by Patty Morwood
A few weeks ago I sat in the foyer at church, listening to children recite Scriptures. Some spit them out in seconds, others were uncertain and shy. All had lived with their assigned verses for weeks and their mamas stood by, so supporting and encouraging as their young voices spoke the greatest Truth that has ever captivated the human mind.
Jim Berg wrote in Changed into His Image that the Bible’s “imagery of planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and harvesting was not chosen … because of the nature of the people [or their agrarian culture] but because of the nature of the truth …”
Even if we aren’t farmers in the real sense – though we may preside over a collection of container veggies – we grow and disciple others spiritually in ways similar to the nurturing of our summer tomatoes.
But first we must become a follower of His Word ourselves.
We must pour over His explanations of Himself, memorize His sentences, cultivate a desire to obey Him. The Bible’s perspicuity guarantees that we will slowly and remarkably understand the revealed mind of God as we walk His path through life, tucking the Word in our hearts and minds.
That’s why we have this rich Book in our hands, why thousands have died to have this Book in their language, why we teach our little ones to hide its truths in their hearts.
Even a child can understand its sentences … with a bit of mommy-help.
One of my sons memorized an incredible collection of Scriptures from a Bible Memory Association booklet when he was three years old. He stood there with darling little fat cheeks and deep brown eyes reciting sentences he could actually understand.
“A- all we like sheep have gone astray.” I just had to explain a tiny bit and define one word, but it wasn’t hard to find a practical application. Teasing and baiting his twin brothers mercilessly deserved consequences.
“B- but He was wounded for our transgressions.” Jesus died for this sin, son; why are you doing it?
“C- children, obey your parents in the Lord.”
“D- draw near to God and He will draw near to you,”
“E- even a child is known by his doings.”
There was a scripture for every letter of the alphabet in that little booklet. And each was chosen because three year olds could understand them; and mommies could teach and pray them.
When my brown eyed toddler grew up and had his own two year old, he asked if I still had his little memorization book … the ABCs of Truth for Children.
Yes, I’d been waiting.
For I knew that one day there would be another toddler, one that would live in his house.
And yes, she has deep brown eyes and fat little cheeks too.
by Patty Morwood
There must be millions of foodies wandering this earth waiting for a special gift this season. Have you noticed the cookbooks shadowing you through gift stores, book stores, and kitchenware stores? The best cooks in countries spanning the globe publish something new this time of year; thrown in for good measure are even recipes featuring the weird and the rare.
Once I gave my daughter a darling little book, The Flummery of Food: Feasts for Epicures, by Andrea Simon, a noted gastronome. His opening lines are “Gastronomy is the hallmark and the most rewarding achievement of our Western civilization. Sheer self-gratification is all that gluttons and hedonists care for; not so the gastronomes.”
It’s full of intelligent observations about experiencing the table and good food (or not-such-good food), no matter where and under what circumstances; it’s entertaining for any of us who have even a remote interest in food and dining.
The already decent cook, those who aspire to be so, the few who like to laugh at dining escapades, and especially those interested in the culinary history of western civilization would enjoy Flummery. And don’t forget that person who just likes cleverly constructed anecdotes.
What makes this book interesting to me in the very first moments of thumbing through it is the obvious humor oozing from author to reader. One homesick American commented while traveling in foreign countries, “Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs.” Home food is home, even the revered haggis, apparently creepy to almost everyone, would be a Scot’s culinary comfort if he were stranded in the Gobi.
Though Simon uses poems and quotable quotes, I especially like the unique stories excerpted from longer essays. Sir Edmund Hillary wrote that when he and his native guide finally reached the summit of Mt. Everest, they buried in snow a bar of chocolate and a packet of biscuits to appease the gods. Alongside, Hillary also left a crucifix.
Knud Rasmussen, an explorer of artic lands in early 20th century and ‘Father of Eskimology,’ described one of his dinners in the arctic tundra. After it was consumed, a special treat was given to each guest: a head of caribou to eat lingeringly in their own tents … “on condition that none of the leavings should under any circumstances be touched by women or dogs.”
I also like Simon’s use of gifted writers’ works to express their views on a range of gastronomic interests. Mark Twain is quoted from The Innocents Abroad about eating in Marseilles: “We have learned to go through the lingering routine of the table d’hote … we take soup; then wait a few minutes for the fish; a few minutes more and the plates are changed, and the roast beef comes; another change and we take peas; change again and take lentils; change and take roast chicken and salad; then strawberry pie and ice cream; then green figs, pears, oranges, green almonds, etc.; finally coffee. Wine with every course, of course, being in France.”
Well, we’ve all heard of the unending courses served in Europe’s aristocratic courts and this one is probably typical. But hey, its Mark Twain’s repast; and I can imagine his white mustache opening and shutting, bite after bite, for hours … and the gravies dripped on the lapels of his famous white suit. And his fatigue when it was all over.
Seriously, this is something we should be aware of: great writers and their readers tend to like good food experiences and lingering table companionship.
Simon quotes not only Twain, but such people as James Boswell, Herman Melville, Jonathan Swift, and de Maupassant. What they have to say is often funny and enlightening, considering their experiences are so different from mine (and probably yours too).
Food is not only to be labored over, painstakingly served, and slowly enjoyed … but chuckled about too.
Andre Simon was a Frenchman who spent most of his adult life in Great Britain. He was one of the founders of the International Wine and Food Society, established in 1934 in London, also he wrote 104 books on a variety of subjects from wine and champagne to a Russian grammar. Interestingly, when he died in 1970, he left enough Chateau Latour for 400 friends and family to gather and drink to his memory, which they did at the Savoy in 1977.
Hmmm, I think I’d like to gift this little book again, but to whom this year?
Another Christmas, several seasons ago, I gave my daughter another book along this same line, but this one is a compilation of essays by current Christian writers, The Spirit of Food: Thirty-four Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God.
She saw it and wanted it, and I saw it and wanted to give it to her, and then she asked for it. It’s copacetic when mother and daughter actually think along the same lines every once in a while, don’t you agree?
There are some voices here you know – such as Ann Voskamp and Wendell Berry – and others of lesser popular fame you probably don’t know. They write on such things as table blessings, the joy of fasting, subsistence feasting (wow!), the pleasures of eating and the perfect loaf of bread.
Each of the thirty-four authors has written a short essay and provided a recipe to complement it.
So, Brian Volck writes on late October tomatoes and provides his “Spicy Tomato Soup” recipe. Jacqueline Rhodes’ “Soul of Soul Food” features cornbread. LaVonne Neff did a “six-week experiment in living on a food-stamp budget.” And yes, her recipe is a good one for those of us who love rich comfort food on the cheap: “Mac and Cheese for Grown-Ups.”
Let me give you a closer look at one of the articles that intrigued me. Denise Frame Harlan titles her chapter, “And She Took Flour: Cooking Lessons from Supper of the Lamb.”
Harlan grew up watching her grandma, THE pie maker of the region, cut in the butter and roll the crust just-so, to fill it with heaping slices of seasonal fruit. But she didn’t learn to cook from her grandma nor from her own mother nor from a cooking class. She learned by living with people who are hungry. She begins and ends her essay with Hank, a close friend loved by the entire family.
Hank is a man who revels in families gathered around the table just as much as the food itself. And Hank is coming for a long-overdue visit from several states away. Anticipation is high; the kids are excited and her husband is beside himself.
To prepare that first welcoming meal, she doesn’t do as you and I probably would, she doesn’t go to the market to buy fresh ingredients for a cookbook recipe. She pulls out Thanksgiving leftovers.
She slices fruit for a pie (she is now just as good a pie maker as her grandma was!), fills a second crust with veggies and turkey and freshened gravy, then kneads a big lump of dough, always on hand in the refrigerator, for a steaming hot loaf of hearth bread.
Each dish simmers and bakes, releasing aromas impossible to withstand. At last, she piles the sliced fruit, no doubt apples and raisins (given the season), into the pie shell and slides it into the oven. This luscious piping-hot bubbling dish will be her table centerpiece!
As they all stand holding hands for prayer, they take a few moments to look around the table into each other’s eyes. Savoring the love and joy of being together and sharing a bounty given and enjoyed in love.
Harlan closes with two recipes for that beloved American classic they served to Hank: “City Slicker’s First Pot Pie,” for the novice, and a second for the more advanced pie-maker, “Real Pot Pie.”
She sends us on to the next essay with a desire to lavish our loved ones with regular good food and good love, things God has bountifully provided for us to share on this earth, as we practice for the Lord’s celebratory wedding feast, the feast of the Lamb, when we all meet after time has fled away and sin is gone forevermore.
I truly enjoy Spirit of Food as well as Flummery; they are both very different from each other and fun to read for different reasons. Flummery for the literary-historical-cultural perspective and Spirit simply for the heart of it all.
Their message is somewhat similar: Whether one scales a mountain, visits an aristocratic court, or gathers at home … and whether you are on a crimped budget, or serving an army or maybe only two …
Each of us should plan with thought, cook with our hearts, serve with our hearts and always enjoy with all our hearts!
Have a merry steaming-hot communal table-feasting Christmas!
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Jill Savage faced a dilemma. Formerly a full-time music teacher, she was plunged, overnight, into the unknowns of a brand new occupation, one for which she had no training: motherhood. After four years, she felt confident and comfortable in her role as an educator of the arts, but where was the mommy university? Where were the conferences on motherhood? In 1994, Jill found no equipping.
“I couldn’t find anything,” she recalls. “So I took my idea to the growing moms group I was leading in Bloomington, Illinois, and asked them what they thought about organizing a one-time conference for moms. They liked the idea, and there was a real sense of excitement about our undertaking.”
With an ambitious goal to rally 400 women to attend the first event, the women were astonished when 1100 registered. “We thought: wow, the need is much bigger than we thought. And we realized that God had a bigger vision for this thing than just a one-time event for local moms.”
The women stepped out in faith and rented a large part of the Illinois State University campus for the second year. Their faith was rewarded and 2800 moms came together. Then 3400, then 4500, then 5400 and the sixth year there were 6300 women in attendance. This was the birth of the Hearts at Home conference series. Now in its 22nd year, the conference is coming to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the first time in November.
“Hearts at Home is all about training, equipping, encouraging moms because mothering doesn’t come with a manual. We provide that manual,” explains founder Jill Savage. “We want to meet moms where they’re at. We want to join the conversations where they are. We know that conferences continue to be a part of that, but we know that moms learn in lots of ways and they have needs more than once a year at a conference setting. We are building up our website with content so women can go and find the answers to their questions and continuing to use tools that today’s moms are using.”
Hearts at Home has achieved tremendous success because it works with women in an honest way. In her recent book No More Perfect Moms, Jill Savage voices a call for authenticity. “Moms are more connected than they have been in the past. In one sense that is good and we can learn from each other, but it can also result in pressure to compare ourselves to others. I see moms feeling guilty or inept because they are comparing their private lives to the outsides of others and that leaves them questioning their own skills,” Jill explains.
In an effort to encourage transparency and authenticity, she shared her reality with those who follow her on Facebook. She had been on several consecutive trips, never fully unpacking form any of them. When it finally became too much, she snapped a photo of her bedroom inviting other women to share their ‘real lives’ as well.
“And that was just a wonderful, honest, authentic sharing experience! Women took pictures of their kitchen counters, bathrooms, kids’ rooms and it was just so honest,” she laughs.
This type of real-life encouragement is what Hearts at Home is all about. “We have received emails, letters and comments from women who came to conference ready to throw in the towel. They were at the end of themselves in at least one area of life. But they attended workshops and learned new ways of seeing things, of relating. That gave them the courage to grow in the ways they realized they needed to. They remembered why their work was important.”
In addition to equipping women, Hearts at Home opens with Mom's Night Out, an evening of laughter, music and fun specifically designed to lighten hearts and lift spirits.
Jill shared a bit of her own journey as well. As a mother, she prioritized family and parenting, not writing her first book (of 11) until her children were all in school. She didn’t start working full time until her youngest entered college, and the Hearts at Home offices officially close at 2:30pm so mommas can be there when their children get off the bus.
“There is no woman who is trying to find balance in her life who doesn’t have weeks where she feeds her family too many frozen pizzas. I didn’t always get it all done!”t
To find out more about Hearts at Home, please visit www.heartsathome.org. Use the coupon code HEARTS10 to save $10 on registration on any conference between now and Nov 12!
By: Taylor Abigail
I recently read Moving Mountains by John Eldredge. He confronts the elephant in the room about prayer: “Some prayers work and some don’t.” As I went through the book, I found myself examining my own prayer life: the disappointments, the joys, the struggles and the victories. I went to Scripture with the question, “What’s the key to successful prayer?”
Of course, the Lord doesn’t always answer prayers in the way or in the timing we would like. But even in those times I want to know that I’m praying the best I can and able to listen to His guidance clearly. I found that it matters much less how I pray than who I am praying to and what I believe about Him. These 5 beliefs once absent from my prayers have begun to revitalized my spiritual life and I’m confident they’ll do the same for you!
Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves in prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Other translations use the word “vigilant” in place of “watchful.” When we pray, it’s important to be vigilant for how the Lord is moving within our requests! Is He altering our hearts towards the matter? Is He shaping circumstances? Every advance He makes indicates a need for new wisdom in how we pray through the situation. He is always renewing, and so our prayers always need renewal as we strive to stay in step with His work. The truth that our Creator hears and listens to our every cry continually astounds me. My heart overflows with thanks that I am not alone. Our prayers are even sweeter to His ears and our souls when we scatter thanks and praise throughout!
2. Belief that God is for us.
Romans 8:31b, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
This staggering truth straddles both the spiritual realm and the earthly realm. Since we are covered by Jesus’ blood, we are seen as righteous and holy by the Father. We are loved just as Jesus is loved! Our eternal, spiritual destination and standing is set and God has every intention on having us experience that blessing even now! Yet, when the Lord calls us to something, something else almost always seems to block the way. But Romans 8 declares that nothing can be against us! If you are confident in the Lord’s leading, the opposition and obstacles will melt as you walk into His plan in faith.
3. Belief that He is good.
James 1:13b, 16-17, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
I know, it seems elementary. But the devil will do anything to prevent us from believing in the goodness of God. When we believe that God isn’t good (or that He isn’t being good to us) our prayers may cease or become unheartfelt. When we pray, amidst whatever circumstance, we must believe that He is good always and only gives perfect gifts to His children.
4. Belief that He hears us.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
The Lord promises to answer us; He promises to hear us. If I feel myself become frantic or desperate as I pray, it is often because I have forgotten the truth that He is listening and at work. I don’t need to labor and frantically hope that He bends His ear to me. I always have His attention and knowing that helps me give Him all of mine and to rest as I pray.
5. Belief that He talks back.
Matthew 7:7 is evidence enough of this. But flip through the Old Testament and you will witness conversations between God and His people happening daily. Maybe little noticed is that that theme is carried over into the New Testament. He sends His prophets to specific people and places, comforts mothers, and sends His angels with messages. Constantly praying without a hope of hearing back is enough to discourage anyone in their prayer life. That is because we aren’t meant to pray that way! The Lord is talkative and intimate with us if we will let Him speak. Have faith to have open ears and you will experience His voice!
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.
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.
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.
Main Point of the book
Why it matters
Teaching your children to exhibit traits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and wisdom. This list is just a summary, but it hits the high points.
Teach the positive, don’t just chastise the negative. When we chastise our children for wrong behavior without explaining to them what the right behavior is to do instead, it exasperates them because they are not creative or mature enough to know what perfect behavior looks like. They cannot escape because they genuinely don’t know what a better way to act would be.
When we are faced with disobedience or any other form of misbehavior, we must instruct our kids to exhibit the positive trait, not just stop doing the negative.
In training your children, you have to require them to identify the behavior that was incorrect, ask for forgiveness and then they have to practice doing the correct behavior. It takes a little extra time to recreate the scenario, but it is worth it to give your child the chance to succeed in proper behavior.
What not to do
What should obedience look like?
When is it appropriate to discipline your child?
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