by The Editors
Here are some updates on Guideposts stories, from the people who wrote them and readers whose lives were touched by them.
When my devotional Mornings With Jesus 2021 arrived, I skimmed the back of the book to learn more about the authors. One was Pamela Toussaint Howard. I was so pleased to see that a woman of color had contributed to this year’s edition. I tried to memorize her name, so I would recognize her work.
I woke on January 24, unsettled by a bad dream. I opened Mornings With Jesus. That day’s story—about a woman whose friend nicknamed her Frugal Franny—spoke to me. I always look for ways to save money. Feeling lighter, I flipped to the back of the book to read about the author. It was Pam Howard! God knew I was looking forward to reading her work and made sure it resonated with me on a day I particularly needed it. Thanks to Pam, I’m learning to let go and trust Jesus to provide me with “more than enough.”—Leeann Pettis, Westchester, Illinois
It was so inspiring to read Roberta Messner’s story Debt Relief, about her medical debt journey, in the March 2021 Guideposts. Many years ago, I was in a similar situation. Even with health insurance, my medical debt was more than three times my annual income. Like Roberta, I was weighed down by stress. Thankfully, I was able to pay off my debt over time.
But what about those who can’t? Did Roberta’s story make you wonder what you can do to help people struggling with medical debt? I came across the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. Every $100 donation allows the organization to forgive $10,000 in medical debt for the neediest individuals and families. To learn more, visit ripmedicaldebt.org.
I hope Roberta’s story gives readers with similar challenges the motivation to face the terrible psychological and financial burden of medical debt. I also hope it enlightens more people to the hardships faced by those who do not have access to adequate health coverage.—Jan Babiak, Nashville, Tennessee
Last year, I spent Christmas alone—for the first time in my 84 years—to protect myself and loved ones from Covid-19. During my devotional time on Christmas morning, I read the December/January 2021 issue of Guideposts, which included Sam Sifton’s article, Faith in Food. I followed his tips on adapting long-standing traditions to help make the unusual holiday season joyous.
I decked the halls (my retirement community suite) with a small, decorated tree, electric candles and a lighted manger scene. I “set the table with intention” using special china, silverware and battery-operated candles and enjoyed a delicious dinner. Most important, I counted my blessings. I’m grateful for remaining free of the virus, recovering from unexpected surgery and being able to connect with my community and loved ones virtually. God has blessed me beyond what I could ask or imagine.
Thank you, Sam, for your suggestions. I can still make physically distanced celebrations meaningful.—Marilyn D. Harris, Warminster, Pennsylvania
I made a friend through Guideposts! The April 2005 Up Side featured a cartoon by artist Cuyler Black. I loved the cartoon and wanted to see more
of Cuyler’s work, which you described as “the Bible meets The Far Side.” I enjoy art that lets people of faith express the fun and joy God brings to our lives.
I contacted Cuyler via his website and bought some of his greeting cards. He started a blog, which I still follow. His posts provide food for
thought. We stay in touch over e-mail. I’ve gotten to know and appreciate Cuyler’s humble attitude toward his gifts for cartooning and writing. I
value his quirky personality and the chance to laugh without being disrespectful to others. My friendship with Cuyler has shown me that when God connects his children, even in small ways, there’s a big impact.—Christel Springmire, Sycamore, Illinois
A January 2017 Guideposts story, Legal Guardian, told about Lori Raineri’s dog, Daisy Grace, who worked in the Yolo County, California, Courthouse, comforting child sexual assault victims. Lori recently told us that Daisy had passed away at age 14. “So many people who knew Daisy as my service dog were happy to learn about her other role, comforting crime victims,” Lori says. Daisy made new friends as she traveled the country for Lori’s work. “The article was a wonderful highlight of our lives together and our effort to help others,” Lori says. “Thank you for all you do to inspire your readers and for including Daisy and me in Guideposts’ mission.”—Daisy Urgiles, Editor
Amy Eddings’s January 4 devotion in Daily Guidepost 2021, about “deep ruts of…resentments” in her marriage, reminded me of my journey. Fifteen years into our marriage, my husband’s addiction to his work as an ordained minister had left me to care for our three preschoolers on my own. I felt frustrated and lonely. I prayed for God to help us find common ground, casting “my net of need,” as Amy put it. Then another couple invited us to a Marriage Encounter Weekend. My husband and I emerged with tools that helped us reshape our relationship. I finished reading the devotion, grateful for God’s answer—47 years later, our marriage continues to grow. Struggling in your relationship? Marriage Encounter is being offered as a series of virtual date nights. For info, go to encounter.org.—Vivian Weiting White, Humble, Texas
In the January 2016 Guideposts, Carol Allston-Stiles shared her story, Strong Brew—about how starting a coffee company helped rehabilitate her husband, Peter, who’d suffered major head trauma in a car accident. In November 2018, the Stileses sold Pike Creek Coffee Roasters to me and two of my childhood friends from church, Andrew Moore and Paul Mason. Guideposts readers nationwide who’d supported Carol and Peter’s efforts form the bedrock of our sales. Just as God used the coffee company—and its story in the magazine—to bless the Stileses, so he has used it to help my two partners and me grow, both as business owners and as people of faith.—Brad McDowell, Oxford, Pennsylvania
After suffering chest pain and shortness of breath for more than a year, I was diagnosed with lupus last fall. Despite trying two medication regimens, I wasn’t able to return to my job as an emergency room physician assistant. I was at my lowest point and feeling as if nothing in my life would ever be the same. Then I read Cliff Shiepe’s story Miracle on Hold, in the October 2020 issue of Guideposts. His line “Miracles are not onetime but living things” jumped out at me. It reminded me that the God who sustained me through a painful divorce, bankruptcy and single motherhood is the same God who will sustain me through my present trials. I have good days and bad with lupus, but I’ve learned to celebrate each day the ongoing miracle that is my life. Thank you, Cliff.—Jennifer Dobrinen-Morgenstern, Glendora, California
Rick Hamlin’s blog post Pray the Alphabet (Instead of Counting Sheep)—about praying for others, beginning with folks whose name starts with A and going to Z—inspired me to do my own version. I struggle with depression and have difficulty falling asleep, so at bedtime I go through the alphabet and pray my gratitude for a blessing that starts with each letter. “Thank you, Lord, for another day to spend with my loved ones, for the beauty of a sunset, for my cats....”
This alphabet approach puts me in a different mindset. It shows me how much I have to be thankful for. I feel closer to God as I thank him for everything he’s bestowed upon me, my family and friends. Ending my day on a happy note helps me sleep better and lets me wake up thanking God for another day.—Kathy Moore, Beulah, Colorado
I used to read my parents’ Guideposts magazines every morning before heading to school. Its powerful, positive stories were so uplifting. Last summer, my dad got me my own subscription. I’m so happy Guideposts is back in my life! The inspirational stories assure me that God is working real miracles in people’s lives every single day.
I write Up Side quotes on sticky notes and put them up around my home. When I’m going through a rough patch, these quotes help me stay positive. They keep my faith strong and serve as a reminder that, no matter my circumstances, God is still good, he is still faithful and he will work all things out in his own perfect timing.—Holly Bradbury, Noblesville, Indiana
I had the privilege of working with Gerry Sowards on his Guideposts story, The End of the Line (April 2019), about finding his freedom from addiction. At the time, I had no idea the prescription opioids I was taking for chronic pain had me in their grip.
Recently I called to check on Gerry [pictured]. I found myself telling him about my own addiction, saying, “I wasted 63 years I can never get back.” With wisdom beyond his 38 years, Gerry said, “Life for both of us is wonderful now. We couldn’t be the people we are today without those yesterdays.”
Gerry’s video on guideposts.org shows him at a cemetery, where the first grave he dug (at his post-rehab job) was for a friend who’d overdosed. Things seemed bleak until Gerry left his old life for a God-given destiny. His redemption encourages me to treasure every moment. — Roberta Messner, Huntington, West Virginia
In our July 2014 Guideposts cover story, You Are My Brother, we told about how hard it was for Janis to get a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) to bring his family to the United States from Afghanistan. He was an interpreter for the Army and had saved Matt’s life in battle.
After almost three years and multiple threats from the Taliban, the Shinwaris arrived in Washington, D.C., in October 2013. Once they were settled, we used some of the donations we’d received to start No One Left Behind (NOLB), a nonprofit that advocates for the SIV program and provides funding and job search assistance to these brave men and women who have served alongside U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We are pleased to announce that the Shinwaris became U.S. citizens this past summer, just in time for Independence Day. Janis still serves American service members. In addition to NOLB, he works for a company that makes rescue beacons for sailors. Matt passed the baton to new leadership at NOLB and is writing a book about Janis’s life.
Guideposts readers have been a powerful sustaining force for NOLB. We lost count of the letters we received—often with offers of substantial support—and the occasions we would give a talk and find that audience members had learned of our story through Guideposts. Thank you for helping our country keep its promise to the people who stood with us in Afghanistan and Iraq.—Matt Zeller, Oakton, Virginia, and Janis Shinwari, Woodbridge, Virginia
I gave my aunt Bernice a Guideposts subscription during her last couple years in an assisted living home. She would carry the magazine wherever she went. When I’d call Aunt Bernice for our weekly prayer, she’d ask, “Sandy, have you met this person yet?” Then she’d excitedly introduce me to someone featured in the magazine and tell me their story, as if they’d become a new friend. And in a way, they had. Their stories triggered my aunt’s memories and feelings, which she would share with me.
Aunt Bernice showed me that Guideposts is more than a magazine. The stories are not just something to read. They’re an experience to cherish and share with the ones you love.—Sandra Clifton, Tulsa, Oklahoma
My husband and I are full-time RVers. This past summer, I read back issues of Guideposts while on the road. Becca Stevens’s story, Love Heals Every Body, in the November 2018 issue, touched my heart. Becca had been sexually abused as a child and confronted her abuser as an adult. Her experience led her to found
Thistle Farms, a nonprofit residential treatment center for women recovering from addiction and sex trafficking. Thistle Farms is headquartered in Nashville, which is where we were when I read the story. My husband and I are always downsizing (there isn’t a lot of room in an RV), so I was able to donate clothing, purses and jewelry. I thought Thistle Farms residents might be able to use them as they move forward with their lives.
I believe this was all God’s timing. I’m glad these items will help women starting anew, thankful for Becca’s ministry and hopeful that all Thistle Farms residents have a bright future.—Charlene Black, Green Cove Springs, Florida
Bill Giovannetti’s August 5 devotion in Daily Guideposts 2020 meant so much to me. In the days leading up to it, several events I’d eagerly awaited were canceled because of a spike in Covid-19 cases.
I was feeling discouraged. But Bill’s devotion, about realizing we’re richer in blessings than we think, gave me the lift I needed. At the top of the devotion was a favorite verse of mine, Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
I have leaned on it whenever I couldn’t imagine how things would work out. I needed the reminder that God will give us the strength to get through whatever comes. Thank you, Bill.—Paula O'Donnell, Springfield, Missouri
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.