Tag Archives: encouragement

Review: Do Life Different, by Jill Hart

Do Life Different, by Jill HartDo Life Different, by Jill Hart (Choose NOW Publishing, 2014)

Do Life Different is written for Christian work-at-home moms, and much of the content is also applicable to Christian moms whose at-home work is parenting and homemaking. The book’s subtitle is Inspiring Work-at-home Moms to Powerful Living in Work, Family and Faith.

As a writer, I count as working from home, and although my youngest child is a teen I find the household responsibilities themselves require more “parenting” than I seem able to give. This book addresses a strongly-felt need for me, so I bumped it to the top of my review pile, read it in one night, and will go back through it again at a more sedate pace.

Topics include overcoming fear and worry, making wise decisions, business as ministry, enjoying your work, and “is success okay?”.

Three insights are already making a difference for me:

  1. since God’s mercies are new every day, we can greet the morning with a hope-filled sense of starting over;
  2. we are each the best one for the job to which God called us (I count parenting in this as well as whatever business one might run);
  3. we are leaders, by definition as workers and as mothers—accepting this allows us to lead intentionally instead of wasting opportunities.

There are plenty more nuggets in this collection of 52 devotionals. Each entry offers a Bible verse, a one- to two-page insight, and a thought-provoking “Doing it different” question on how readers can apply the day’s lesson in their lives.

Each has a corresponding video devotional on the author’s website. [Note: if you’re reading the print version, or if you’re reading the ebook on a device that doesn’t support Flash videos, you can view the devotions on your computer. The web address is in the front of the book.]

There are free 6-week or 12-week study guides for women who want to work through the material as a group. To download the study guides, visit Choose NOW Publishing (scroll down to the cover images for the two study guides, then click the one you want).

Writer, speaker and coach Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Ministries, where you’ll find a wealth of resources on finding a job, starting or growing a business, balancing life, and knowing God better. To read a sample chapter of Do Life Different, visit Jill Hart or Choose Now Publishing. Or watch Jill’s video intro below:

[Review copy provided by the publisher.]

When God Says “I’ve Got This”

I’m guest blogger this week at author Christine Lindsay’s site, sharing one of my key life-lessons from 2013: When God Says “I’ve Got This”. Click over and say hello!

What Holds You Together?

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
Hebrews 1:3, NLT*

Jesus sustains everything. He holds it all together: atoms and solar systems, swirling in their created dance. He draws it out, lets it continue and resonate like a lasting chord played on a piano.

When life feels like it’s spinning out of control—or when I feel like I am—this promise is my anchor. We might not like what’s going on, maybe can’t see any sense or any good in it, but it doesn’t have to break us.

We are held. Together.

When we want to quit, the choice is ours. But if we choose to pray for help, to stand and trust God to sustain us, we will see Him at work.

Majestic and glorious God, You made heaven and earth and still you choose to care for us. You sustain and nurture us and draw us into relationships with Yourself so we can thrive. When chaos makes us doubt, help our unbelief. Strengthen our faith and help us choose to rely on You. Thank You for Your promise to never fail or abandon us.

I love this song from the band Fee about God’s sustaining power: “Arms that Hold the Universe.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

Pushing Through, by Jennifer Maggio

Today we have another guest post, from award-winning author/speaker Jennifer Maggio. Jennifer has a passion for single moms. I’ll let her tell you more. Read to the end to see how you can win a free ebook:

Pushing Through

by Jennifer Maggio

Fifteen years ago, I found myself curled in a ball in the middle of my cold, bathroom floor, crying hysterically. I was convinced that no one could possibly understand the depths of my pain. When would this misery end? I was broken. I had no money, few friends, and no hope. How was I going to raise these children alone for 18 years? How could I make it financially? Would my circumstances every change?

That is my story – the story of a lonely single mom, living on government assistance, running from God, and feeling I couldn’t push through. The next several years brought a winding road of highs and lows, victories and defeats. But I did push through. I made it through those early years of parenting alone. Although I hadn’t been in years, I became involved in my local church, rededicated my life to the Lord, and slowly began the journey of digging myself out of a financial and emotional hole. My heart found rest. I leaned on the Lord, when everyone else had failed me. And I never forgot what it was like to be that lonely, overwhelmed single mom.

Peace and the Single Mom, by Jennifer Maggio

My new book, Peace and the Single Mom: 50 Moments of Calm in the Chaos, exists to walk another single mother through the certain loneliness she has felt, but also to guide her to God’s faithfulness, to wholeness, to humor, and ultimately, to peace. It was written as my “thank you” for all God has done in my own life. It was written as my encouragement to that mom who feels no one understands.

Single moms don’t need just another sermon preached at them. They don’t need another book that makes them feel they are light years away from being a good Proverbs 31 woman! They want to hear about God’s grace, His faithfulness, His unconditional love. They want to learn to laugh again. My hope is that Peace and the Single Mom does just that!

Picture Peace and the Single Mom as your girl-time with me, as we sit in your living room, sipping coffee, with our feet on the furniture.

[Janet’s note: Jennifer has graciously offered a free e-copy of Peace and the Single Mom to one of you… leave a comment, and I’ll draw a name on December 14.]

◊ ◊ ◊

Jennifer MaggioJennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker whose personal journey through homelessness, severe abuse, and single parenting leaves audiences riveted. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. For more info, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

Review: 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir, by D. M. Webb

30 Days: A Devotional Memoir30 Days: A Devotional Memoir, by D. M. Webb (Ambassador International, 2013)

Spiritual growth and change often spring from the everyday moments. In 30 Days, D. M. Webb shares through Scripture and anecdotes how God met and cared for her in a 3-year stretch of trials and turmoil. 30 Days is a transparent look at one woman’s life lessons that will encourage and challenge readers in their own lives.

This is a memoir devotional, but it’s not the conventional “life story” autobiography type. These are memoir snippets, each focused to the theme of the particular day’s selection.

Although our life experiences have been very different, D. M. Webb’s devotional memoir connected with me in several places. We both value the book The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee. We both believe that “prayer is the strongest medium there is.” (Kindle location 76)

The lesson that stood out most to me was that it’s okay to ask God “why?” in the hard times – it’s not lack of faith, nor is it demanding and ungrateful. D. M. Webb helped me understand that there’s a way to ask in trust, and that the asking opens us to understand what God wants to teach us in our circumstances.

My favourite line:

My prayers are for those lost in the dark to realize that the Light is nothing to be scared of. (Kindle location 229)

I love how 30 Days ends with two stories passed on from the author’s mother. The stories in this book – and our own personal experiences with the God Who Cares – have value. They need to be shared with our peers and with the generation to come.

30 Days is available in ebook and paper. D. M. Webb (Daphne Self) is also the author of Mississippi Nights. She blogs at Rebel Book Reviews.

[Review copy provided by the author.]

Shocking the World with Generosity, by Dineen Miller

Today we have a guest post from award-winning author Dineen Miller. Read on to be encouraged and challenged. Dineen has graciously offered a copy of the new book she co-authored with Lynn Donovan, Not Alone, to one of our readers in Canada or the US. To enter, please leave us a comment. Draw closes midnight, Nov. 29.

Shocking the World with Generosity

by Dineen Miller

NotAloneImage2I stood on the knoll of a grassy field, watching my youngest daughter, Leslie, then only five years old, as she kicked off her shoes at the starting line. No shoes? How would her little feet grip the grass and propel her forward? Several of the other children in her age group had done the same thing, so I resisted the urge to run over and make her put her shoes back on.

We’d moved to Switzerland in the spring and had spent the summer adjusting to our new surroundings before school started, thus immersing my girls into a culture and language they’d just barely begun to grasp. Today’s event was a big part of kicking off the new school year. I watched Leslie stand there, looking around at the other children so eager to start and win this race. The prize? A round ornately stitched patch declaring the bearer winner of the race for their age group.

Did she even stand a chance?

The starter shouted the Swiss version of “get set, ready, go!” and off went this group of five and six year olds, sprinting down a grassy field. Little legs pumped madly and arms swung back and forth. Seemed like minutes instead of seconds passed as the fastest runners pulled away, and to my amazement my daughter was one of them.

I think my mouth about fell open as my daughter took the lead and won!

Full of pride for my girl, I waited until she’d followed protocol to receive her award and came running toward me. One of her new friends trailed behind her and as my daughter hugged me, I could see her friend was struggling not to cry.

Leslie had noticed too and turned to face her. She held out her new prize to her friend, whose eyes grew almost as big as the patch Leslie held. The little girl looked at me as if to ask, is this okay? My same question—I’d watched Leslie work so hard for this prize, yet there she stood, ready to give it way.

So I asked Leslie, “Are you sure you want to part with that?” I think I was the one struggling with parting with it, not her.

“Yes, mommy. I want her to have it.”

Her friend took the patch and threw her arms around Leslie. The two skipped off together to play. My pride in my daughter grew even larger.

I think at times our children know how to be more generous than we do. I’ve watched my daughter grow into a generous teenager who was always quick to give away what she had and spend her allowance on her sister or her friends before buying herself anything. My biggest challenge as her mother—to let her. To support her in her generosity, even when she gave away a Visa gift card she’d received for her birthday to a homeless person. As I had asked at that race so many years ago, I asked again, “Are you sure?” She said the joy of giving the card away was better than anything she could have bought.

Some kids just get this, others need to be taught. Either way, we as parents have a wonderful opportunity to help our children grow into generous teenagers and adults who shock the world with their generosity. Just as Jesus came into this world and continues to shock us with His.

Along with Jesus, my daughter has become my teacher and inspiration to give more of my resources, my love and my time. I love watching her shock the world with her generosity.

 

Not Alone - Lynn Donovan and Dineen MillerIn Not Alone, you’ll find encouragement and inspiration from Scripture and true-life stories from other spiritually mismatched moms. Plus, find practical tips for capturing teachable moments with eternity in mind, and discovery questions to help you grow as a parent.

This is a parenting book, but it’s much more. It’s a love letter to all mothers—a message that changes our homes, our kids and our lives. It’s about the Father’s love that impacts those around us and changes ordinary moms into women of extraordinary grace, beauty and wisdom.

You may sometimes feel you’re on your own when it comes to godly parenting, but Jesus promised to be with you always. You’re not alone!

 

Dineen MillerDineen Miller is passionate about God’s Word and truth. She’s been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk and FamilyLife Today. Dineen lives in the Bay Area with her family and is the coauthor of the award winning book, Winning Him Without Words and author of the ACFW Carol Award winning book, The Soul Saver. Visit Dineen online at MismatchedandThriving.com.

5 Links for Peace of Mind

Worried? Tired? Overwhelmed? Sometimes life is just too much. Here are some posts that blessed me this week, and I hope they’ll encourage you.

He leads us by quiet waters (Psalm 23)

He leads us by quiet waters (Psalm 23)

Margaret Feinberg writes: “When you’re at the end of your rope, wherever that may be, will you remember these powerful truths?” (Read 10 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Dirty Dog Bad Day — complete with photos and quotes.)

Carolyn Watts reassures us  about the one thing we need to hold onto. (Read When You Worry: The One Thing You Really Need to Know)

Mary Waind reminds us to stick close to the Father and not be distracted by wondering how He’ll work out the details. (Read Forget About the Donkeys)

Violet Nesdoly highlights the importance of guarding our thoughts. (Read The Fruit of Our Thoughts)

And Carolyn Arends shares some thoughts on awareness and gratitude. (Read Worship Con Queso)

[photo credit: Janet Sketchley]

 

Tenacity: 5 links and a photo

It seems I’m not the only one thinking about tenacity lately (Wednesday’s post was The Tenacity of God). Here are five links worth following:

Mary Waind writes “If a tiny creature refuses to give up when he’s all but done for, Father, help me to seize the thing that’s come against me and fight in faith.” (Beech Croft Tales: Never Give Up)

Author Dan Walsh describes how we gain strength in the “wonderful exchange that happens whenever God’s children turn to Him in times of trouble, instead of turning to other things.” (Dan Walsh Books: The God Who is There)

Reba J. Hoffman reminds us that “Sometimes I won’t see His plan but when I can’t see His hand, I can trust His heart.”  (Magellan Life Coaching:  When You Can’t See His Hand, Trust His Heart)

Jenny Svetec looks at some of the hardships we face and gives us this encouragement: “Cheer Up, Jesus says.  I have overcome and so will you.” ( Jael’s Peg: Look Again)

And Marcia Lee Laycock shares some ideas to strengthen the perseverance of those of us who write. (Writer-lee: Of Muse Jars and Other Essential Things)

Freshwater turtle on a log

What better example of tenacity than a turtle?

Joy and Strength

This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!
Nehemiah 8:10b, NLT*

The joy of the Lord is your strength.

This is another verse I’ve relied on over the years. But if you look at the context for this verse, it doesn’t match how we often use it.

After some of the exiled Israelites returned to rebuild the Temple, Nehemiah was sent by God to oversee rebuilding the protective wall around Jerusalem. By this chapter, the Temple and wall are both standing, and the people have done some cleaning up of their lives, too.

All the way through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah I see cues of God’s work in the people’s hearts: motivating them to return to their homeland, to give financially to the Temple’s reconstruction, to work on the wall. For those who’d stepped away, to give up their foreign (idol-worshipping) wives and stop charging interest on loans to their struggling countrymen.

Now in chapter 8, the people assemble and ask Ezra the scribe to read to them from the Law. God is drawing them – they want to know how to live in good relationship with Him.

I think that’s why Nehemiah encourages them to stop weeping and start celebrating.

Repentance means seeing what’s wrong in our lives, agreeing with God – and changing our direction and behaviour to line up with what He says. It’s one of those words that can make us cringe at the thought of fiery preachers or John the Baptist shouting at people and condemning their actions.

But here, the people have already repented. They’ve listened to God’s life-rules and they see where they’ve gone a different way. They’ve seen perfection and their own imperfection. They’re sorry for what they’ve done wrong. Maybe scared, too. God hauled the entire nation off to Babylon for 70 years because of repeated sin, and here they are, newly back in the land and already messing up. Will He send them away again? Or worse?

I wonder if they were also discouraged. How could they ever live up to God’s expectations in the Law? Maybe that’s why Nehemiah told them “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

His words have always struck me as encouraging, a promise of where our help comes from. Nehemiah says it here to a people weeping for their moral and spiritual weakness, and I think it’s to show that God’s strength is for more than rebuilding Temples and walls – it’s for rebuilding human lives. (Tweet this.)

Creator God, You are holy and just. We can’t stand in Your presence except through Jesus’ blood. We can’t please You on our own, but how grateful we are that the joy of You can be our strength, and Christ in us is our hope of glory. Draw us to live ever closer to You, in the light of Your love.

Brian Doerksen’s song “Welcome to the Place of Level Ground” celebrates God’s ultimate plan for salvation. Let it encourage you today.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Perseverance: 6 Links and a Silly Song

Usually when responsibilities pile up and I feel overwhelmed, I burst into a plaintive quote from Dr. Seuss:

This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, I cannot clean it up, there is no way at all! (from The Cat in the Hat)

Last Saturday morning a couple of large household projects were weighing on my mind, and I tried to cheer myself up by turning it into a song:

MeSumo

Sumo, on my shoulders: I’m not happy.
Sumo, on my shoulders, makes me frown.
Sumo, on my shoulders, is so heavy,
Sumo, almost always, brings me down.

Sumo on my shouldersWith many apologies to the memory of John Denver, you can sing these words to the tune of “Sunshine on My Shoulder”. Indeed, that’s a much better song to sing, so go ahead. And no, I’m not embarking on a new career as an artist or a lyricist.

It’s true, though: things pile up in our minds and they do bring us down. And that’s not the way God wants us to live. I’ve been struggling with this lately, trying to be more faithful in my responsibilities without burning myself out. “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13, NLT*)” but I need to focus on one thing at a time and do that thing in His strength instead of on my own.

Sumo on my shoulders1

I believe God gives us enough hours in the day to do the things He intends us to do in that day. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, to talk that Sumo off my shoulders. Lately I’ve found a lot of freedom in the Bible’s promise of wisdom for those who ask (see James 1:5 and my post “Is Your Loyalty Divided?“). God, I need wisdom to see what to do when, and to not think about the other stuff.

Here are six links I’ve found in the past few days that are helping me learn the lesson even better:

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

[Linking with Janis Cox’s Wednesday’s Word: Perseverance]