For many moms, it can often feel as if everything is defined by their “pre-kid” life and their “mom” life. Our wardrobe and furniture choices are different; hairstyles and hormones have changed. The dinner on our plate, the money in our wallet…even the time needed to use the restroom is no longer our own. There is a very clear delineation of what was “normal” life before and after having kids.

This has certainly been true for me as I look on the timeline of my own life, and while much had indeed changed forever, one of the most difficult transitions for me has been my time with God. Pre-kids, I could enjoy a slow, QUIET, and relatively uninterrupted time in the Bible. Once my first bundle of joy arrived, all of that neatness went out the window. It led to some dark days as I had to rearrange my expectations of what a “successful” time in the Word looked like, but the roadblocks I encountered through sleepless nights, constant chaos, and incessant interruptions have been the best thing that has happened to my spiritual life.

As we approach Mother’s Day—as much as we moms LOVE our kids—it is a temptation to look back and long for the simpler, quieter days before kids changed everything. Weariness will do that to the best of us. Instead of wondering if life will ever return to normal, what if we shifted our focus to the goodness and beauty of this new-normal?Instead of lamenting all that’s been lost—especially when it comes to our spiritual life—let’s focus on and celebrate how God has and will continue to use the formidable moments of motherhood to move us closer to His presence.

Here are five ways motherhood has shaped my walk with Jesus forever—for the better.

1. My devotional prayer life is better

As a woman without kids, I had a tendency to silo my relationship with God into the one-hour time slot I had scheduled. That hour was awesome, but I treated it as if that was the only appropriate time to spend with God. I did not invite Him into the rest of my day. I didn’t pray much outside of that “quiet time.” The disruption of my “perfect” little God-appointment showed me that I lacked meeting with Him continually through each moment of my day. This caused me to see that I need not be so dependent on an hour slot in my schedule to experience God. He is always near. I can talk to Him any time, anywhere.

2. The paralysis of perfectionism doesn’t paralyze me as easily.

“If I can’t do it right, then I shouldn’t do it at all” was my mantra. I had unknowingly been living this way and it was suffocating my spiritual life. Suddenly, in the motherhood stage of life, there wasn’t much that I could do “just right” anymore. Pre-kid Katie could control her environment, plan perfect days, and color-code her prayer journal and study notes. Post-kid Katie was drowning in failure until she learned to kick perfectionism to the curb; the “all-or-nothing” era has ended. (This has also made me much more patient with others and their less-than-perfect attempts at life!)

3. I’ve learned how to go deeper into the Bible quicker.

Before kids, I used all the Bible study tools I could find. All of them. Becoming a mom forced me to be more selective in how I spent my “quiet time.” I had to learn to utilize the tools that give me the most “bang for my buck” in helping me understand the Word. I still try to enjoy a more leisurely time with God when I can, but most days I take what I can get once I open my Bible—which may only be 15 minutes. This time-crunch has made me think more critically about the tools I’d gathered and whether or not they actually helped me understand the Bible better. Just because so-and-so does it doesn’t mean I have to as well.

4. I’ve learned my desperate need for more and more (and more) of Jesus.

Oh, how I need Jesus! There is nothing like the stress of three kids bickering in the car over something completely insignificant or the frustration of trying to create a perfect family moment through reading the Bible together…only to have kids fight over who gets to sit in my lap while I get kicked in the face in the process. My lack of sacrificial love, enduring patience, and unconditional kindness is on full display through my feeble motherhood efforts. Motherhood has been a mirror which continues to shed light on the ugliest parts of me. These are the places that need the redemption and transformation that only the power and grace of Jesus can handle.

5. Scripture memory has become an essential delight.

Perhaps as a culminating effect of all of the above, motherhood has driven me to hide God’s Word in my heart. Through the ingestion of my Bible through slow and steady memory work, the essential truths contained in Scripture—who God is, who I am because of Jesus, and how I am to respond in worship to Him in my everyday moments—are being infused forever into my soul. The words of God are becoming a part of who I am and the Bible is available to me even when my hands are busy with all things motherhood.

There are more ways that motherhood has changed me forever, but I am most thankful for these five transformations—changes that are certainly not complete!

So if you are a mom struggling to get in the Word because you just can’t seem to do things the way you used to, or you feel like the mom-life just isn’t the season for a closer walk with Jesus, lay down these lies! You can enjoy the Word, even with littles wandering around you. You don’t have to sacrifice depth for time. Quit focusing on what you feel you can’t do, and focus on what you deep-down want to do—because even the “want to want to” is something.

Let go of the Instagram ideals and Pinterest perfection, fix your eyes on Jesus, and ask Him to stir up an even greater desire to become more like Him. He has begun a good work in you and He promises to complete it (Phil. 1:6). Motherhood might very well be the vehicle He is using to do just that.

This post was originally posted over at LifeWay Voices.

Valentine’s Day is here, and whether this holiday is part of your yearly festivities, or you find it a ridiculous excuse for consumerism, it gives couples a chance to evaluate the state of their relationship. One of the biggest area of a married relationship is that of the sexual connection—or lack thereof. Wives, I want to address you specifically today. Husbands, listen in. This post, though directed at the woman’s heart, might be a source of insight for you to understand the struggles your wife faces when it comes to physical intimacy.

I’ve led small groups for, discipled, and taught many women over decades of ministry. Inevitably, the topic of sex comes up. For some, it is an area filled with great dread coupled with a negative attitude all around. Others hold a more positive air toward the issue yet are suffocated by the tension between what her heart tells her is right and what her tired mind and exhausted body desires. Rare is the woman who naturally enjoys sex with her husband and regularly initiates intimacy with him.

Within the married Christian culture, there seems to be an overarching view of sex as a chore to be completed in order to keep husbands from committing adultery. Deep down, women know that it is important for husband and wife to connect physically, but the acknowledgment of this reality and the regular enjoyment of that sexual connection are two very different things. There is a disconnect with what she recognizes to be right and what the rest of her being desires.

This is a complex topic, especially considering that most bring baggage into marriage which the evil one often uses to sabotage a couples’ journey toward healthy physical intimacy before it even starts. If there is abuse in your past, I encourage you to seek out professional help to sort through that trauma as it might be affecting your ability to enjoy this area of your life as God intends. If you are currently experiencing an abusive relationship, please get help right away.

For those not in an abusive relationship, here are several significant gifts you can give to your husband this Valentine’s Day as you take steps toward pursuing a healthier sex life.

1. GIVE HIM YOUR RESPECT

Be careful about how you talk about your husband with others. If you find yourself regularly complaining about your marriage with other women, find a way to divert the conversations before (or once) they start. Refuse to commiserate with others about the quirks and weaknesses of your husband. Do everything you can to discourage an environment where you and your friends complain about your husbands.

Focus on what you love about your husband instead of what is difficult. In other words: be kind or be quiet. Our words are powerful, and when we allow negativity to fester—even if it is something as small as the trash not being taken out—it will affect the way you respond to your husband in every other way. It might also be good to remember that we, too, have many failures and flaws.

2. GIVE HIM YOUR COMMITMENT AND FORETHOUGHT

Just like other areas of our lives, if we don’t choose to make this a priority, our desire for sexual engagement will get pushed to the back-burner. Communicate with your husband about this. Let him know you want to make regular connection a priority, but you are struggling to do so. Share any specific roadblocks you can identify. Come up with a plan together. Many couples find that scheduling a special evening once a month or making sexual connection a regular weekly event has proved fruitful. Figure out what making it a priority looks like for you, then be ready mentally, physically, and spiritually to follow through.

3. GIVE HIM YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION

This is one of the biggest struggles for many women. The thought-life of a woman is much like an internet browser with 24 tabs open and running in the background. We are always thinking about…everything! While it is difficult to silence the voices of all the responsibilities you carry, it is not impossible. This is going to look different depending on your personality, but do what you need to in order to clear your mind to be able to engage as completely as possible.

4. GIVE HIM YOUR HONEST (YET GENTLE) THOUGHTS

Before I got married, I’d heard stories of couples splitting up after 20+ years of marriage. Many cited that they were married to a stranger. They’d lost touch of one another. They had become roommates, no longer lovers. How this could happen was such a mystery to me…and then I got married. And like most newlyweds we struggled to communicate. All the “intense conversations” were exhausting. It took work to keep connecting with one another, and there were many days I just wanted to ignore the problems and pretend to be happy. But we listened to the biblical advice to not go to bed angry, and (though we lost hours and hours of sleep) we muddled through the difficult conversations until we were able to hear each other’s hearts. Instead of retreating—which eventually severs emotional ties—we fought to understand and do better next time.

Whether you need to have a conversation about your sex-life or a tough conversation about another area of your relationship that is troubling you, don’t put off. Avoiding difficult conversations is counterproductive and ultimately leads to being strangers in the same bed. The goal of this physical connection is a holistic intimacy. Physical, spiritual, and emotional oneness is what we get to enjoy as a married couple. Your husband doesn’t just want your body. He wants to enjoy you. Every part of you. If we are holding back what’s on our mind, it will hide a piece of us from our spouse. And if you are holding back emotionally, it is most likely one of the reasons why there is a hesitation toward your husband physically.

5. GIVE HIM YOUR PRAYERS

Oh, how I forget the power of prayer! I get so caught up in the realities of now, that I neglect to remember that God is for us in all areas of our marriage. It is His perfect will for all married couples to experience a deep intimacy on every level of the relationship. Healthy, happy, holy marriages reflect the glory of God. Yet our sin continually clouds and distorts that picture. We can never produce the perfect marriage on our own. Every couple struggles, but victory is near through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

So, let us pray with confidence, asking the God of the universe to do only what He can do. Pray for specific heart change for both you and your husband. Pray for good communication. Pray for intimacy in every area of your marriage. Pray for grace and strength to walk forward in obedience as He leads. Pray for God to be glorified through your unity.

Sex ought not be not an activity we dread, nor is it simply a duty for the Christian woman to fulfill. Married sex is a gift from a very good God, designed for our mutual delight. As we pursue health in this area of life, we will not only enjoy the benefits of a greater, holistic intimacy with our spouse, we will also enjoy the pleasure of God himself as we glorify Him in this area of our lives.

This post was first published over at LifeWay Voices.

My oldest approached me a few days ago and asked if we could meet as a family every morning and have our “quiet times” together. For months now, he’s been trying to find a time and a place in his day to spend time with God. He and I started going to breakfast on Wednesday’s before school and I’ve been teaching him how to study the Bible using an inductive study method. But he wants more. He wants to be in the Bible every day and there isn’t much more that makes this momma’s heart sing.

Thought I certainly don’t have this parenting thing down, and I’m sure we have some tumultuous years ahead of us in these last 9 years we have as parents with kids in the house, we are beginning to see both the holes caused from our parenting failures as well as the good and sweet fruit of our labors. With the clarity of hindsight, I can now see how the Lord has faithfully led us to take several actions with our kids when it comes to the Bible. Here are five we’ve seen begin to bear beautiful fruit.

MODEL AND INVITE

It is really tempting to study behind closed (and locked) doors, especially when they were younger…. Allowing them to stay was an invite for them to be a part of what mom was doing.

UPLOAD AND HAVE FUN

I cannot count how many times we (unsuccessfully) tried to have some sort of family devotion time that ended in kicking and screaming and me losing it in absolute frustration that my kids could not get with the program! Looking back, I can see that I was asking them to do something they were not developmentally ready for. There was, however, something I was doing right all along …

BUILD THE HABIT AND INVEST IN THEIR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

There is no way I can impart everything they need to know about God and the Bible while under my roof. And even if I did, it will mean little if they don’t choose to make it their own relationship, their own faith, their own pursuit. While I cannot chose for them, I can set them up for success by inviting them to make time with God part of their everyday lives through providing opportunities and tools to help them do so.

DISCUSS WHAT YOU ARE LEARNING

Chat about what you are learning in your own time in the Bible. Ask them what they’ve been reading…. Make it normal to talk about and enjoy the Word of God in your everyday life.

PRAY, PRAY, AND PRAY SOME MORE

There are no guarantees that they will grow to love the Word, but just as a plant needs the right environment to grow, so does a spiritual life. As we do the work to till the soil, water, fertilize, and pull the weeds, we must also pray for the Light of the World to illumine the hearts of our precious seedlings. Without His work in their hearts, our labor is in vain.

(Read more about each tip in my post over at LifeWay Voices!)


One of the ways we are doing this in our family recently, is through the Brave Roots Boxes. My kids have LOVED their boxes. All three have faithfully sat down to do their “quiet time” using the simple yet significant Bible studies that come in the box. You can learn more about the Brave Roots Boxes here. (This is an affiliate link. Because we love them so much, we want to share about them! At no additional cost to you, I receive a portion of your purchase if you make one. Thanks!)


 

Advent is right around the corner and this is a great time for us to set our minds on Jesus, you know, the reason for the season! I’ve collected many advent plans and studies along the years. Here’s a list of studies I’ve done—or have wanted to do!

Advent Bible studies for women

Love Comes Near Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • 25-day Bible study from Jenni Keller
  • Includes a bonus Family Advent Experience
  • Learn more about Love Comes Near Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

He Is Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • An Advent Bible study from Becky Kiser
  • 20 Bible Study days on the attributes of God written by 20 guest writers (including me!)
  • Includes a 5 Advent Candle Bible Study and Instruction days
  • Learn more about He Is Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

Then Came Jesus Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • A 4-week Bible study by Lara Williams
  • Each week organized into a 5-day study plan
  • Suggested Scripture memory passages for each week
  • Each day includes an optional “Family Idea”
  • Learn more about Then Came Jesus Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

advent bible studies for women

free advent reading plans for women

Adore Him Reading Plan

Advent Reading Plan

Born Is The King

  • A free 28 Day reading plan from She Reads Truth
  • Starts on the first Sunday of Advent
  • Learn more

Christ Was Born for This 

  • A free 29 Day reading plan from She Reads Truth
  • Starts on the first Sunday of Advent
  • Learn more

Joy to the World

  • A free 29 Day reading plan from She Reads Truth
  • Starts on the first Sunday of Advent
  • Learn more

advent reading plans free

kids advent calendars

Kid’s Advent Calendar and Reading Plan

  • This looks like a load of fun!
  • A 24 day reading plan and activity guide for families from Not Consumed
  • Learn more

Advent with the Jesus Storybook Bible

  • A 24 day plan through the Jesus Storybook Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (our fav!!)
  • Includes Bible verses to read alongside the Jesus Storybook Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • Simply grab your copy of  Jesus Storybook Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! and download her free reading plan!

The Littlest Watchman – Advent Calendar Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

  • Includes an Advent Calendar and Devotional Booklet Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • Gives suggestions on how to make your own “Jesse tree”
  • Has an accompanying book: The Littlest Watchman: Watching and Waiting for the Very First Christmas Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • We used this last year and enjoyed it!
  • Order your copy here Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

kids advent calendars


Looking for online bible studies for women?online bible studies for women

I was born in Long Beach, California. My mother was an ER nurse and my father worked for McDonell-Douglass. We lived in Cerritos, near Anaheim. (And, yes, we visited Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm often.) I remember walking a few blocks over to watch the 1984 Olympic cyclists fly by us on the freeway. The main streets in Cerritos were lined with purple Agapanthus (one of my favorite plants today), and the pet goldfish I had for about a week is buried in the flowerbed in the front yard. (Well, it was buried. A couple weeks later, I got curious about what he looked like, so I tried to exhume him … but couldn’t find him. Maybe the neighborhood cat go to him first?)

When I was in 2nd grade we moved up to what is known as the High Desert, and lived there until I graduated from high school in 1996. This past spring, I had a speaking engagement that brought me back to the area and it was an emotionally charged visit. (More on that later.) Some of my most cherished memories are of afternoons roaming the neighborhood, making blanket forts in the boy’s room, weekend trips to visit Grackey and Papa’s, and the epic summer road trips we took as a family.

I’m not what you would call a cryer, nor am I super-sappy, but I’m realizing how much of my childhood is etched in my mind as precious. I find myself wanting to give my kids the same experiences … though I might unintentionally take it up a notch. The first time we took Kenneth to The Magic Kingdom, I cried. Walking down Main Street was magical, and I was sure this was going to be Kenneth’s first special memory. Who knows, though. He was only 4.

But our Magic Kingdom visits are nothing compared to the National Parks. My guess is, my parents took us to somewhere around 10 National Parks. I remember my brother James being so puzzled when we reached the Petrified Forest. He wanted to know where all the trees were. (He was about 6.) At the Chickamauga Battlefield in Tennessee, as a teenager, I had the attitude of a lifetime (and the family picture to prove it) because it was HOT and HUMID (something this SoCal girl knew nothing about) and BORING. Yet, deep down, I loved all those parks and I do even more so today. The redwoods and caves, deserts and mountains, forts and battlefields are symbols of our time together as The Landrums.

Fast forward 25 years, and I am now an official all-out nerd when it comes to the National Parks. We go out of our way to stop and visit the parks. We’re on our second National Parks passport (the first one didn’t have enough spaces for all our cancellation stamps.) The kids do the Junior Ranger programs at each park we visit (if they have one), and receive badges for their work. I’ve lost count on how many parks we’ve visited … but the kids have well over 20 badges. Each. We’re taking a trip up to Kentucky soon, as Chris will be officiating a wedding for a sweet couple from our previous church. The plan is to hit two parks in South Carolina on the way up, and Chickamauga on the way home.

Redemption!

I’m not sure if my obsession with making our trips memorable, and for our kids to have experiences together, is shaped more by the wonderful memories I have or the fact that my brother is dead and no longer around to make new memories. I’m sure it’s a mixture of both. Carrying some of these traditions is a celebration of what my parents provided for me and my siblings: a good, safe, and solid childhood. And I’m so grateful for all they sacrificed to make it so. I know all-too-well now the temptation of being a lazy parent. It would be much easier and a HECK of a lot cheaper to just stay home and let the kids play video games all summer. But I want them to have the memories I have to hold on to. I want them to have these centering trips that force us to interact with one another, get to know each other better, and to just be The Orr Family. Together.

I have yet another excerpt from a fun resource for you today! My almost ten-year-old, Anna was SO excited when we got our copy of the Big & Little Coloring Devotional from Rachel Swanson. Michael, my 7-year-old, has enjoyed it as well. I’ve used it one-on-one, as well as letting both of them color while I read aloud. The devotionals give us a conversation starter to use while we color. It’s a sweet way to enjoy some quality time together. (Don’t miss the giveaway below!)

So, what makes this book different from other coloring books on the market? Rachel shares her heart behind what makes the Big & Little Coloring Devotional so special.

  1. This book is not just a “mommy and me” book, but geared for daddy’s, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any “big” person who knows what it’s like to care for a child. Therefore, the devotionals and illustrations are carefully crafted so that boy’s and daddy’s love it too! (It’s not all flowers and butterflies.)
  2. The pages lay opposite enabling face-to-face coloring! No more elbows in the way or left-handed woes. This layout encourages eye-contact, conversation, and connection.
  3. The devotionals are SHORT! Just enough to open your mind to the context of the verse.
  4. The binding and pages are high-quality and for the price, you simply can’t beat it.
  5. The child illustrations are simple while the adult illustrations are slightly more intricate, making coloring just right for both parties involved.

Here is a devotional excerpt from Big & Little Coloring Devotional. Enjoy!


I slumped down in tears, overwhelmed.

It was just too much. All of it. The dirty house. The crazy kids. The never-ending demands, responsibilities, and non-existent thanks. I secretly wanted to run away from it all.

My phone chirped. A text from a friend checking in on my day. I laughed sarcastically, at the timing.

I lightly shared how it could be better. After a few more pleasantries exchanged, I couldn’t help but be real and let it all pour out. Instead of guilt I received elegant grace through words—the encouragement I was longing for and needing to hear.

How beautiful it is when words are spoken at just the right time. So don’t hold back, you never know when you’re random text is being received at the perfect time.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” (Prov. 25:11 NASB)


How can you see yourself using this tool? Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy! Next week I’ll choose a random winner from the comments!

Don’t want to wait for the giveaway to end? Order your copy of Big & Little Coloring Devotional here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

 

Over decades of ministry I’ve noticed quite a few trends that have been true in every station the Lord has led us. From the 19-year-old college student to the seasoned 91-year-old, the area of prayer is one where many people want to pray but don’t know how. Most either remain silent or default to a string of words they’ve heard someone else utter—and I totally GET THIS! I used to be terrified when it came to prayer. I didn’t want to pray out loud, and my private prayers were short and aimless.

There is a great void for most Christians when it comes to praying specific, Biblical, and powerful prayers. I’m so grateful for my friend (and fellow Auburn fan!) Teri Lynne and this GIFT she has given us in the area of prayer. Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most is her earnest and engaging invitation for moms to join her — not as perfect pray-ers but as humble daughters of the perfect Father, interceding on behalf of the girls they love.

WITH TERI LYNNE AS A GUIDE, PRAYING FOR GIRLS EQUIPS MOMS

  • to identify and understand five key areas of their daughters’ lives
  • to apply biblical truth to challenges and obstacles their daughters will encounter
  • to pray with boldness and confidence using Scripture as the solid foundation for their prayers
  • to engage their daughters in understanding and applying biblical truth to their own lives

Containing 200 Bible-based prayers as well as suggested activities and conversation starters, Praying for Girls is a must-have tool in every mom’s arsenal. Though this book is for “girl-moms” there is much that can be applied to our own hearts. I’m excited to share an excerpt from this new, incredible resource.


Every morning I move, bleary-eyed and stumbling, from my bedroom to the kitchen where Scott already has the coffee brewed. In our home there are no less than six ways to make coffee. Hands down, the best coffee is from a percolator. Remember those? You put the water in and it bubbles up through the coffee grounds.  Since it takes longer to percolate coffee than it does to brew it in the coffee pot, we don’t use ours all the time. But when we do, it’s definitely worth the extra time.

As a little girl, I faithfully memorized Bible verses for Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. Honestly, I know very few of those verses today. The process was sort of like using my Keurig—quick and effective. I love my Keurig. I am thankful to be able to make a cup of coffee in just a couple of minutes because some days that is all I have.

But renewed minds are like percolated coffee. It’s a slower process than simply memorizing Scripture. The Word, like the water in the percolator, moves through our minds, touching each thought, desire, and dream.

When we allow the Word to percolate inside our mind, it saturates every part of us.

Over the years, I’ve found there are few simple ways I can keep myself on track in this area.

1. Read. It sounds incredibly basic; but, I’ve learned that there are a whole lot of women who don’t regularly read the Bible. Not because they don’t want to or don’t think it’s valuable, but because of time. But because we get busy or distracted and never sit down to do it.  Here is where technology is our friend—we can listen to Scripture on our phones while we do dishes, nurse a baby, or drive to work.

2. Rewind. If I am reading a passage and it doesn’t make sense, I go back a little farther. Reading the verses or even chapters around what I’m studying help give context I need to make sense of what I’m studying.

3. Reflect. I give myself space to reflect on what I’m learning. I don’t go from one Bible study to the next with no time in between. In fact, the deeper I’ve studied, the more time I give myself to reflect on what I’ve learned before I jump into the next study. It is important to give ourselves time to reflect. I often use Saturday mornings for this practice.

4. Repeat. One of my favorite ways to dig deep into a passage or book is simply to read it over and over. Repetition is a great way to let the Word sink deep into our hearts and minds.

5. Restart. Let’s be honest here, sometimes this is where we are. We’ve gotten off track for whatever reason and we don’t need guilt. We just need to pick up our Bibles and restart.

When we are faithful to invest time in learning the Word and to allow our minds to be renewed and shaped by what we read, our children will learn from our example.

Whether my coffee is percolated, brewed, or fixed in my Keurig, it is always good. So, on the days when you have lots of time to let the Word simmer and soak in deep, cherish it. And when you are in a grab and go season, trust the sufficiency of the Word to meet you where you are and accomplish what God intends. And for the days in between (which are really most of our days), savor the Word and allow your mind to be renewed by the truth God offers. And invite your children to grow in those same habits.

Prayers

Lord, in a culture that esteems conformity, may _________________ choose to be transformed into Your image. May she seek the renewal of mind You offer that she will be able to understand and live in Your will for her. (Romans 12:2)

Lord, I pray You will put Your Word deep inside _________________. Write it on her heart, embed it in her mind. I pray she will know the beauty of being Yours, of knowing You are her God. (Hebrews 8:10)

This excerpt is from Teri Lynne Underwood, Praying for Girls, Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2017, and used by permission.

 

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Teri Lynne Underwood is a pastor’s wife, ministry speaker, and Bible teacher. As the mother of a teenage daughter and the founder of Prayers for Girls, a popular online community for mothers of daughters, Teri Lynne is a cheerleader for girl moms and the author of Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most. You can connect with Teri Lynne on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Order your copy of Prayers for Girls here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

I’ve known of Bestselling Author Tricia Goyer for years and in this last year I’ve enjoyed getting to know Tricia personally through a mutual friend’s introduction. Tricia wears a lot of hats, as a wife, homeschool mom of ten, grandma of four, writer (of OVER 60 books), teen mom support group leader, and founder of Hope Pregnancy Center in Kalispell, Montana. She lives a full and fruitful life, but what strikes me most about Tricia is her wisdom that stems from a deep and intimate relationship with God.

Tricia Goyer lives a life that will challenge readers to step up and walk out faith in our homes, communities, and the world, and ultimately experience all the joy promised when we are in His will and doing His work.

—Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including Redeeming Love

I’m excited to share with you an excerpt from her latest book, releasing October 1, 2017. In Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time, Tricia demonstrates the powerful work God accomplishes if we are willing to step out in obedience to Biblical commands and His quiet urgings, no matter our fears or feelings of inadequacy. Through Walk It Out, Tricia shares her journey, from accepting Christ’s forgiveness and telling her story of redemption to answering the call to adopt seven children when she least expected, is filled with the exhilarating, radical, unexpected life that we experience when we walk into God’s plans for us.


I was twenty-two years old when I attended my first writers’ conference. I walked into the auditorium with my notebook and pens, hopes and expectations. No one suspected that I also carried a heavy load of heart-baggage. Not only had I had an abortion and endured a teen pregnancy, but my biological father had abandoned me, as had my baby’s father. My heart was battered, torn, and weighed down. But on the outside I looked happy and excited. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain, and so I buried it and did my best to ignore it. Before I could inspire, guide, or entertain anyone with my words, however, God had work to do in my heart.

It’s not surprising that just as I ran from the pain and conflict in my life, I avoided it in my writing. I wanted to write sweet, Christian romances. The only problem was my plots lacked conflict. Without hardship and longing, my characters had little motivation and few internal struggles. (All of which are essential to good, heart-gripping novels.) How could I write deep and impactful things when I refused to unearth and face my own deep pain?

When I first became a Christian, I didn’t understand my need for heart healing. Wasn’t it enough that I’d given my life to Jesus? Yes, that was all that mattered in terms of my eternal salvation. But I couldn’t give readers what I didn’t have: faith that God wants to meet us in our deepest pain and do extraordinary things through our healed, albeit ordinary, hearts.

Despite my loving family, I didn’t feel love—neither theirs for me nor mine for them—and acted more out of duty than devotion. When I played peek-a-boo with my baby daughter, I smiled and laughed, but the joy didn’t touch my heart. When my son fell and hurt himself, I ran to him and assisted him, but there was little compassion or concern. When I snuggled by my husband’s side to watch a movie, I knew I should be happy and content, but I felt a numbness I couldn’t shake.

Before I could open myself up to all the good things in my life, I had to open myself up to feeling all the pain, heartache, shame, and loss that came from my abortion and from being abandoned by men who were supposed to love me. It was easier to keep my emotions at arm’s length than to feel the ache of loss.

I minimized the trauma I experienced from my dad by telling myself, At least I wasn’t one of those kids who had to split her time between her mom and dad’s house. And, Maybe my biological dad wasn’t that great of a person, so God removed him from the picture to protect me. As for my old boyfriend, I told myself it was good that he abandoned my son and me because God brought John into our lives to be a husband and father.

But my rationalizations didn’t relieve the pain. And the pain confirmed my childhood belief: I wasn’t worth sticking around for. I felt unlovable and was too afraid of further rejection to share my weightiest sin and deepest regret with our Christian community. Only my parents, ex-boyfriend, and John knew about my abortion. I didn’t even tell my closest friends. When the topic of abortion came up in church or Bible study, I sank deep into my seat, especially when people spoke doggedly against it. My stomach knotted up, and I was certain everyone within twenty feet of me heard the frantic pounding of my heart.

If they knew the truth and understood what I’ve done, they’d hate me. He wouldn’t want to share a pew with me. She would turn and walk away in disgust.

Hiding from the truth protected me from the condemnation of others and from the ugliness of what I’d done, but it also blocked me from the beauty of life. My shame began to heal the day I picked up the phone and signed up to attend a Bible study for women who’d had an abortion. My hands trembled as I drove to the church, yet walking into that room and seeing other women who’d made the same choice I had was a step of freedom. When I saw love and compassion in their eyes, a weight lifted off my shoulders. They saw me, knew what I’d done, and didn’t despise me. After all, they’d faced the same pain.

That first night the leader asked us to share our stories. Telling these women the truth of my wrong choices opened my heart to healing. But deeper healing came when I began to believe God and the truth of His Word—the truth about forgiveness and how God sees me, my hurt, and my sin.

Does Tricia’s story resonate with your heart in any way? What helps you BELIEVE the truth of God’s Word? Share with us in the comments!


Women often pack their lives with family, friends, and faithful service, yet still end up feeling empty and unfulfilled. In Walk It Out, Tricia Goyer demonstrates to women that walking out the mandates of Scripture allows God to spark passion and mission within them.

Whether believers realize it or not, God intended for them to do what the Bible says: adopt the orphan, take the gospel into all the world, and care for the needy. These are mandates that point believers down the path of true living and eternal life.

Sometimes those steps are easy, but many times they require a move outside of what feels safe or secure. When women stop focusing on their own dreams and purposes, and instead focus on God’s dreams and purposes, everything changes.

Pre-order your copy of Walk It Out here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

Below is an excerpt of a study is written by my good friend and ministry partner, Lara Williams. I would probably not be writing Bible studies today if it were not for Lara. Back in 2011, I asked her if she would co-author a book I had on my heart but felt unable to write myself (I had a LOT of learning to do about the craft of writing). She said yes and 8 months later, we published Savoring Living Water (affiliate link). About a month after that, we finally met in person. Crazy how the internet connects.

Lara is an incredibly gifted writer, but she also walks with intimately with Jesus and this is evident in all her projects. All that to say, I’m super-excited to dive into Life Giver and I would LOVE for you to join me.


We can probably all agree that forgiveness is best. Forgiveness, even of those who wrong us deeply, proves to be freedom for us. But there’s one little thing that often gets in the way: our feelings.

I’m a girl. And let me tell you. As a girl, I’ve got lots and lots of feelings. And I’ve got feelings about those feelings and feelings about those feelings. Ad infinitum. So, when someone wrongs me, lots of feelings come to the surface and beg my attention. They typically insist that I act vengeful with fingers pointing and a few “how dare you(s)” thrown in for added drama.

But the thing about feelings is that even though they are very real, and often justified, they don’t always lead us to the right action. Remember what Jeremiah said about our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, I don’t think my feelings have ever told me to forgive my enemies. Ever.

Yet Jesus commands forgiveness, for our good and His glory. And He means for it to be an act of our will, not necessarily an act of our emotions.

Forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. — Colossians 3:13

We have a choice. Regardless of our feelings, in Christ we have the choice to forgive even when we’re desperately hurting. And that choice will bring soul-blessing.

God gives us boundaries and commands to protect us. He loves us – perfectly and fully. He knows us – perfectly and fully. And because He designed us, He knows what will lead us to our most blessed existence. When it comes to relationships, we will give life to others when we choose to forgive, regardless.

How Do I Forgive?

The question becomes, “How do I forgive, especially when I’m hurting?” The answer? We turn to the One who forgives out of His amazing grace. We pray. We press hard into our Lord — the Forgiver of all sin. We seek refuge in Him and trust His covering. We meditate on what He says about forgiveness. We live authentic lives, allowing others to walk with us down the tearful road of releasing the debt we want another to pay. And then we believe God to do the heart-healing work that only He can do.

Feelings take time to line up with the willful forgiveness. But feelings eventually come. They will come. But until they do we command our soul towards obedience.

Forgiveness sets us free to love. It sets us free to give of ourselves without the need for others to do anything in return, because we’ve found fulness in our Lord. We see that everyone is the same — needy for a Healer and Redeemer. And when we see people through the lens of grace, unforgiveness has no place.

Moving Forward

Spend some time in honest conversation with the Lord. Confess any harbored unforgiveness. Tell God your honest feelings – He already knows. Then speak truth over those feelings. Declare the verses we meditated upon this week regarding forgiveness. You may want to seek out a trusted friend to pray for you and with you as you walk the road of forgiving another. But however you get there, release others from a debt that’s already been paid. Grace is the only road to becoming a life giver.

Purchase your study for as little as $4.99!

Today’s post is an excerpt from my good friend Stacey Thacker’s new book, Is Jesus Worth It: Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting. Stacey’s had a hard couple of years. From the loss of her father, to a child with a chronic illness, and—most recently—walking through the hospitalization and recovery of her husband’s sudden, unexplained cardiac arrest. 

So, yeah, I think she might have a thing or two to say about experiencing the goodness of God — in spite of our circumstances.

Stacey is a born encourager. For years, I’ve watched God use her Scripture-filled words of wisdom to bring clarity and courage to women, propelling us toward the everyday purposes and dreams God has for us. I typically get to see Stacey once a year. We catch lunch at Panera when I’m in town and I always leave encouraged to keep following Jesus and equipped to follow that call. Reading her books are almost as good as sitting across the table from her at Panera. Please read this post and consider diving into this new book!  I know you will leave encouraged and equipped, too.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post!


My pastor usually starts reminding us in November that January is coming and he wants us to be ready. You see, every year he asks us to pray and seek God’s heart on a word to frame our upcoming year.

Sometimes I pray and wait for weeks before the Lord brings a word to me. Not this year. I knew straightaway what the Lord was speaking to my heart. But in toddler-like fashion I was busy putting my fingers in my ears, saying, “I can’t hear you, God” and singing, “Blah, blah, blah.” Mature, right? I can be. May I tell you what truly sealed the deal for me? It was Elisabeth Elliot. She was featured on a podcast marking the sixtieth anniversary of her first husband’s martyrdom. Jim Elliot and four other missionaries gave their lives while serving the Auca Indians of Ecuador in 1956. Their faith (and quite frankly, hers) has inspired countless believers all over the world to serve the Lord whole-heartedly. They said, “Jesus is worth it,” and it cost them everything.

Elisabeth Elliot passed away in 2015, so the podcast was a recording of a talk originally given at a conference held by Campus Crusade for Christ to a stadium full of college students in 1983. Yes, that’s right. God used a talk from KC83 (as it was known) to bring the final word on my word for this year. Her topic was on “endurance,” and this quote was what gripped my heart from the beginning. She said, “If it’s God’s will that you want more than anything else in the world, it’s going to mean endurance.”

I knew it. In that moment I knew God was calling my year to be about endurance. I had a feeling it wasn’t a great sign of what was to come. I truly wanted to choose another word. I pleaded with God. He didn’t budge one inch.

By the third week of February I was a mess. It started with me dropping a dozen eggs on the cold tile floor of my kitchen. The rest of the week pretty much followed suit. And I must admit I felt just as broken as those eggs. I had planned on this being a tough week. My daughter was scheduled for a brutal test on Thursday that required an entire day of preparation. She fasted. So did I. By evening we were both tired, hungry, and cranky. She was facing another phase of prep that required her to drink something she was dead set against, and it wasn’t going well. My husband came home and sent the other girls and me to Chick-Fil-A, telling me to eat something. My fasting wasn’t doing any of us any good.

I wrestled too. Here we were being reminded once again through this new series of tests that we might never be able to fix it. How do you look your girl in the eyes and tell her all the treatment, all the pills, all the food she has had to pass on, and all the tests have not proven helpful? She was only nine years old at the time. It breaks you. It broke me. And honestly, I just sat down and wept.

There I sat, trying to make peace with it all. I did my best not to lose heart. And I knew what I was supposed to do. I knew he was present with us. I knew he would hold us no matter what I was feeling. I knew this, because the last time I was here his faithfulness was not void. And the time before that time it was also true. But all those things being true didn’t make it any easier. Do you sense a theme with endurance? Easy is not part of its vocabulary.

Over the next couple of months our family went through some of the most intense times of our lives. The longer it wore on, the more endurance I felt I needed. Like a runner in a marathon, I was longing to see the finish line that didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. What God offered me instead, in his perfect timing, was a bit of refreshment. Only it wasn’t a cup of Gatorade or a well-timed PowerBar. It was hope from his Word found on the pages of Hebrews chapter 12.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:1-3)

See, the Hebrew readers were weary in every way. They were losing heart fast. Some translations of this verse say they were “fainthearted,” which means “cowardly, depressed, and yielding to fear.” Does it sound a little bit like you? I guarantee you, when I read that description my heart tugged a bit. Being fainthearted is not a small thing. It can sideline the best of runners. The writer of Hebrews knew it was time to call them upward and onward. It wasn’t time to quit; it was time to run. But running wasn’t necessarily going to be easy or comfortable.

I think what the writer of Hebrews was saying, and what Elisabeth Elliot was getting at as well, is that if you are going to follow Jesus you need to decide ahead of time to keep going when it gets rough. Quitting is not on the table. Enduring faith is marked by a wholehearted endeavor to run hard after Jesus. No matter what.

When have you experienced the presence of God holding you as you endure? What situation are you currently experiencing that you must chose to keep running? Share with us in the comments and enter to win a copy of Is Jesus Worth It? Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting. Winner has been chosen and notified!


Purchase your copy of Is Jesus Worth it? here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Stacey Thacker is a wife and the mother of four girls. She is a Bible teacher with a passion to connect with women and encourage them in their walks with God. Her books include Hope for the Weary MomFresh Out of Amazing, and Is Jesus Worth It?). You can find her blogging at staceythacker.com and hanging out on Instagram and Twitter @staceythacker usually with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!