Acts: The Unexplainable Church

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

Last night I was at a church in the country outside of Augusta.  Friendliest church to newcomers I’ve ever been in.  I was quickly shown a seat, many people were including me in conversations, introducing themselves to me, and telling me about the oldest church building in Georgia and that they did baptisms in the creek there and still do them there.  Talk about a loving church.  A welcoming church.

The book of Acts is all about the early church, the adventurers they had in sharing the Gospel, and how the word of the Cross was shared throughout the region.

In Erica Wiggenhorn’s second Bible study, The Unexplainable Church, one covering the last half of the book, you will find thoughtful questions, great history, and spaces to write your own story – how God is leading you to obey the commands that is found in Acts.

We all have a journey in the Gospel.  Acts is filled with conversions, and beatings, joys, friendship, sorry.  And today, in the life of Christians, we find relationships, new relationships with Christ, we find our brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted because of the name of Jesus.

When you study the book of Acts, you find yourself in God’s story.  His story is neverending.  And so thankful we get to be a part of it.

For a good study on Acts, check out this one., which is the first half of the book of Acts – and then follow it up with this one here. Here is my review of the first one. They are a great set of studies and you will know God’s story better.  Thanks SideDoor communications for this book and Moody Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Fitting in or Belonging (Included in Christ review)

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

There are some themes that take over the Christian conversation world from time to time.  And by that I mean so many of the books being published are about the same topic, or podcasts are interviewing people speaking on the same topic.

Right now is seems to be about friendships, belonging, community, etc.  And one of the questions or tips with figuring our my enneagram number has something to do with this.  One of the reasons I chose my enneagram number is because I have the ability to fit in anywhere, but I don’t always feel like I belong.

Belonging is a deep sense of “I’m loved no matter what” and “these people get me” verses just being able to get along, hang out, or blend in.  As someone who has been in ministry leadership for 20 years and moved around for 17 years, I’ve been rather good at that.

But fitting in is not belonging.  Belonging is sitting down and having your soul poured into for hours on end, and you don’t even have your flip flops on.

Belonging is sharing whatever is on your heart without a lull in the conversation because you don’t have to worry about what to say.  You won’t be condemned because you aren’t perfect or don’t fit the mold.  I’ve lived in areas where I’ve not fit the mold and so I’ve neither fit in or belonged – and that is so lonely.

I was listening to a podcast just yesterday and they were talking about Sabbath, resting, and loneliness.  And usually, I have found if I am lonely, it is not primarily because I am not around friends.  It is because I’ve been absent from the Word in an intimate way, slow to pray, and seeking all of my fulfillment from those who can’t fill it.

Heather Holleman writes a Bible study called Included in Christ – a study on the book of Ephesians.  She does a really good job at helping us know where we are in Christ – rooted in Him – and known by Him – and tells us that we can belong.  She helps you see your part of the story in this wonderful book of the Bible.

Some folks are very detailed and organized in their Bible study.  I’m not.  I kinda pick a book then study it in different ways: a Bible study, sermons, books, lettering, drawing, writing it out, etc.  So, this is a good one to help me along my journey in Ephesians.

If you would like to win a copy of it, just leave me a comment about anything and I’ll pick a winner soon!

Thanks to Sidedoor Communications and Moody Publishers for my copy. All thoughts are my own.

Building Bedtime Memories (giveaway)

posted in: Bible, Books, mothering, parenting | 3

At the end of the day, motherhood can require a lot of us and we can be exhausted.  We might be longing for a glass of wine, a dessert, a bubble bath, or just the ability to sit down and binge on Fixer Upper.

But, if we are faithful in finishing the day well with our children, we will reap the blessings.  I am usually the one the put our sons to bed since my mister works retail and most evenings he gets home after bedtime.  Depending on how the day has gone, I’m really just ready to turn off their lights and shut their doors.  After brushing teeth of course!

I want to improve on my daily time with them at bed time. If my mister is home, we read a Bible story and each have time with one of our boys.  I usually take the older and tuck him in or read him some Little House (we are working through this series).  He sings the younger one a song and tucks him all in nice and tight.

The area I want to improve is the nights when I’m by myself, to actually read them a Bible story, pray with them, and then spend time with each of them in their rooms.  Singing or reading or just talking.  It may take an extra ten minutes, but I know that time is precious and I won’t get that back.

The resource we are going through now is the Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories.  I like it more than I thought I would – and I usually continue the rhyme well after I’m done reading.  It is note quite as crazy as Dr Seuss, but still fun.  The pictures are engaging for the kids and the rhymes make it fun.  Then the prayers at the end of each story allow us to focus our prayers at the end of the day.

How do you need to rescue or reprise bedtime?  What have you read at bedtime or done that makes that transition easier?

You can answer the questions above for an opportunity to get this hardcover book for you and your family.  Thanks Tommy Nelson Mommies for the book. All opinions are my own.

Jesus and the Beanstalk (a review)

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

I’m one of those people who find it hard to stick to one thing.

Maybe blame it on a lack of patience, or always wanting to see results, etc.  I really find it hard to believe I’ve been blogging for 11 years almost – that I’ve stuck to something that long.

For me, I like to jump around in my Bible study  I don’t mean that I just pick out a verse and think about that.  No, I like to do different things any given year.  Maybe I’ll read through the Psalms while doing a Bible study.  Right now I’m going page by page through the Bible to find out what God says about Himself.

Jesus and the Beanstalk would be helpful for folks like me, who may want to change up their quiet times or Bible study time near the end of the year.  Lori Roeleveld has written a humorous but good study through the book of Second Peter.  This will give you a lighthearted look at life while walking you the little book of 2 Peter.

She helps you look at the characteristics that you need as you walk the life of faith in Christ to battle any (and many) of the giants that you will inevitably face in this life.

Thank you to Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Should You Study the Book of Acts? (Giveaway and Interview)

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

I minored in history, I grew up doing cemetery rubbings on vacation (put a piece of paper over old headstones and coloring it with a crayon), I love love love history, and honestly, confession here, I often times find the book of Acts boring.

I know…maybe it has something to do with its narrative and I’ve read it before so I know how it ends – or maybe there aren’t enough imperatives in it for me to live our in my daily life (like sharing the gospel and being a sold-out Jesus freak aren’t enough).  Or maybe it is because I don’t experience the Holy Spirit and his work like that in the book of Acts on a daily basis.  Maybe its because my Christian life experience is so different then those in the book of Acts.

A new study, written by Erica Wiggenhorn, helps me and hopefully will help you, learn to love the book of Acts.  In this study, she helps you engage with a part of history that you might otherwise find difficult, she helps you personalize stories and the character of the Spirit that otherwise might seem distant, and she helps you see the power of the Word of God.

Here are some insightful questions that Erica took the time to answer for yall:

Most women have two thoughts about Bible Study that hinders them from digging into God’s Word : 1) I don’t have time. 2) I won’t understand it. How does this Bible study encourage women to step out of those two hindrances?

I love these two questions, because they encompass a couple of primary reasons why I felt called to write this particular study. I’ll start with obstacle #2 first! The very first page of this study begins with “Let’s Open Our Minds” and quotes Luke 24:45, where it says that Jesus opened the disciples’ minds so they could understand the Scriptures. My favorite thing about Bible study is how it allows the Holy Spirit to open our minds and understand Scriptures in a new and fresh way we had never thought of before. It allows us to access all of the time, research and background that an author has poured into a passage of Scripture and consolidate it for us, the reader, in such a way that we can achieve greater understanding without having to spend hours researching ourselves! The characters and circumstances come to life in such a way that we can relate to them as real people.  So on to #1! What we discover in the lives of the early believers was that their lives were unexplainably changed due to their commitment to following Jesus alongside other believers and to studying His Words and teachings diligently. The truth is none of us “have time” but if we know in our soul that we are missing out on something in our Christian walk, we know in our heart that we are not as intimate with Jesus as we would like to be, and we know in our mind that there must be more to this whole following Jesus thing than we are currently experiencing, then we must intentionally choose to “make time.” Time spent with God in His Word will always return more to us than we ever spend!

 The book of Acts can be such a compelling book to look at the work of the Holy Spirit. What are one or two of your favorite characteristics of the Spirit?

I love how the Holy Spirit personalized each conversion story. He never does the exact same thing twice in the book of Acts. It’s as if He knows each person’s heart and does all that He can to help us believe and overcome our unbelief! Another thing I love is how He works in the lives of those who already  believe. Again, He does unique things in each person’s experience in order to give them the greatest chances to obey. Sometimes He sends an angel, other times He speaks directly, other times He operates through a vision, occasionally miracles happen, but each and every time the experience is personalized. It makes me realize that He is not some impersonal cosmic force, but a form of God Who knows me, sees me, loves me, and desires to be an intimate part of my everyday life!

How do you balance everything you do?  Is balance the right word?  

Well this is a funny question, seeing as I how I was just venting to my husband this morning that I “have way too much to do!”. I think balance may be a misnomer as every day contains new variables and unexpected circumstances for which we did not expect or plan. I think “prioritize” might be a better word! Despite what each day brings, am I able to keep my priorities in line with what pleases the Lord? Do I still spend time with Him, still talk to Him, still minister to my family above everything else that needs to get done? One thing that helps me immensely is to go back to the very beginning of creation and realize that the first thing God created was time. He is Lord of time and knows all I have to do and how much time I have to do it! When I intentionally make time for Him each day, whether I get everything crossed off on my to-do list or not, my perspective remains constant, my attitude is more likely to stay in check, and the people I love the most get the best of me rather than the leftovers! When I don’t start by investing in my relationship with God first, but frantically grab my to-do list, I’m usually less effective throughout the day and not nearly as gracious in my relationships :).

 What are three things you are loving right now?

Only 3?! One thing I am loving is continuing my study of the early church! I am making my way through the rest of Acts and I am in awe of  how the Holy Spirit continued to work in these early believers’ lives! I am starting to wake up and say, “Okay Holy Spirit, what have you got planned today? This cracked pot is your vessel- fill me and use me!” Secondly, I am loving David McCasland’s book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned To God, because it is the life story of my favorite devotional writer. I have gone through My Utmost for His Highest for the last several years and knowing the circumstances behind his devotional entries brings them to life in such a powerful way. It parallels the illumination that occurred in studying the historical and cultural background behind the stories in Acts and allows with me to connect with the apostles and early believers more deeply.  Thirdly, I’ll confess I am loving Hannah’s Italian Ice! It’s a little cafe near our home and they mix flavored ice and custard in layers- super delicious! My kids and I love to go there after school and cool off from the hot Phoenix afternoons and share what happened during the day. It’s a little splurge that helps me connect with my kids and when you’re raising tweens, you’ll take every moment you can get!

To win a copy of her new study, An Unexplainable Life, which is a study on the first half of the book of Acts, just answer the following: what are a few things you are loving right now?

Thanks to Side Door Communications for this study and for the giveaway to one of you.  All opinions are my own.


Colors, Pre-Teens, and the Bible (Giveaway)

posted in: Bible | 1

Back in my pre-married days, way back even pre-seminary days, I started out in ministry doing youth ministry.  A few people in St. Augustine believed in me, and let me love on teenagers through the ministry of Young Life, and the local church, Anastasia Baptist.  I’m grateful for those people in my life who believed in the gifts and heart that God had given me.

I still, even 2+ decades later, still love teenagers and discipling them – helping them pour into relationships, Jesus, and the Word.

The Color Code Bible (in NKJV) is a helpful new Bible perfect for young teenagers (or even pre-teens) with a fun way for them to start learning how to study the Bible on their own.  A neat and very helpful way to get teenagers to study the Bible is by introducing them to topical studies.  This Bible is helpful in that by giving them colors on certain topics of the Bible, like God, Jesus, sin, praise, assurance of heaven and hope, etc.

If you are wanting a new Bible to give to your son or daughter (or niece, nephew, grandchild), this would make a great gift.  And why not study along with them – that may spur them on to study the Bible for themselves even more.

If you would like to win a copy of this, (Thanks Tommy Nelson for my copy and the giveaway copy), just answer the following: what is your favorite way to connect with your teenager/pre-teen?

Engaging Your Kids with the Bible

posted in: Bible, Books | 5

Now that school is starting back, most people are quickly engaging their kids with lots of tools to help them learn: ipads, calculators, folders, trapper keepers (wait, that was 30 years ago), fun pencils, Lisa Frank goodies, locker mirrors, back packs, lunch boxes with a favorite character on it.

A mom I know asked on facebook last night when did sending a kids to school get so expensive?  Everything adds up – all in the name of engaging the learner.

Something I loved from when I was a kid was going to the dentist and reading Highlights.  I loved it.  I can’t wait till my kids get old enough to read them.  One of my favorite features in each magazine was the story with the pictures in them (instead of the word).

So, when I received the Look and Tell Bible I was so excited because it was like my favorite kids magazine in the Bible.  How neat.

I had another mom over and showed this to her.  She tried to let her son read it, but some of the names in the stories were hard to figure out.  My kids only know general times like lion, ark, etc.  They wouldn’t know a lot of the specific Bible characters yet.

But, I think this book does really well at engaging older preschool children – maybe 4-5 year olds.  If you would like to win a copy of this beautiful hardback book with lots of fun Bible stories in it, just tell me what your favorite school supply was when you were growing up!  (Or maybe you still have a favorite school supply).

Thanks Tommy Nelson for this book, and the giveaway copy.  All opinions are my own.


Praying and Journaling For Future Generations

posted in: Bible, Books, Shepherding Children | 0

Crossway ESV Writer's Edition

Thank you to Crossway for sending me this Bible to review.  All opinions are my own.

I am in the thick of parenting.  I have a preschooler and a toddler.  I always have thoughts, prayers, questions, emotions – all about being a mommy. Being a mommy is by far the toughest job I’ve ever had.  So, I’m always curious about what the Bible – my source for ALL TRUTH when it comes to any thing I need to know about parenting.

If I have a question about my heart when it comes to parenting, or disciplining, or raising two young boys to be men of God – I go to the Bible.  When I have a question about my kids and what their heart should be, how they should pursue God, what I should be praying for their future – I go to the Bible.

Journaling and Praying for Future Generations

And, the new Writer’s Edition Journaling Bible is perfect for writers.  I can keep all my parenting thoughts in one place.  I write devotions for other mommas and want to keep my thought altogether.  So, how I’m using it is by color-coordinating my thoughts.  If I am writing something about being a mom – I will use a certain color ink.  Then I will use a color ink for each of my boys.  That way, over the years, I can fill it with thoughts and prayers for myself, but also for each of them.

Crossway puts out quality Bibles, and this one is no different.  There are two inches of lined space at the bottom of each page making it perfect to write in paragraph form to journal one’s thoughts.  There is a ribbon especially helpful if you are praying through a book of the Bible.  The pages are cream and thicker which is great to help lessen bleed through with certain pens.  I personally use Micron pens 01 for writing in my Bible mostly.

If you need other ideas about journaling, you can check out Donald Whitney who has written a great book on praying the Bible – which would be a great asset to you as you pray for yourself as a momma and for your children.

Christ, not prayer, is the answer

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

I love church signs.  You can either think that is sarcastic or true – whichever.

But, I passed one today and it said “prayer is the answer”.  I thought to myself.  No, Christ is the answer.

Here’s my thought.  If we tell people all they have to do is pray, everything will work out right, then that really isn’t the right answer.  We do need to pray – Christ models it and commands it.  We need to pray biblically-centered prayers.  We need to know the Word and pray it back to the Father through the Son by the power and intercession of the Holy Spirit.  But, our works, prayer, isn’t the answer to any of our problems.

The one who is our Brother and Intercessory Prayer partner is the answer.  All of God’s promises to us are yes in Christ Jesus.  So, we need to pray – but rest all of our hope in the Christ who answers according to His Father’s will.

I’ve been a believer for a long time now, and Max Lucado has been influential in my growth.  I read most of his earlier books when I was in high school and college.  I have his children’s books and read them to our boys.  And now, he has come out with a set of prayer books that have prayers that are guided by the Word.  You have ones for military families, mommas, dads, friends, graduates, etc.  I love how you can give these out to people, be a blessing.  You can also have them to read in a quick moment and focus your mind (through prayer) on Christ!

I gave away the military one to some sweet ministry friends of ours who live in south Florida.  They are about to have their second baby.

I gave away the teacher one to a mom of 3 boys and a preschool teacher.

I am giving away the Dad one to my husband on Father’s Day.

I gave away the moms one to a sweet friend in our church who is about to have their first baby girl

Thank you Litfuse for sending these to me.  All opinions are my own.


You, Your Kids, and the Bible


ESV Kids Bible

We have so many kids’ books in our home.  We have them in our cars, in our living room, in the toy box, upstairs in both of their rooms, in our master bedroom on our nightstands, and in the hallway outside their rooms just in case they need to find one on their way to the stairs. And we get more every month.  Yes, I give some away, some to other moms, some to our church nursery rooms, and some to goodwill.  If the books are very well worn, then they just go in the recycle bin.

However, out of all the books we have, the only one that has authority, power to change their little hearts, and shape their souls and hearts and actions is the Bible.  It is the belief of “sola scriptura”.  One of the five solas of the Reformation.  Basically, (taken from wikipedia) it is :  the Christian doctrine that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. Sola scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion, but sees them all as subordinate to and corrected by the written word of God.

And that is one of the reasons I love Crossway and the ESV Bible.  They publish books that are so full of Scripture and are such a good help to their readers.  They also design great Bibles, for adults, and children.  I personally have used their Journaling Bibles for almost 10 years now and LOVE them.  And one of their new ones is a hardcover ESV Children’s Bible.  Think back to the 70s and those picture Bibles:  Now, erase that memory from your mind’s eye and picture realistic pictures, larger print, maps to help your children get a heart for the world that God so loves, and a concordance to help studying the word easier for little minds.

Here’s a simple way you can ease in to family worship if you don’t already do anything.  Using this Bible:

  1.  Start in the Gospel of Mark, one of Paul’s letters to the churches, the Psalms, or even Proverbs (especially if you have older children).
  2. Read a short passage.  Have them read it if they can read.
  3. Talk to them about who God is, who Jesus is, what the passage says about man, and what it says about the gospel.
  4. Pick one verse the passage to help your children memorize.  You may stick to that one verse all week, or depending on how old your children are, you may do a few a week.  Kids can memorize the Word of God!
  5. Pray with them.  Pray the Scriptures you just read.  It will help them understand them.  Pray the Spirit would give them a new heart that loves the Word of God and loves the Jesus who died for them.

Family Worship doesn’t have to be long and hard and have a lesson plan written out.  It can, or you can just read the Bible with your kids, talk about it, and pray.  And believe me, the Spirit will be molding your heart as well.  His Word is good like that.

Thank you Crossway for this Bible.  All opinions are my own.