What I’m Reading – When Jesus Wept

12 Apr
My Thoughts
I have read quite a few books on the story of Martha and Mary, but When Jesus Wept is the first book I have read told from the perspective of Lazarus. His story begins a year after he had lost his wife and baby in childbirth. He is just emerging from his time of mourning and has yet to meet Jesus. When Jesus Wept is about Lazarus’ friendship with Jesus and the many lessons he learns about faith and forgiveness along the way.

One of my favorite parts of the story is when Lazarus first sits down with Jesus after seeing Him baptized by John and hearing Him teach from a distance. Jesus begins the time together by asking Lazarus about his vineyards and listening to him. He then uses what Lazarus knows to share about being connected to the vine. I also really loved seeing Jesus teach and heal others through Lazarus’ eyes. The moment he witnesses between Jesus and his sister, Mary, was beautiful.

When Jesus Wept is a captivating read and I adored it. I couldn’t put 
it down and it is one of those books that I will read over and over again.
You can purchase the book here:

Enter Today - 4/2 - 4/23!
When  Jesus Wept Thoene iPad Giveaawy

About the Book
Lazarus occupies a surprising position in the Gospel accounts. Widely known as the man Jesus raised from the dead, his story is actually much broader and richer than that. Living as he did at Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus was uniquely placed to witness the swirl of events around Jesus. When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles series by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus’ ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament. Weaving the life of Lazarus, who owned a vineyard, into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ will help you understand it is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with such tender and loving touch, and that we who have born some fruit, after the pruning, can bear much more.
About the Authors

Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee) are bestselling authors of over sixty-five works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. The Thoenes have four grown children and eight grandchildren. They divide their time between Hawaii, London, and Nevada.
Find out more about Bodie and Brock at http://www.thoenebooks.com/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

You Meet Me Here

12 Apr
Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.
This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking.
I love this community.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word HERE here.

Five Minute Friday

Oh how I love this place.
This time of the evening when everyone is tucked into bed and the house is quiet.
And You meet me here.
After all that goes on in the day, I come to You with everything.
Some days the only thing I can do is sit and absorb the silence.
Other days I come with prayers and can’t stop the flow of words.
Prayers that I lift up to You.
Knowing that You hear each one even when I can’t put them into words.
I know that I come to this place in the morning, 
but I long for these moments in the evening as well.
I just can’t end the day any other way.
I come to You.
Sometimes so full of joy and sometimes broken.
But I know that You want me here no matter how I come.
It’s overwhelming to think that You desire this time with me even more than I do.
This place is ours. Yours and mine.
Before I lay my head down, You speak to my heart.
You tell me You love me.
And there is peace.
Goodnight, Abba.

It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening.
Psalm 92:2

How can I pray for you today, friend?


A Peek Into My Small Group

11 Apr
I have had a few people as me what small group looks like for me in our children’s ministry. I lead a small group of girls in third through fifth grade.
Here is a peek into my small group.

We are dismissed from large group time to break out into our small groups. One of my girls will grab our small group bucket which contains our activities and supplies. As we gather in our circle, I will ask how everyone’s week was and if anyone has something about it that they would like to share. Now in a group of girls this could take some time, so I usually limit it to just a couple of stories.

I ask everyone to open their Bibles so that we can read our Bible verse together and talk more about it. For example, this past weekend our Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5, so I first asked if Proverbs was in the Old or New Testament. As the girls were looking up the Bible verse, I told them about Solomon and how he asked God for wisdom and that Proverbs was written to share that wisdom. We will then read the verse aloud a few times as not everyone has the same translation and the girls enjoy reading how it is worded in their Bibles. Then I asked the girls what they think it means to trust God with all of their heart. Then I asked the girls if we should only trust God for some things and not others. Then I asked what it means to them when the verse tells us not to depend on our own understanding. We listened to everyone’s answers and discussed each of them. We do this on a regular basis with our weekly Bible verses.

At this time we will move on to our activity provided with our curriculum. Sometimes I will add a craft to our activities which the girls can take home as a reminder of what they have learned and a way to share with their families. This past week we made beaded bracelets with a heart on them to remind us of our Bible verse. This activity time is when my girls are most talkative. They share about what is happening in their lives, talk about our Bible story, and really connect with each other. 
I guide the conversation by asking questions, but for the most part I am listening more than talking during this time.

Towards the end of our time together, I ask the girls if they have any prayer requests. We listen as each one shares. I repeat each one and remind the girls to be praying for each other through the week. The girls will also share any answered prayers during this time. Then we pray together. I ask the girls if they would like to pray out loud and explain that no one has to do so. We do “tap a knee” circle praying. Once a girl is done praying, she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. If someone doesn’t want to pray aloud, then she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. This goes on until the circle comes back to me and then I will close the prayer.

Most times the girls are released to their families from our small group. If we happen to have time left before pick up, then I usually break out playing cards (Uno is our favorite right now) or blank paper and colored pencils (I get lots of artwork to hang on my fridge this way). We continue our conversations in the extra time.

Although I am a big believer in planning and preparing for each week, there have been times when the Holy Spirit has prompted me to put all plans aside in our time together. This happened once when one of my girls shared that they were being bullied in school. We spent our time in group discussing this issue and I watched these girls encourage and love on each other. You can’t plan those moments.

I love these sweet girls and am so very blessed to be part of their lives. They are smart and funny and sassy and so very precious. In this circle, I have watched them grow in their faith, love on each other, and become a tribe.

What does small group look like for you?


What I’m Reading – Tales of the Defended Ones

10 Apr
My Thoughts

Tales of the Defended Ones is the second book in Beth Guckenberger’s Storyweaver series. I loved the first book in the series – Tales of the Not Forgotten and couldn’t wait to read this one. Beth has written this collection of stories for children 8 years old and up with each story pointing to God and how we can see Him in the stories, even the hard ones to read. The children’s stories shared are heartbreaking, yet filled with hope.

I love that Beth includes pictures, facts about the places where the children live, and insight into the culture where their stories begin. She also shares something to remember at the end of each story and a space to write down thoughts as well as snippets from her own journal.

Beth shares these stories of children to let others know that our stories are all interwoven and God is our Storyweaver. She invites us to hear how God is working in people’s lives and to get involved. Not only are both books in the Storyweaver series great reading for individuals, but are fantastic to read together as a family.

You can purchase this book here:

Enter Today - 4/3 - 4/21!
Tales of  the Defended Ones Beth Guckenberger iPad Giveaway

About the Book

Ben and Joseph lose their mothers, but find a family looking just for them. Antonio is rescued from what seems like a hopeless situation. Caitlyn dares to trust that truth will set her free. Jorani is delivered from slavery into the arms of grace.

Follow these real-life stories as they take you on a journey to foreign places and extreme struggles. Travel through their challenges and see the hand of the great Storyweaver – our Defender God shielding and defending the defenseless in the amazing ways only he can. These are the tales of the ones left wounded and weak-ones made whole and strong.

About the Author

Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, are the founders of Back2Back Ministries which communicates a lifestyle of service by sharing the love of Christ and serving God through service to others. Guckenberger travels and speaks regularly at women’s and missions conferences, as well as youth gatherings and church services. In addition to her children’s releases in the Storyweaver series, Guckenberger has written two mission-minded books. She has also partnered with Standard Publishing on the mission content in its 2013 VBS program. The Guckenberger family lives and serves in Monterrey, Mexico.
Find out more about Beth at http://www.bethguckenberger.com/.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Dear Fear…You Are A Liar

9 Apr
Well hello there fear.
You’ve invaded my space again and I’ve let you.
You tell me things like…
You can’t do this.
This isn’t for you.
You aren’t enough.
And so much more.
I know you are a liar, but in those weak moments I let you speak to my heart.
Listening to the lies and absorbing them.
Letting them take me to a place not meant for me.
I even hide behind you.
Using you as an excuse to stay in the comfortable.
My heart knows truth and longs for more.
More than you can offer or excuse.

Here’s just some of His truth.

I can do this.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

 There are plans for me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. 
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, 
to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Dreams do come true.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Psalm 37:4  

I don’t have to know. I just have to trust.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

I am not in this alone.
So be strong and courageous! 
Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. 
For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. 
He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 

I am treasured.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.
Isaiah 43:4

For so long I have listened to you. God is growing me in this with each step of faith that I am taking. The truth is that God speaks louder than your lies.
It is about my choice in who to hear. His truth is what I will take into my heart and His promises I will stand on. Oh I know that there may be moments that I falter in this, but He has a truth for that too – grace. I won’t get stuck in that stumble anymore. So know that I am declaring today that I am no longer letting you rule my life.

His (the biggest and best truth of all),

What would you say to fear in a letter?
God-Sized Dreams

My friend Holley Gerth invited me to join a group of dreamers that she affectionately calls her God Sized Dream Team. What a blessing to be part of this group. 
We will be gathering each week on Tuesdays at Holley’s to encourage each other to dream those God sized dreams.

Won’t you join us?
What is your God-sized dream?

Holley had written a love letter to dreamers. Her book You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream is full of words of encouragement and will speak to your heart.


Missions Monday – Global Newborn Health Conference

8 Apr
It’s time for Missions Monday.

Every Monday I will introduce you to some great charities that you can get involved in. When I say get involved, I mean you can donate your money, time, and/or pray for these organizations who are doing amazing things to help people.

UN Photo/Albert González Farran

Today I would like to do a little something different and share with you about an upcoming event called the Global Newborn Health Conference

This conference will be taking place in South Africa from April 15-18th. Individuals from around the globe will gather to focus on how to take interventions that save lives and encourage their use in regions of the world where newborns are most at risk of dying.

UN Photo/Fardin Waezi 

Did you know that nearly 3 million newborns die each year globally?
Did you know that 99% of these newborns die in low- and middle-income countries? 
Did you know that a newborn is 45X times more likely to die in the first month of life, when compared to age 1 month to 5 years? 
Did you know that the major causes of newborn death are prematurity, infection, and birth asphyxia when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth are?
Did you know that complications of preterm birth are the second leading cause of death in children before their fifth birthday?
And, did you know that the majority of these newborn deaths can be prevented?
Dr. Gary Darmstadt

Dr. Darmstadt is the Director of the Family Health Division of the Gates Foundation. You can read more in this article on the Impatient Optimists website hereYou can also follow him on Twitter (@gdarmsta) as he will be sharing more “Did you know?” facts about newborn health.

To follow along, you can search for the hashtag #newborn2013 on Twitter. 
You can also follow these supporters of the conference – @mchipnet@gatesfoundation@unicef@savethechildren and @usaid 
along with these additional supporters – @jhpiego@jsihealth@laerdalmedical
They will all be tweeting facts from the #newborn2013 hashtag.

My Life A Prayer

7 Apr

I pray to God
—my life a prayer—
and wait for what 
he’ll say and do. 
Psalm 130:5

How can I pray for you today?