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  • Hymns That Are Important to Us

    GRAMMY®-nominated, husband-and-wife country music duo Joey+Rory have announced the release of an all-new recording.  Hymns That Are Important to Us (Gaither Music Group).

    Hymns that are important to us

    “I refer to [this] as Joey’s album--the one she’s always wanted to make–filled with the hymns she grew up singing,” described Rory.  “It was early in the spring when we started talking about the record…we began recording it in a studio in Nashville early in the summer, just after recovering from her first big surgery in Chicago.  She championed it…and even with all she’s gone through there might have been a few things that changed, but that record was not gonna stop….

    “So we recorded in between some of her treatments after the surgery.  Sometimes in the evenings I would get out a microphone, and my wife sang the vocals in our hotel room in Atlanta because she wanted to see this record happen.  She did her vocals where she could--in hotel rooms, at our house, wherever and whenever she felt up to singing.”

    As reported on Rory’s blog www.thislifeilive.com and covered by major media outlets across the country, Joey has been fighting Stage 4 cancer for over six months.  During that time she and Rory have turned to family, friends and their faith as never before.  And they have turned to hymns—timeless melodies with messages that continue to carry them through a difficult and inspiring journey of faith.

    Hymns that are important to us

    The songs Joey picked and the words she recorded were especially significant to her as she has found strength in them through her highly-publicized health battle.  The release features songs such as “It Is Well with My Soul,” “How Great Thou Art,” “I Surrender All” and “I Need Thee Every Hour.” 

    “A lot has taken place in a year’s time, but through it all these songs have given me such strength,” stated Joey.  “They’ve given me such hope, and they give me something to look forward to.  I think that a lot of times when we don’t know what to say…you don’t know what to pray…you don’t know how to even begin…I think that’s, for me, where these hymns have come into play so much…

    ’Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand.  I’m tired…I’m weak…I’m worn.  Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.’

    “I remember waking up--it was about two days after my surgery--at one point in the middle of the night,” recalled Joey.  “I’m hooked up to every machine possible; and out of just complete thankfulness that I came through, I remember having the strength to sit up enough, and my hands just elevated over my head, and I sang [the hymn], ‘I need Thee, oh I need Thee, every hour I need thee….’

    “Every hour He got me through…and it was hard, and I needed Him every hour, and I still do to this day—there are days that are just hard.  [This song] has got us through so much at every hour that we needed Him…He continues to watch over us and take care of us.  People every day who don’t have cancer who are dealt with trials or family issues or whatever it might be…we need Him.  It doesn’t matter what it is, and when we think that we can get by on our own we’re so wrong….”

    “[Hymns] have met generations of people at their moments of need, which is incredible,” Rory described.  “As a songwriter…we’re moved that someone will sing along with one of our songs today, but imagine them singing along with one of our songs in 100 years.  That’s an incredible achievement, and I think it’s mostly because there are things that don’t last and things that do.  What these songs are about--they’re gonna matter then just as much as they do now, just as much as they did 100 years ago.  That’s pretty special.

    “In early October, we even did a TV taping of these songs in the concert hall at our farm in front of a live audience,” described Rory.  “Joey was weak and it was difficult for her, but she was determined…these are the songs that are most important to her….”

    The family has spent the past few months in Joey’s hometown of Alexandria, Indiana, near Joey’s family.  Rory and their daughter Heidi went into Bill Gaither’s nearby studio to add harmony parts to Joey’s lead vocals for the recording while in that area.  The DVD includes a special, behind-the-scenes interview with Gaither and Joey+Rory recorded at their farm in Tennessee; and the audio recording includes a moving re-release of the song “When I’m Gone,” found on Joey+Rory’s His and Hers recording (Sugar Hill Records/Vanguard Records, divisions of Concord Music Group, Inc.), a fan favorite.

    Both the Hymns are Important to Us CD and DVD are available at your local Family Christian or on our website.  You may purchase the CD here and the DVD here.

  • His and Mine

    Lynn Cowell FEBRUARY 12, 2016

    His and Mine LYNN COWELL

    "My beloved is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies." Song of Solomon 2:16 (NIV)

    Growing up, there were many Valentine’s Days I wished would have never happened. In elementary school, it was the year with the long walk home from school. My red paper-covered box, which contained no Valentine from my favorite crush, felt heavy for being so empty.

    Maybe when I am a teenager my love life will get better, I hoped.

    My hope was in vain. In fact, if I had known how my first Valentine’s Day in high school was going to play out, I would have just stayed home. Our student council decided Valentine’s Day was the perfect time to host a fundraiser. Students could purchase flowers to be delivered: yellow to your best friend, red to the one you love and white to the one you wanted to ask out.

    First period — the predictable yellow carnation arrived with a note from my best friend. Not the color I was looking for. Second period — no flower. Third period — no flower. Is there any way I can get out early? I asked myself as my nemesis waltzed in, arms loaded with flowers.

    By fourth period, I was begging for the day to end when in came the delivery girl. "Lynn Martin."

    Me?

    I sprinted to the front, grabbed the white flower and glided back to my seat. The base drum of my heart pounded through my blouse while my mind spun: Who could this be from? My eyes quickly scanned the note: "I’d like to ask you out. -Scott." Scott? As in a senior?

    My excitement lasted only long enough for logic to set in. He’s a senior somebody; I’m a sophomore nobody. This has to be a joke, I told myself. Shoving the flower and note in my bag, I shoved down my broken heart too. I just hope nobody saw me was all I could think.

    That was the year I began to ask a lot of questions, my heart crushed by my crush: Why doesn’t he ask me out? What does she have that I don’t? Why doesn’t he want me? Answering the question, What’s wrong with me? became my mission.

    Whether it’s a memory from long ago or a pain as fresh as yesterday, we’ve all experienced rejection in one form or another. We’ve all wanted to be wanted — whether it was by a boy, a club, a friend or a group.

    However, the truth is we’ve always been wanted and always belonged … to the Lord.

    In other words, we belong to Love Himself. As Song of Solomon 2:16 tells us, "My beloved is mine and I am his …" Indeed, I am His.

    While others have rejected us, He wholeheartedly accepts us. Let that soak in for just a moment. Say it out loud. I am His.

    What we have longed for and still want today, we already have. Friend, we belong.

    The truth that I didn’t have to search to belong, or struggle to find love and be loved, completely changed me.

    Jesus, I am Yours. You are mine. Thank You for loving me and filling my heart with exactly what I have always wanted — to be wanted. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 4:16, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." (NIV)

    1 John 4:9, "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Lynn Cowell’s book, His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You, teaches young women how Jesus’ unchanging love changes absolutely everything.

    For a copy of "5 Love Verses Every One Should Know," visit Lynn’s blog today. You can also enter to win a copy of His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When have you felt rejected? How does knowing that Jesus fully accepts us help ease the pain?

    We have all experienced times when we felt we didn’t belong. Ask Jesus to heal the hurt you felt and fill your heart with the acceptance you need and He gives.

    © 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • 5 Ways to Survive Love Season

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 11, 2016

    5 Ways to Survive Love Season LYSA TERKEURST

    "We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

    February 15th can be a really tough day. No, you aren’t reading that wrong. That’s the day after Valentine’s Day.

    As long as it’s February 14th, there’s still hope for someone to bring you a flower … give you a chocolate something … sing you a song … write you a poem … say, "You complete me" … you get the picture.

    But then the clock strikes midnight and disappointment takes you by the hand and wants to chat for a while. Today’s unmet expectations become tomorrow’s frustrations.

    So, February 15th rolls around and suddenly the full impact of whatever was lacking on February 14th hits full force.

    For my single friends it can feel like "Single Awareness Day."

    For my married friends it can feel like "the gaps in my marriage were so highlighted by yesterday’s lack."

    I’ve felt both of these.

    But I’m challenged to check my heart on this. I mean really check my heart. Here are five ways I’m challenging myself to not just survive but really thrive this love season:

    1. What am I doing that’s feeding my expectations?

    Maybe right now isn’t the best time to read a romance novel or watch movies with lines in them like, "You had me at hello" or "You complete me."

    2. What am I doing that comforts me in the moment but makes me feel awful just hours later?

    Hint … put down the ice cream and don’t mix up the cookie dough. Just because the cookies aren’t baked doesn’t mean the calories don’t exist. (This is just a totally hypothetical situation, of course.)

    3. Who can I bless this Valentine’s Day?

    Instead of waiting to be loved, I should make the decision to give love. I have so many friends who need to know someone is thinking about them right now. And there are wonderful ministry opportunities to reach out to those in need.

    There is so much joy to be had when we seek to invest loving acts into others’ lives.

    4. What can I put on my schedule with my friends or loved ones that will make me look forward to this season of love?

    Instead of waiting to be asked, I can get proactive. If I have something to look forward to on my schedule, it gives my heart such a boost.

    5. Am I believing the "if only" lie?

    If only I had a boyfriend. If only I had a husband. If only I had a more romantic husband. "If only" can do quite a number on our hearts. Refuse to paint these pictures of Egypt.

    Egypt — huh? Let me explain.

    I got this thought from reading the Old Testament story about what happened to the Israelites when they were freed from captivity in Egypt. At first they were happy. And then when life got hard en route to the Promised Land, they started believing the "if only" lie … if only they’d never left Egypt they’d have pots of meat to eat.

    How quickly they forgot the miracles God had performed to free them. How easily they dismissed the fact they were once mistreated slaves in Egypt!

    And while part of me is tempted to judge them for their forgetfulness, I know I can be found doing the same thing. It’s so easy to forget the good we have and paint the picture that our lives would be better "if only." That’s why I’m determined to replace my "If only I had … I could" scripts with "Because I am … I can."

    Because I am loved by God, I can boss lies around.

    Because I am loved by God, I can be so thankful for the people I do have in my life.

    Because I am loved by God, I can choose to make this love season wonderful.

    I pray these questions and ideas help. And I pray we make 1 John 4:19 our declaration this year as we choose to give love instead of waiting for love to come our way: "We love because he first loved us."

    Father God, thank You for helping me to look at Valentine’s Day in a new and fresh way — not as a day where I strive to get love, but as the perfect opportunity for me to give love. Fill me to overflowing today with the knowledge of just how loved I am by You, and show me where I can spill that great love onto others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 3:17b-18, "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." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Learn more about the unconditional love God has for you with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study GirlPurchase your copy here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are there "if only" lies you have been rehearsing lately? Take some time to replace those scripts with "Because I am … I can."

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • I Will Always Love You

    Wendy Pope FEBRUARY 10, 2015

    I Will Always Love You WENDY POPE

    "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34 (NLT)

    It’d been one of those weeks. Every time I turned around, my precious little toddler had gotten into something else. The dirty laundry hadn’t moved from the hallway in days. And my baby wouldn’t go down for his nap.

    As quietly as possible, I tried to rock him to sleep for the umpteenth time, but my 3-year-old daughter kept coming in the nursery with markers in her hand. With frustration in my voice, I told her once and for all to go to her room and I would color with her later. She obeyed and marched her tiny feet straight to her bedroom. But she didn’t wait for me to color.

    After the baby finally fell asleep, I headed to Blaire’s room. As I opened the door, I stepped on the masterpiece she had been creating. Her frustrations with me were illustrated all over the carpet in her favorite purple marker. (Yes, this is when I learned to have only washable markers in our home.)

    I wish I could say I was as "slow to anger" as Christ is with me. But my voice and words were harsh. Blaire began to cry uncontrollably and I put myself in time-out.

    After a little while Blaire found me. Still short of breath from her crying, she asked a very sad question: "Do you still love me?"

    Her question caused me to reflect on the magnitude of God’s enduring love. I was able to respond to her the same way my heavenly Father responds to me, "There is nothing you can do that would make me stop loving you. I will always love you."

    Have you ever thought about the magnitude of God’s enduring love? 1 Chronicles 16:34 records this amazing truth: "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever."

    For years, I never really considered what that meant. I knew God loved me, but the fact that His love endures forever was hard to comprehend. Nothing we do will make Him love us more or love us less.

    As a mother, I’ve endured sleepless nights, cranky kids and the daily building of tents. When compared to what God’s love endures for me though, I stand amazed!

    • His love died for you and me while we were still sinners.
    • His love grants us mercy when we stray from His ways.
    • His love overcomes our fears and doubts.
    • His love never leaves us nor forsakes us.
    • His love makes a place for us to spend eternity with Him.

    How can He love like that? Because He is God and only God is capable of such love. The first half of 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us to "give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!" Let’s do that today!

    Lord, thank You for your steadfast and enduring love. Help me to love others the way You love me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 63:3, "Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you." (ESV)

    Psalm 138:8, "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Spark your love for God’s Word with Wendy Pope’s Bible study, Trusting God for A Better Tomorrow: A Psalms Bible Study.

    Visit Wendy’s blog for more encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who in your life has shown you enduring love? A grandparent, spouse, friend? If possible, write a note to tell them thank you.

    Then, write a letter of gratitude to the Lord, giving Him thanks for specific instances when He showed His enduring love to you.

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson

    Many parents want to see positive character traits in their children but wonder how to instill them. As stars of the hit reality show "Duck Dynasty", Korie and Willie Robertson receive loads of letters and messages from fans asking how did they raise such good kids. As Korie will tell you, it wasn't easy, but it is possible. A straightforward approach to parenting, Strong and Kind helps parents identify the character traits they want to see in their children along with the tools for putting them in place.

    Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson

    At Family Christian, we believe strongly in the power of Godly parents who place God first in their lives and strive to raise their children to have a personal relationship with Jesus as well.  To help you along in your journey, we would like to offer four of our customers the chance to win their own copy of Strong and Kind.  Entering is easy...just use the form below.

  • When Parenting Is Scary

    Kristen Welch FEBRUARY 9, 2016

    When Parenting Is Scary KRISTEN WELCH

    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

    "But, Mom … will you please change your mind? It’s not fair!" my daughter said.

    I knew what my answer had to be since I’d grounded her earlier in the day. But it wasn’t going to be easy.

    Sometimes right before I tell my kids no, that split second before the word comes out of my mouth, I am afraid.

    I am afraid to be strong. I am afraid to follow through. I am afraid of what will happen when I say no.

    I think every mom knows this fear. We know it’s often easier to give into demands than to dig in to our resolve. Sometimes it’s easier to run away than stand and be courageous.

    I’ve learned the harder I work at raising grateful kids, the harder the job gets. When kids resist chores and grumble about dinner, slam doors and argue with their siblings, it can make a mom feel like a complete failure.

    Recently in the middle of a kitchen standoff, all of the above was happening.

    My husband walked up behind me and tugged on my arm before things escalated with my daughter. We left our kids to clean up dinner dishes and locked our bedroom door. And we asked questions we couldn’t answer: Why is parenting so hard? Are we doing this right? Do we have to go back out there?

    "If it isn’t hard, maybe we aren’t doing it right. We aren’t alone, honey. God says to be courageous because He will go with us wherever we go … and that means back to the kitchen, eventually," my husband said quietly in my ear.

    I let his words sink in. Because too often I believe the lie that says if I were a great mom, I wouldn’t fight or disagree or battle over opinions and attitudes with my kids. And we wouldn’t hurt each other.

    Some days, I feel really alone and afraid. I wonder if I’m the only one in this challenging stage or with a kid in that difficult phase. Sometimes I cling to silence instead of sharing my burden with other moms.

    I couldn’t help but think of the words spoken to Joshua, the newly appointed leader of the Israelites: "Do not be afraid … for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

    God was commanding him to lead the people into the Promised Land, a beautiful but daunting place. He was reassuring them that wherever He sent them, He would also go with them. When we journey with God, we can rest in the next steps, even when we can’t make them out. Of course, our children are hardly the Philistines, but the fear and uncertainty in parenting might feel similar.

    Just because the road gets bumpy, doesn’t mean we are off course. Actually, the right road is bumpy. The correct path does have obstacles and setbacks. The journey is broken and beautiful at the same time.

    I was encouraged with these truths and I hope you will be too: It’s okay for our kids to be temporarily unhappy, and their resistance doesn’t mean our failure.

    I swallowed the fear and shook off the discouragement, thankful for the reminder that these are normal feelings in parenting. I thanked God for being with me in the hard moments. As I headed back to the kitchen, I clung to the holy promise that I wasn’t alone.

    "No, I’m sorry, honey, you can’t go. You’re grounded for the day, remember?" I told my waiting daughter.

    I braced myself and stood my ground and calmly suggested another day. She let out a disappointed sigh. When I returned later, that same child was humming in the kitchen, making dessert for the rest of the family. There was no pouting. The anger was long gone. She didn’t ask again.

    Sometimes our kids ask for something or demand their way, not to get us to say yes, but to see if we will stick with no.

    Oftentimes, our kids surprise us.

    And many times, what scares us makes us stronger.

    So, the next time we are afraid, we must also remember we are not alone.

    Don’t give in. But mostly, don’t give up.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for the honor and blessings of being a parent. Please help me parent my children with the same love and discipline You give to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: It’s never too late to raise grateful kids with Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. With Kristen’s practical advice and tips for each age, get ready to cultivate a spirit of genuine appreciation and create a Jesus-centered home in which your kids don’t just say — but actually mean! — "thank you" for everything they have.

    Stop by Kristen’s blog, www.wearethatfamily.com, where she keeps it real, vulnerable and a bit irreverent.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. In celebration of this book, Kristen’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, February 15.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are you afraid of in your parenting journey today? How can you take the next courageous step?

    © 2016 by Kristen Welch. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale Momentum for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • When You Hate Valentine’s Day

    Amy Carroll FEBRUARY 8, 2016

    When You Hate Valentine’s Day AMY CARROLL

    "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:17-18 (NIV)

    I remember the year I skipped Valentine’s Day and created my own personal boycott. I glared at cards and roses in the store as I shopped, snorted at commercials with lovey-dovey messages, turned my head away from couples holding hands and built a wall of protection around my aching heart.

    Just months before I stared uncomprehendingly across the table as my first love and fiancé repeated his previous sentence, "I just don’t know if I can be faithful to you for the rest of our lives."

    Suddenly, I felt an unfamiliar feeling. Instead of being drawn to this man, I had the overwhelming need to flee. My ears heard my mouth form the words, "Then I guess I can’t marry you," as I stood and walked out of the student union.

    In the exhaustion of mid-finals study, my tired mind and thudding heart could hardly grasp what had just happened. Not only had I allowed myself to love deeply and completely, but I was convinced marrying that man was God’s plan for me.

    Until that moment. When it all shattered.

    Where once I felt loved, I now felt rejected. Where once I felt secure, I felt rocked. Where once I felt sure of my happy future, I now felt lonely and unsure of myself.

    The despair lasted for months; the fog just wouldn’t lift. I kept trying to fix things, but the relationship was too broken. Still, I couldn’t seem to move on.

    I continued my regular activities with a plastic smile to cover my broken heart. I even went to church and kept going through the spiritual motions, but instead of turning to God for healing, I withdrew inside.

    One night, alone in my apartment, I felt God drawing me. At first I resisted. Finally, with a sense of dread (I was convinced God was angry with me for pushing Him away), I lay flat on my bedroom with my face to the floor. Waiting for God’s wrath, I experienced in a way I’ve never felt before or since, the overwhelming, physical presence of God’s love. He surrounded me, enveloped me, comforted me and began healing me.

    Maybe you’re facing Valentine’s Day this year without that loving feeling. Maybe you’ve been betrayed by a friend, rejected by someone you love or rocked by a bad romance.

    Can I gently remind you of an important truth? A truth that made all the difference to me?

    If you are God’s child, you are involved in the greatest love story ever created. Jesus created you, knows you inside and out, and loves you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. You can celebrate love this year just like everyone else, knowing that you’ve got a deeper understanding than anything that’s advertised or on the shelves in a store.

    Twenty-seven years later, I think back to those devastating days with a wry smile. The younger version of myself, who thought that things couldn’t get better, has walked through the hurt into a future that has turned out to be bright — not perfect, but definitely joyful.

    Jesus was there through every painful step of those early days of break-up, and He truly used heartbreak to do good things in me. Although I couldn’t see it then, God, in His infinite goodness, was there cupping His loving hands around my broken heart and shaping something beautiful. Even if you can’t see or feel that healing at work, I can confidently tell you He’s doing it for you even now.

    God, I come to You shattered and brokenhearted but with a heart full of faith. I believe You not only can heal me but You can turn this despair into joy. You can use my healed hurt to make me more compassionate. I pray You would give me the determination to celebrate Your love story this Valentine’s Day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:9, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." (NIV)

    Zephaniah 3:17, "The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (NKJV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Amy Carroll’s book, Breaking Up with Perfect, is full of stories showing how God redeems the imperfect circumstances of life. Purchase it today for more encouragement.

    Amy invites you to visit her blog today where she has a Valentine’s giveaway for singles. You can enter for yourself or for a single person you love!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Using the gift of hindsight, write a list of hard circumstances God has lovingly used to shape you.

    When the opportunity comes, spend time listening to a hurting friend. When the time is right, share one of your stories of hope.

    © 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Q&A with Becky Thompson

    We had the awesome pleasure of interviewing Becky Thompson, author of the upcoming book,Hope Unfolding Hope Unfolding. Below she talks about her initial success as a blogger, dealing with loneliness as a mother, and the book writing process.

    1. Becky, your hugely successful blog, Scissortail SILK, began as a fashion blog. How did it transform into a place to share your heart with other young mothers?

    I began my blog, Scissortail SILK, because a boutique owner asked if I was fashion blogger. It’s an interesting story that I actually share in Hope Unfolding, but my intentions were to simply post fun outfits and glimpses into my life. As I began to write, I quickly realized that I didn’t just want to tell women how to feel good by wearing certain clothes. I wanted each reader to know that her worth is found in Jesus. I wanted her to be confident of God’s love for her. I suppose the most authentic story we have to tell is the one that always rises to the top. For me, encouraging other women and reminding them of God’s love is the truest message I have to share.

    2. Your blog receives more than a million page views each month. In the beginning, did the overwhelming response from women surprise you?

    Six months after I first began the blog I wrote a post late one night about the importance of remembering to be a wife after becoming a momma. When I woke up the next morning, I was shocked by the response. The post was shared over 700,000 times, and my readership grew from one thousand monthly page visitors to one million monthly page visitors. In the months following, I received thousands of messages from women across the world who had been encouraged by what they had read. It was a lot to process as these women trusted me with their stories and shared their hearts with me. But I knew that if I always pointed them back to Jesus, if I always reminded them of God’s goodness and His grace, I would always have the answer that they needed to hear the most.

    3. For those of us who aren't in the daily trenches of motherhood, what are some of the greatest unexpressed needs among mothers today?

    More than anything, I think moms need to know that they are not alone. They need support, but they also need to feel seen in the stories of their own lives. Beyond this, they need to know that their best is good enough and that God doesn’t expect perfection from them.

    4. Loneliness is one of the main topics discussed in Hope Unfolding. With women connecting online in ways previous generations were never able to, what role do you think social media has played in either increasing or decreasing isolation for young mothers?

    I think that social media has created a way for mothers to be connected unlike any other generation before us. But while we live so much of our lives online, with access to millions of other moms, I don’t think that there has ever been a time when mothers have felt more alone. I fear we lack authentic relationships and community as we exchange them for digital friendships. We know facts about one another, which makes us feel like we are known, but we don’t get to connect deeply by sharing the realest places of our hearts. This is why I am so passionate about the online community of Scissortail SILK. As mothers across the world reach out for friendship and support from other moms, it is my hope that Scissortail SILK exists as a grace-filled place where women can encourage one another and say, “You’re not alone. You’re welcome here. I have been there too! Let’s talk about what really matters.”

    5. The notion of grace seems to saturate many of today’s Christian messages. Why is a true understanding of grace so important to a mother’s emotional and spiritual well-being?

    Mom-guilt is a real thing. We are constantly replaying the moments in our day where we feel like we have been less than perfect. We wonder if we should have handled certain things differently. We fear we are ruining our children with our own inadequacies. The truth is none of us are perfect. That’s why we need Jesus and His grace. He is forever filling in all of our gaps and the places where we come up short. And this includes our mothering. When we realize that it is okay to not be perfect, we find freedom from our own self-imposed expectations, and this brings a new sense of hope to a woman’s heart.

    6. What kind of response have you had from your readers as you move from the world of blogging into the publishing arena?

    I truly think of my readers as my friends, and as I have shared news with them about different parts of the publishing process, we have all been excited together. Many of my readers have said that they are excited to share this book with other moms not just because they are excited about the words inside, but because they feel as though they are offering other women an opportunity to join us in the adventure of grace-filled motherhood! We are looking forward to sharing our community in book form!

    7. What surprised you most about writing this book? What did God reveal to you during this experience?

    As I was writing Hope Unfolding, I considered how women outside of motherhood would also relate to many of the grace-filled truths found within the text. The truth is the issues that we face as mothers aren’t just as a result of having children. They are often lies that we have believed or fears that have taunted us long before motherhood held a magnifying glass over them. The truth is we all need to find grace for who we are and hope in Jesus. That is the promise of Hope Unfolding. It could be for anyone.

    8. What is your greatest hope for those who will read Hope Unfolding?

    More than anything, I want those who read Hope Unfolding to encounter Jesus. I want them to find confidence in the truth that He loves them, is continuously with them, and wants them to live in freedom. I want them to experience the promises of God’s love, and as they tune their hearts to His voice, I hope that they discover the one true Hope who will sustain their hearts.

    Learn more about Hope Unfolding on our website.

  • How Every Wife Can Fight Like a Warrior

    Alicia Bruxvoort FEBRUARY 5, 2016

    How Every Wife Can Fight Like a Warrior ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how!" Ephesians 6:17b-18 (VOICE)

    My littlest boy pattered down the stairs in the dark before dawn and found me sitting in the big leather chair by the window. On my lap were my Bible and the book I’d used for over a decade to prompt prayers for my husband.

    My son sidled up beside me and reached for the book. He examined the tattered cover with 5-year-old curiosity then flipped through the yellowed pages inside. He studied the words splattered with coffee stains and rainbow highlights and cast me an inquisitive gaze.

    "What is this thing?" he asked.

    "It’s a book that helps me pray God’s Word over Daddy …"

    My 5-year-old’s green eyes grew wide. "It looks like it’s been in a battle, Mommy!"

    I planted a kiss atop my son’s unruly tuft and murmured, "It has, sweetheart. It has."

    My son leaned his sleepy head against my shoulder and as we sat in comfortable silence, I remembered the day when God had called a younger and floundering me into combat.

    I’d stepped into marriage with grand plans to dance happily through life with the man I loved. But seven years and three kids later, our union felt more like a stumbling shuffle than a tantalizing tango.

    There were bills to pay and children to feed; problems to solve and jobs to keep. And as life settled heavy on our shoulders, our marriage spiraled into a jaded jitter of frustrations and unmet expectations.

    Sadly, I could name my husband’s shortcomings faster than I could list his strengths, and I could articulate my disappointment more keenly than I could define my delight. I knew God intended marriage to be more than a baffling boogie, but I didn’t know how to reclaim the joy that had once spurred our steps.

    One day in Bible study, I aired my grievances to an older and wiser woman. She listened quietly, then pulled me into a one-armed hug and whispered words of truth: "Honey, you’ve gotta decide if you’re gonna spend your energy fighting with your husband or fighting for him."

    My stomach lurched with conviction, and she held my tear-filled eyes in a silent gaze. "Every wife was made to be a warrior," she said with resolve.

    I felt a sliver of hope stirring deep inside, and when I got home, I scoured the shelves for that book of prayers I’d been given as a young bride. Maybe somewhere on those crisp white pages I’d find ammunition for battle.

    Later that night, I sat on the couch and begged God to teach me how to fight.

    Day after day, I took the Apostle Paul’s words to heart —"Pray about everything in every way you know how!" And like a baby learning to walk, I learned to speak God’s truth over our waffling and weary union.

    When I was tempted to fling hurtful words, I asked God to help me swing the sword of the Spirit instead. When I felt weak and discouraged, I asked Christ to infuse me with His strength and His hope.

    Eventually I found myself choosing to battle rather than belittle, to praise rather than pester, to believe rather than despair. And one day I woke up and realized I was no longer blind to the gift of my husband. My prayers had granted me fresh vision.

    Slowly and surely, our marriage dance began to change. We found ourselves waltzing to a new rhythm of joy. Not with flawless steps or perfect poise, but with confidence in the One who had joined our hearts.

    I looked at the worn book on my lap and whispered a prayer of thanks as my son’s sleepy stupor gave way to playful frolic. "Let’s have a sword fight before breakfast, Mommy!" he said as he leaped off my lap and raced up the stairs in search of his plastic saber.

    He paused at the landing and cast me a reassuring grin, "Don’t worry, Mommy. We’re just pretending."

    I mirrored his smile and swiped my Bible through the air like a dangerous dagger. "I’m not a bit worried," I replied. "I’ve had lots of practice in battle!"

    Dear God, Teach me to fight for my marriage on my knees. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 5:16b, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

    Matthew 21:22, "If you believe, whatever you ask for in prayer will be granted." (VOICE)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Capture His Heart, can help you strengthen your marriage and see your husband through fresh eyes.

    Stop by Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog today for more encouragement and for a warrior wife giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Find one Scripture to pray over your marriage this week. Declare God’s truth out loud by reciting it frequently and fervently.

    Next time you are tempted to tear your husband down, lift him up to God in prayer.

    © 2016 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • When Nothing’s Going Right

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 4, 2016

    When Nothing’s Going Right LYSA TERKEURST

    "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV)

    I was discouraged.

    I’d really started serving God with all my heart and spending more time in His Word than ever. But instead of circumstances getting better, they got much harder!

    In two months’ time, my life went from being wonderfully fulfilling and clicking right along to being completely topsy-turvy.

    My computer went a little crazy and some very important documents disappeared.

    A big book deal I was excited about fell through.

    Our well broke, and we went several days without water.

    My kids were much younger then and required more energy than my worn-down emotions had to give. I carried around this sense of guilt for not being a more patient and fun-loving mom.

    Then, on top of a host of other interruptions and haphazard happenings, my husband blew out his knee and had to have major reconstructive surgery, leaving him bedridden for nearly five weeks. I felt myself getting caught in a whirlwind of emotions.

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A friend of mine hit the nail on the head when she said, "Lysa, I think when you go with God to a new level, you get a new devil."

    While I’m not sure about the exact theological correctness of that statement, I do know Satan hates the radically obedient soul. He hates it when a person jumps off the fence of complacency and into the center of God’s will. A spiritual battle is raging around us and because of that, life can be hard. While saying yes to God does bring blessing, it’s not easy.

    If our desire for obedience is born merely out of duty, we may be quick to give up. Especially when everything in life seems to be going haywire. However, if our desire is born out of delight, out of a love relationship that burns deep in our souls, it won’t be extinguished — no matter the cost.

    One of my favorite love stories in the Bible is that of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob’s love for Rachel gave him purpose and perspective, which led to amazing persistence. He served Rachel’s father for many years to earn the right to marry Rachel because he loved her that much: "So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her" (Genesis 29:20, NIV).

    Do you see what love can do for a person’s view of his circumstances? When you are crazy in love with someone, you’ll do anything for him — and do it with the highest level of sheer joy. I want to be so crazy in love with Jesus that not only do I serve Him, but I do it with absolute delight — even when life gets hard and messy.

    You see, a real sign of spiritual maturity is looking to God for purpose and perspective instead of comfort and convenience.

    Trust me, I understand asking God for comfort and convenience, but I’ve seen that often leads me to complacency. Once God solves my issues, I move on and forget to look for lessons I need to learn from what I faced.

    But looking to God for purpose and perspective forces me to learn crucial lessons in perseverance and maturity. Then I can understand the meaning of Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV). This does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good, but that God will work in and through every situation to bring good from it.

    And let’s not miss the last four words of this verse, where we are reminded that it is all "according to his purpose." God has a purpose, and His plans to accomplish that purpose are perfect. Trusting God’s purpose, and seeking to understand that He takes all the events from our life and orchestrates good from them, leads to a changed perspective.

    So although it may be difficult to maintain the right attitude with technology on the fritz and a house that hasn’t been cleaned in weeks, it’s important to look to God for that change in perspective. We can trust that in the midst of all the things that seem to go wrong, something will go right.

    Dear Lord, I thank You for the purpose You place in everything. Give me Your perspective today as I struggle with some things that may not be going "right." I know You have a greater plan through it all. I love You and long to live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 1:2-3, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." (NLT)

    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: When all of life feels like it is spinning out of control, we can often end up acting out of control. Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued can help you discover how to gain a deep sense of calm even in the midst of situations out of your control. Click here to purchase your copy today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Praise can help change our perspective. What can you specifically praise God for today — even in the midst of great trials?

    Journal about a time in your life when you saw God use difficult circumstances for your good. Remembering His past faithfulness can encourage and strengthen us in the midst of our present struggles.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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