my life experiences. People who are willing to listen to criticism and consider whether it is true or not and then act upon it tend to keep on growing and bettering themselves. People who do not listen, or who get easily offended when others try to offer them instruction are most likely not wise.  

The Life Application Study notes section about these verses says, "Instead of replying with a quick put-down or clever retort when rebuked, listen to what is being said. Learn from your critics; this is the path to wisdom. Wisdom begins with knowing God. He gives insight into living because he created life. To know God you must not just know the facts about him; you must have a personal relationship with him." 

So, the key to being a wise person is a close relationship with God. This also helps in not getting hurt when others criticize because a secure relationship with God keeps our hearts safe in feeling his love to the point that we are able to listen to criticism and respond in a way that produces growth. 

1 Corinthians 8:2 confirms this, "Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn't really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes."


Healthy Living

I recently watched a video about a pastor who changed his congregation and his town after learning it was the unhealthiest town in America. It got me to thinking about how Mark 12:30 says, "And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’"

I know for me, when I eat unhealthy foods (like too much sugar) it actually affects my moods, my motivation, and my energy. This makes me wonder if loving God with all of my strength is more important than a lot of us realize. The word "strength" in that verse can also be translated "ability." When I am not at my healthiest, it affects how much ability I have. 

I already wrote a post about the secret to overcoming sin, and it definitely applies to overcoming food addictions as much as drug, alcohol, or any other bondage to sin. 

So from now on, I plan to start posting on Facebook health tips every Wednesday, as well as inviting my readers to post health tips to my wall. Together, let's love God with all of our strength. 



The Aloha Spirit, and How not to be a Rude Tourist


It happened the other day. I was in a touristy spot, and the sales clerk assumed I was a local! It's been almost two years since I moved to Maui. Without a doubt, the journey has been amazing. The cultural change I have experienced is hard to put into words. 

One thing's for sure, I can spot a tourist now. No question, they stand out with their floppy sun hats, perfectly manicured nails, and floral clothing. The funny part is though, it's usually not all about how they look. It's mostly about how they behave. 

1 Timothy 5:1-2 says, "Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters." 

It's amazing living in a culture where everyone really treats you like family. For instance, if your mom was the server at a restaurant, you would be a little more patient if the service wasn't speedy. There's a bumper sticker here that says, "Relax this isn't the mainland." People here really are patient. It's funny to watch the uptight, hot pink tourists. I mean, they are on vacation, you would think they would be relaxed ... but no, most are in their own little bubble world, not interacting, making eye contact, or talking to the people standing behind them in the bathroom line. 

Not so with the locals. A guy just the other day started telling me all about how Kona coffee is overrated and he has his friends from the mainland bring him coffee whenever they come over. It seemed totally normal for me to be standing in the coffee section at Costco and "talking story" with a total stranger. 

And people really care. Even the hoodlums are respectful. Once a group of teens apologized to me for using swear words when they noticed I was walking by with my kids. Another time an elderly man was walking his small dog and a big dog attacked him. Before my husband had time to get outside to help, half of the neighborhood was already out there. People look around them and if they see a need, they help. 

Galatians 5:14 says, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Maui culture is a modern day example of the Biblical principal of truly loving your neighbor as yourself, and I know I have been inspired to open my eyes and try to treat everyone around me with as much consideration as if they were actually my family. 



The Secret to Success

Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." The word "thinks" here means "to split open, reason out, calculate, reckon, estimate." What are our thoughts centered on? Are they negative? Nothing's going to work out. It's not possible for me. I'm a loser. it's too hard. I can't ... etc. or are they filled with faith in a loving God? Do we trust Him? Do we see God as a loving father who wants what's best for us? Have we felt His love? 

I've noticed two kinds of people in this world. Those who are successful, and those who are not. Successful people have something that others do not ... the traits that lead to success. Two of those traits are confidence and persistence. The losers of this world give up easily when opposition comes. They fear failure so much that they are not willing to try. They often complain and hide behind sarcasm, or they believe they are a victim of someone else's actions. They hope in the wrong things (example, winning the lottery) instead of actively pursuing the things that God is directing them to do. They might not even realize that God is wanting to direct their lives, or that God has specific goals He created them for. Losers make excuses why they aren't able to succeed. They whine and complain about their circumstances, not realizing that their choices or their reaction to the bad choices of others are often the very reason they are in their current circumstances. They are satisfied with less than their potential because they don't realize they are capable of more. They assume that successful people have more luck, whereas often successful people just have more hope and courage. 

I once became the manager of a store that was near the bottom of the company in reaching its sales goals. At a meeting I asked my team if we were the top store in the company how that would change our behavior. We realized we wouldn't be stressed out and pushy with our customers. We would be confident and excited and have perfect visual displays etc. We decided from that moment on to believe we were the number one store in the company and act like it. You know what? We ended that year in the top ten! Believing you are a success can actually make you one. Let's not play limbo with the bars that have been set for us. Let's be pole vaulters! 

My sister has a plaque on her wall that says, "The difference between a beginner and an expert is that the expert has failed more times than the beginner has tried." I like that. It takes confidence to try. It's not fair that some have been raised by failures, and some have been raised by the successful, (and as a result have actually been ingrained with the traits those two categories teach) but that does not need to determine a person's destiny. Just know that it is important to find people who are getting the results in life you would like and follow their example. Ultimately, follow Jesus' example. The truest success anyone can have in life is to fulfill the individual purpose God created each of us specifically for. It's time to get out of that chrysalis and fly like a butterfly. 




Attitude is Everything

A lot of things in life are outside our control, but one thing that is always our choice is our attitude. I live in paradise. It's a dream come true for my family, but there are still difficulties in life and it's my choice which things I choose to dwell on. 

On Sunday I got to go snorkeling on one of the clearest days ever with my six-year-old daughter. We laughed and smiled and saw two turtles as well as many other brightly colored tropical fish. Yesterday, I booked a night at an amazing resort for my 15 year wedding anniversary, took a fun and fast hula class, and then had a date night with my husband. 

Today, I went on an early morning photo shoot with my daughter for an upcoming children's book we are writing together and then walked to the bakery and bought a chocolate scone and a delicious cup of coffee ... but that's not the whole story. By the time I finally got my little ones down for their naps, my coffee was cold. I tried to heat it up on the burner and ended up severely burning my tongue. While I was trying to get the sugar out to sweeten up the scone which turned out to be a bit stale, my Costco sized olive oil decided it wanted to be an Olympic gymnast and did a triple back-flip off of my shelf and exploded all over my kitchen floor. 

Since moving to Hawaii, we have majorly downgraded our living conditions due to the extreme price differences here. I have battled cockroaches, cane spiders (Google it, they are giant!), centipedes, termites, rats, mice, avocado bombs (at least that's what it sounds like when one hits our metal roof), thugs who hang out near our laundry room, and mosquito bites galore. But it's all worth it to me. 

When the Israelites were in the wilderness on their way to the promised land, they started complaining. Numbers 21:5 says, "And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread." Of course God's plan was not to let them die in the wilderness, but that's exactly what happened to them because they complained. God's desire is for us to have thankful hearts. Think like in the old Disney movie Pollyanna. Besides, looking on the bright side actually causes a different end result. Trusting in God's goodness is the starting point for a positive attitude. Knowing His amazing love means that even when all we see is desert, with the eyes of faith we trust that His plans for us are good and He is leading us in the right direction ... if only we will allow Him. 



Fake Friends


One of the most hurtful things ever is being stabbed in the back by a "friend." The pain of trusting someone only to find out that they have used you or are only interested in their own benefit is truly devastating. 

Jesus understands. One of his disciples betrayed him by a kiss, receiving money to hand him over to people who would ultimately kill him. Another disciple named Peter denied even knowing him during his darkest trial. 

Proverbs 27:6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."  The Life Application Study Bible notes say, "Who would prefer a friend's wounds to an enemy's kisses? Anyone who considers the source. A friend who has your best interests at heart may have to give you unpleasant advice at times, but you know it is for your own good. An enemy, by contrast may whisper sweet words and happily send you on your way to ruin. We tend to hear what we want to hear, even if an enemy is the only one who will say it. A friend's advice, no matter how painful, is much more valuable." 

So true friends are proven by their actions, not their flattering words. All people will disappoint us at times, like when Peter failed Jesus under pressure. But Peter repented (changed his ways) and history says that he eventually died for Jesus. Those actions prove he was a true friend. 

What should we do when a friend stabs us in the back? Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." 

Step #1 
Forgive them and take captive every thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5 "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Don't have a shadow battle in your mind, you know those conversations where we say things to someone in our mind and they respond etc. If a root of bitterness tries to grow in your heart, keep chopping it down. Unforgiveness is just plain ugly. 

Step #2 
Determine by their actions if they are a real friend of not, then ditch the fake friends. Find real friends who help you to become a better person and produce good fruit in your life. 

Step #3 
Be filled up with the love that God has to offer you. Remember that even if the person who has harmed you claims to be representing God (like the religious leaders who killed Jesus), that doesn't mean God is actually behind their actions. God loves you. He is a true friend, proven by his actions. Take a look at his beautiful, nail pierced hands and remember that he understands how you feel. Let him comfort your broken heart. 







Persecution

As an American, we are conditioned to fight for our rights. After all, that's basically how our country began, right? I've observed rebellion in the plots of most of our movies, even cartoons. So it's no wonder that fighting against persecution is often our first response. A fleshly response indeed. 

But I have observed something entirely different in believers who are truly being persecuted. They don't fight for their rights in a rude way. They pray for their persecutors and in many cases those same people end up giving their lives to Christ because that kind of a response to evil is only possible through the power of God. (For lots of these true testimonies, visit http://www.gfa.org/persecution/).

The apostle Peter was warned about coming persecution by Jesus. He was so confident that he wouldn't buckle under the trial that here is what he said:

Matthew 26:33-36 Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
“No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”

Did Peter pray like Jesus told him to? 

Mark 14:37-38
And he (Jesus) cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, "Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak."

Poor Peter. I totally understand. Many of us American Christians are in the exact same place today, falling asleep spiritually instead of watching and praying. Prayer is the only way to keep from falling into temptation. 

What happens next is that Peter totally responds to persecution in a fleshly manner (but maybe the same way we often tend to try to fight for our rights?)

John 18:10-11
Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.
But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”

John 18:25-27 Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?”
Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.

Wow. So sad. Thankfully, the story doesn't end there. Peter repents and later goes on to have a very powerful and effective ministry. I wonder what would have happened if he had prayed like Jesus asked. It's ironic that a relative of the guy whose ear he cut off is the one who tempts him to deny Christ. Fleshly deeds have a way of compounding. 

The question I have for us is simply, what should our response be when we are facing persecution? What if Christianity was outlawed in America? Is the time we spend together as believers worth risking our lives for? Would our response to persecution amaze the persecutors so much that they would see the undeniable work of God in our lives? Prayer would be the only way such a response would be possible. 
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