And the Winner is…

Congratulations to Mary of Ohio! She is the winner of a free copy of A Heart of Praise! My next drawing will be Saturday, May 13th! I am giving away a copy of I’m Glad I’m a Mom! You can be entered by signing up for my newsletter at http://tenadegraaf.com/site/contact/ AND entered again by liking my Facebook page-Tena DeGraaf-Author & Speaker https://www.facebook.com/tenadegraaf/until May 13th.
Blessings, Tena


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Fruit of the Spirit

Today I am sharing some verses to read and reflect on to help develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Some fruits are easier to grow in our lives, but some are more difficult. My prayer is that one of the verses will resonate with you and help you grow.

LOVE
Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14
JOY
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:18
PEACE
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3
FORBEARANCE
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
KINDNESS
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12
GOODNESS
Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Amos 5:14
FAITHFULNESS
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Proverbs 3:3
GENTLENESS
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5
SELF-CONTROL
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
Proverbs 25:28

Lord God, help us to develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Amen.


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Spring into Praise

I love spring! Living near Chicago, I am able to fully experience all the seasons, but my favorite time of the year has always been spring. Signs of springtime are all around me as the birds are chirping, the trees are budding, the warm wind is blowing, and the tulip leaves are breaking through the cold, compact dirt. Everywhere the earth is shouting: a fresh start, a new life, a new beginning, and an optimistic view. Thankfully, my winter blues dissipate with each added minute of sunshine and upward degree. As winter bids farewell and spring says hello, my energy increases, and I feel lighter. My entire outlook changes. It is similar to how my view changes when I praise the Lord.  Each time I am depressed, discouraged, or down in the dumps, I have a choice to worship God. When I select this route rather than the road of self-pity, my perspective improves. Faith increases as I begin to acknowledge that God is not surprised by my circumstances, and He is aware of what I am feeling and experiencing. As I trust in Him, I am able to move from a winter-like attitude to a spring-like attitude, full of hope and confidence in God. This is a trust that believes that flowers will bloom out of the overwhelming times and situations. The trials of our lives are the dirt for the beautiful flowers to fully bloom.

Father God, thank you for spring and fresh beginnings. Amen.


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Acts of God

Delays could have caused frustrations, but they also brought this church community together.
Insurance companies define an “act of God” as damage done that is out of the control of humans. This may include damage done by wind, heavy rain, severe lightning, or hail. Within a five-month period last year, Cornerstone Church in Bourbonnais, Illinois, experienced this firsthand.
In July 1998, the church family excitedly gathered for the long-anticipated ground-breaking ceremony for a new church building. We had been meeting in a local middle school cafeteria for worship for three years, and we happily anticipated a May 1999 completion date of our beautiful, new building. However, God had other plans. This date was pushed back after a windstorm caused two twenty-foot brick walls to collapse on November 10, 1998. We were thankful that no one was injured. It took some time to get back to building again, and just when we were once again going full force in the construction process, a second windstorm blew the trusses into the middle of the worship center, causing the tops of the walls to fall down on March 17, 1999.
As I prayerfully pondered these two powerful, destructive events, I tried to understand what was God trying to communicate to this body of believers. Ultimately, I believe that God was showing us that this church building is his and will be finished when he wants it finished! Even though this congregation is dedicated and excited to serve God and the community, God is reminding us that, “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). God knows when it will be the best time for this church to open its doors for expanded ministry.
Pastor Bob Grysen says, “We are learning to run on God’s timing and according to his plan. I am convinced that his timing is perfect for us. That is the faith lesson we are learning.”
With these two acts of God, I see God “acting” in our lives. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:3: “A time to break down and a time to build up.” Spiritually, the Lord has been teaching us to break down the sin in our lives as he has broken down the building. However, as we reconstructed our building of brick and mortar, he built in us a closer relationship with him. We are living the very Scripture for which our church is named. As Ephesians 2:19-21 states: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”
Every day our community of believers is moving toward a deeper relationship with God. The trials are preparing us to be the people we need to be in order to best serve others. I realize that some may see these acts of God as setbacks, but I see them as tools God used to make us a more faithful and united church community with a rock-solid and promising future.

“Acts of God” was published in the June 2000 issue of The Church Herald.


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And the Winner is…


Congratulations to Shaquandra of Maryland! She is the winner of a free copy of A Heart of Praise! My next drawing will be Saturday, April 22! You can be entered by signing up for my newsletter at tenadegraaf.com AND entered again by liking my Facebook page-Tena DeGraaf-Author & Speaker anytime from now until April 22.
Blessings, Tena #freegiveaway


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And the Winner is…

Congratulations to Kelly Edwards for winning a free copy of A Heart of Praise! 🙂

You will have another chance to win a free copy of A Heart of Praise or Hidden in My Heart. I will be doing a drawing on Saturday, March 4th. How do you enter? By signing up for the newsletter. You can also be entered again by “liking” my FB page Tena DeGraaf-Author & Speaker.


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Be Like Shakespeare

One summer I took an online course entitled, “Introduction to Shakespeare” at my local junior college. While reading and working through seven different plays in eight weeks, I wrestled daily with what Shakespeare was trying to convey in each of these plays. There were, however, certain words and phrases he wrote that I had no problem understanding. As I read and reread his tragedies and comedies, I could not help but notice the numerous references to the Holy Scriptures. Woven throughout the dialogue of the characters were words of wisdom and truth from the Bible. The fact that this literary genius used Scripture references in most of his plays caused me to question whether my spoken and written words had a constant theme of truth running through them. Would I also be known and remembered for speaking and writing words of truth, of discernment, of lasting value? Inspired by Shakespeare’s example, I began a fresh new scene in my own life. When the class ended, I began to make sure that there was a theme of spiritual truth present in my words. I am trying to choose my words more carefully so that they will be of value to those who hear and read them.
Lord, help me to speak and write your words of truth whenever I can. Amen.


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