Book Reviews

Courageous Creative

I have found this to be true,  I am happier when I am creating, even when it is something small.   Some of us who are not as artistic as others, raising both hands high, we find creating more of a struggle.

The truth is there are many ways to create, from painting and writing, to cooking and baking,  gardening, photography, graphic design, and dancing, the list goes on and on.

This year I have been pursuing new ways to create.  I have found a love for spoken word poetry.  I have been introduced to beautiful liturgical dance and I actually felt graceful. I’m sure I did not look graceful, but I was convinced I was! God can be glorified in so many ways as we create to honor Him.

Then I stumbled upon this sweet little book, Courageous Creative: A 31-Day Interactive Devotional, written by Jenny Randle.  I am having so much fun trying all kinds of courageous and creative things.  It has honestly been just the lift that I needed.

 

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This photo is from the challenge from Day 3, framing a photo in a unique way.
Bike Ride

I took this while on my bike ride the other evening, peaking out from the bushes over the lake.  I love the close foliage of the bushes and then the lone tree in the distance, flaming red, like a burning bush.

Day 4, record yourself reciting a monologue, which was right up my alley.

Here I recorded a spoken word poem that I wrote about the Woman at the Well.  It is raw and unedited, but so fun with no pressure to be perfect.  Have a listen to Thirsty

I am having so much fun with this devotional, and I notice that my wheels are turning in new, fun and creative ways.

If you re in a dry spell, grab a copy of Jenny’s devotional and start creating!

 

 

Faith

4 Reasons To Come to a Women’s Bible Study

Chances are you have a Women’s Bible study happening at your local church.  Maybe you have been invited, scanned over the blurb in the church bulletin, or have seen it promoted online and you thought, “I should go to this.  Yes, I’m going!”

Within that same moment you also begin to think of the one hundred and one reasons why you can’t go.  Your lack of time being number one, followed by, ” I don’t want to go in there by myself,” to the standard, “I’m just too busy”.

We are busy, oh so busy, in a world that has more modern conveniences than ever before.  How is that possible?

My good friend always says this about being BUSY

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Oh so true.  He loves to keep us BUSY, wasting our time on things that will not catapult us toward God.  He wants to keep us status quo, so he can wear us down to the point where we won’t even remember the last time we opened our Bible.  The last time we simply sat in the quietness of God’s presence, where God’s grace, mercy, hope and peace flow.

As a Women’s Ministry leader I am always coaxing women to come to Women’s Bible Study and here are my top four reasons:

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You will Increase Your Bible Knowledge

The more time you spend in something, the better you will know it.  As you devote yourself to learning more of God’s Word, that knowledge will take up a residence within you, that you carry for the rest of your life.

Your Faith Will Grow 

As you read and study God’s Word and the lives of the people within the pages of the Bible, you will see two things:  Their Lack of Faith, or Their Great Faith.  Your faith will grow by studying both.

You Will Become a Woman of Prayer

Prayer will take on a fresh meaning to you, as you pray for the needs of the women around you and they pray for you.  You will wonder how you’ve made it this far in life without it.

You Will Find Community 

You will sit around a table with women who you may have not met otherwise, and you will laugh and cry together.  They will become your friends, your confidants, your sisters, and you will find the wonderful bond of community.

As Women’s Bible studies are kicking off in churches all over this Fall, answer the call dear friend, dear sister, you will be happy that you did.

If you are in my area, I would love to have you at our Women’s Bible Study, kicking off this week at Bethel Life Worship Center, in Greenville, PA

Here are your bulletin blurbs!

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WOW Bible Study

 

Faith

America Is Great – Because We Give

The truth is, we all need it from time to time, a wake up call.  I have to say that since my last post  When You Can’t Unknow  I’ve been wrecked.  I’ve been angry, crying and filled with desperation.

Something happened within me that night as I listened to Christine share about something as simple as sanitary kits for women. Something that every woman should have, the ability to keep herself clean.

It was if God slapped me in the face, it stung, it is still stinging and just won’t stop. I’m grouchy about it. I find myself in daily conversations with people and everything seems silly and small in comparison.

I honestly felt like there was no good thing I would ever have to say again, at least nothing that would make any kind of a difference.  I would sit down to write something and nothing would come.  Until tonight.

For whatever reason, the Lord wanted me to see poverty and the despair it brings in a new light.  In a real light.

  • We live in a world where some are cherished and some are thrown away like trash. 
  • Where some are fed and some are left starving. 
  • Where some have excellent medical care and others loose their eye from something as curable as pink eye.
  • Where some have indoor plumbing and others share a hole in the ground with hundreds of others.  
  • Where some women have any an all means to keep themselves clean and others bleed on a bale of hay.

I’m currently reading a book titled Find Me Unafraid.  Jessica Posner finds herself in the largest slum in Kenya, called Kibera, a slum of over one million people.    She shares a conversation that she had over a meager meal with a few young boys, they are five and six.

They begin to ask her questions about America and they want to know if it is true that dogs and cats get fed every day?  Is it also true that Americans take their dogs and cats to the doctor?

She tells them, “Yes these things are true.”  The five year old, says these words…“I wish I were a cat in America.”

I want you to pause here for a moment, dear friend, and I want you to let that slice your soul, as it did mine.

I don’t share this with you, to make you feel bad or sad.  I share this with you on a beautiful Sunday evening in America, where most of us us have enjoyed plates full of food all week.  We have swam and played in oceans, lakes and pools of clean water.  Our children have enjoyed fun, games and fireworks.  We have celebrated something coveted by the world, Freedom.

We are all busy, running this frantic race, trying to make our lives and our Nation great.  The truth is we are already great, yet we are never satisfied.  We want bigger, better, more.

In these past weeks I have come to know this…

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Never let anyone fool you into believing different.

I have been asking myself so many questions:

What can I do?

How can pray?

Can I really make any kind of a difference?

Today a man from my church sent me a book titled, Moving Mountains, by John Eldredge.  He said that he had bought ten copies and the Lord directed him as to who to give them to.  The Lord put my name on his list. Funny how God works, isn’t it?

I know this, the Mountain of Poverty is a mammoth mountain.  Far too big for me or for you, but together with God, is there a mountain too big?

I want to do more than read about what to do, I want to do.  I want to be a woman who is making a difference in the places where the need is desperate.  That place may look different for each of us, but God is big enough to show us where and what small thing we can do.

Let’s Begin to Ask God to Show Us How 

Will you pray for those who would find it a joy to be a cat in America? 

Will you ask God how you can give, and where you should give?

Will you welcome the opportunity to open your door to the poor, when everyone else is closing theirs?

Will you obey, even if it requires sacrifice?

Will you press on and not be deterred, even if it gets hard?  

Are we willing to push against this mountain, with God…until the job is finished?

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Faith

When You Can’t Unknow

It sit in circles with women every week, and yeah, we have problems, heartbreaks even. Our trials are real, painful and nerve wracking, to us.

Today I have to, I must be, honest with you and with myself. If you are a woman, like me, who is living in a home with running water, heat, and fridge full of food, you are living in the top quarter of the world. There is nothing wrong with that, we are simply living what we know. That’s just it, it’s what we know.

Every once in awhile someone breaks into our life, the little bubble in which we live, and gives us information that we don’t know. For some reason the Lord has decided that in this moment it is time for us to know something new, something that will change us, the way we think and what we do.

Today, my friends, I’m going to do this for you. Maybe you’ll thank me, or maybe you’ll want to unknow, but you see there is no unknowing.

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There is a tiny woman who goes to my church, she wakes before the sun comes up and goes to her basement. She is not going to her computer, or her treadmill, but she sits down at her sewing machine and begins to sew.

Surrounded by bolts of fabric and spools of thread and the biggest ironing board I’ve ever seen, she sews. She isn’t sewing curtains or crafts, she sews menstrual kits. Yep, you heard me, menstrual kits, washable, reusable ones.

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She has chosen the fabric with care, the most beautiful prints she can find, the thickness and softness of the fabric is of the utmost importance. You see with each kit she sews she is changing one life, really changing it.

You can see what my friend Christine is up to here.

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Women living in Africa, Nepal, India and other third world countries have no products for feminine hygiene.

Imagine with me-

  • Imagine, having your period and sitting on a piece of card board, hay, or dirt for the week.
  • Imagine be exiled to a hut, in the heat and the cold as you sit. The blood calling out to every animal or serpent near.
  • Imagine being so desperate to go to work that you try to stop your flow with rocks, corn husks, even dried feces, anything that will absorb the flow.
  • Imagine the disease and infection that could ravage your body.
  • Imagine the pain.
  • Imagine if you are lucky enough to go to school and have access to some product, but you have to allow your principal to rape you in order to get it.

Women are beaten down, stripped of their dignity because of the flow of blood, a flow that God created to carry life into the world.

Women living in South America, Canada and Europe where the cost of product is five times what it is in the US. Meaning a box of tampons can be as high as $28 dollars. You are forced to miss work or school, family celebrations, worship, because you are home on rags having your period.

There are many women with the US who cannot afford product for themselves or their daughters, women who are living on under $12,000 a year. Not to mention the limited access to products for girls in foster care or women in prison. They have no money to buy it for themselves and US or State governments do not, where will they get it, and worse yet, what will they have to do to get what they need?

Imagine with me, If you were one of these women, how a washable,
reusable feminine hygiene kit would change your life.

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My friend is on mission sewing as many kits as she can, changing a life with every one. Giving women and girls freedom and dignity. She is faithful to sew and an organization called Days for Girls is faithful to get them to the women and girls who need them.

Ever since my friend shared all of this with me, I wake each morning thinking of the girls, alone, disgraced and suffering because their bodies are doing what they are designed to do. There is no where for them to turn, no help to be found. They suffer as their mothers have suffered.

I don’t know the first thing about sewing, I don’t have much to offer, but now I know and I can’t unknow.

I start with this, spreading the news and praying that God will show me a way I can help, and that I will be willing to sacrifice my own comfort to do it. It’s a heart searching, a soul searching really.

Am I willing to see the suffering of others through the eyes of Christ?

Am I willing to wake before the sun?

Am I willing to go to bed late?

Am I willing to give up a meal out, and give that money away?

Am I willing to travail in prayer?

Am I willing to not do one great thing, but one small thing to change a life?

I hate to do this to you, I really do…

Now, you know, and just like me, there is no unknowing.

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Book Review and Giveaway

Courageous Women of the Bible

If you know me at all you know I love to study the women of the Bible.  This always reminds me how grateful I am to live in the 21st Century.  The courage that it took to be a woman in Biblical times is immeasurable to say the least.

Yet these women who were often thought of as property not people,  powered through. They pushed and pressed after their God, our God. Some of these women experienced Jesus face to face, I can only imagine what that must have been like.

LaTan Roland Murphy succeeds beautifully as she brings these women and their stories alive, afresh and anew.    Her account of these ancient and courageous women is rich and deep, and their stories are still teaching us today.

I alway love to be left with a personal challenge and Latan does not disappoint, she sets us on a quest, a quest for courage, a quest to overcome, as we pursue after our God and His purpose for our lives.

I’m thrilled to be giving a copy of Courageous Women of the Bible away.  Be sure to like this post here on WordPress, or on my Facebook Page, A Scriptured Heart  or here  on Twitter.  That will place you in the drawing for Tuesday, June 12th!

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If you don’t win, no worries!  You can always pick up your copy here.

 

 

 

Guest Post · Mama Bear

8 Prayers for Our Children

I am excited to welcome Stacey Pardoe, a dear writer friend, to the blog today.   Stacey  is the mama of two, a lover of the woods, and she does a little writing on the side.

She is also a wife and certified special education teacher.  She is passionate about walking closely with Christ and sharing his love with a broken world.

She writes weekly at www.staceypardoe.com. You’ll  want to give this wise gal a follow!

Today she is going to be our guide as she walks us through 8 Prayers to Pray over Our Children. 

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How do we pray for our children when the wellspring of words runs dry?  How do we faithfully lift them before the Lord with confidence that our prayers match the desires of His heart?  When we’re not sure of how to pray, God’s Word enables us to stand in agreement with him and lift our children before his throne with confidence.

As a parent, I long to pray for my kids with devoted faithfulness.  I long to stand in agreement with my Savior and pray bold and powerful prayers for my kids.  But sometimes I get stuck.  Sometimes I can’t find the words.  Paul’s words to the Colossian church offer eight direct spiritual truths to pray over my children.  Offering these prayers for my kids daily has centered my focus and blessed my prayer life:

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  1. Pray they will be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9).

Jesus models this prayer when asked how we ought to pray: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  When we follow his example and pray that our children will know God’s will, we pray according to the example set by Christ himself.

  1. Pray they will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Colossians 1:10).

While it’s tempting for parents to spend excessive time praying for the behavior of our children, we honor God when we remember to pray that their behavior will honor him.  This goes for our spouses, friends, parents, and other loved ones as well.  When we ask God to intrude in their lives in such a way that they honor him in the way they live, we are praying godly prayers for godly behavior with godly motives.

  1. Pray they will please God in all respects (Colossians 1:10).

I have prayed this prayer often during seasons when my children were struggling with sin.  Whether it’s a child with a sudden inclination to fabricate information, a child who is struggling with an ungodly temptation, or a little one who is struggling with sadness, this is a powerful prayer.  It’s a prayer God honors, because it is the desire of his heart as well.

  1. Pray they will bear fruit (Colossians 1:10).

When the good deeds of our lives overflow with positive outcomes, we bear good fruit.  When I pray for my kids to bear fruit in their works, I pray for each of them differently.  I pray my daughter will interact with her schoolmates with compassion and kindness.  I pray my toddler will see the benefits of treating others with love and respect.

  1. Pray they will increase in their knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).

Increasing in our knowledge of God ultimately leads to loving him more deeply.  I want nothing more for my children than to see them in a deeper love relationship with God.  As we come to know God more deeply, our love for him grows.  As our love for him grows, he transforms the way we see others and the way we live.  We begin to live out of his endless love for us and no longer crave the affirmation and acceptance of the world.

  1. Pray they will be strengthened with all power, according to God’s glorious might (Colossians 1:11).

We all need strength.  Whether it’s strength to stand up to the bully at school, strength to walk away from temptation, or strength to witness boldly for our faith, we rely on God’s strength.  When God’s strength flows through us, we are able to give without burning out, stand in fiery trials, and endure through the valleys of life.  This is what we want for our children, regardless of their season of life.

  1. Pray they will have steadfastness and patience (Colossians 1:11).

Many people have quoted the claim that we shouldn’t pray for patience, because praying for patience is like asking God to bring patience-testing moments into our days.  I disagree.  Whether or not we pray to bear the fruit of patience, life will test our patience.  We should pray to God to help us die to our self-centered impatience and bear his fruit of a patient heart.  We are called to pray this for our children as well.

  1. Pray they will be filled with joy and thanksgiving (Colossians 1:12).

My daughter loves it when I pray for her joy to abound.  We all want more joy.  Let’s bless our children by praying they will have greater joy and greater thanksgiving, which go hand-in-hand.  Joy is a beautiful fruit of a life deeply rooted in God’s love.   When we learn to see all things as representations of God’s goodness, we move deeper into joy.

I cling to the confidence that God’s Word never returns empty, and I see the fruit of my prayers often in the midst of our everyday life.  May you be encouraged to dig into God’s Word and pray these powerful prayers over your children as well.

This post was originally published at Desiring God.

 

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You can find Stacey at www.staceypardoe.com

Mama Bear · Praying the Commands of Jesus

Raising Kids Who Shine

Before we look at light, lets take a moment and look at darkness.

Darkness is absence of light, lack of, concealment, a lack of sight.  Darkness is all around us, and for those lost in darkness, we are the light calling them home.

Look at the Stars!

Light illuminates, make things visible and is a radiant energy.

Our children, who know Jesus as their Savior, carry the light of Christ within them.  They carry this visible and radiate energy to all who they come in contact with.

So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others…

Jesus knew that carrying the light would not always be easy for us and that must be why he felt the need to remind us.   You see, everyone looks at the light, notices the light and there is a level of accountability for a light carrier.   There are days when this can be hard, uncomfortable and self sacrificing.

Jesus is not suggesting that we shine, He is commanding it.  Not only are we to shine, but shine brightly for all to see.  It should be obvious to all, who we are living for.  Not once do I ever hear Jesus say, stay comfortable.

We aren’t in this faith walk to stay comfortable, Mama Bears.  We shouldn’t want it for ourselves, and we are cheating our kids if we want it for them.

I am known as the ‘pusher’ at my house.  I purpose to push my kids out of their comfort zones whenever I can.   What can I say,  it’s my calling!

We have not been called to stay safe inside our Christian bubble, we are called to Go Out.  Go out into the darkness and SHINE!  

…so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them…

How do people see the light within us?

By being people whose actions and speech are filled with light and goodness, causing people to trust and have confidence in us.

This is how simple it can be.

Have you ever heard the saying, “The Way to a Man’s Heart is His Stomach.”  Truth!

Dinner was a important event in our day, and I receive texts and calls throughout the day asking, “What’s for dinner?”  Many of the boys friends found their way to our dinner table.

I remember one young man who was amazed at family dinner, but he was not amazed at my great cooking, he was amazed at the conversation.  His comments to our son after dinner were, “Your parents asked me all about my day, the even asked how football practice went.  My parents never ask me.” 

Simply inviting a boy to join us  around the dinner table showed him the light of Jesus, we gave him light in the darkness and a place to call home.

My kids saw first hand how simple it is to shine.

and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16 

Here is the catcher… praise will come, but it won’t be for us.  The light will be bigger than us, bigger than our kids, it will be God Sized.  This light, this heavenly light, shining through our lives will draw people to God Himself.

 

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A Mama Bear Prayer

Father, I ask that _______ will not hide his/her light, but that _______ will let it shine brightly before others.  That all she/he says and does will be commendable, causing all those who come in contact with _______ to praise You.  In Jesus Name – Amen

Before I pray for you today Mama Bears, I want to share a little story with you about a woman who is simply shining brightly for Jesus.  You can hear Ludmilla’s story here.

A Prayer for you, Mama Bear

Father, I lift my friend up to you today, may she carry Your Light into the darkest places.  I thank you that Your light overpowers all darkness.  Fill her life and her home with Your light.  Let her be a light shining brightly before all she comes in contact with, causing them to have a trust and a confidence in her that leads them straight to You.  In Jesus Name – Amen

Mama Bear · Praying the Commands of Jesus

Rejoice in Rejection, Is It Even Possible?

Rejection is hard, plain hard.  No one likes it, or the awkward lonely feeling that it brings.

To be rejected is to be refused, discarded or cast out.  Jesus knows how that feels, to the fullest extent.  That is how He can say these words…

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:12

God’s people have been rejected and persecuted from the beginning and it continues to this day.  You see, those that are different, those who walk to a different code, who step away from the norm in this world will naturally be rejected.

I want to be really honest to those of us who are Christians in the United States.  Do we really know about rejection?  Really?  Your child doesn’t get invited to the party, is left out at recess or not picked  for the team, maybe even made fun of.  I get it, it hurts a bit.

Let’s for a moment put things in perspective.  How does that compare to not being able to attend school, being physically attacked or having your home burnt to the ground?  Truth is, it doesn’t compare, not at all.

Mama Bears, we have to and we must remind ourselves to look outside of the little box our lives have become, and teach our children to do the same.

Rejection of who we are along with our faith is going to come, yet that doesn’t stop the call from Jesus that we choose to rejoice in the face of rejection.  How do we live it and teach our kids to do the same? Let’s dig in and find out how –

Rejoice and be glad …

To Rejoice is to be glad, take delight in or to make joyful.

To be Glad is to show cheerfulness or joy, but it also means to be very willing.

Are we very willing to brush off rejection and choose joy?  You see it all comes down to this, it is a choice.  There are days this choice will be easier than others, but it is our  choice to make, our children’s choice to make, and Jesus reminds us that it will be worth it.

…because great is your reward in heaven…

Jesus tells us to set our sights higher, to set them on Heaven, that is where our real reward is.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t often think of  heavenly rewards, it seems I am more interested in earthy ones.

What reward does await us in heaven?  Streets of gold are mentioned, mansions are mentioned, even crowns are mentioned.  I like all of those, believe me I do, but they are hard to wrap my mind around.

Here is a reward I can grab hold of, For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Revelation 7:17 

You see, Jesus will be there.  The Jesus I love, the Jesus I have taught my children all about, trusting that they love Him too.  When we arrive in heaven, there He will be, our Great Shepherd.  He will take us by the hand and lead us to refreshing, living, eternal water.  And then… the hand of God will come and wipe every tear, every heartbreak, every disappointment from our eyes.  Oh my, what a reward.

We don’t hear much about Heaven these days, and I’m not sure why.    Is it because we are so busy,  trying to make Heaven here on Earth that we have lowered our sights?

Let’s lift our sights.  Let’s talk of Heaven and dream of Heaven, with our children.

…for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  Matthew 5:12 

Jesus reminds us, that rejection is nothing new, many who have walked this faith walk before us were very willing to choose to rejoice in the midst of rejection, prison and even death.

Let’s tell our children of the prophets and the martyrs who have paved the way.  We can learn much from their testimonies, and you can find many of their stories here Jesus Freaks: Martyrs: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus: The Ultimate Jesus Freaks.

A Mama Bear Prayer

Father I bring _______ before You today, I ask that when he/she faces rejection of any kind, that you help _______ to be very willing to choose to rejoice, and to take delight in You.  I thank you for the promise of a Heavenly reward, may _______ cling to Your promise and set her/his sights toward Heaven in times of rejection.  In Jesus Name – Amen

A Prayer for You Mama Bear 

Father, I bring my friend before You today, may she choose to rejoice in times of rejection.  May you give her abundant wisdom as a guide in times when her children face rejection.  Remind her daily of her great reward in Heaven and may she set her sights not on this world, but higher, in heavenly places. Remind her of those who have paved the way before her, the persecuted and suffering.  Let her take strength in their testimonies and remind her to tell their stories to her children.   In Jesus Name – Amen