When I think of my Mom….

I have two Moms really – my Mom Mom and my Mother-in-law. I love them both. God has used them both in my life and I am grateful for what they mean. Today I’m blogging about my Mom Mom because well, it’s Mother’s Day.

Growing up this is how I would see my Mom often times. Stretched back in laughter with at least three or four other people. Usually family and neighbors. Sometimes the guest (whoever it was at the time) living in our home. Often times it was Ms. Flora who was her best friend and who lived next door with her husband and three sons. Flora was like a second Mom. She didn’t knock when came in she just opened the door and yelled “Yoo-hoo”. Mom makes everyone feel comfortable and always has a good story to tell. When I think of my Mom through childhood and growing up I think of her as being very happy and warm.

My Mom is hilarious. She and my Dad loved the Waffle House and somehow she scored this Waffle House uniform and wore it to a Church dinner party at our house. Two things: It wasn’t a costume party. And we were new in the church so nobody knew anything about us. Except now they think she’s the quintessential Waffle House waitress which isn’t a problem except that she’s not one. I think my Mom’s pretty dang funny. Still.

Mom can throw down a party table like nobody’s business. Last minute. Any occasion. Great food and always FUN. She is a gracious hostess who loves making people feel special and welcomed. We’ve had many a celebrations at her dining room table.

Mom makes time to do this right here. She hasn’t been much of a sit still kind of a woman until the last few years with her health and age. So she makes the most of it when the grandkids are around. That chair holds a lot of memories.

My Mom loved my Dad something fierce. She respected and cherished him and enjoyed being with him. And she misses him terribly but she has been so strong in moving forward with her life even on days she didn’t want to.  She was a great wife and is a great Mom.

My Mom is a praying Mom and there can’t be anything better in my opinion than a Mom who loves well and is committed to praying for her children and grandchildren.

So Mom whenI think of you on Mother’s Day I think of all these things. I know Siri is messing up your iPad and it’s hard to get it updated and you’ll need to make your monthly visit to the Apple store before and if you ever read this. But should you stumble across this blog post you know every word of it is true. I hope you know it’s true. I love you and you have been a wonderful Mom to all your children. Thank you for that gift that lingers all through life. I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating how incredibly awesome and amazing and smart and beautiful your children are. Just Kidding. That was a joke, Mom. Love you. Bye!

A great view on SmartPhones and Kids by Craig Gross

 

(I’m on a mass email list from Craig Gross and his ministry and received this email today. I copied and pasted since there is no blog post to the same information. All Craig’s social media contact information is in this post so you can decide to follow him if you want. He’s been helpful in guiding our family in some of our decisions and I think you might find his stuff good and helpful as well.)

Hi Melody,I got this email today.

I get this at least once a month, so thought I would just post it (and note, this is exactly what was written):

“My 11-year old daughter wants a phone and my Ex-wife wants her to get one. Only 26% of kids her age have one and they’re mostly all rich kids in Orange County.

I wanna find ways to protect her from seeing big c**ks as much as possible.

Help me Craig!”

Here is my response to this email and so many others. (It’s also what I have done with my kids, who are 11 and 14 years old):

1. First of all, if you are worried about your kids having an emergency and not having a phone, then head down to Walmart or 7-Eleven and get a pay as you go flip phone. Those will work great if your kids need to call you.

You can’t use the “My kids needs a smartphone” line because of emergencies.Not needed.

2. If you want to get your kids an iPhone or Android, don’t ever give it to your pre-teen or better yet 9-year old out of the box as it comes from the store.

3. Don’t give your kids a device you are unfamiliar with and don’t know how to use yourself.

4. Don’t allow your kids to play an app, watch a movie or binge on a show on Netflix that you are unfamiliar or unaware of.

5. Parents still must be parents and that is a hard one, I know.

Most parents are clueless and cave into the pressure from their kids. Then kids get into trouble on devices because they are acting like kids, but playing with devices designed for adults.

6. A lot of parents have an old iPhone 4 or 5 sitting in their junk drawer and when the times comes will give that one to their kid. That is an okay idea, but you need to keep reading.

iPhones and Androids have parental control settings built into the phone.

Use these before you try and buy an app or search for another option. The best options are now built into the phone.

For iPhones head to Settings -> General -> Restrictions and then enable restrictions with a four digit passcode that you don’t give to your kid. This puts you in charge.

Both my kids have phones and have these restrictions:

– I have turned Safari OFF – I don’t need or want them searching the web or wasting time online with their phone. They can use the computer at home to do that.

– Installing Apps turned OFF – I don’t allow them access to the iTunes store to purchase or get free waste-of-time apps. If they want something, I look at it and if I allow, I will enter the passcode and download.

My rule is they can have productive apps but only 3 games on their phones. I am not going to have my kids playing games on a phone all day. I can’t stand grown ass men and women playing candy crush or words with friends on their devices all day long. WASTE OF TIME!

Whenever I board a plane with my kids, I have them look at the first class section and ask them to find a person in the first class that is on their phone playing games. Never. Successful people today don’t waste time playing these games.

Go to the middle seat in the back of the plane and see that dude who is 35 playing some Game of War game. I don’t want my kids to be that guy/girl. It’s not about the money you make, but the time you waste with your life.

Worse than that, people on their phones all day long can’t talk to people in person.

I don’t need my kids growing up with their heads in a screen and not experiencing the life and people in front of them.

I wrote some more reasons why I don’t let me kids play on their phones when their friends are over here. You can read that HERE.

– Deleting Apps turned OFF – I don’t let me kids delete things on their phones. This applies to text messages, emails, and apps. This is more of a life lesson for kids online.

Snapchat and Instagram stories tell you things delete in 24 hours, but ask Draymond Green if you can still see his penis online? The internet keeps a history, and so does your Ex-boyfriend or future employers.

Everything you do online doesn’t disappear.

Even Hillary Clinton couldn’t delete her emails forever yet kids are growing up thinking things they do will just disappear or be deleted. That kind of thinking is the furthermost thing from the truth.

If my kids send a text message or email to a friend, my kids know that they better be okay with the whole school seeing it because nothing is private.

– No Social Media apps on their phones – This could be old school. That’s okay. I don’t need my kids on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or anything else right now.

Over time I will loosen up there, but how many stories do I hear every day of kids and adults making stupid decisions on social and wasting a ton of time?

If my kids want to get on social, they do it on my phone. I also am aware of who they follow and activities on their accounts. When we are on a trip, I will allow my 14-year old to download and post updates and I have started to allow more access to Instagram with him at the house.

As far as your home goes. There is one device I recommend to anyone with kids still at home. It is called CIRCLE. You can read all about it HERE. It will cost you a one-time fee of $99 and it is amazing!

Last thing, Check out www.xxxchurch.com/parents. You can get a free book I wrote called Touchy Subjects and read more about things you might not know anything about. If you are a pastor and want to host a parents night at your church, we have a free video available for download HERE.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am doing a parents talk at Real Life Church in Santa Clarita at 2 pm on May 21st. If you are close, come on out.

That’s all I’ve got!

Don’t get overwhelmed, it’s all doable, you just have to be willing to jump in.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CIRCLE
Craig Gross
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5 ways to survive Mother’s Day when you want to be a Mom but aren’t.

Mother’s Day is a sweet day of honoring our Moms and our children. Flowers, dressing up, pictures, cards that share our heart’s message and on and on the celebrating goes.

But there are women most likely in your midst who are having a hard time celebrating because of an ache inside. A deep ache that can’t always be explained. She might be the woman who is barren and longs to have a child. She is the woman who has lost her Mother. She could be the woman who never knew her Mother or was abandoned by her. I know women in all categories. I was that woman in one of the categories for years. And she’s the one I want to address today on this blog. The woman who longs to have a child but can’t or hasn’t.

So to the woman who understands this ache within her soul,  I want to give you five things to hold on to this Mother’s Day season.

  1. Remind yourself that God knows and sees your situation. He is sovereign and in complete control of your/your husband’s body and it’s ability to reproduce. He can change your situation with his voice. He is this powerful. And because our Creator God is a good and loving God you can trust that his ability to do all things or reverse anything is good news. Trust him with your infertility. Don’t refuse to be comforted by God.
  2. Don’t stop praying for your baby to come unless God leads you to stop. Pray specifically. Write your prayers down and date them because I promise you God is at work in ways you can’t see or fathom. As you look back on your prayers you will be able to trace the fingerprints of God during this incredibly slow, painful wait. I say don’t stop praying for your baby because, for us, we had prayed for God to change the desires of our heart if he didn’t want us to have children. We earnestly prayed and felt a confidence and a peace from God that he wanted us to have a family so we continued in praying for a baby. But God does shut this door for some in various ways. But until he clearly shuts that door I would say pray and don’t stop.
  3.  Ask people to pray for you.  It’s not always easy to share our personal stuff with people and especially when it relates to infertility. I totally get this! Like who wants to add their ovaries to the church prayer list. And who wants to raise their hand at church and say, “Ya’ll pray real good for us because my man’s gotta give a sperm sample tomorrow.” Sheesh that’s just creepy uncomfortable to type let alone say out loud. If you’re going through IF you understand this is base line IF lingo. Even though it might be slightly uncomfortable I’d encourage you to ask God to give you a small circle of trusted friends and family who will commit to praying for you specifically. A prayer “task force” if you will. I still have a prayer team that I call on periodically during the year. And guess what? Many of them were a part of this prayer team when we went through infertility. Prayer is your lifeline. It’s worth talking about the uncomfortable for the peace that comes with entrusting our womb to God. And may I say that if you are reading this and you want me to pray for you I would love to. I have a heart for praying for women struggling in this area and I’d be honored to pray on your behalf. Email me and tell me how I can pray for you.
  4. Ask God to help you know and rejoice in the fact that He alone is enough. This is one of the main lessons I learned through infertility. God alone is my salvation and if he never provided children I would still have the greatest gift I could ever have and that’s my relationship with Jesus. It didn’t make the pain or the desire for children go away but it gave me a comfort and a security in what I already was given.
  5. Ask God to help you see what nugget of truth he has for you through infertility. Because he has something. Sometimes it takes hindsight to see that nugget of truth but the power of God’s word along with his Spirit many times reveals powerful truths to us in the moment of reading scripture and praying. I encourage you to ask God to show you unique treasures in his word during your baby wait. They will be life lessons that will carry you all through life. Psalms is a great place to read. Psalm 77. Psalm 63 and the book of Job are great sets of scripture.

Friends, I am here to tell you that you can survive Mother’s Day this year even though you’re walking through infertility. If you are overcome with emotion on Sunday morning and can’t sit through another Mother’s Day sermon then sit it out and don’t be hard on yourself. But don’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity either. Be honest with friends and let them pray for you. And can I tell you that there is another chapter to this story being written. You can’t see it. I know it feels like a blank page that won’t ever turn. I don’t know you but I know my God and He will not leave you hanging. It might feel like things will never change right now but the fact is God is working out a plan and already knows the ending. For us his plan included bringing two amazing children to us through adoption. We had no idea all that was unfolding during the days that felt silent and still. It was nothing short of a miracle. Be encouraged. Our God is working in the silence.

I am praying for you friends.

 

What are Umbrella Prayers?

Many of you have asked about umbrella prayers. Some of you know already and are probably sick of hearing about it by now – ha! I am to honestly. If it poured down rain today I wouldn’t want to see one single umbrella in my sight since that’s all I’ve looked at since January. Just Kidding. Sort of.

Umbrella Prayers is a creative tool in praising God and praying for others (and yourself) that I discovered a few years ago. After doing a study on the Names of God by Kay Arthur I sensed the Holy Spirit giving me a picture of an umbrella with his names, attributes and characteristics written on the panels. Not names or ideas we “think” or “want” God to be – but who God says he is in scripture.

Psalm 63:8 says, “My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.”

I want to be a woman who clings to God in both the torrential, downpour kind of a day as well as the sunny, stroll in the park kind of a day. And the Lord knows we have both! Sometimes all in the same day. As I learn about my God in scripture it just makes me want to cling even tighter to Him. And knowing that he holds me with his right hand just makes me love him even more.

So at an Umbrella Prayers event we have lots of hands on activities. We first look to God’s word to see this pattern of remembering who God is by looking at a man in scripture who was flat out depressed and in a complete tailspin in life. He tries a few things to comfort himself and nothing worked. The only thing that brought him resolve was when he remembered who God is and what He had done in the past. And this very strategic act of worshipping God by remembering who God is changed his outlook completely.

So we follow Asaph’s example in Psalm 77 and we recall how God has worked in the past. How we’ve seen him work and be who he is in our lives. We used the resource booklet below to help us see in scripture where God describes himself. This booklet is filled with Attributes and Characteristics of God and verses with each attribute. And then we take a few minutes to brag on our God. We share with each other at our tables which attribute means a lot to us right now or which attribute has been most meaningful in the past.

Then next phase of Umbrella Prayers is where we write out some of those attributes of God on a small umbrella that has been pre-painted on two panels. Our theme verse of Psalm 63:8 is a great verse to include reminding us to cling to who God is. Just picture the covering of our Abba Father over us protecting and loving us through life. Such a tender truth. One of our speakers shared a powerful testimony of God being her Abba Father through the brokenness of her own earthly father’s relationship.

Sharpies, fabric pens and paint pens all work great on the panels. We used acrylic paint for the panels ahead of time.

The final step in Umbrella Prayers is where we make an umbrella prayer together on paper or in our books. Our prayer together was taken from a request that was shared among our group. We prayed for a woman at our event whose husband had a brain injury recently and will be leaving for an extended stay in rehab. We recalled together and wrote in the big part of our umbrella that God is a Healer and Comforter. And up under that umbrella we prayed/wrote out specific requests to pray on behalf of her husband. We covered his nursing staff, his recovery and his family in prayer while remembering and calling on God to be who he is in this man’s life. We didn’t know him but we could bring him up under the Powerful Name of our God and trust him with this sister and brother in Christ. Some people gave their umbrella prayer to the woman attending and she said she was going to take them home and put them up in her husband’s room when they move him to rehab this week. Beautiful picture of the Body of Christ praying together on behalf of someone most of them don’t know.

We closed our time by crafting an Umbrella Prayer personally on behalf of someone else in our lives. Cards were given out to everyone so they could enclose their umbrella prayer and mail to their friend/family member later.

So that in a nutshell is what Umbrella Prayers is about. Anyone of any age can pray. It’s never too early to start and it’s never too late to begin praying. I have found Umbrella Prayers to be a fun, creative yet powerful tool in my prayer life. It has encouraged others as I have mailed some of my umbrella prayers and it has kept me going in my personal prayer life.

This women’s event was such a joy to plan and lead. I was blessed to have a fantastic team of women praying, designing and helping in huge ways. And of course there’s my man who supported this whole vision from not shooting down my idea to hanging umbrella’s from the ceiling to tripping over them in our house to putting together a fantastic resource booklet to moving tables and chairs and working after hours to help pull this thing together.

I will be sharing Umbrella Prayers with a middle school group of girls in May and then again with at a women’s conference in July. I love this so much and it’s such a delight to teach something I’m so passionate about.

 

 

 

When Mama’s Pray

I remember praying with a group of Moms years ago when one of the teenage sons of a Mom was in a deep funk. He was glued to his computer screen hooked on a game that kept him up for hours on end. We asked God to release the control of this addiction and to help him break free. Little did we know the very next day the boy would spill a drink all over the keyboard preventing him from playing his game. We didn’t want to exactly “celebrate” this huge disappointment to the teenage son but we did thank God for intervening in a way we never saw coming! We know God answered this prayer of ours and it encouraged our faith and made us lol a little bit too. This boy eventually pulled out of this extreme stronghold and we can’t help but know God used the effectual fervent prayers of a group of Moms gathering together in His name.

Prayer is a powerful tool God has gifted us with. Let’s view for what it is – a life changing piece of our faith and daily walk.

I’m praying for some big things right now. Things only God can do. But things God can do. I don’t know that God will answer these requests in the way I’m asking but it won’t stop me from praying or believing that my God is through and through Good.

 

 

Rugged Faith

“Rugged Faith”

Randy used this term Sunday night in his teaching and I really liked it. I’ve been thinking about it all week long.  It conjures up a lot of different things in my mind.

Sometimes we like to think of faith as pristine and fitting tightly in nice little categories where everything makes sense and fits just right.

When I hear the term Rugged Faith I think of words like… Not perfect. Rough. Worn. Maybe even tattered?

Did you know it’s okay to grapple with our faith?

It’s actually a good thing to feel the tension when our faith is tested.

Often times our faith is tested when we don’t understand life around us. Whether it’s an unexpected tragedy that hits close to home or an ongoing heartache.

Faith doesn’t mean we have to respond to tragedy skipping around and quoting Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Sometimes faith will look like a family boldly proclaiming this truth in the face of tragedy because it is true that all things will work together for good to those called according to his purpose. Randy pointed out in his teaching, “God’s ‘good’ is always better than our ‘good’.” And we can trust God’s Goodness fully. But just because someone is down and hurting doesn’t mean they don’t have faith. It just might be a little rugged. And that’s okay.

When we went through infertility there was a lot of pain – both physical and emotional. Through the tears we begged God to show us what his will was for our family. To change the desires of our heart if he didn’t want us to have children. Questions like, “God, are you punishing me for something?” came out of my mouth. I asked a lot of questions. I had faith that God was who He said he was and I trusted God to work his will in our lives but my faith was extremely rugged. I was grappling with things I knew to be true of God but could not fully understand.

Don’t be discouraged if your faith feels messy and rugged. It’s in the arena of wrestling that we come away bruised yet strengthened. I find that in these times I grow the most because it helps me to cling to God in a unique way producing sweet and profound life lessons.

When we encounter Christian friends who are grieving with incredibly strong faith with great hope and confidence let’s embrace that and continue to pray for them. Let’s celebrate that beautiful fleshing out of their faith. And when we encounter Christian friends who are utterly overwhelmed in their faith and grief let’s not judge them and make accusations about their faith. Lets pray and love them well right in the midst of their rugged faith days. And by all means for our unsaved friends who grieve with no hope may our hearts be heavy enough to pray salvation over them and their household.

Friends, we either have faith in Jesus or we don’t have faith. And we aren’t born with it. In fact scripture tells us we’re born separated from Christ. But in our sin and separation from Jesus he died for me. For you. For everyone by name in this world. He wants you and me to have faith in him. And even when our faith is rugged and tattered He loves us. That’s who I want to put my faith in. Don’t you?

 

 

 

Growing Stronger Roots – A Prayer Journal Review

Oh friends this prayer journal is such a great little nugget of gold. I just love it. I’m still not sure how I came across Tara Furman on social media but I’m sure glad I did. She put together this prayer journal and it’s packed with all kinds of treasures!

My favorite features in this prayer journal…

The categories – Praise. Thanksgiving. Confession. Favorite Verses & Lessons. Listening. Prayer Prompts. Prayer Requests.

Each category has an introduction page and the rich wisdom combined with  personal warmth has been such an encouragement to me.

The size and quality – I love the size of this journal and that it’s durable. To keep up with this format of praying will provide such a treasure at the end of a year.

One thing I’m learning right now is that I am super quick to forget things. Things I’ve prayed about and things I’ve learned.

Writing out our praise and prayer requests help us be able to go back and trace the fingerprints of God. Often in the Psalms we see our struggling brothers and sisters in Christ talking about how they “looked back” or “remembered the arm of the Lord” or “recalled”.  They spent time looking back and recalling the deeds of God. And that simple act of looking back brought a renewed strengthening and hope. I want that for me and I want that for you. To be able to look back at all God has done.

You can snag one of these power packed prayer journals at amazon of course or you can order off Tara’s website. I also have my eye on the one for girls for my daughter. She is growing in her prayer life and I am all about supporting our kids in their faith walk and if it costs money you spend it. What greater gift can we give to our kids than to teach them to know and love their Creator God. And prayer is such a huge part of our faith walk. So I see this journal as such a keepsake treasure and life giving tool. I’m totally going to be ordering one for my girl.

 

 

How we’re handling The Shack and Beauty & The Beast as a family.

Hi friends – this post is to share where we’re coming from on two movies Christians are talking about right now. We might land in different places on one or both of the topics and it’s okay to do that. It’s the beauty of respect within community.

I read the Shack when it first came out but have not seen the movie. I’ve watched a few interviews with the author to better understand where he’s coming from. The story is fiction. My main concern with this book/movie is that some people are watching it and drawing conclusions about God based on this author’s representation. And his representation is heretical. On numerous accounts. One overriding theme is Universalism. Basically that all roads lead to God and that Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God. The author asserts there is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because all people will make it to heaven. The real heresy of the book/movie is modalism in the portrayal of God.

My husband told me in talking about these things, “I’ve always seen the problem with the Shack being a (probably) good guy trying to help God out by taking it upon himself to explain God better to people. The problem is you have to be very careful to line your explanations up with Scripture.”

This is an author who claims to be a Christian (not saying he isn’t) writing a fiction story but supposedly with truths based on scripture and to help people have a better understanding of God. I think as Christians we have to be extremely careful in the things we portray as truth – even in fiction stories. Some argue that people aren’t walking away with a new understanding of God as a result of this movie. I disagree. I think it is shaping people’s thoughts about God.

There’s a huge danger in forming our own thoughts about who God is. We don’t get to do that as God’s creation. He is our Creator and He tells us who he is all through the Bible. It’s right in front of us. I believe we experience our Creator God in different ways and explaining that to others might be difficult at times. But God will never contradict his nature and who he says he is in scripture. Never. And I believe the Shack, although fiction, is taking dangerous steps in helping people form an idea of God that isn’t true. This is what modern day idolatry looks like.

With this said I personally am not opposed to seeing the movie. In fact I thought about taking our teenage son who is becoming more grounded in his Christian worldview to see the movie and discuss afterwards the areas of heresy. It would be good practice in discerning truth from heresy. However I’m not sure the time is right. I think there’s a time to purposefully examine heresy with the intent of being able to recognize and discern truth….and for the purpose of knowing what our world is hearing and swallowing. But it can be a slippery slope (a good ole’ churchy term) to go down that path. It should come at a time when there are solid biblical principles already established and rooted in ones soul and a deep love for Christ. I thank God that our son and daughter are being exposed to excellent Biblical training at home, at school,  in church and youth group. I’m seeing the fruit of this in their life right now. They have a desire to know, love and follow Jesus but they are both still tender in the faith. As for me and Randy – we don’t have a desire to watch the movie. We’re both afraid we might throw up in our popcorn bucket. Sorry for that visual.

So why are we not going to see the Shack but we are going to see Beauty and the Beast – The Disney movie with the first gay character in it? Here’s why. Disney has never claimed to be a Christian company producing Christian movies with Christian themes. They represent the world and the world is not concerned with portraying Biblical truths. We are exposed to worldly, non-biblical truths every single day unless we live under a rock. We put money towards secular establishments every single day. To see a movie with a gay character in it is not condoning or supporting homosexuality. And I don’t think it’s dangerous because having a continual conversation with our kids about a godly lifestyle and a Christian worldview should be happening all the time.

So how are we handling this with our kids? We’re talking about it. Talking about the fact that we’re disappointed that Disney is choosing a gay character in Beauty and the Beast. But also that we can’t expect the world to act like Christians. We have ongoing discussions about homosexuality openly. We believe  scripture teaches clearly against a lifestyle of homosexuality but that God still loves that person and so should we.

So we’ll be heading to Beauty and The Beast this weekend but we won’t be looking down on anyone who is choosing to see The Shack instead. Or staying at home under a rock.

 

 

 

2 simple & transforming Bible study techniques

So let’s admit that sometimes we open up scripture and are like, “ummmm what did I just read?” We go away confused or bored.

Been there done that.

I learned something from John Piper that has helped me and I want to share it with you. Every morning he gets out of bed and gets on his knees and prays these three verses. He calls them the I.O.U’s.

Instruct – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

Open – “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18

Understand – “Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 119:27

Before you read scripture consider praying through the I.O.U’s and ask God for help in understanding his word. And then trust he will give it to you.

Then ask the 2Q’s. 

As you read scripture have these two questions rumbling around in the back of your head.

Q1: What does this verse say about God or what does God say in this verse?

All scripture points us back to God so we can come away with a truth about God or about something He is saying.

Q2: How does this truth about God or what he is saying make a difference at the end of my day?

This is the so what. We’ve learned _____________ about God now how does this flesh itself out in my day. In the office. At home. Neighboring. Etc, etc.

Try this out and see what the Holy Spirit reveals to you.

Do you have some thoughts on how to engage in your Bible reading? Let’s help each other out – sometimes a simple new tool in Bible Study and prayer helps us move forward in our walk with Jesus. Share it in the comments. 

Girls Beach Weekend

This weekend I got to go the beach and meet an amazing group of ladies. “Girls Beach Weekend” has put on a Christian retreat for the last 3 years for their girlfriends and any woman interested in the Triangle area. They do it at The Southern Baptist Conference Site in Oak Island, NC. A beautiful facility. They asked me to speak on Lingering in God’s Word through Bible illustration and journaling.

The GBW leadership team was amazing. They were warm and hospitable the entire weekend. They welcomed me and 100 other women with open arms and served us through the entire weekend working so hard.

Everything this group did was top notch. Rooms decorated with adorable painted pineapples, cute schedules and notebooks. An adorable pineapple pencil pouch and colored pencils. And more.

This was their notebook – you guys look at that adorable coloring page. Could it get any cuter? I think not.

The location was fabulous. I’d never been to Oak Island before so it was wonderful to explore a new place. I loved it there.

I loved teaching on lingering in God’s Word and Prayer and we actually got to do some of it together. One of my favorite times was when God opened up a sweet time of prayer for us corporately and we prayed for each other. Such a beautiful thing to do among the Body of Christ – even with people you don’t know. The Spirit of God has a way of bringing us together through prayer in a way that is so intimate and can’t always be planned or scheduled. He gave us that gift this weekend. And I will always remember it.

The other speakers for the weekend talked about hospitality and among other things. Melissa Bell  spoke about the Turquoise Table and oh how I love this concept! Melissa actually did this when she moved from her home in NC to Texas – painted a picnic table turquoise and it’s where she and her neighbors gathered. And guess what? One of them flew all the way from Texas to hear Melissa speak in NC this weekend. This is what community looks like – you do crazy things like that. Love it.

I also loved Emily Sexton with the Flourish Market who spoke on Radical Hospitality. She has a store in downtown Raleigh that I just might drive two hours to go see one day. She is adorable and what she’s doing is life changing for women overseas. I scored me some cutey-patootey, big gold leaf earrings this weekend. And I know that my purchase is helping other women. How cool is that?

The many conversations I had over breakfast, journaling and farewell conversations were instrumental in my own personal life. God spoke to me through so many different people this weekend. I went to pour into people and by God’s grace he helped me do that but I also left being poured into by those around me and I thank God for that as well.