Everyone has a neighbor. Whether they live two miles away, right next door, or in the folding chair a few seats down at the kids’ baseball game. The people we rub shoulders with daily are the same people we are called to love with the love and message of Christ! Two women, Amy Lively and Sara Edwards, felt a strong pull from the Lord to make their neighborhoods their mission field. But, first, they had to answer a fundamental question: how can I love my neighbor without being weird?
Maybe that’s not the question you were expecting, but it’s the approach that Amy and Sara stepped into as they learned to love those around them wholly and well. With the unspoken rule of “good friends don’t make good neighbors” creating a distance between homes and hearts, these women studied what it means to build trust and relationships with neighbors.
Amy says, “We are told to share the Gospel with our neighbors but rarely directed how to.” Amy and Sara work under the premise that there is no cookie-cutter formula to love a person or to sharing the Gospel. Amy says, “No one is excused from sharing the Gospel, but our instructions are very different.” Each person we meet is in a unique place on his or her spiritual journey. It’s important to be intentional and take time to build real relationships filled with trust. Amy and Sara prayerfully considered what instructions the Lord had for them and their desire to share His love. They realized that they didn’t have to traverse the seas in order to be a missionaries and ambassadors for Christ when people in need of hope filled their day to day lives. The Lord laid on their hearts to simply invite these women into their homes for fellowship and it soon became a group study of God’s Word!
Amy says, ““Love people without pushing an agenda on them.” Amy and Sara have learned how to create real friendships and share life with the women they encounter daily. Beginning with simple conversations and get togethers, every woman can make a new friend and introduce her to the Lord. Amy and Sara have also studied how best to present the Good News to their new friends and desire to equip other women with the same skills to speak truth!
Amy created the Neighborhood Café--the neighborhood women’s Bible study--from following the Lord’s leading and it has now spread across the U.S. and gone international! Amy and Sara encourage every woman to ask the Lord for the specific community that the Lord has called them too. For Amy and Sara, it was their neighbors and they aim to help all women with the same call.
Amy currently lives in Colorado and Sara is in Georgia. It’s such a blessing to watch Neighborhood Cafés spring up in new places and strengthen communities and relationships! Amy has published a book titled How to Love Your Neighbor, Without Being Weird which provides truth and amazing tips on how to reach out to those nearest to you with the Gospel; even if you've never tried before! If you’d like to purchase her book or just get to know the Neighborhood Café better, visit howtoloveyourneighbor.com! Also see the website to access free Bible study guides if you would like to begin your own Neighborhood Café!
Obedience. This seemingly “churchy” word elicits a visceral and emotional reaction. We think of oppression, we feel a lack of autonomy, and we remember all the times that the kids just would not listen in the grocery store. But what about the phrase “Adventurous Obedience”? For Glynnis Whitwer, the Executive Communications Director for Proverbs 31 ministries, obedience means blessing, peace, and a new intimacy with our Creator; she found the reason and blessing in obedience to God’s call and has an amazing story to share because of it.
Glynnis’s story gives a whole new perspective on obedience to God’s voice. I asked Glynnis how she came to her position at Proverbs 31 ministries and her story blew me away. Glynnis’s heart and home resides in Glendale, Arizona where she was born and raised and still resides today. With her big family of seven complete with two adopted girls from Liberia, Glynnis’s life brims to the full. Her entire family attends New City Church in Phoenix where Glynnis and her husband are among the few above thirty. Glynnis thrives in the presence of young people and loves watching how the Lord uses her in that environment. Her story of an adventurous obedience begins in this context when it seemed life couldn’t be better. Glynnis’s husband announced he found a new job in Charlotte, North Carolina and wanted the family to move. Glynnis was heartbroken at the thought of being torn away from her home. Then, the miraculous occurred. As Glynnis describes it, “It was the first time that the Lord spoke to me directly. He said, ‘Tell your husband yes.’” This was the beginning to an unexpected adventure.
Things looked rather miserable in Charlotte until Glynnis heard Lysa Terkurst of Proverbs 31 speak on the radio. Glynnis was struck by Lysa’s words of wisdom and encouragement. The Lord spoke to Glynnis again in that moment, “Call Lysa and ask to volunteer for Proverbs 31.” Perhaps even more shocking than the leap of faith to move out to Charlotte was the prompt to call a woman Glynnis had never heard of and offer her time.
In college, Glynnis studied PR and journalism and dreamed of being a communications director one day. The Lord was guiding her steps even then, for He had prepared a place for her as the Executive Communications Director at Proverbs 31 ministries. When Glynnis called Proverbs 31 they said, “We’ve been praying for someone with a journalism degree!” Glynnis’s obedience to God’s clear guidance was resulting in more blessing than she could’ve imagined. Now, “She [Glynnis] is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 750,000 daily readers. She is the author and co-author of 9 books, including her latest Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day. She blogs at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com.” (excerpt from professional bio)
As Glynnis’s eyes read across every remark of truth from Scripture and the writers, the Lord began to do a work in her heart. For the first time, she began to set her identity in what the Lord names her and not what her life contains. One of her biggest hopes for the younger generation of women is, “Start building your inner self now.” She says that once a person identifies and builds his or her core values, the exterior of life will fall into place.
One of the stories that encourages Glynnis in her path, devotion to the Lord, and Proverbs 31 happened in India. A Proverbs 31 missions group went to India paired with another missionary organization already stationed. Two speakers from Proverbs 31 were approached by a villager who told them of a woman with breast cancer. The woman had just undergone a tough round of chemotherapy and needed prayer. The trio traveled for an hour late at night to pray for this woman they had never met. When they arrived, the woman with breast cancer asked them their names and said, “I read your devotions every day from Proverbs 31 and have prayed that God would let me go to America to meet you both. But, on my lowest day, He has brought you to me.” This stunning display of God’s detailed care for His children could bring anyone to tears. Proverbs 31 and Glynnis have countless stories such as these that highlight the power of the Lord through us when we obey His call.
Glynnis lives a life with emphasis on humility, honesty, kindness, and an active faith. She says, “I take every doubting thought captive and choose to trust.” That mantra has ushered much peace into Glynnis’s life and she hopes for all people to experience the peace that arises from the bravery of stepping into faith and trust.
It’s easy to be inspired by this woman’s adventurous obedience. Continue to follow her and be encouraged and blessed at proverbs31.org and glynniswhitwer.com.
It’s never too embarrassing to talk about and it’s never so bad that you’ll be cast aside.
While this is the truth about sexual sin and struggle, too many girls and women have received the opposite message and gone into hiding where shame has had its way with them. Phylicia Delta is a woman who takes a stance against hiding and waves a banner for the redemption of Jesus to enter into every woman’s sex struggles and questions. Phylicia handles this topic with tact and grace and ushers in Christ’s love and healing. While interviewing Phylicia, I quickly found out that her heart also reaches every other corner of the female experience.
Phylicia Delta spends her days putting “feet to our theology in the everyday moments of life.” (phyliciadelta.com) Phylicia lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, Josh, and daughter, Adeline. The family recently moved from Lynchburg, Virginia. Phylicia is passionate about letting Jesus’ Lordship truly penetrate our entire lives. Phylicia’s writing is aimed to enrich young Christian women (teens and twenty somethings) but is applicable and holds wisdom for every woman in any stage of life.
Phylicia grew up seeking wisdom about how best to conduct Godly relationships with men. “While my own dating relationships (both with my husband and the men before him) have been flawed and had their failures, I hope my writing is transparent about those difficulties and how they can be overcome to achieve a relationship that glorifies God and puts the world to shame.” (phyliciadelta.com) Her writing now exists to share her own journey and to unashamedly put forth Biblical truth. She writes about everything from the mundane to our secret struggles.
Phylicia finds herself passionate about all things women: modesty, feminism, sexual sin, lies about dating, and transparent “day in the life” stories from her own marriage. Her blogs To the Girl with the Boring Testimony, Marry the Man Who Stays, and I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity and It was the Best Thing I Ever Did give a great picture of her work and mission. Phylicia has a special ability to take into account the many different paths women are on in these areas and her writing reflects that sensitivity. Having come from a pressuring “purity culture” but still struggling sexually when single, she has a God-given compassion which the Spirit uses in her writing and ministry. She hopes to be a safe space for women to confide in and readily invites her readers into contact and conversation. She says wrestling with these topics and communicating them with a Biblical perspective often feels like walking a tight rope. As women we must hold each other to the standards of a holy life but continually pour out grace when there is failure and confusion.
Phylicia says, “I don’t ever want to write something on my blog that I don’t implement in my life.” She serves her readers by staying up to date about cultural trends and happenings and providing the Biblical perspective. Two years ago, she partnered with a fellow blogger and influence, Lisa Hensley, to begin a podcast called Uniquely Woman where the two discuss truth to help Christian women in the upstream swim against the culture. With each of these podcasts and with every post, Phylicia holds a philosophy of “closet before rooftop.” This is a phrase she learned from Beth Guckenberger of Back2Back ministries. It simply means that before we declare a truth or principle from the rooftops, we must take the thought to the Lord in prayer to receive confirmation and blessing. Phylicia’s messages are covered in this kind of prayer and consideration and have continually been a source of healing and redemption in women’s lives.
Phylicia’s favorite part of her blogging work is when she chances to meet readers in person. She says there’s a sweet connection immediately through their mutual love for God and journeys towards Him as women. She treasures those conversations as well as encouraging emails she receives from women who have been uplifted and encouraged by her blog. These stories motivate her and reassure her of the Lord’s work through her ministry.
A few of the most important influences in Phylicia’s life have been Psalm 37:4 and Milton Vincent’s The Gospel Primer. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Phylicia says, “We always desire something we don’t have at every stage in life.” She remembers praying over this verse in her single years and finding that once one desire is fulfilled, another surfaces. Our contentment is based on our satisfaction in the Lord and she desires above anything else that her readers would let their faith be strengthened by Jesus’ relentless love pursuit. Vincent’s book, The Gospel Primer, is one that Phylicia says she would give to every reader if she had the ability. It continually centers her on what the Gospel truly means and frees her from what’s become unnecessarily important in her life.
As if we aren’t already incredibly blessed by this woman’s voice, we have more to look forward to! Phylicia is currently working on an eBook about redemptive sexuality and has dreams about publishing a print book. She also would love to have an annual convention to discuss the topic of Christian sexuality for women to find healing and direction.
I asked Phylicia for one take away message for Christian women. She said, “We are as safe from sin and compromise as we are close to Christ.” Her prayer is that her fellow sisters would make time to spend with Jesus because the more our faith grows, the better eyes we have to see His world, way, and goodness. She says, “Writing is my way of learning.” With Phylicia, we have a mentor who is learning right alongside of us and recognizes the value in transparency and companionship.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of Phylicia Delta, visit her website, phyliciadelta.com!
A leader in creativity and professional management, Geralin Thomas, has created a business out of something we all need a little more of: organization! When we really can’t do it all, Geralin’s business, Metropolitan Organizing, is able to save the day.
Geralin consults those suffering from hoarding and overwhelmed mothers alike on how best to manage their belongings. From vacation pictures to college dorm rooms, to bathrooms and wardrobes, Geralin has a secret she’s ready to share.
Metropolitan Organizing has been in business since 2002 and has lent a helping hand to hundreds unique individuals. Featured are some of her best resources!
Services to shop
What to do if you have a knack for organizing...
Quick tips for your space
We love the work Geralin does and believe she's one to follow.
Here is just a bit of the magic she has to share: (from metropolitanorganizing.com)
Maybe you really have tried everything. The Biblical counseling, the books, the long phone calls with friends or mom for advice, but your marriage is still falling apart. And, maybe, somewhere inside you hear a voice telling you to quit and another voice beckoning you to pray; to remember that nothing is impossible for God. A voice that reminds you that marriage is holy and dear to the Lord. Jennifer O. White, founder of Prayerfully Speaking ministries and author of Prayers for New Brides, is living proof of the power of prayer. After one failed marriage and her second one beginning to fail, Jennifer discovered the faithfulness of God to answer a simple “Help Me Jesus” prayer. She’s given her days to sharing how God is able to do more in our hearts and marriages than we can ask or imagine. She says, “There is no way that I, a woman who once chose to divorce a minister, am now writing books encouraging wives to pray and rely on the marriage Savior …except by the grace of God.”
Hearing Jennifer's unmatched belief that God can mend any ruin is a gift and a treasure.
Jennifer lives in West Monroe, Louisiana and describes herself as one who loves to share what inspires her. Born and raised in a small farming community in her home state, she’s a natural helper and connector of people to the resources they need. While in college pursuing a degree in Social Work, Jennifer surprised herself one day when she confided in someone her desire to be a writer. The Lord had bigger plans for her abilities to share and connect than she could have dreamed.
Throughout her life, Jennifer had always been drawn to God through church. In her teen years, she cried out to God for wisdom. She feels that God’s answer to that prayer is seen today in her love for His Word and praying its truths. The Lord would make beauty from ashes through this very skill.
Jennifer found herself working for a Christian publishing company, blogging and discovering her gift of writing Scripture-based prayers. Jennifer’s step-son and niece were both engaged and she wanted to bless and nurture their unions. She decided to give them prayers she would write for their marriages. It was then the Lord whispered to her, “You could write a book of prayers for marriages.”
Her book, Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor after the Wedding Dress, made it to market February, 2015. Jennifer’s ministry and book remain a testimony of God’s renewal in Jennifer’s life and continually rejuvenate even the most difficult marriages.
Jennifer’s hope is that married couples everywhere would harness of the power of prayer. She says, “As wives, we often fall into a trap thinking that our husbands are the enemy. Ephesians 6:12 opened Jennifer’s eyes to the reality that we as wives are not wrestling with our husbands but actually with the spiritual forces of darkness. A large chapter of Jennifer’s story centers around recognizing the spiritual battle and the importance of being an active participant under God’s authority. Prayers for New Brides is a perfect help in taking up the armor of God to fortify our marriages against the lies and destructive strategies of Satan.
A Biblical counselor, one of the biggest influences in Jennifer’s life, opened Jennifer’s eyes to her identity in Christ for the first time. Her wisdom, prayers from the Power of a Praying Wife and Prayers that Avail Much, and several praying wives in Jennifer’s life helped her engage in this spiritual warfare. She says, “No situation is too big for God. I am living proof that life and marriage get a lot better when we resist the enemy and draw near to God. Prayer is an opening of a door for Him to pour out on us what we need. God already has it ready! We have to remind ourselves that God is for us and nothing is impossible for God.”
Jennifer also emphasizes the importance of having others praying for you and your marriage. Women of all ages have used Prayers for New Brides in small groups as a way to keep one another praying and witnessing God’s redemptive power. She's also created Marriage Armor for the #PrayingBride, a daily email of prayers for your marriage. You can subscribe for free at jenniferowhite.com/marriage-armor. Jennifer encourages even singles to sign up and begin preparation for their future marriage.
Even with protective prayer, warfare isn’t easy; inside and outside of marriage. Jennifer says Satan discourages her by defining her ministry as "white noise" amidst a broadcast of thousands of ministries. But, Jennifer continues in the path that the Lord has lain before her by repeating Ephesians 3:20 and singing praise and worship songs moment by moment. She has also begun collecting encouraging emails and conversations she’s received over the years from individual’s whose lives have been touched and transformed by Prayerfully Speaking as a reminder that the Lord is at work through her testimony.
Jennifer invites you to her website, jenniferowhite.com, where she shares blogs filled with truth for your encouragement and renewal! Prayers for New Brides is available at Amazon, Lifeway, Books a Million, Christianbook.com, and Barnes & Noble.
Jennifer’s story of ruins to redeemed reflects all of our journeys. Nothing, not even a broken marriage, is too lost for the Lord to make beautiful once more. Just ask Jennifer.
It’s breathtaking to think about. To think that in the presence of mountains, of oceans, of wildlife, of sunlight, that women are the crown of creation. In Genesis, the Lord looks down from Heaven and only truly celebrates when woman’s feet walk the earth.
The sense of unrest in creation before its completion is stunning.
“Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” ~ Genesis 2: 19-20
What a scene. The Lord assembles His new creations before Adam and Adam has a task: name them all. God did not give Adam the task of finding a companion. But verse 20 seems to indicate that while Adam was naming the creatures, he was also seeking a friend. Adam was already experiencing how he was different from the rest of creation. He was wanting for a partner. Amazingly, the Lord provided for Adam with us; with a woman. Woman calmed the unrest, caused Adam to sing, and the Lord to laugh for joy at what He had made.
In this scene I cannot help but wonder at the beauty of peace and the woman’s unique ability to usher it into the world. Of course, peace did not originate with woman. Peace resides in the Lord’s hand and heart. But God chose woman to be the channel for peace to enter into this new creation. And this purpose and calling has not changed today.
Think of women in your own life who radiate peace. Isn’t their beauty enhanced? Made more full? I remember after a worship night how strong the presence of peace was in each person. It seemed that the women glowed for days after being infused with the Spirit’s peace. This is the kind of beauty we are made for: the beauty of peace.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body…” ~ Proverbs 14:30a
“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can made them stumble.” ~ Psalm 119:165
“Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.” ~ Psalm 37:37
A pursuit of beauty is not vain. But all too often we pursue beauty through broken channels. We think of Revlon before joy, White House Black Market before love, and our favorite frizz tamers before peace. What made creation so perfect and beautiful? Eve’s presence; her unique gifting and ability to bring a sense of completion and peace into the world.
Living with heart and soul means we must give attention to these deep parts of ourselves. When we are filled to the brim with the peaceful, living water that Jesus promises, we are beautiful. When we remember that Eve was made to bring completion, rest, and peace, we find new purpose and a God-given path towards true beauty.
If we were honest with ourselves, how equipped do we feel to hide God's Word away in our hearts? Do we think we have what it takes to teach our families their way around the Bible? One woman and author, Abby Boldt Messner, decided she needed something more to help her in these important tasks. From Terrace Park, Ohio, Abby has found the perfect way to root her beliefs more deeply into her own heart and her children's hearts. I had the absolute pleasure to interview this unique woman of bravery recently and she’s a story to follow.
Abby has written two books: 10 Big Words—10 Word Bible Verses for Teens and 10 Big Words—10 Word Conversations with God. Abby’s inspiration stems from a curiosity about God’s word. She’s determined to reveal its simplicity and applicability to people of all ages.
Writing has always been a staple for Abby. “It makes me not feel so small.” She enjoys the perspective it brings her. “It can create a hill that I can step over out of what I thought was an impossible mountain.” With all of her writing projects, she knows that ultimately, it’s successful if she’s found benefit, and beyond that, it’s blessed if others do as well.
Her most established work, 10 Big Words—10 Word Verses for Teens is a compilation of ten word Bible verses for easy memorization. This book was originally not a book at all! Growing up, there was little talk of Jesus in Abby’s world. However, when her kids came along, she was inspired to seek out the Creator of her little miracles. Abby and her husband began attending Horizon Church where they began to understand the grace of Jesus. But Abby noticed something as she volunteered for the church: Other kids and families seemed to know the Bible cover to cover while she struggled to find her way around. Abby wanted a solution and to give her own kids access to the Word in a way that made sense to them. While contemplating how best to provide her and her family truth, she stumbled upon a Bible memorization tactic from Lysa Terkurst. Lysa had been encouraging her own daughter for years with Bible verses that were only ten words long. Short, powerful, and easy to memorize. It was the perfect thing for Abby
Abby started her ten word Bible verse list and at first kept it within the home. After a time, it dawned on her that other families were probably struggling in similar ways to ingrain God’s word into their hearts and minds. At this time, Abby had enough verses and content for a book to be born. Enter 10 Big Words—10 Word Bible Verses for Teens in 2014.
Soon, Abby’s heart grew for more knowledge about prayer and a simple way to pass along that knowledge. 10 Big Words—10 Word Conversations with God, made it’s way into print in 2016. Following the structure of 10 Big Words—10 Word Bible Verses for Teens, Conversations with God is packed with life-giving yet simple prayers for all people at any stage in their spiritual walk.
Abby’s 10 Big Word books are bought by Horizon Church and distributed to every incoming 5th and 6th grader. They are also available to everyone online at tenbigwords.com.
Consistent with Abby’s curiosity comes a whole new project. Lately, Abby has been thinking about why we have certain stigmas associated with people different than us; Specifically, stigma against individuals with tattoos.
On a family trip to Kings Island, Abby’s husband challenged her to ask these people their stories. Abby got creative and came up with a way to do just that. Abby says, “It’s easy to just look away. I don’t want to be that person. I want to engage.” So, Abby created business cards inviting people to share their stories and the stories of their tattoos on tenbigwords.com. Her hope is that she will compile enough essay submissions to create a book. Ultimately, Abby hopes to gain a better understanding of people different from her. She says, “This will change me.”
Abby invites every person to follow her discoveries (or even add to them!) through the tattoo project on her website: tenbigwords.com
Abby’s closing words from our interview were for every woman to “just share” about whatever is happening in their life and to not hide within themselves. She’s passionate about connecting and creating understanding between believers and nonbelievers alike.
Abby's 10 Big Words books are an amazing resource for family devotions and are precious gifts for the kids or any believer. Follow Abby Boldt Messner on Twitter to keep in touch with her newest endeavors to connect to the Lord and everyone she meets.
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