12 Ideas for Fall Fun for Families

Each year when the back-to-school chaos has settled and the leaves begin to fall from our trees, I take stock of how our family is faring spiritually. With the craziness of settling into a new school year and the many Summer and Fall ministry events we participate in, I always seem to feel the need to focus on family in the Fall.

Fall also seems to be a time of year to stop and take stock – are we doing all that we can to raise our family well? How can we make the most of this season to strengthen our family and our faith?

Here are a few ideas for enjoying Fall while also being purposeful as a parent.

12 Ideas and Faith-based Resources for Fall Fun for Families

1. The Pumpkin Gospel 

The Pumpkin Gospel is a fun way to teach children spiritual truth in an interactive way. All you need is a medium or large-sized pumpkin, a candle and matches, and about 20 minutes of time (you’ll need at least 10 to prep the pumpkin).  Gather the family around for this faith-based Fall fun for families!  The valuable lesson learned about how Jesus changes us from the inside out is guaranteed to stick with your children for years to come.

 

Join the ranks of work-in-progress parents and download your free printable version of the Pumpkin Gospel object lesson! Fall fun|kids|parenting|object lessons|Bible lesson|AWANA|Sunday School|Preschool |youth group|Christ-centered resources|redeeming Halloween

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter (down at the bottom) to get your free printable version of the Pumpkin Gospel!

2. Ways to Cultivate Thankfulness in Your Home

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

With Fall being such a busy season, it’s easy to develop an attitude of ungratefulness. My friend Aimee shares 7 tips for cultivating thankfulness in your home. I especially like number 4 because it’s an idea I’ve been running across in Scripture recently. Maybe the Lord’s trying to tell me something? ;)

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

3. 10 Fall Outdoor Activities to Grow Closer to God and Others

This great article from Crosswalk suggests several ways to enjoy God’s beautiful creation while also strengthening family bonds. I love number 5 because you could enjoy Fall fun for families while also being missional!

4. Praying Scriptures of Thanksgiving

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

My friend Candace has put together a free printable list of Scriptures related to Thanksgiving. Stop by her blog for a reminder to focus on faith this Fall season. Involve the whole family in praying God’s Word – a unique way to enjoy Fall fun for families!

5. Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Spice up your Thanksgiving conversation with this Fall fun activity for families from my friend Arabah Joy! She’s giving away this free printable, which includes 16 different conversation starters, over at her blog.

6. Family Thanksgiving Tree

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Our family loves this faith-based, Fall tradition so much that we often leave our Thanksgiving Tree up for months afterwards. The Thanksgiving tree is an easy, hands-on activity to remember all of the things we have to be thankful for as a family. Each member of the family can be involved by creating their own leaves to add to the tree.

Not only is this Fall activity fun, but it’s also a beautiful visual reminder of God’s goodness!

Here’s another alternative for doing a Thankful Tree from my friend, Candace.

7. 15 Fall Date Night Ideas

Nothing’s better than enjoying the great outdoors with your loved ones! My friend Starla shares 15 different ideas for date nights (although many of these could double as Fall fun for families, too!).

8. 25 Frugal Fall Date Nights

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Sarah Ann shares the best family resources over at her blog, and I appreciate the emphasis on keeping things frugal, too. Stop by for some great ideas on how to enjoy some Fall fun with your main man. :)

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9. 10 Fall Activities for Couples

Laura shares ten ways to celebrate Fall as a couple, but this post also includes a link to a free printable of 30 days of Fall activities that people of all ages can enjoy.  Stop by her blog for more Fall fun for families!

10. How to {Simply} Host Thanksgiving Dinner

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

Nothing brings family together in the Fall season quite like Thanksgiving, right? But preparing a dinner for a large group of family and friends can be really overwhelming! My friend Ruthie has a nifty printable to help keep you organized so that you can stress less and enjoy your loved ones more.

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner together is definitely a favorite on our list of Fall fun for families!

11. Thanksgiving for the Military Family

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

My friend, Jen, shares about her Thanksgiving Attitude from the perspective of a military wife and what Thanksgiving really means to them. Enjoying Fall fun for families is definitely more challenging when some family members cannot be present!

12. We Give Thanks – Free Printable!

Enjoy the Fall season as a family with this big list of Fall fun  and how-tos for families! Fall|Autumn|family fun|faith|faith-centered resources|family activities|Fall bucket list|Christian family|parenting|kids

This pretty printable from my friend, Rosilind, will remind your family to focus on thankfulness this Fall season. Go grab yours now and start preparing for Fall! She also shares the story behind Thanksgiving – this is one we should be teaching our children and passing down from generation to generation. :)

Although Fall is typically a busy time of year, it’s also a great time to re-focus on the things that really matter in life. While you’re enjoying Fall fun for families, you’re also building important family bonds and strengthening traditions that will last. If you use some of the object lessons/activities listed above, you can even use this season to strengthen your family’s faith, as well.

How will your family celebrate the Fall season?

Jen :)

 

 

How to Stand Firm in the War on Your Marriage

That night we went to bed angry, as far apart in the bed as we could possibly get without falling off the edges. I knew my heart was wrong, but he was wrong, too, so I refused to give in.

But my guilty conscience gave me no rest.

I wept angry tears, and pleaded with God to help me find a way out, a way back to what was right. I wondered, why is marriage such a war?

Some days marriage seems like hard work, while other days it feels like an all out war, doesn’t it?

The truth is that there is a war on your marriage, and it’s not just about the present conflict between you and your husband.

God’s Word tells us that the Enemy seeks to destroy our lives (1 Peter 5:8-9), and marriage conflict is a tool He uses often. So, friend, the war on your marriage is real, but it’s not a war of this world – it’s a war of the spiritual world the likes of which Paul spoke of in the book of Ephesians.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:12 (NIV)

Fellow wife, I know you may be hard-pressed and Satan’s attacks seem never-ending, but we serve a God who loves to demonstrate His might over the forces of darkness!

As you choose to stand firm in the war on your marriage, keep in mind these three tips.

3 Ways to Stand Firm in the War on Your Marriage

  1. Confront Satan’s lies.

So often women feel shame over marriage issues, even if those issues are a result of their husband’s sin and not their own. This is perhaps especially true in Christian marriages because we have that deep desire to be the godly wife we know God wants us to be.

Because we’re ashamed, we hide our problems from others and trying to put up a good front. We begin to believe the lie that we’re alone in our suffering. It’s the oldest trick in the book, dating all the way back to the Garden of Eden; the Enemy uses it often.

However, when we allow shame to rule us, we give Satan the spiritual foothold he is looking for.

These 3 biblically based tips will help you stand firm in the war on your marriage! Christian marriage|godly wife|spiritual warfare|fighting for marriage|standing for marriage|Christian women|Christian resources|Bible studies|devotionals

We fail to…

Please join me for the rest of this post over at the Reclaiming Hope and Joy in Your Marriage series! It’s a month-long series over at Finding Hope and Joy in Christ – with several MAJOR giveaways. So click here to head over and read the rest! :)

Do you feel stuck in your marriage? Do you long for the days when marriage was enjoyable? Whether you are desperate for change in your marriage or simply wanting some encouragement to be a godly wife, this book is for you! healthy marriage|happy marriage|godly wife|christian living|christian resource|bible study|devotional|marriage help|hope for marriage|Hope for the Hurting Wife|lonely wife|feeling unloved|heartbroken|weary wife

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8 Verses of Hope for Every Woman (free printable!)

You wake up already weary, thinking of all that you need to accomplish for the day but also keenly aware of the obstacles in your life.

It’s one of those days when adulting feels too hard from the get-go. You’d rather just crawl back in bed and hide from the world.

Your body is weary, your mind overwhelmed, and your spirit oh-so-weak. But you must press on because you are wife, mother, friend, worker, leader…

People are counting on you!

Where do you find hope to persevere when you are overwhelmed by life? How do you find motivation to keep pressing on?

My personal favorite place to start is in the Word – looking for verses of hope to remind my heart and spirit of God’s truth!

Yes, maybe today feels too difficult and I’m tempted to believe Satan’s lie that I’m not enough or that this is too hard for me. However, God’s promise to sustain me remains true. His promise that my hope in Him will not be put to shame remains true. His claim to love me anyways remains true. No matter what my feelings tell me!

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Studying and memorizing verses of hope helps me to remember who I am in Christ: beloved daughter of God Almighty, chosen one, fully equipped for every good work, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, filled with the Spirit, able.

Friend, we can choose hope in Christ despite our current circumstances because we know the power of Christ in us. We believe His Word is true, and we will not let Satan win this battle for our day!

Today I’m sharing with you 8 of my favorite verses for hope to celebrate the launch of our book, Hope for the Hurting Wife. Stop by and enter the giveaway if you haven’t already!

Print these verses of hope out and keep them near you as visual reminders of God’s promises!

Verses of Hope for Every Woman

  1. Psalm 71:14 (NIV)

“As for me, I will always have hope;

I will praise you more and more.”

I’ve been reading in the Psalms lately, and one recurring phrase stands out to me: “let me not be put to shame” (Ps. 22:5). The phrase recurs time and again throughout the early Psalms, and the context is that of crying out to the Lord and not being put to shame. We can be unashamed of our hope in the Lord, friends, because we know our God is faithful!

 

  1. Jude 24,25 (NIV)

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

One of my favorite verses of hope to cling to to in tough times, these verses in Jude remind us that it is God who works in us. He never gives up. He always perseveres. He is still at work in us and in our circumstances (Phil. 1:6).

 

  1. Palm 121:1-2 (NIV)

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Your hope is never in vain when you place it in the Lord alone, friends! We may have trouble in our families, with our children, with our marriages, with our finances, and so forth, but we have a God who cares about us deeply. Cry out to Him for rescue, for strength, for the will to persevere!

 

  1. 1 Cor. 13:7 (NIV)

“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

God’s love for you – agape love – is perfect. We can always find hope in His love for us, even when we feel unloved, underappreciated, and totally inadequate Find rest in His perfect love today!

 

  1. Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Sometimes when we feel completely exhausted and at our limits, we don’t sense the Lord’s presence with us. We may even begin to believe that He has forsaken us altogether. But that’s not true, friends. His Word claims that He is close to us, especially when we’re brokenhearted, especially when our spirits are crushed.

Don’t let the Enemy convince you otherwise, friend. Believe these verses of hope and act on them!

 

  1. Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV)

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

This verse should probably come first among these verses of hope. Instead of wondering what is wrong with you when you have days of discouragement, recognize that the battle we fight is not against flesh and blood but against a very real Enemy who wants nothing more than to see you fail (Eph 6:12)!

 

  1. Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

As a wife who spent the better part of a decade learning how to fight for her marriage instead of against her husband, I often grew weary. Sometimes I even gave up for a time. This verse of hope has been key for me these last several years to keep persevering even when I’m not seeing the fruit that I want to see quickly enough to suit me. ;)

If we persevere in doing God’s work, we will reap a harvest!

It's easy to grow discouraged as a wife and feel like giving up. These verses of hope will encourage you to keep fighting for your marriage! Christian women|Being Confident of This|bible study|bible verses|scripture|hope for marriage|marriage encouragement|lonely wife|weary wife|difficult marriage|broken trust|depression

 

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

My favorite among these verses of hope. The world tells us weakness is humiliating, but God’s Word claims otherwise. Take your weakness straight the the Lord, friend, and let Him demonstrate His power in you!

 Click here for Verses of Hope free printable

Download these free verses of hope today! Print them off and hang them around your home to remind you of the hope you have in Christ! christian printables|free printables|bible verses|bible study|scriptures|christian women|verses of hop|encouragement|wife|mom|leader

As you spend time with these verses of hope, study them, meditate on them, memorize them. Hang them in your home where you will see them frequently! Pray to the Father who loves you to give you motivation and strength to keep fighting the good fight (Eph. 6:12)

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Press on toward the goal!

Jen

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Are you frustrated by failure you in your marriage? Do you wonder if there is any hope left for you? Hope for the Hurting Wife is a 30 day devotional journey written by two women who survived the muck and mire of marriage problems. Christian marriage|difficult marriage|encouragement for wives|hope for marriage|should I get a divorce|how to stay married| healthy marriage|trusting God with marriage|wife|husband|christian woman

For the Wife Who Has Lost All Hope (and a Giveaway!)

Has a book ever touched your life in a way that you knew would forever change you?

Hope for the Hurting Wife has changed me.

From the early years of marriage when I lived out the reality of this book, I’ve seen the hand of God at work in my marriage. It’s a good thing, too, because without His intervention, I probably would have ended up divorced.

Yes, this book has changed me. Writing out your struggles, reliving them for the world to see, is no easy thing. It requires time and patience and lots of shaking-in-my-boots bravery.

As an imperfect wife, I never planned to write about marriage. In fact, I purposefully avoided writing about marriage for quite a while until the Lord convinced me otherwise.

You see, friend, I wanted nothing more than to be the good, Christian girl and the good, Christian wife. But when my life became tainted by sin and doubt and suffering, upholding my good, Christian girl facade became impossible.

And I’m thankful it did.

I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. I’m not the same wife, either.

But for many years, I believed my marriage was tainted, too. I thought we might never find our way back to happiness.

I lost all hope.

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For a time, I even contemplated divorce, but I knew it was wrong, and I didn’t want my children to grow up in a broken family.

So, I cried out to the Lord for rescue. I allowed him into my anger and my brokenness. Instead of hiding the emotions I was so ashamed of, I started being brutally honest with God about my pain and my anger. I quit living in denial and allowed Him to open my eyes to the truth of our situation.

If not for family support and godly mentors during this season of life, I’m sure my story would be very different, friend.

I needed other Chrisitan women who were willing to admit that marriage is hard work. I needed other Christian women to show me there is no such thing as a perfect wife. I needed women to sit with me in suffering rather than sit with me in condemnation.

I needed women to sit with me in suffering rather than sit in condemnation.

I know some of you are searching for the same. You’re desperate to be the wife God wants you to be, but you don’t quite know how when your marriage is so troubled. You don’t know how you can possibly fight for your marriage when you can barely stand under the weight of it.

Fellow hurting wife, listen closely: You. are. not. alone.

My co-author Rebekah Hallberg and I hear frequently from women just like you (and just like us), who truly desire to avoid divorce. We know the shame and guilt you often bear. We know the loneliness you experience. We know what it is to feel unloved and rejected.

*This page contains affiliate links. For more information, please visit the About page. Thank you for supporting the ministry of Being Confident of This!

That’s why we wrote Hope for the Hurting Wife, for women like you who have lost all hope and don’t know where to turn.

Hope for the Hurting Wife

Hope for the Hurting Wife is a thirty-day devotional journey that meets hurting and heartbroken wives right in the midst of a difficult marriage and gently encourages them to find hope that truly lasts.

Through our personal stories of heartache and scriptural insight, we address topics such as:

• Moving forward after trauma
• Loving even when you feel unloved
• Protecting your heart
• Understanding the power of choice
• Trusting God while waiting for redemption

You will never experience a perfect marriage here on earth, but you can experience real hope.

Our God is the God of the impossible!

While the world is quick to throw away marriage and run straight to divorce, we who are in Christ know that our present troubles never accurately reflect our future.

In a day when marriages quickly end in divorce, where do hurting wives who want to stay married turn? Hope for the Hurting Wife is written by two women who have lived through the dark and difficult times in marriage. Through personal stories and biblical insight, they encourage all women to fight for hope in their marriages! hope for marriage|marriage crisis|Christian marriage|devotional|godly wife|unloved|divorce|encouragement|inspirational|marriage book|marriage help

We serve a God who invested His very self into us through the work of Jesus, and He continually works to transform us from the inside out (Phil. 1:6). He continually works to transform our relationships, too.

My marriage of eighteen years is stronger than ever, but not because of me. Only God could take a marriage so messy and so broken and transform it into something truly beautiful. Not perfect, but beautiful.

And I’m more certain now than ever that the Enemy just hates to see what God does when women hand over their lives and their marriages into His trust.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans :3-5 (NIV – emphasis mine)

You don’t have to be a wife who has lost all hope any longer, friend. Cry out to the God of all hope who comforts us in our troubles (2 Cor. 1:4).

Don’t be afraid to hope lest you be disappointed because God’s hope does not put us to shame!

Choose today to fight like a warrior wife for your marriage!

Choose hope over fear!

Jen :)

Marriage Resource Bundle Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of our book, Hope for the Hurting Wife, we’re giving away a four-book bundle of marriage resources! These resources were hand-selected by Rebekah and I specifically for wives who have lost all hope, but they would benefit any and every married woman! Here’s what the winner will receive

1. Hope for the Hurting Wife paperback – see info above!

2. Every Wife’s Choice by Sarah Fairchild (paperback) takes an in-depth look at how our emotions come into play in marriage. Sarah uses both humor and insightful key-word study to examine the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. I promise you will laugh out loud when reading this book!

3. A Wife’s 40-day Fasting and Prayer Journal by Kaylene Yoder (paperback) is a devotional combined with a prayer journal. It is beautifully designed with spaces to record what you learn from relevant verses, your own prayers, and even how you intend to fast should you choose to use that portion. Kaylene understands that marriages are often under spiritual attack, so she encourages women to fight back by covering their marriages in prayer!

4. Blues to Bliss by Ngina Otiende (ebook version) speaks to those times when marriage fails to live up to our expectations (especially in the early years). Ngina shares from her own marriage, as well as the Bible, about how to navigate areas such as intimacy, submission, communication and even finances!

We're celebrating the launch of our new book Hope for the Hurting Wife by giving away a bundle of marriage books! Enter for your chance to win these four books written for wives! marriage books|Christian wife|godly wife|marriage growth|faith|bible studies|devotionals|encouragement for marriage|hope for the  hurting wife|prayer journal

We are especially hopeful that some of these resources will make their way into the hands of wives who have nearly lost all hope.

Enter for your chance to win below! (And stop by Rebakah’s blog for a chance to win in her giveaway, too!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Words Your Child Really Needs to Hear

“You’re the best Mom ever!” She proclaims, as she grins and squeezes me with her small arms, and my mama heart expands to near bursting.

“Well, you’re the best daughter ever!” I smile back down at her.

And it’s true. She may be my only daughter at this time, but she is also the best.

It may sound like a simple, sweet exchange between mother and daughter, come and gone in just a few breaths. But I know better. I know these words are building a foundation in her, one sweet word at a time.

I say all the words that need telling because I know she needs to hear those words; I know she needs me to tell them to her.  I know because I need those words, too.

I need the “I love you”s, and the “you’re the best”s, and the “you’re the beautifulest mom ever”s, and the “I missed you”s. If I, a grown woman, need all the words that need telling, how much more does a child need to hear these same words?

So much more. So much more.

They are the words your child really needs to hear.

All the Words that need telling, tell kids you love them, tell people the gospel

So I tell her all the words that need telling – the words about love, the words about like, the words about her character, and the words about her Savior – because she needs to hear all of those important words. She needs to hear them often.

She needs to hear them often.

She may be little now, but soon enough she’ll be heading into her senior year of high school just like her oldest brother. And then she’ll leave for college (Lord-willing), and who will tell her all the words that she needs to hear then?

When she leaves the safety of our home to venture out on her own, she’ll find plenty of messages about how she’s not enough, how she’s no good, how she’s less than.

Those words are enough to crush a person, especially if she lacks a secure foundation.

The Words Your Child Really Needs to Hear

We’ve only a few years, friends, a few short years to speak the words your child really needs to hear.  Only a few years to tell of our love for them.  Only a few years to tell of the Savior’s love, too.

And they need to hear them because love is so central to the Gospel, so important.

That foundation of faith and love (or lack of one) can help determine your child’s life course. Such a foundation is a refuge in life’s storms, a comfort when staring down rejection, a balm when wounded.

The words your child really needs to hear develop a confidence in them that isn’t easily shaken.

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Don’t be shy; don’t hesitate, friend.

Even if the words don’t come naturally to you, tell the words today, the words your child really needs to hear, because we are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 11:18-19

Speak words of life to your family today, friend. Make the most of every opportunity.

Tell all the words your child really needs to hear.

Tell Love

and Truth

and Kindness

and Peace.

Don’t wait!

Jen

For When You Just Want to Give Up

It was bound to happen eventually.

I didn’t really have much experience to go on, but it felt like maybe the honeymoon was over, like maybe I just want to give up already.

Like all new ventures in life, blogging was fascinating and exciting at first.

Every page view was cherished, every comment celebrated.

Some days I would check the blog first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  It’s the truth; I became just a tiny bit obsessed.

Maybe, just maybe, I even made an idol of it, to my shame.

Then somewhere along the line, the new thing stopped being quite so much fun and started to feel more like work, like just another burden to carry.

Sometimes I just want to give up. Let's be honest.  It happens to all of us! When the newness of things wear of, we quickly grow tired and weary. How can we avoid it? women of faith|ministry|parenting|motherhood|writing|blogging|weary woman|want to give up|encouragement|Christian women

Some people may say, it’s just a blog – let it go! But it’s not “just a blog” to me. These words are part of me that I’ve put on display for the world to see.  And there are these nifty little graphs that measure that part of me day by day by day…

And some days they just don’t measure up to what I’d like to see.

Even when they do measure up, no matter how high the bars of the graph reach, there’s this insatiable desire for more.

And the inspiration isn’t always there.

And busy schedules get in the way.

And sometimes…

I just want to give up.

Let’s be honest – it happens to all of us!

When that new baby comes home smelling so sweet, and everyone is exclaiming “how perfect”…

when that new job is so exciting that you just can’t wait to go to work, and people tell you how happy they are to have you there…

when that new ministry that you’ve been planning for and dreaming of finally comes to fruition…

when you make that purchase that you’ve been saving up for and it’s just. so. amazing….

when that mountaintop experience leads you to a faith-high that just can’t be matched…

Inevitably, a valley follows, and you just want to give up.

That perfect baby that slept so well in the hospital cries all night long, night after endless night.

That new job has its own set of challenges.  That new ministry has flaws, too.

That new purchase grows old or outdated.

Thus the mountain gives way to a valley, and those feelings that had us on cloud nine dissipate like mist burned off by the morning sun, so we wish for more.

But friends, our lives are not lived just on the mountain tops.  In fact, those mountain tops most likely add up to a very small part of our faith journey here on Earth.

The truth is that the valleys often naturally follow the mountains, not because anything has changed but because our physiology is built that way.

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Our bodies cannot sustain a constant state of “high,” so we must experience a “low” to bring us back to equilibrium.  Perhaps even more because we were not meant for this imperfect world, so we yearn for something better.

While I know that my faith isn’t meant to be built on feelings, as a woman emotions do come into play!  How often I’ve wished those pesky emotions away even though I know they serve a purpose. :)

So what’s a girl to do when she just gets a case of the blahs and the honeymoon seems to be over?

What’s a girl to do when her daily refrain becomes “I just want to give up”?

She recognizes the valley for what it is – temporary.

She remembers that she is not a citizen of this world.

She blogs/serves/works/mothers anyways because that’s what God led her to do. She loves anyways, she trusts anyways, she clings to His promises anyways, she speaks truth anyways, she leads anyways, and she hopes anyways.

She keeps seeking.

Sometimes she even stumbles and falls, and she’s so ashamed of her weakness.  But He’s right there to help her back up again.

Along the way, she learns a little more of the unfathomable depth of God’s grace.   She grows a little more confident in an overwhelming, unconditional love. She grows a little more confident in His timely provision. She grows a little more confident in the work He’s doing within her.

Because He promised that one day, one glorious day, that work would be complete (Phil. 1:6).

On that day the valleys will cease to exist.

And the mountain top lasts for all eternity.

And we see His face.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Heb. 12:1-3

When we just want to give up, we don’t.

So we wait, like so many others before us,

And we do not lose heart.

Jen :)

How to Overcome Food Fixation

Every evening around 9 p.m. the cravings begin.

I want chocolate. I want Cherry Pepsi. I want All The Things that are not good for my body, especially that late at night.

Looking back, I see how that habit developed. When our children were younger and my husband worked second shift, I would reward myself for getting through the tough evening hours alone with some “me time” in front of the tv.

Of course, I couldn’t leave out a bedtime sweet, or two, also part of the reward.

Thus food became intimately connected to my idea of relaxation.

It’s taken years of the Lord dealing with me in this area of satisfaction and contentment for me to realize that I use food in all of the wrong ways a majority of the time! And to be honest, I’m still learning.

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*Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book Full in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This post also contains affiliate links*

I recently finished reading Full by Asheritah CiuCiu, who writes about my very struggle – to find satisfaction in Christ alone.

This particular book took me three times as long to finish as it should have because at first, I just plain didn’t want to read it.

In fact, I spent the first half of this year in full out rebellion against what the Lord had previously taught me about caring for my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. I ate whatever I wanted. I exercised only when really motivated.

And I picked up and put down Full about ten times over the course of several months.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I decided that I didn’t want to submit to the Lord in the area of healthy eating.

It was just too hard!

Enter Full and Asheritah CiuCiu’s humble yet truth-filled approach to “Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction.”

It’s easy to relate to the author because I am her, the woman who can’t stop putting brownies in her mouth even when she’s full. I’m also the woman who sometimes feels confused about the role of food in my life.

I recognize that food is a gift from our Heavenly Father and that all things are permissible in moderation, but how that plays out in my life isn’t always clear-cut.

Is it okay to eat this chocolate today or not okay?

In fact, often avoiding sugary sweets results in an unhealthy obsession about when I might be able to have them next!

This is precisely the conundrum that Asheritah describes in her book, and she rightly refers to it as “food fixation.”

According to CiuCiu, Full isn’t just for those struggling to honor God with their food choices, but it’s also for those who have an unhealthy obsession with food in general – the crunchy mama who will only eat organic, the woman fighting against gluttony, the one obsessed with body image and every morsel she puts in her mouth.

The author points out that any type of food fixation (whether the fixation is on brownies or wheat grass) leads us into slavery – it’s a form of idolatry that even committed Christians often fail to recognize.

By the time I came across the sentence “Food is not the enemy,” I understood that this was a book I desperately needed.

My battle to overcome in the area of my health and weight led me to a place of extreme control rather than a place of freedom, which explains my six-month rebellion.

The battle to overcome food fixation

Rather than succumbing to food fixation, Asheritah suggests that we learn to find satisfaction in Christ, to take in the Bread of Life and to be full. Her research into food addiction and the Bible itself help us to see that food fixation is, at its core, a spiritual issue rather than a physical one.

As a spiritual issue, we must learn to address the root causes of our food fixation. We must learn how to find fullness and satisfaction in Christ alone, how to meet everyday temptations with spiritual truth.

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The final section of this book, in particular, teaches many practical ways to overcome food fixation:

  • learning to recognize past patterns
  • overcoming temptation through scripture memory and prayer
  • celebrating every little victory

Aside from the first few chapters, this was my favorite section of the book. With these tools and the power of the Spirit, we can break the chains of addiction and find our way to freedom!

If any type of food fixation keeps you in bondage, if you long for food freedom, be sure to pick up a copy of Asheritah CiuCiu’s book Full.

Above all, keep seeking your Heavenly Father and invite Him to release you from the bonds of food fixation once and for all.

He is able!

Jen :)

A Case for Transformed People (and a word about judging)

I’m sure sometime within the last week or so, you’ve read a facebook meme or social media post along the lines of “Don’t judge me.” It’s a relatively popular way to shut down any form of disagreement with any person’s lifestyle choices.

Unfortunately, being a Bible-believing, truth-defending, Christ-follower is no longer popular even in many Christian circles.

Somewhere along the line, some of us Christ-followers have become so conformed to this world that we are afraid and/or unwilling to take a stand on issues that the Bible clearly addresses.

Some believers even go so far as to throw their total support behind worldly ideology, political correctness, tolerance  – whatever you want to call it – and then condemn their fellow believers for being judgmental, close-minded, or intolerant.

They’ve decided that man’s wisdom outweighs God’s Holy Word.

While criticism from the world about our biblically based beliefs is to be expected, criticism from fellow believers often catches us by surprise.

We are not accustomed to being labeled (dare I say “judged”?) by those who should be our support.

How warped is it that Satan has convinced some of us that simply standing on the truth of God’s Word is being judgmental, and is therefore wrong and un-Christian?

Allow me to clarify: the Bible does speak strongly against judging others and becoming self-righteous. We are all familiar with the words of this verse that is usually taken out of context:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1

And of course the following verses in this passage that reference the plank and the speck, and so on.

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However, those who quote the verse above often fail to mention the remainder of that chapter. From verse 13 of this Matthew passage and beyond, much more time is spent addressing the fact that the gate to Heaven is narrow, and not all who call themselves Christians will enter it (v. 21)!

For a chapter that starts off with “Do not judge,” it turns out to be what the world would call pretty judgmental.

Yet only God can rightly see, and therefore judge, the motives of the heart. Therefore, we should not pre-occupy ourselves with the sin of others; rather we should be busy dealing with our own sin.

At the same time, God also calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to be bold in our witness as transformed people.

How then do we confront in truth and love while avoiding acting like a Pharisee?

How do we uphold God’s Word without incorrectly “judging?”

Unfortunately, so-called Christian extremists (like Westboro Baptist Church) have often given others good reason to cry “foul.” Their hatred toward sinners has given Christian living a bad name.  Furthermore, we often see Christian brothers and sisters actively ridiculing those with differing beliefs on social media, adding to the world’s negative perception.

While I fully support upholding God’s Truth, when we haughtily share truth with a sarcastic turn of phrase, a witty cartoon, or a picture that belittles others, we end up conforming to the world and looking just like it.

How can we then be salt or light to a world that is in dire need of God’s truth?

I believe Satan has seized hold of this shame over others’ behavior. He uses it to confuse believers (as well as the world!) and convince many of us that upholding God’s truth is wrong in and of itself, when the reality is that the fault lies in the method of delivery.

We have only to study Christ’s example to see how he gently revealed truth to people, often with a single phrase or sentence (“Go and sin no more.” Jn. 8:11), and always while caring for their needs, whether physical or spiritual.

Jesus did not skirt sin issues, neither did he humiliate the lost.

And when it comes to believers who are mired in sin, the Bible makes a clear case for confronting fellow Christians in the hopes of restoring them into right relationship, too.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Mt. 18:15

We must follow Christ’s example in our efforts to live as transformed people.

When the Bible speaks clearly on issues of right and wrong, we are called to uphold God’s Truth with – and this is the key – both love AND respect.

The key lies in our delivery – a delivery which requires a balance between Truth and Grace, not the absence of either or both. A total-grace perspective leads to conformity, while a total-truth perspective leads to self-righteous bullying .

Is it wrong to bully others into sharing our beliefs?  Yes!

Is it also wrong to be silent on issues that the Bible clearly addresses?  Yes!

Why then have we allowed the world, the Great Deceiver, and even fellow Christians to tell us that it is un-Christian-like to uphold Christian beliefs? Ironic, isn’t it?

 

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My purpose is this: consider carefully how your life and your actions or statements appear to others (especially in regards to social media). Do they see a difference in you?

Are you being transformed by Christ, or are you choosing to conform to the world?  There is no middle ground!

We cannot claim the power of a risen Savior while simultaneously dismissing His written Word, for if His Word is somehow untrue, then He cannot possibly save us!

I recognize the risk in voicing the unpopular Biblical perspective on many current issues, but then Christ wasn’t all that popular with the worldly and falsely religious leaders of his day, either.

You may lose friends.

You may even be judged by the very people who accuse you of “ being too judgmental.”

Have the courage that Paul wrote of:

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” Phil. 3:7-18

Amen?! :)

If at the moment you find that you’ve been conforming to the world (and haven’t we all at some point or another??), remember that God’s grace is immediate and His power to provoke change in us is immeasurable.

On the other hand, if you are already actively trying to live out a transformed life, take heart. You are not alone!

I encourage you to look to God’s Word and the Word alone to form your opinions and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your thinking.

4 questions to ask before sharing a “truth” statement via social media:

  1. Is your audience one you love and one who loves you in return? In other words, will your message be received in the manner in which it was intended?
  2. Is your message one of God’s truth rather than man’s truth? In other words, do you have contextual biblical support for your message or is it merely your opinion?
  3. Is God leading you to share this truth at this particular time in this particular fashion? In other words, has the prompting come from Him or do you just love your soap box? (ouch – yes, I know – it pains me, too!)
  4. Have you achieved a balance between truth and grace? In other words, how is your method of delivery – gentle or smug?

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Telling the truth in grace and love is such a delicate balance to achieve, but as Christ’s image-bearers, we must work toward that balance!

We have amazing technology and a unique opportunity to show the world what Christ-like love truly is, so let’s allow Christ’s love to shine through us without diminishing the light of His message.

Don’t conform.  Be transformed.

Because of His love,

Jen :)

Sharing with: Salt and Light

Make Your Life Count: How One Ordinary Life Lived Well Can Make a Difference

It’s been just over a week since we first heard the news, a week full of seeing her picture online and knowing that she’s not here on this earth anymore; having perished in a terrible house fire last week, she and most of her family are now in Heaven.

I guess you could say that Mandy Kelly and I were friends, but not close friends. We worked together and encouraged one another in a small group of Christian bloggers, but I never spoke with her in person, never hugged her neck.

Nevertheless, her sudden death has impacted me in unexpected ways.

The day before Mandy’s passing, my church-planting husband and I attended the bi-annual Northeast Indiana Baptist Association meeting, where we heard testimonies of God’s work in our area and received encouragement to keep up the good work “while it is still day.”

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5

In context, we see that Jesus is speaking to his disciples, encouraging them.

He knows His time is limited.

He makes the most of every opportunity and encourages His followers to do the same.

The next morning, I went to Ladies Bible Study and told them about an article I had read about John Piper’s now-famous sermon on how to not waste your life. As Piper stands before thousands and thousands of college-aged students, he pleads with them not to chase the American dream, but to live a life that counts!

And it weighed heavy on my heart. “Make your life count.”

Yes, I want my life to count, too.

It was only moments after I returned home that I received the news that our blogging friend Mandy perished in a house fire overnight along with most of her family – only two of their four children survived.

It was shocking.

It still is shocking.

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But Piper wouldn’t have called her death a tragedy – no – because even in her death, Mandy’s witness for the Lord continues to live on.

In the days following, I was overjoyed to read message after message on social media about the impact Mandy had on the people around her. Countless women, young and old, influenced by her passion for the Lord and her compassion for others.

Not only that, but so many mentioned following her blog and listening to her videos.

What an example her life was, but not for her own glory!

Mandy wasn’t famous.

She wasn’t a big name blogger or Bible teacher that would be recognized worldwide.

She was an ordinary wife and a mom and a leader at church and a writer who was faithful in her everyday life.

Because she knew the key – the way to make your life count – lies in those everyday choices to put Christ first.

According to Piper, “You don’t have to know a lot of things in order to make a huge difference for the Lord in the world, but you do need to know a few things that are great and be willing to live for them and die for them. People who make a difference in the world are not people who have mastered a lot of things. They are people who have been mastered by a very few things that are very, very great.”

Mandy was a woman of God who recognized the value in being a fool for Christ, a woman who aimed to “finish well.”

Listen to her own words around minute 12:00.

Yes, Mandy understood the need to keep working “while it is still day.” She wasn’t a perfect woman, none of us are, but she was a woman who was willing to put one thing above all others – the kingdom of God.

She called this Worshipful Living.

I find her ordinary life both inspiring and convicting.

The truth is that we all have a choice when it comes down to how we spend this one life we have.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:13-14

According to the Bible, we are not guaranteed one moment more on this Earth, friends. So along with Piper and Mandy, I beg you to make your life count!

 

Because whether we realize it or not, tomorrow could be too late.

Make that decision for Christ that you’ve been putting off for so long…

Forgive the person who wounded you so deeply…

Love others well even when it comes at great cost to you…

Be willing to be a fool for Christ…

Don’t wait another moment to tell others that Jesus came to set us all free from sin, to give us new life!

We must finish well. We must do the good work while it is still day. We must live for His glory.

According to Piper, the only alternative is akin to collecting seashells.

Don’t waste your one life.

Make your life count.

All for His glory,

Jen

If you’d like to help support the Kelly family and her two surviving children, you can donate here:

Trinity Baptist Church
2003 Charleston Hwy.
Cayce, SC 29033

You can also donate via their church’s website. In the top right corner, click on the green Give button. Then choose “Kelly Fund” from the drop-down menu.

http://www.tbccayce.com

A bunch of us are gathering today to share what we’ve learned from Mandy’s life and death – what better way to honor her memory than to lift high the name of Jesus?! :)

 


Why Reading Isn’t Enough ~ Study the Bible

As work-in-progress Christians, we have several tools at our disposal to help us grow closer to God and bear more fruit.

The one tool we often fail to use to its full potential is the Bible!

Some of you may be thinking that you use your Bibles daily or even weekly, so why would I say the Bible is under-utilized?

I say the Bible is under-utilized because I’ve experienced that in my own life as a young Christian.

At the age of fourteen, I moved with my family to a third-world country so that my parents could do missionary work. As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy move for a teenager, especially considering that I lived away from my parents during the school year.

At that age, I often read the Bible because I knew I was supposed to, but I didn’t feel like I was getting much out of it.

Bible reading simply became an item to check off on my to-do list.

However, after the move overseas, though, I really struggled with being separated from my parents and adjusting to a new life in a foreign country. I felt alone and uncertain. In my teenage awkwardness, I lacked confidence in myself and in my faith.

I wrestled with some deep, unanswered questions – like why? Why was God allowing this hardship in my life?

I began to turn to my Bible for comfort and understanding rather than just as a daily chore. My mom would send me verses that spoke to my circumstances, and I would read them over and over again.

Instead of just reading the Word and then walking away from it, I began to actually study the Bible.

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I began to read with questions, meditate on verses that stuck out to me, write notes and look up cross-references. The more time I spent studying, the more I realized the very real power of God’s Word to transform me, to comfort me, to give me wisdom for real life!

During that time of hardship, my faith became real to me because instead of simply believing what others had told me about God and His Word, I discovered those truths for myself.

My new appreciation for God’s Word led to a period of tremendous spiritual growth that formed the foundation of the faith I have today.

When I look back over my life, I see how the times I felt most connected to the Lord were also times when I really dug into His Word.

Likewise, the seasons when I struggled the most in my faith were often marked by a reluctance to study the Bible or perhaps even a busyness that kept me preoccupied with little time to really dig in.

Consider these verses from Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You. (NIV)

When you study the Bible, you don’t just gain knowledge about God’s characters or how to make wise choices. According to this Psalm, studying the Bible actually helps to keep us from sin!

I have to admit, taking time to study the Bible is still a work-in-progress in me – an area that can use constant improvement.

I wonder if you might be able to relate, friend?

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Maybe you’re a work-in-progress woman who isn’t getting much from the Bible lately. Maybe you find it hard to understand or just wish that you knew the Bible better. I’ve been there, friend!

Or maybe you’re really struggling in your faith right now, feeling distant from the Lord, and you’re not even trying to study the Bible? I’ve been there, too.

What I can tell you is that the more you invest your time and energy into studying the Word rather than just reading it out of a sense of duty, the more you’ll experience the abundant Christian life that God has planned for you. 

Matthew 4:4 claims that the Word of God gives life itself – it sustains us!

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

That sounds like a good reason to study the Bible!

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So here’s my best advice on how to really study the Bible – treat it like you would any other text that you are going to be studying.

Get serious about it!

  1. Grab a notebook and highlighters. Don’t be afraid to write in your Bible, either
  2. Grab tools that can help you understand what you are reading, such as concordances, Bible dictionaries, Hebrew-Greek keyword study Bibles, parallel Bibles, etc. (You can actually find many resources for these tools for FREE online at sites like biblehub and biblegateway.)
  3. Don’t just read a verse and walk away! Ask questions about the background for that verse. Read the surrounding context (verses before and after). Find out the audience that particular book was written to so that you can understand the purpose of the words on the page.
  4. Learn how to do verse-mapping (one of my new favorite methods!) and other methods of bible study until you find one or two that work best for you.

And if you need help doing those things, I highly recommend the Bible Study Methods course!

My friend, Arabah Joy, has created a spectacular course to help people around the world learn to study God’s Word for themselves – it’s called Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days. (Disclosure – this is my affiliate link. Should you choose to purchase through this link, I will receive a commission. Thanks for helping to support the ministry of Being Confident of This!)

This practical, self-paced course comes with a printable workbook and teaching videos to show you exactly how to use the various methods being taught so that those of us who are visual learners or who need a little hand-holding can actually see how the methods work!

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You can expect this course to:

  • teach you 7 different Bible study methods
  • streamline the learning process so you don’t spend weeks or months figuring it out
  • give you tools for going deep into God’s word in as little as ten minutes a day (perfect for busy moms!)
  • provide ready-made templates and printables you can choose from
  • show you exactly how to do each method with the daily videos
  • revolutionize your time in God’s word and discover fresh intimacy with God in the process.
  • equip you to nourish yourself with the Scriptures
  • teach you how to develop your spiritual senses
  • help you establish a Bible study habit!

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If this is your first time here at Being Confident of This, you should know I’m very picky about the resources I recommend to my readers because I value your trust (that’s why you won’t see ads all over this site). However, I’m happy to recommend this course because I know Arabah Joy has spent years refining these methods as a missionary overseas and now a writer at arabahjoy.com. Since I’ve known her for several years, I also know her motives are genuine – to help children of God grow in their faith so that they can live out their God-given purpose in this world!

Friend, whether you decide to purchase this course or not, I pray you will seek to study the Word for yourself. I firmly believe that if more Christians better utilized the living Word of God, we would all have the confidence we need to live out the plans God has for us.

Bottom line: don’t just read your Bible, really dig into it.

Study the Bible for yourself!

All because of Christ,

Jen :)

Sharing with: Salt and Light