Closing Our Doors

The past few months I have spent rethinking Glory and Strength. It is always my endeavor to be in God's will and take the path he leads me on. While I had initially decided to revamp, redesign and take new direction, I have come to the difficult decision of closing down Glory and Strength. 

I want to thank all my faithful readers and pray that you found Glory and Strength uplifting in your journey. Thank you to my staff writers for your dedication and hard work in providing quality writing for our readers.

In the years to come, we may return. For now, it is good-bye and God bless you all.

Debra L. Butterfield

“If it is the Lord’s will…”

By Kristi Bothur © 2013

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17 (NIV)

How often have you heard someone pray, "Lord, if it is your will, please..." and then follow it with a request for healing, or financial help, or reconciliation, or some other blessing? Teaching about prayer often reminds us to submit our will to God's, with Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane as the prime example of laying one's will down in favor of whatever God's plan is.

But the phrase "if it is the Lord’s will" in James is not about prayer. It is about planning. It's about making plans for the next year without considering some important truths.

The first truth is that tomorrow is uncertain. The daily news reminds us of this every day. Tragedies are never expected or planned for, and they always interrupt life, leaving schedules, goals, and desires unfulfilled.

The second truth is that we are vulnerable. James describes us as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Like fog in the early morning that is quickly dismissed in the light and warmth of the sun. No substance to it.

And third, that God is sovereign and his plans trump ours, no matter what. And His plans do not always fulfill our desire to "carry on business and make money" or rake in any of the other earthly blessings that are at the top of our prayer lists. Refusing to recognize that is pure arrogance.

This is something that makes me stop and think as I consider the year ahead. As I look back at last year, I see a lot of good things that happened - the birth of our son, special times with family and friends, the growth of ministry opportunities through Naomi's Circle and our church, new friendships beginning. I also see a lot of failures - promises I didn't keep, goals I didn't meet, and much in my life that remains, sadly, unchanged, in spite of my intentions and plans. I want to change that. When it gets here, I want to enter 2014 with the satisfaction that 2013 was a "success." I want, I want...but what does God want?

James tells us plainly. First, God wants us to submit any and all plans and desires to Him. James doesn't tell us not to make plans, but to make them always with the recognition that God has both the right and the power to determine the direction of our lives. Sometimes that means filling our lives and days with the obvious physical blessings of this world. And yes, sometimes that means allowing the hidden blessings that come with loss or illness or other kinds of hardship.

The other thing James tells us is fairly simple - to do the good that we know we ought to do. I wonder sometimes how much time I would save worrying about what God wants me to do, if I would just do the things I know I should? And where do I find that out? From God's Word. The Scriptures contain all I need to know about the good I ought to do, no matter what my circumstances are.

This new year, I encourage you to follow James' advice. Make your plans for 2013 with a humility that says, "If God allows me to, these are my plans, but if He has something else in mind, so be it. And no matter what, I will put God's Word into practice in my life and fill my days doing the good I ought to do in whatever circumstances I find myself."

Praying that 2013 is an excellent year for YOU as you follow Jesus in all you do!

Father, help me to submit my plans to you this new year, and help me to do the good that I ought to do. Make my 2013 what you want it to be. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of five - two on earth and three in heaven. She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life. She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven ( You are welcome to contact her at Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and son.

The Dressy Debacle

By Terri Porta © 2012

It’s late, too late to be looking for a fancy dress for my husband’s company Christmas party, but I had put it off for long enough. Why do I do this every time? I think that if I miss one more meal a new size will slip down over my waist like a loose breezy joy. At that point I can break out in self-congratulatory dance moves kept only for this moment. I won’t deny it, I have been dreaming of going to the party in my yoga pants. The dressy black ones that don’t have dried blue paint on them from my foray into art a few months back. My husband thinks I look hot in yoga pants.

Finally, I settle into the reality that I need a dress and it will probably be a bigger size than last year’s.

My two-year-old son and I muck through the sale racks at the mall together. The clerk, with Brittany on her badge, must have recognized the panic-stricken glaze in my eyes. “Do you have any nice evening dresses?”

“You might try the Clothes Barn,” she offered.

“Okay, thanks.” I pluck at the bejeweled, embroidered jeans, size “tiny” on the rack in front of me, and sigh. I don’t need another pair of jeans; I need a dress. My son yanks on my arm, his other arm stretches out, and like a yo-yo he pulls bracelets, earrings and then a box of perfume from the shelf. Brittany glares. I flee.

At the next shop, I wait for a dressing room while two teenage girls try on bikinis. When I noticed four young men standing around gawking at them, I put my stuff back on the rack and walk out.

Why didn’t I bring a stroller? Christmas shoppers crowd around me. I carry my son till my arms fall asleep as I browse the next store. Finally, I sit him on the bench in the fitting room with a dress that might work and strip down to the bare minimums. I needed a dose of fashion. Their clearance rack was full of it. I sumo-wrestling move into the latex brief first. Now I just resemble the Michelin Man. With the dress over my arms and head, I pull. Grunt. Then pull again. Dread sets in as I wiggle. There is no light breezy joy here. It’s tight. Too tight! Suddenly, I hear a startled cry, and then the bang of the door to my dressing room straining open on its hinges.


I peek out from the material and a teenage boy stares at me. My son is half way to the register and heading for the food court. My phone rings with a hilarious high-pitched squeal that squawks out, “Hey you, it’s me answer the phone!” I’ve been meaning to change it for weeks. The crowded store falls silent except for Jingle Bells playing in the background. Every head swivels to me.

Ten minutes later, Chelsea hands me my son. Her pursed lips and squinting eyes study me.

“Honey, that is just not your color,” she says and swivels away.

At the next store, my son is minutes from meltdown. I’m past it. Do I really need a dress? The yoga pants are looking pretty good. I could wear a bejeweled top and hang out with the grannies at the party. Is it that important to be dolled up for my husband’s boss?

Just one more try at finding a dress in the next store, which looks like a cupcake frosting factory on steroids. White, glitter and ruffles hang from ceiling to floor. I grab something loose off the rack and march to the dressing rooms. My son is snot-covered and smelling of something that should be changed. His diaper looks like a grenade went off. I pull out his wet wipes--they’re dried out.

I’ve become one of those moms. You know the kind. The offensive, strung-out mother, whose kid runs through the stores with just a diaper on, while she’s screaming at the top of her lungs and begging God to give her one more chance tomorrow. Tears run down both our cheeks.

Later we sit in the car. I look at my son whose curls frame his angelic sleeping face. He is smiling and his fingers cling to his sippy cup. I don’t have a dress. I don’t want one. A verse comes to mind, "For this child I prayed" (1 Samuel 1:27a). All is well.

The moments of our lives, and theirs, are forever bound in our hearts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Where can you find Terri Porta? Her book “5 Basics for Growth, Part 1 of the High-Octane Christian Series,” is available on her website or anywhere digital books are sold. Catch up with her on her daily blog, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

A New Journey

As you have no doubt noticed, posts this month have been minimal. I've been in change mode and winter mode (when I'd prefer to hibernate than work).

Change. That's supposed to happen in January when we make resolutions and decisions to change bad habits. But for me, change seems to hit in October. And it isn't about changing bad habits. It's about adding good things to my life. I begin to think back over my year. Have I accomplished my goals? If not, why not? I spend the next three months evaluating and praying and seeking direction for the next year.

Invariably, I question whether to continue Glory and Strength. Often throughout the year, I get caught up in the hype of tribe building and discouraged by the low numbers who visit these pages. I wage battles with fear of failure and inadequacy. Worse yet, I lose sight of God's purpose for Glory and Strength: to minister to those who are hurting. When I remember I write to encourage others with God's Word, I find the courage and strength to continue.

In the coming weeks, I am going to be redesigning this website and moving it to a new host. I am also taking Glory and Strength in a new direction. Our new tag line is "Be Bold, Be Radiant, Be You." My desire is to help you to step out in your uniqueness, rather than follow the trends. To swim upstream. To walk into the wind. To face the storm. To soar like an eagle as you embrace the person God designed you to be.

No, I don't have all the answers. God is still showing me the way. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to take this journey together with you. You each have something to share, and together we can encourage one another in this journey.

Thank you for your patience as I seek God's face and follow his leading. I hope you'll make the journey with me.

Do you have any plans for changes in your life for next year? Leave your comments below.

Debra L. Butterfield. Copyright 2012.

“Fear Not!”

By Kristi Bothur © 2012

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

As I write this, I am anticipating a medical test that is scheduled within the next week. Nearly four years ago, I had a cancer scare that turned my life upside down. This Christmas marks my three-year anniversary of my final all-clear when I felt like life could get back to normal. Twice-yearly follow-up visits always confirmed that everything was fine, and since then, I have even been pregnant and given birth to a healthy baby boy. Life has been normal and wonderful.

But my last oncology appointment revealed a possible problem – a painful spot where there was no pain before. Hence the scheduled test, to make sure it is nothing to worry about.

My doctor is not worried, reassuring me that in all likelihood it is nothing. But in a moment, I was catapulted back into the uncertainties and fears of three years ago, wondering if this test will, again, turn my world upside down.

And with Christmas upon us, I am again reminded of one of the most repeated phrases in the Christmas story, “Do not be afraid.” Each of the main characters was told this – Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, the shepherds. But the command to not fear was not followed by what I would love to hear right now, a reassurance that “everything will be all right.” Instead, they are told not to fear because the Creator God was intimately involved with their situation, and He could be trusted. The prophet Isaiah recorded something similar in his command to Israel, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

My four-year-old daughter had a bad dream a couple of weeks ago. As I held her close and tried to calm her fears, the phrase I kept uttering was, “Don’t worry, Mama’s here.” No reassurances that the substance of her dream wasn’t real or that everything would look better in the morning. What she needed to know was that I had her and I wouldn’t leave her. In the same way, God tells us not to fear because He is with us. We know His presence and we know His character, that He can be trusted. And what does He promise to do? Not always to rescue us from our circumstances the way we would prefer, but to strengthen us, help us, and uphold us. We are not just a victim of circumstances, but children of the sovereign God whose plans are always for our ultimate good and His glory.

As I await my test and the news to follow, this is what I am focusing on. I need not fear because whatever the results, God is with me. He is already there, as intimately involved in my life circumstances as He was in the events leading up to the first Christmas. He promises to be with me, to strengthen me, to help me, to uphold me – not because of my righteousness, but because of His. I pray that whatever circumstances you find yourself in today, you also will be able to “fear not” this Christmas season, and to trust God to carry you through.

Father, I confess that I often fear what the future holds. Help me to trust in your love and your presence to carry me through. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of five - two on earth and three in heaven. She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life. She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven ( You are welcome to contact her at Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and son.

Photo by Mark Reed Butterfield

“Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10)

Even if it’s only for one minute, stop awhile today and ponder the wonder of God. 

A Game for All

Adapted from the recently released book, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas
by Linda Gilden

How will all the little holiday extras ever get done? I ask myself that question every year. And as much as I enjoy the holidays, there seems to be so little time.xmas queen

One year I decided to let go of expectations and concentrate on celebrating Jesus. I came up with a plan to accomplish a lot of the extras in a very short time. I created a game!

“Come on, everyone,” I said. “We are going to play a game.”

There was minor grumbling but in the end everyone agreed a family game would be fun. And I was so excited about the end result!

“Just give me an hour of your time,” I said. “Then you can get back to your homework.”

I found a cute Christmas container and deposited little slips of paper, each describing a job.

“I am going to set a timer for twenty minutes,” I said. “When you draw a slip of paper, you have twenty minutes to work at your job. When the bell rings, you will choose another job and change what you are doing. In an hour, you will have helped me with three pre-Christmas chores.”

The papers in the container had jobs like:

  1. Position the electric candles in the windows.
  2. Put the greenery on the mantle downstairs.
  3. Wrap presents. (Not your own, although most were willing!)
  4. A smile face. This job was really important. The person who got the smile was to circulate, serve refreshments, and make sure everyone was having fun.
  5. Address Christmas cards.
  6. Plan a family activity that will help us concentrate on the real meaning of the season such as memorize the Christmas story from Luke, find someone to share the season with who hasn’t yet met the Savior, concentrate on a different aspect of Jesus’ birth in daily devotions, etc.
  7. Make a Christmas goodie or edible treat. My family favorite is “Rocks!”

Christmas music playing in the background created a festive and jovial mood.

As it turned out, everybody was a winner in this game. The family gathered in the kitchen for a sample of “rocks,” pointing out that we had become happy little elves, proudly creating an atmosphere of merriment for the holidays.

Are there things you can do to make this holiday season less stressed for you and your family?

RECIPE: Rocks – Favorite Holiday Treat!

2 cups chocolate chips
1 ½ cups dry roasted peanuts
½ cup peanut butter
(1) 12.3 oz. box Crispix cereal
Confectioners Sugar

  1. Melt chocolate in a large bowl in microwave oven. Heat on high for 1 minute. Stir well. Heat 30 seconds more or as needed to melt chocolate. Stir until smooth. (Chocolate could also be melted in a double boiler over low heat on the stove.)
  2. Add peanut butter and stir until well blended.
  3. Add peanuts and cereal and mix until thoroughly coated. A wooden spoon works best for this.
  4. Put confectioner’s sugar in a plastic bag. Add cereal mixture, close bag tightly, and shake gently until mixture is coated with sugar. If you do a third of the mixture at a time, it is easier to handle.
  5. Makes a lot! Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Linda GildenAbout the Author: Linda Gilden’s favorite season is Christmas. But, truthfully, she and her family like to celebrate all year long, so can it really be called a season? Growing up in a home where the spirit of Christmas prevailed throughout the year, she knows she is blessed to have married a man who shares the same philosophy—Jesus is not just for a season but for a lifetime! Linda is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and several other books, such as Love Notes in Lunchboxes, Love Notes on His Pillow, and Mommy Pick-Me-Ups (all by New Hope Publishers), but Mama Was the Queen of Christmas is one she has wanted to write for a long time. Her heart’s desire is to see families enjoy each other and make memories no matter what the season. Linda lives in South Carolina with her husband, three grown children and children-in-law, four grandchildren, and a granddog, all of whom love Christmas as much as she does!

ABOUT THE BOOK: Do you love Christmas but feel the real meaning of the season is lost in the busyness? Do you breathe a sigh of relief when the last holiday guest is out the door, the last gift unwrapped, and the last ornament put away? Do you struggle with balancing the preparation and celebration with honoring Jesus? After all, it is His birthday!

Mama Was the Queen of Christmas is a collection of stories highlighting “Mama's” role in the season as well as quotes, Scripture, and practical suggestions for keeping the holidays focused on Christ. Mama presents creative ideas to plan a meaningful holiday season.


  • “For the Queen” helps the reader focus on the truth of each story. This feature includes suggestions for the reader to implement that truth in his or her life.
  • “For the King” points the reader to the One whose birth we celebrate through a personal activity.
  • “For the Court” suggests family activities to apply the truth in each story.