Top 5 Recommended Bible Studies

moodsetter-mommy-blog-entry-top5One of my favorite things to do in ministry is leading Bible Studies. I have been blessed to serve The Lord in this capacity for many years. Women often ask me what are my favorite studies or ask specific questions about certain ones that I have done personally or led. I have led many studies but some of my favorites are ones that I was a participant in. Hopefully in the future, I will have the opportunity to lead some of these that I have mentioned below. I have completed over 20 Bible studies and led 8 in these past 2 years. I love Bible studies because it makes it personal to me, but a huge benefit for me is the accountability. Knowing that we meet each week to discuss what we learned, helps keep me accountable to do my studying. I love hearing how The Holy Spirit speaks to people in such a personal way.
Below is a list of my top 5 favorite Bible studies, some are specifically geared to women while others are not. Even if its a “Women’s Study,” I still recommend them for both, and the points in the studies are applicable for men and women.
1. Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God
by Henry and Richard Blackaby (Personal Study)
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This is my all time favorite Bible Study. Not because it was fun, enjoyable and easy. Its quite the opposite. It allowed me to search my heart on how to deepen my relationship with Christ. The first chapter is “God’s Will and your life,” and this was a great introduction to this life changing study. This is the longest Bible study that I have been part of, which was 13 weeks, but every week was essential in developing your relationship with God.
This study has sold millions of copies worldwide, Experiencing God is based on 7 Scriptural realities that teach us how to develop a true relationship with the Creator. By understanding how God is working through us even as we try to fathom His ways, we can begin to clearly know and do His will and discover our lives greatly and gracefully changed.
“Real Christianity is not merely a religion; it is a relationship with a Person.”
This study is great for new believers, as it teaches the foundation of our Christian faith, but its also great for seasoned believers. We are never too old to learn!
2. Armor of God
by Priscilla Shirer (Women’s Study)
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This study truly opened my eyes to what was going in the spiritual world, without me being fearful. Priscilla focuses on the passage, Ephesians 6:10-19, and v.12 impacted me in my daily life. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12
We have to remember that the real enemy in our lives is satan! Not our husband, not our family members, not our friends, not our acquaintances, but the devil.
“Being a believer doesn’t give you immunity from the assaults of the enemy, but it does give you access to the power of the Father-His power to defend you as well as reverse what’s been done to you.” -Priscilla Shirer.
GLORY TO GOD!! Reading that again, made me stand a little straighter 🙂 I led these in 2 different settings. One was in the young mom’s study and the other was with more “seasoned” women. Both were different discussions on how this study affected them in their season of life. This is my top pick for “Women’s Bible Study.” I cannot wait to lead this one again! The Armor of God, more than merely a biblical description of the believer’s inventory, is an action plan for putting it on and developing a personalized strategy to secure victory. This is a 7 week study.
3. Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer
by Priscilla Shirer (Women’s Study)
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This one wasn’t actually a “study,” but after I read a few chapters, I knew I had to lead this in a Bible study setting. (I pray for specific direction from the Holy Spirit on each study and the demographic).
Fervent is a wonderful companion to the Armor of God study.
We read a couple of chapters each week and discussed the principles and had a specific time of prayer. We were serious and strategic in our time together.
We have an enemy . . . and he’s dead set on destroying all you hold dear and keeping you from experiencing abundant life in Christ. What’s more, his approach to disrupting your life and discrediting your faith isn’t general or generic, not a one-size-fits-all. It’s specific. Personalized. Targeted.
So this book is your chance to strike back. With prayer. With a weapon that really works. Each chapter guides you in crafting prayer strategies that hit the enemy where it hurts, letting him know you’re on to him and that you won’t back down. Because with every new strategy you build, you’re turning the fiercest battles of life into precise strikes against him and his handiwork, each one infused with the power of God’s Spirit.
At the end of each chapter, she closes with a “call to prayer.” She shares awesome Bible Scriptures and encourages us to write out prayer strategies on note cards that are found in the back of the book. This book is for every woman!
4. James: Mercy Triumphs
by Beth Moore (Women’s Study)
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I have done several Beth Moore studies and this one impacted me the most, especially in this season of my life. Each of her studies, dig deep, so be prepared to be in your study time for at least 45 minutes a night.
This study focuses on the book of James. James, Jesus’ own brother, started out as a skeptic. See how one glimpse of the resurrected Savior turned an unbeliever into a disciple. James is a book in the Bible that has extremely great wisdom and insight. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” We need wisdom in EVERY aspect of our life, so why don’t we ask God for it? This study goes into depth the 5 chapters of James, but leaving you wanting more.
Topics in this study include: joy, hardship, faith, reversal of fortunes for rich and poor, wisdom, gifts from above, single-mindedness, the dangers of the tongue, humility, and prayer. I love that we get to know the brother of Jesus in this study. Everyone in this world is important!
5. Financial Peace University
by Dave Ramsey (Group Study)
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This is a nine-week class and it might seem a little pricey, but let me tell you…its worth it!!! You’ll learn Dave Ramsey’s seven easy-to-follow Baby Steps to create a budget, get out of debt, and make a plan for your money! Plus, your Financial Peace University membership includes 16 weeks of online access to view each lesson anytime!
My husband and I took this class 6+ years ago and have applied Dave’s principles, but sometimes you have to be reminded. We are currently leading this class and we determined to get debt free as soon as possible. Not only that, we want to start saving for retirement so that later we can “live like no one else.”
There are videos that accompany this study are essential for you learning the material. Dave is very energetic and excited about helping people with their finances and its definitely contagious.
Not only is this highly effective in our financial life, Dave teaches that this effects our spiritual lives as well. God has called us to bless others, but how can we if we are drowning in debt? The beautiful thing about our finances is that we can start anywhere, we don’t have to be financially ready to get wealthy. But we do have to be diligent, consistent and willing to say no to things. One of my favorite sayings of Dave’s is, “live like no one else, so later you can LIVE like no one else.” This class is very hands on, as each week there is a reading assignment, making a budget and actively doing things to complete the baby steps.
Also, some great (bonus) books to read, that can be done as a study are:
A.) Fasting
by Jentezen Franklin
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We have participated in the Daniel’s Fast for the last 5 years and each year I read this book to prepare for the 21 day fast. This is a great book to educate you on fasting and the reasons to fast. Mr. Franklin explains the spiritual power of fasting and offers a deeper understanding of God’s plan for fasting and the benefits available to those who participate. The book contains inspiring and practical information that readers need to know in order to access the power of biblical fasting. Those who seek God through fasting can expect tremendous rewards for their personal lives as well as for the church. They will see breakthroughs in many areas such as healing, finances, unhealthy dependencies and family relationships. This book also gives stories of those who have reaped miraculous rewards from this simple act of faith.
A definite must read! There is also a “Fasting Journal,” that you can purchase to read along with the book.
B.) Sun Stood Still
by Steven Furtick
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The premise of the book is that most Christians fail to live life to the fullest, and never take advantage of the awesome power that is available to us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and access to the Father through prayer.  He speaks directly to Christians who long to take their faith to the next level, Sun Stand Still seeks to change readers’ lives. He encourages believers to pray audacious prayers. This is easy to understand and read.If you have any questions about certain studies or authors, please don’t hesitate to ask.
If you want to watch a video of Facebook Live explaining these studies, click the link:)
http://www.mamiofmultiples.com/recommended-bible-studies/
Happy Studying!!!!
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A good man…that’s my dad!

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Oh how I treasure this picture! This summer Jude went to many Vacation Bible Schools and loved each one. Each one was a different theme, but with the same message…Jesus loves me and wants to have a relationship with me.

This picture was taken on July 28, 2016. 4 days after Jude turned 8 years old. We wanted a baby for years. It wasn’t an immediate thing. We tried and tried for several years and after many doctors visits, we finally left it in God’s Hands. His timing is perfect (as always) and our little Jude was born. He was, and still is a gift from God. After looking at Jude for the first time, I prayed to God that he would be healthy and that he would receive Jesus in His heart at a very early age. We have always taken Jude to church and talked to him about Jesus but we wanted him to profess it for himself.

This picture is so special to me because my parents are praying with him to ask Jesus into his heart. No greater gift…My dad is praying and Jude is sitting on my mom’s lap. Soon and very soon, he won’t be able to do that (he sometimes forgets how big he is getting) It was so cute, because there was other prayer warriors that Jude could’ve prayed with, but he waited patiently to pray with his Welo and Wela. The most important decision in his life and he got to do it with his dear grandparents.

If you know my mom, you know that she is a praying woman. She loves her family and she is constantly praying for them. My dad is a such a great role model for Jude. Jude really enjoys his time with “Welo” and is always asking to go with him. My parents are beacons of light in my life. This picture reminds me of the verse, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” -Proverbs 13:22

 My parents didn’t have it easy growing up. Both are the eldest of 13+ children and migrant farm workers, but that didn’t stop them from getting and education and raising me and my brothers in the way of the Lord.
See the verse says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” Right away we think about money, but I see so much more. I see a spiritual inheritance that a “good man” leaves his grandchildren. A spiritual inheritance is worth more than all the money in the world. My dad is the patriarch of our family. We all love and respect him. He still does so much for us all. But more importantly, because of the way he brought us up, he is leaving a spiritual inheritance that will go on for future generations. I see him daily make sacrifices for people that are in need. Everything he does, he does because he loves Jesus. He is a “good man.”
I thank You God for answering my prayer for Jude to come to know You as his personal Savior. I know his life won’t always be easy, but I praise You Father, that You will never leave him.

Let Christ dwell in your heart…

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”- Ephesians 3:17-20

This past weekend, I went to see the movie, “War Room,” and I highly recommend it. The “War Room” is where this godly woman goes to pray. In that room, there are Bible verses on the walls, prayer requests, and thankful prayers to God. I was encouraged by this and really want to step up my prayer life. As I was reading this passage, the Holy Spirit pointed these points out to me. I love to break apart verses, that is how I understand the Bible more clearly.

When we have Christ “dwell” in our hearts, we won’t be focused on the things that drain us or take our focus off of HIM. We allow sin, insecurity, fear and discouragement to dwell in our hearts, instead of Christ.

rooted and established in love”…first we must accept His love and then love ourselves and others. We have to remind ourselves that God loves us…no matter what. to be rooted, means to be unmovable. Be unmoved by what others say about you. Root yourself in God’s love.

“together with the Lord’s holy people,” As Christ followers, we must get along. The church must be unified. Why is that Christians hurt other Christians?  We should be leading the example on how to love each, instead of gossiping, speaking evil of our brothers and sisters in The Lord.

“to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” The is no limit to the love of Christ…never. His love is without bounds, to everyone. Christ died for us, while we were sinners. He didn’t wait for us to get it right, He died for us all.

“and to know this love that surpasses knowledge,” We can have all the knowledge in the world, but if we don’t have God’s love in our lives, knowledge doesn’t matter. But not to keep the love to ourselves, but to share it with others. Its important that we share the Good News about Jesus.

“that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Combine love, knowledge and wisdom together, you will be filled to measure of all the fullness of God. That means to me, HE will show us how to respond to difficult situations, He will show us how to love the unlovable, forgive those that have wronged us. When we are full of God, that is when the miracles of God happen in your life.

So how can we start loving people right now that doesn’t cost you a cent? You pray for them. Right now…you may not know what they need prayer for, but the Holy Spirit talks to God on our behalf when we don’t know the words to say. God will put people on your mind right now, so stop what you are doing and pray for them. You may be saving their soul, their marriage, their job, their finances, their family, or their life. Pray that they will be reminded how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ is for them. And then follow up with a quick phone call, text, message, or email to let them know you are praying for them.

God, I pray that you, Christ, may dwell in our hearts, that people will see You through us. That they will be encouraged by our faith. Lord, we ask that we walk and show how great Your love is. In Jesus’ Name

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Looking like a Leader

The book of Titus…its a short book in the Bible, only 3 chapters, but it has so much wisdom, it could be preached for well over a year of sermons. This week, I have been reading it daily, over and over and have really enjoyed the wisdom it brings. When I say enjoy, I mean challenged:)

Paul starts writing the book writing to his spiritual son(verse 4) Titus. The first words that start off the book are “Paul, a servant of God.” I could write a lot about this…a servant of God. How many times, do we ask “what do you do for a living?” Many times, you will hear “I’m the leader of this, or I’m the manager of that.” Let me ask you, do people know that you are a servant of God without you telling them?

Paul is describing some qualifications on elders and overseers. While I think he is speaking directly to the men, [husband of one wife” and using the pronoun “he,] I still read it and think, I know that God can talk to me in these verses too.

“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”–Titus 1:6-10

I firmly believe that an “overseer” can be any leader, ministry related or not. Just because you aren’t a preacher or Bible study leader doesn’t mean that you are not doing ministry. It’s important to have leaders who can effectively preach God’s Word, but its even MORE important to have those who can live out God’s Word and be examples for other to follow.

While all the qualities are so important, some that stuck out to me are these:

In verse 7, Paul says he must be “blameless“, as Christians we should be blameless. Yes, we may fall short, but we ask God for forgiveness and those that we have sinned against and we move on. Now, I am speaking about “overseers” but like I said for anyone leading ministry, this is for us! Any kind of leadership…”not overbearing, not quick-tempered (uh-oh, is this relating to anyone of us?), not given to drunkennessnot violent (we can beat up people more with our words).

RATHER, he must be hospitable, (are you friendly and welcoming, especially to new people), one who loves what is good, (do you like drama or do you walk away and have no part because you love what is good?)

self-controlled, (think before your speak/act) Psalm 39:1 says, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin.” Can I get an AMEN on that one?

Are you an upright person? Are you honest with people? When people talk to you, do they believe what you say?

How about disciplined? When I think of disciplined, I think of training…getting prepared for something. Are we disciplined in our relationship with the Lord…do we read His Word every day? Do we pray everyday, throughout the day? Do we listen to godly music or messages that will fill our soul with spiritual nourishment? My husband and I talk about this sometimes, just because it’s not bad doesn’t mean it’s good.

Verse 9, says “he must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Do we even know what we believe? We must know sound doctrine, so that when the culture changes, we don’t change with it. We hold fast to our beliefs. We must have an opinion and that opinion must line up to the Word of God. Not even bringing politics into it because both sides have their issues. We must be able to stand up for what we believe in, even if we are solo. And even when people don’t like or agree with us. I pray people won’t say about me: “oh she’s republican” or “she’s a democrat”, no I pray they say “she’s a Christian!” I want to be be known as part of the Kingdom Party!

Later on in the book, Titus 2:15, the Amplified Version says it like this, “Tell [them all] these things. Urge (advise, encourage, warn) and rebuke with full authority. Let no one despise or disregard or think little of you [conduct yourself and your teaching so as to command respect].” Paul told Titus to teach the Bible as well as to live the Word out. We must also teach, encourage, and correct when necessary. If God is telling you to say something, be bold and say it. I love the way it says “urge,” advice, encourage, warn…don’t just tell people they are wrong, advice them on what God says, encourage them, and most important love them. Love them enough to be truthful, but always putting God first.

Throughout the book, Paul encourages Titus, “to love what is good,” “do what is good” and lead by example.

My pastor has encouraged us to “Go Public.” We must go public in these area of our lives. People will come to know Jesus by how we love people. As we go throughout the days, I am reminded that we need to pray about all situations, the encounters we face, and the people in our path. We have to love people, but most of all love God first. So that your light will shine before all men. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”–Matthew 5:16

When we allow God to work in us as “overseers,” people will see that and glorify God. That is truly what we are here for, the praise and worship of our God.

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My Mom…the Quiet but Strong One

A lot of people refer to my mom as Hermana Kini, Mrs. Ramirez, Felix’s wife, the Pastor’s wife, Eric, Adel, Xochil’s mom, but to me, she is so much more than that. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this week, I thought it only proper to honor my mom, the #1 woman in my life. A little background on this quiet, mighty woman of God. She is the oldest of 15 children. She was born in North Dakota to a couple of hardworking farm workers. She was a middle school dropout, not because she wanted to but because it was necessary to help provide for her family. Her dad(Apa Juan) asked my grandpa(Apa Rafael) if they could park their mobile trailer on his property. My grandpa allowed him to do so and that was the start of something beautiful..but wait, before I go any further….My Apa Juan was a very strict and mean man. He wouldn’t let his daughters date, much less talk to boys. After some time, my dad got up the courage to ask my mom on a date. But had to go through my Apa first. That wasn’t an option, just asking my mom out. He had to ask my Apa first. After several times of saying no, my Apa finally said yes. But it wasn’t a typical date, with my mom and dad alone….oh no, they had several kids along for the ride. (You see the Duggars weren’t the first ones to come up with sibling chaperones) So off to their date they went…my mom, dad, several aunts and uncles (which were very young at the time). It made out for a very expensive night for my dad. But well worth his hard work and money, to go out with my mom. My mom is gorgeous, not just pretty but gorgeous…let’s all agree my dad was and still is a VERY smart man.

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For years, they wrote letters back and forth, and then they got married. My dad was called by the Lord at an early age to be a pastor. Little did she know what she was getting into. My mom didn’t go to church when she was younger but through my dad inviting her and taking her and her siblings to church, she accepted Christ as her Savior and never looked back. She learned from Hermana Clysta de Armas the ways of being a pastor’s wife. She read for herself the Bible and prayed and got to know the Lord in an intimate way. She went back to get her GED and got a job for the Lake County School Board as a Title One Liason for migrant families. She gave her heart to these families and when she retired a few years back, they realized she was irreplaceable. Still to this day, nobody has been able to fill the shoes she left there. She worked in the same position for 35 years…there is a probably only a handful of people that still do that. They leave their job because they want something better or they aren’t happy with their job. But to stay at same job for that long, says a lot about her character, her work ethic, the respect she had from her peers. She could relate to these families because she lived in their shoes, she showed compassion and worked extra hard to help students succeed. That was her “secular” job, her full time job. Let’s move on to her other full time job of being a “Pastor’s wife” Like I said, she didn’t get to pick to be that. But I remind her that, she was called too. Not only my dad. Without the support of my mom, my dad would not have been able to carry out the duties of a Pastor. He has been the Pastor of La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Mascotte for more than 30 years. They have led the congregation together hand and hand. She has seen a lot happen in the Body of Christ, but she clings to Jesus, because HE will never let her down.

Growing upa41, she was always there for us. She was the baseball, soccer, football, cheerleading, band, Show Choir, etc mom. Attending our events, was her top priority. Every time my brothers would go up to bat or me go through a cheerleading stunt, I would see her say a prayer and hold her breathe. She was more nervous than wewere. She lived to see her children succeed. All 3 of us graduated high school. Adel and I are college graduates, a mom’s dream come true. She sacrificed and gave up so much so that we would have nice things.

Back in 2004, she stayed home from work because she wasn’t feeling well. That day, her life was changed forever. She got a knock at the door and she looked out the window, and no words were needed for her to know what those soldiers needed to tell her. She was overcome with emotion that left her breathless. That was the day that we found out that Eric, (my brother) went to be with the Lord, he was killed in action in Iraq. I asked God many times, why would He allow my mom, the sweetest, kindest, most loving person to experience that alone? Why did he allow my mom to find out alone…that her firstborn was gone from this earth? My heart hurt over losing my brother, but it broke more for my mom. Seeing her go through this tragedy was the worst experience for me, but do you know that, that is when God is stretching you the most. I still don’t know why God allowed my brother to be killed or for my mom to find out alone, but I do know that a mother’s love is not understandable. God knew she could handle it…He knew that she would need that few minutes by herself to cling to HIM in her greatest time of need. Some people think that quiet people are weak, but my mom is the strongest person I know. Not because of who she is, but because the Holy Spirit that is in her.DSC_4229

She is a wonderful grandma to 8 grandchildren. She loves them all very much and is constantly thinking of them and how to bless each one. She is a blessing to all of us, but something that is so helpful to me and my brother is that she picks them up from school daily. And takes them places they need to be. But the kids know that every Thursday is “snack day”. After school on Thursday, they stop at the store and she buys them all theirown special snack and drink. She doesn’t have to do that, (which I tell Jude that everyThursday) but she does it because she loves them. She is a staple at every game, award ceremony, music performance, etc that they have. They all know that ‘Wela’ is going to be there.

For me personally, she still serves our family. Not because she has to, but because she wants to. I look to her and see her loving what she does. The most special time for her, is when we are all together. Might be a little stressful, but she loves it. Love is an action word and she exemplifies this in her life.

She hasn’t had an easy life…growing up in the fields, beinga Pastor’s wife, being a full time mom and full time worker, losing her child to death, and now the best grandmother we could ever ask for.

I named Avalyn after my mom. Avalyn Maria. Not because it sounded pretty, but because I want Avalyn to be like my mom. I want her to follow the Lord all the days of her life and not grow faint, especially when times are hard. I want Avalyn to have my mom’s beauty. I want Avalyn to have my mom’s hardwork ethic. I want Avalyn to have my mom’s sweet spirit. I want Avalyn to have my mom’s praying heart. I want Avalyn to have my mom’s strength. But most of all, I want Avalyn to be the Proverbs 31 woman that my mom is.IMG_6072

Love you Mom, Happy Mother’s Day

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I didn’t think I would be a football mom but…

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I didn’t think I would be a football mom…a cheerleading mom yes, but not football. I don’t like football. But, having a son in football changes things. Watching him play, encourages me to learn more of this super hyped up sport. At practices I would sit and watch and notice things he needed to work on. While I think he is the best player out there (I am his mom after all) I can see he still has a lot to learn. But he is learning, and he is really good. He is a great and I mean great, defensive player. He finds the player with the ball and he grabs their flag and ends their play. So tonight, watching him play, I was super engaged. It didn’t matter to me that it was raining, I was out there yelling, “Go Jude, go Jude, RUNNNNN!!!” It’s funny, parents truly don’t care how they look when they are on the sidelines cheering for their kids. Now, I can see what “the fuss” is about its really fun!!! My little boy even made a touchdown! He was so happy and I was the loudest (or I felt like I was) mom out there. Everyone knew his name:) His first game ended in a victory and we are so proud. He loved having his Wela and Welo there supporting and cheering him. But something that speaks volumes is having his daddy, Stephen, out on the field with him. Not many dads would be standing in the rain coaching 5-7 year olds simple plays, but my Shaker husband was out there. Teaching him and directing him, and even physically moving him to the right spot. Wow, we are breaking generational curses here. The gift of time that Stephen is giving Jude is more valuable than any video game, theme park, or toy. It got me thinking of how God loves us so much. He teaches, points out paths we should go, but sometimes has to physically move us to help us succeed. IMG_3162

This is his first sport he has played. He played soccer when he was 3, so I technically don’t count that, because they didn’t have any games. But we didn’t put him into something right away. We waited, even though he wanted to do something. We wanted him to be old enough to learn and we knew when he would be ready. Each child is different and that is where parenting comes in. Stephen and I talked about it and decided a long time ago that we are going to let Jude try different things. He’s not just going to try football and focus all of our efforts there. We want to let him try as much as he can and then he and we can see what he is good at and enjoys. Most importantly, we want him to have fun. There are going to be times, when he isn’t going to be the best, but if he has fun and is learning something, we are going to encourage him. There is something to be said about people that do something with all their heart. That is where the passion comes through. You can’t teach passion, its something that is inside.

Standing there tonight, watching him and the other adorable boys I was enjoying being a football mom.

 

What could YOU give from Jail?

A favorite verse of mine is 2 Timothy 1:7power, love, discipline

One of the biggest encouragers in the Bible was Paul. While he was in prison, he was encouraging the believers, specifically Timothy. Let me repeat that, “while he was in prison, he was encouraging the believers.” He wasn’t pastoring a mega church living the high life or having a great time with friends, he was chained up as a prisoner. He heard that Timothy was discouraged, sick, emotionally drained, and battle with feelings of not “being good enough.” Can anybody relate? I know I can! Paul saw the need of his dear friend and wrote a letter of love and encouragement. Paul knew that his purpose was bigger than his circumstance. The Holy Spirit spoke through Paul to Timothy. You would think that Paul would be begging for comfort, instead he was providing it to the church and many years later to us.
Sometimes we think, I don’t want to read the Bible, it doesn’t have the answers I need for what I am going through right now. Friend, every problem has it solution in the Word of God. But we don’t take the time to read it.

There are real spirits out there, that are not of God. But we have power over them. When we are fearful or doubtful, recite this verse and free yourself from those burdens. He has given us a spirit of power, of love, and self discipline. God has created us to be powerful and full of the spirit. When we show love and self discipline, people will be drawn to that and lives will changed through Jesus. We are not weak people, lets stop acting like it.

Lets take a page out of Paul’s book, (but remember we follow Christ), look around to those who are hurting. They won’t be hard to find, people are hurting everywhere we go. They long for something more. We Christians have the most important gift. Why aren’t we sharing it? Our actions speak louder than our words. Give what you can, what God has told you to. It might not be money, it may be your time, which sometimes is more valuable than money.
One more thing, This verse is hitting me big this week. Set aside time for you and God. “Be still and know that I am God.” God loves you and wants to spend time with you. There is no way that you can have the spirit of love, power and self-discipline, without spending time with him.
Remember brothers and sister you are loved by God 🙂

For not all have faith…but the Lord is Faithful!

IMG_2863As I ended my summer Bible study with my MOP sisters, I am deeply encouraged by what I learned these 9 weeks. There were some days/weeks that I didn’t complete the study because I had so much going on in my life. I look back 2 months ago and what was so time consuming that I couldn’t spend 30 minutes in the Word? Nothing was that important. I firmly believe that God doesn’t take it lightly the time we spend with Him. That is the special time between you and Him and He speaks to us through Scripture if we would take the time out to do so. We studied the 1 and 2 Thessalonians and what a place of great treasure we will find in these 2 dynamic books of the Bible. The Apostle Paul starts and ends the books out with “grace and peace.”  As I read this summer, Paul and Silas were spreading God’s message, but it wasn’t easy. God never tells us that living a Christian life will be easy. I think about the nation of Israel and what they are going through right now. We are so blessed to live in a country where we are free to worship the Lord. If you hear somebody say that it’s easy to be a Christian, then they are not telling the truth or living a true Christian life. But having a relationship with God is soo worth it. People will look at you and ridicule, judge, and even hate you for what you believe. Loved ones, let me be clear, it is not your job to convince anyone to be saved. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. But we must know the Bible, pray, go to church so we can live out a life that is pleasing to God. 2 Thessalonians 3:2b-3a, says “For not all have faith, but the Lord is faithful.” There are going to be days that we might not have faith or the strongest people we know might not have faith, but let me encourage you with this, THE LORD IS FAITHFUL! All the time, never will He let us down. Anything you are going through, you can say this, “but the Lord is faithful.” If you are having a bad day, remind yourself, But the Lord is faithful!

As I sat there with 10 other ladies and 2 amazing mentors, I felt empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are not just “stay at home moms” with no purpose. No, we are brave, bold and deeply loved women that love God and desire to serve Him. We all have different purposes, but serve the same God. No matter what your “day job” is,  let us not lose sight of what our purpose is on earth. He has called us to love Him and love others. Let’s go out and change the world and not be changed by the world. We are His children, children of the light and children of the day…

 “You are all children of the light and children of the day.

We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”

–1 Thessalonians 5:5

Your giftings…your ministry

Trying to do my Bible Study is something that I have to be intentional about. Just like having a relationship with anyone that is important in your life, you have to be intentional. Stephen won my heart by talking with me, giving me compliments, doing special things for me, etc. That is how we need to look at our relationship with Jesus. If He is important to you, then we need to spend time with Him. Lady Avalyn is a mama’s girl and she wants to be with me, anywhere I am and wants my full attention. So I tried to do my Bible Study this afternoon and this is her wanting in on the action.IMG_2642

Even though it was a little hard reading this study, I had to be intentional and get this done. I am so glad that I did because I know the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. I’m doing a Beth Moore Bible Study, called “Children of the Day.” It is sooo good and here are some things I want to share.

“And in view of this, we always pray for you that our God will consider you worthy of His calling, and will, by His power, fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

If you are a Christian that you are called to work for God’s Kingdom. If you are currently serving the Lord, then you are called to help others serve too. Don’t just serve and not lead, but lead by serving. That is how people learn how to serve. Everyone has a ministry. Ministry is the way we have been called to serve Christ. How you serve Christ, might not be how I serve Christ. God has given all Christians spiritual gifts. It says in “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.” –1 Peter 4:10 Don’t keep your gift for yourself, serve others with your gifts.

“Your spiritual gifts are a means by which you have been distinctively and divinely equipped to manifest God’s presence and power.”–Beth Moore

The next verse in 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” We should be using our spiritual gift to glorify God. And not in our own strength and own words. When we ask God to help us, He will!

One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 2:10 and it says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Please know that you are valuable. God made you! He made you for a purpose, He loves you. As believers in Christ, He has given each one of us spiritual gifts. Other people can do what you’ve been called to do, but they cannot be YOU doing it. Thats why you and your gifting is unique. Your spiritual gifts are beyond your natural abilities, skills, or talents. Your gifts will not look like someone else’s gift. Please stop comparing yourself to others.

You will not be completely satisfied until you are living out your spiritual purpose because God made you with a compulsion to do it. The more we try to ignore His will for us, the more unhappy and dissatisfied we will be. Nothing feels better than being in God’s will and using your spiritual gifts as intended. Its not about making a lot of money, having lots of valuables, or even having fun, its about serving Him in every area of your life. Not that its bad to be rich and have fun, but if that is more important than serving God, then that has become a god in your life. Honor God with your spiritual gifts and see how blessed you are.

So back to the above picture…there may be distractions(even cute babies) that might keep you away from what God has called you to do in YOUR ministry. First, I encourage you to set that time to be in the Bible. In my experience, when I set that time apart, my day goes smoother. Not that problems don’t arise, but the Holy Spirit gives me more self control and answers to how to do deal with situations. If not anything, I have a greater peace going with me throughout the day. Please my friend, don’t let the devil talk you out of what you need to be doing.

In closing, Romans 12:4-8 says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying,then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

What gifts has God given you and how can you use them to serve others?

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Encourage the Encourager

encourage the encourager

I try to encourage people. That is one of my giftings. I love to talk to people and find out about them and I just encourage them. But sometimes I need encouragement. This weekend, I was blessed with 2 powerful prayers from 2 great friends. Both prayers were definitely Holy Spirit led because I didn’t tell these two young ladies some things I have been struggling with. They sent me text/emails of their prayers and I have re read them several times, standing in agreement and receiving what they prayed over me. Sometimes we don’t think that our words matter or prayers make a difference. But let me tell you, there is power in the tongue. The Bible says, that there is LIFE and DEATH in the power of the tongue. We need to be more diligent about declaring wellness, prosperity and love to people. Also one of my new friends, encourages me by the way she lives her life. Actions definitely speak louder than words. And one Facebook post from a former youth, that truly blessed my whole day. (I was a youth minister, I guess once a youth minister, always a youth minister.) And sometimes I think, what difference did I truly make in the 5 years of being in that role? Was it waste? The Holy Spirit basically screamed to me, nothing He does is ever wasted. I may not see the fruit of my labor, but I planted A LOT of seeds. This young lady posted on a well known Christian artists page, that Stephen and I were the most influential people in her life growing up. What, me? I give all the glory to God for the work He did in her life but also in my life. Thank you Ashley for truly blessing my day! I am so proud of you and the changes in your life. Praising God for you!

One of my favorite Bible characters is Barnabas. We read about him in the book of Acts.He was an encourager. His name is literally translated to mean “Son of Encouragement.”

“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”),  sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”– Acts 4:36-37.

He not only was a encouragement by words, but he sold his field and brought it to the apostles’s feet! He wasn’t all “talk,” he was a man of action. Preachers aren’t the only ones that preach. We preach in our service to others. Servants serve all the time, not just in the good times.

Then in Acts 11:22-24, “News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”

He continued to encourage and was described as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” I love where it says, “a great number of people were brought to the Lord.” What a great example of Biblical encouragement! We can and should be bringing people to God with encouragement and loving on people.

Don’t underestimate your power of encouragement and serving others. Life is hard and we can get beaten down but we can help out by lifting each other up.

What are some things people have done that were encouraging to you? How can you be an encouragement to someone else today?