What do you think of when fall begins? As a striking season of change, it’s easy to have vivid memories and hopes attached; looking forward to the kids being out of the house for school, sweater weather, or maybe that trip to the mountains you’ve been planning to be right in the heart of the colors. But maybe you feel a little left out in what you think of when fall comes. The end of a relationship, the increase of stress, or the death of a loved one may be your first thoughts as the leaves turn. Whatever the change may be, there is beauty hidden within it.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
Change in life is mysterious, exhilarating, and terrifying all at once. It can seem that just when we get a grip on our current situation, something gets turned upside down all over again. Even with positive changes, there is always a healthy grieving of the past, but, also a brave acceptance of the new. The Lord has promised to walk with us through every season and every change, whether it be a trial or not.
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
As the fall approaches and new things are beginning and old things ending, let us walk through changes with grace, humility, and bravery.
1. Communicate to God how you feel and think about the change.
If you sense your circumstances becoming unfamiliar or daunting, call out for help! If you feel stretched in character, ask for His guidance! Our relationship with God is sweetened when we unfold entirely before Him. He looks on us with kind eyes and is eager to provide rest and courage.
2. Surrender to and receive the new season.
We can only see the treasures along the path if we are committed to walking it. Since God has called us here, there’s no need to fear!
3. Appropriately grieve or celebrate the end of the previous season.
It was a gift. It shaped who you are. Bid it the farewell it's due. It will help you embrace what’s next with joy and hope.
4. Gain discernment in how best to live within this new time.
Pray and wait. God knows every step and the Spirit can help you be in tune.
5. Be encouraged!
The Lord is dedicated to growing us up. This new season will act as a reward or a time of growth.
By: Taylor Abigail
To the woman who’s ever felt disappointed,
I see you. I’ve been you.
It’s an unhappy connection we have, you and I--one that confirms we aren’t meant to feel this way. We can sit, we can mourn, we can look into each other’s eyes, and whisper “This is just life.” Or, we can listen quietly and intently as to hear Jesus’ gentle voice say, “Let me rescue you, please.”
The first calamity in our lives teaches us something: don’t hope too strongly for good. Our reaction to the first deep pain is the fast shrinking of our soul. The agreement that “to be disappointed is to live” is harshly branded onto our hearts and often goes unnoticed. We continue to live after the tragedy but no longer out of wonder or freedom. We exist out of a new place: disappointment.
Children aren’t born programmed to expect disappointment. They are born with a joyful surety that the world is theirs for the taking. But the enemy’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. The first thing he often steals is our playful, childlike, and adventurous spirits. Sadly, recovering this heart is the last thing to be addressed from the pulpit. Instead, Christian culture continues themes of solemnity and caution and we get caught up in issues of skirt length. We find that we are just surviving and trying to get by because we’ve learned that it hurts when our hopes and expectations aren’t met.
There is a journey out of disappointment and into healing that we can choose to embark on. Perhaps regaining our childlike spirit is the place where we need the Gospel the most. We need to believe again, like a child believes, that there is goodness and blessing for us here on earth; we need to believe that our lives can be abundant because God is abundant.
What’s the biggest disappointment in your life? Be honest. The man you married? The way one of your kids turned out? Not being selected for that special honor in college? The fear and sadness that the time is past for dreams to come true are strong. But can I give you hope? Rather, will you let Jesus tell you what He thinks about your disappointment and frantic efforts to never let it happen again?
John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me, you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Isaiah 61:7, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
Please silence the voice that says we will only see God’s redemptive power like that in Heaven.
Psalm 27:13 “I remain confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Our good hearts are wired to long for the extravagant, the redemptive, and the extraordinary. These things are what Heaven will be, and these things are even possible on earth. This is not the prosperity Gospel. Abundance in the Lord still looks different than an abundance that the world offers. It’s different in that we can live an abundant life in any place because our souls are fulfilled and satisfied; not because our material wealth exceeds expectation. Because we truly believe He satisfies, out of a brimming and hopeful soul we can come to the Father with confidence that He will work within our mundane realities. Because we’ve felt in our hearts the fullness and peace that comes from true belief in His goodness, intimacy, and care for us, our dreams are free to run wild and grow because we are confident in His love for us.
Luke 12:22-32, “Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom…’”
What did we hear from this? God is abundant. “God is pleased to give you His Kingdom.” What does this mean? He clothes the fields extravagantly and says He will clothe you brighter still. We don’t have to live like we’re “settling” and have that be a disguise for contentment. We can ask the Lord for our wildest dreams and fully expect their fruition. In Christian culture, we don’t talk about dreams; we talk about God’s will. We don’t talk about self-expression; we talk about becoming conformed to Christ’s image. We don’t talk about praying boldly; we talk about self-forgetfulness. Paying attention to God’s will, conforming to Christ’s image, and self-forgetfulness are all blessed and biblical. But let us examine our hearts and see if we are avoiding our dreams and desires because we are afraid of disappointment. If our Lord is saying He plans to be lavish with us, what holds us back from leaning into that and expressing exactly what we want and then listening to what God says about it? Believing God when He asks us to pray about all things and that when we ask we shall receive changes everything. Believing He is lavish and abundant with our specific requests and desires is invaluable to our experience of His presence and our soul’s contentment. In my experience, my expectations of Him have been too small, not too selfish. It delights Him when we are excited for life because we trust that our daddy loves us and is abundant with us.
Let’s let God introduce Himself to us as wild, scandalous, and larger than any obstacle. Is it hard to look this God in the eye because we’ve been disappointed and brokenhearted one too many times? Does He seem too good to be true and even “counter Christian cultural”? What does it require of you to believe that no situation is beyond His repair, that He really meant it when He said He is our shield, and that we really can trust Him? Bravery to believe. That’s all.
We need the bravery to banish the idea of a weak, silent, convoluted God. Many of us would never say that this is the view of God we have, but functionally, it’s easy to live like we are avoiding Him. The beautiful truth is that God is good and intimate with every single area of our lives and He is always communicating with us. He longs for us. He cries out for our hearts. He promises individuals hope for the future and goes so far as to declare every single trial [insert yours here] as redeemable and able to bring forth joy. We want to hear this God. We want to feel Him snuggle up next to us in bed when it’s a lonely night. We want to see His smile when we close our eyes in the sunshine. Let’s believe these things happen.
To the woman who has ever felt disappointed, let’s live abundantly because we believe He is abundant. Let’s take on a new name: to the woman who lives loved, I know you’re in there.
“The most encouraging stories are hearing women, who have never studied the Word before, tell me they connected with God for the first time through my Bible studies.” Mindy Ferguson, author of Bible studies and devotionals for women, is a powerful communicator of God’s truth. “Everything I do is directed towards getting women into the Word.” Mindy’s passion is that women would truly abide in God’s Word and apply it to their lives. She says, “When women’s lives are changed, family’s lives are changed.” Mindy’s calling to rejuvenate women’s hearts through true experiences of God is altering the heartbeat of families everywhere.
Mindy met the Lord when she was 26 and fell in love with studying Scripture. She was an active student of the Bible involved in church, small groups, and her own personal time with the Lord. As Mindy began to experience the Lord more and more fully in her personal times with Him, she began to sense God whispering to her to share the wisdom she had been storing up in her heart. Still considering herself a new believer, this call brought up many anxieties and feelings of inadequacy. Yet, God’s timing is always perfect. Mindy had just concluded studying Moses and had moved into Joshua. The message of Joshua 1:9 began to follow her, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” To Mindy, this message was a clear directive to begin writing Bible studies despite her feelings of inadequacy.
As Mindy began writing the study on Joshua, she knew she must also live what she learned and wrote. In a step of bravery, she shared the few completed lessons with a woman at her home church: Cy-Fair in Houston, Texas. This woman called Mindy soon after and communicated how touched she was by Mindy’s Bible study; this humble beginning sparked what is now Fruitful Word Ministries.
Mindy began sharing her materials with her church’s women’s groups and eventually began speaking at other churches. Fruitful Word Ministries found its wings when other churches and individuals wanted to purchase the studies. Mindy finds that, while others are continually enriched by her writing and speaking, she is consistently fed and challenged as she writes. She says, “This is why I do what I do: God’s Word changed my life. I don’t just learn about the Bible, I connect with the God of the Bible.” God has been faithful to place the perfect book of the Bible in the path of her writing and study right when she needs it. “Peter taught me intimacy with Christ, Moses helped me see God’s glory in trial, and Abraham taught me faith when I needed to be brave,” Mindy shares.
Mindy’s story is truly one of perseverance and surrender. She reflects, “Following God is always an adventure and it always includes challenges.” Mindy has gracefully moved through disappointments with publishers and the ever-changing world of ministry. Her writing reflects her steadfast soul kept safe by Christ’s love. She says, “We really need to carve out space in quiet moments to get to know God in His Word. It’s not a legalistic practice, it’s a wellbeing practice.” Amidst life that can easily become loud and cluttered, it’s tempting to ignore the practice of quiet and introspection. Mindy longs for women to experience God’s love deeply and encourages them to change up what their personal times with Him contain. Practices of journaling, reading, taking a walk, or even clean silence help us hear the heartbeat of our Creator.
Mindy has several video lessons for her studies at fruitfulword.org and is excited about filming the Moses video lecture in the upcoming weeks! When Mindy is not writing, she can be found delighting in her family and making memories with them. Mindy and her husband reside in Houston, Texas and love coming up with creative ways to stay close and connected with a daughter in Austin, TX and a son headed to Colorado. Mindy invites women to follow her on Facebook, fruitfulword.org, and her YouTube channel.
Mindy’s studies, devotionals, and speaking events can be accessed at fruitfulword.org!
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!
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.
As women, we need space to be beautiful and whole as well as fragile and broken. Throughout history, and literature especially, women have been portrayed as either completely angelic or decidedly evil temptresses. This lack of middle ground still resounds in society today and even seeps into the Christian community. We wonder, “What does it mean to be ‘pure’?” “How can I focus on inward beauty over outward beauty?” “Where is the grace for this sin habit I just can’t shake?” And at the root of it all, “How does who I am and how I live affect the way Jesus sees me?”
All of these questions come from an unstable framework of “How can I create my identity to be what a Christian woman should be?” We will never have a complete, gracious, or possible answer for this question. In truth, we must ask a different set of questions entirely which flow from a whole new framework of mind. We must first ask, “Who is the Lord?” Then ask, “Who has He called me?” From there, our previous armory of inquiries is whittled down into one question, “How can I completely trust in and believe in the Lord’s identity and mine?” We’ve all heard that our beliefs shape our character which shapes our destiny. It’s true.
Enter the Purposefully Paradoxical woman and the Lord who chose to create her in His image.
We’ve been encouraged to “stop and smell the roses,” to soak in the beauty of life, to be available to those we love, even to add that extra half hour of exercise into our routines all for the purpose of living life to the fullest, becoming our best selves, and finding satisfaction. But have we been encouraged to stop and consider the paradox of life?
We see that the Lord is both merciful and just, forgiving and righteous, holy and intimate. He is the pairing of words which the human mind cannot comprehend together. This is the image we were created in. We are nothing and everything, sinners and loved, ugly and beautiful, helpless and held.
To think, that the human is a paradox manifest.
To think, that we share the nature of this mystery with our Creator.
To think, that the woman may call her paradoxical self a wondrous reflection of her King.
What happens when we add “Purposeful Paradox” to our already long list of God-given identities?
Heiress to The Kingdom
Ambassador of the Gospel
We experience a new freedom when we accept our purposefully paradoxical selves.
We are free to stumble and accept forgiveness because we are both Stumblers and Forgiven.
We are free to pursue Jesus and repent when we fail because we are both Righteous in Him and in need of continual grace.
We are free to both doubt truth and speak truth because we are Fallible and Renewed.
And we are free to believe that Christ understands our messes and our triumphs. For He knows what it is to be a paradox: 100% man while 100% God. He has gone immeasurable lengths to reveal Himself as trustworthy and empathetic even amidst the paradoxes. We can rest from all the striving to become what the Lord has called us and can begin to step into the belief that we are already named with names that cannot be earned. And we can wonder at our identities so majestic and undeserved: A consistently beautiful paradox.
Founder and leader of Going Beyond ministries, Priscilla Shirer, asked one of the most convicting, thrilling, and influential questions for Christian women today, “When is the last time you let God stun you speechless?”
As women who “live with heart and soul” in all we do, may we begin to be stunned speechless by the Lord as we embrace and walk this paradoxical identity that brings so much freedom. May we choose freedom as we accept the Lord’s love for the paradoxes He chose to create.
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Cornel Warren, Managing Editor of Live with Heart & Soul, shares her heart as she reaches Christian women with timeless, beautiful content to encourage and inspire their walks with God, themselves and those around them.