The Inspiring Journey of Gladys Aylward

March is Women’s History Month. It’s a great time to learn about women who made their mark on History. Such is the story of Gladys Aylward, a British missionary whose remarkable journey is a great example of the power of determination, selflessness, and unwavering faith in God’s guidance.

Born in London in 1902, Gladys Aylward was born to help others. Her early life was marked by a longing to serve others and a deep sense of compassion for those in need. Despite lacking formal education and facing numerous obstacles along the way, Gladys was determined to fulfill her calling as a missionary.

In 1932, Gladys Aylward started her journey to China, a land known for its ancient traditions and marked by political unrest.

Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Gladys set out on a mission to bring the message of God’s love to the people of China.

But Gladys’s mission would soon take on a new urgency with the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937.

As the Japanese invasion swept across China, leaving devastation in its wake, Gladys Aylward found herself at the forefront of a humanitarian crisis.

With courage and compassion, Gladys Aylward threw herself into the task of rescuing orphaned and abandoned children, often risking her own life to bring them to safety.

Through sheer determination and unwavering faith in God’s provision, she saved hundreds of children from the horrors of war, providing them with shelter, food, and the love of a mother.

How Gladys Saved Children

Gladys Aylward travelled through war-torn regions, often going long distances on foot or by any means available.

She went into areas where others feared to go, motivated by her belief that every child deserved a chance at a better life.

Gladys demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness in her efforts to rescue children. She employed creative ways to prevent being found by enemy soldiers and travelled through difficult terrain.

In some instances, she disguised herself and the children she was rescuing to avoid detection and ensure their safety.

Once she had successfully rescued the children, Gladys worked to provide them with shelter, food, and care.

She transformed makeshift shelters into havens of refuge, where children could find solace and security amidst the chaos of war.

A picture of a couple walking in a field. Each of them is carrying a child on their back. Under the picture are the words, The inspiring Journey of Gladys Aylward. www.onedeterminedlife.com

Providing Hope and Stability

Despite limited resources, Gladys Aylward spared no effort in meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the children under her care.

Beyond meeting their immediate needs, Gladys became a surrogate mother to these children, offering them love, guidance, and support.

She provided a sense of stability and belonging in a time of uncertainty, nurturing their spirits and instilling in them a sense of hope for the future.

Gladys’s dedication to rescuing orphaned and abandoned children was fueled by her unwavering faith in God’s guidance and provision.

She drew strength from her belief that she was following God’s call to care for the “least of these,” and she entrusted each child to His loving care.

Through her selfless actions, Gladys not only saved the lives of hundreds of children but also restored their dignity and gave them a chance at a brighter future.

Standing Firm in her faith

Gladys’s journey was not without its trials. She faced countless obstacles, from navigating treacherous mountain passes to outwitting enemy soldiers. Yet, through it all, she remained firm in her knowledge that God was guiding her every step of the way.

Gladys’s incredible story of courage and selflessness captured the world’s attention, inspiring countless individuals to join her in the fight for justice and compassion.

Her legacy lives on today through the lives of the hundreds of children she saved and the countless lives she touched with her message of hope and love.

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Steps to be more like Gladys Aylward

1. Show Courage:

Like Gladys, we can face challenges with bravery and determination.

Instead of giving up when things get tough, we can summon our inner strength and tackle obstacles head-on, knowing that with courage, we can overcome any difficulty.

2. Practice Compassion:

Gladys had a big heart for those in need, especially orphaned and abandoned children. We can follow her example by showing kindness and empathy towards others, especially those who are suffering or disadvantaged.

Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a helping hand, or simply showing someone that they are cared for, acts of compassion can make a big difference in someone’s life.

3. Take Action:

Gladys didn’t just talk about helping others—she took action. We can follow her lead by actively seeking out opportunities to make a positive impact in our communities and beyond.

Whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter, participating in a charity event, or advocating for social justice causes, every action, no matter how small, can contribute to positive change.

4. Be Resourceful:

Gladys demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness in her efforts to rescue children, using creative tactics to overcome obstacles and navigate challenging situations.

We can cultivate our own resourcefulness by thinking outside the box, finding innovative solutions to problems, and making the most of the resources available to us.

5. Trust in God:

Throughout her life, Gladys relied on her faith in God’s guidance and provision. We can deepen our own faith by spending time in prayer, studying scripture, and seeking God’s direction in our lives.

Trusting in God’s plan for us can give us the confidence and strength we need to face whatever challenges come our way.

6. Show Perseverance:

Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks, Gladys never gave up on her mission to help others.

We can cultivate our own perseverance by staying focused on our goals, maintaining a positive attitude, and persevering through adversity.

Remembering that every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow can help us stay motivated and resilient in the face of obstacles.

Conclusion

Gladys Aylward’s legacy of compassion and courage continues to inspire generations, serving as a powerful reminder of the difference that one person can make when they are willing to step out in faith and love.

As we reflect on the inspiring journey of Gladys Aylward, may we be reminded of the power of determination, selflessness, and unwavering faith to overcome even the greatest of challenges.

May her story inspire us to step out in faith, trusting in God’s guidance as we seek to make a difference in the world around us.

The Remarkable Story of Corrie ten Boom

In times of darkness and despair, stories of courage, compassion, and unwavering faith shine brightly, reminding us of the power of the human spirit to overcome even the most unimaginable challenges. One such story is that of Corrie Ten Boom, a woman of faith who risked everything to save lives during one of the darkest periods in human history.

Corrie’s Humble Roots

Born in the Netherlands in 1892, Corrie ten Boom grew up in a devout Christian family that instilled in her a deep love for God and a commitment to serving others. Alongside her father and siblings, Corrie dedicated her life to running a watchmaking business and caring for those in need in their community.

However, their lives took a dramatic turn with the outbreak of World War II and the subsequent Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

As the horrors of the Holocaust unfolded, Corrie and her family made the courageous decision to provide a safe haven for Jews running from persecution.

Risking their own lives, the Ten Boom family converted their home into a secret hiding place, where they sheltered countless Jews from the clutches of the Nazis.

Despite the constant threat of discovery and the ever-present danger of betrayal, Corrie and her family remained steady in their commitment to protecting the innocent.

What she did to save Jews:

1. Converted their home into a Hiding Place:

Corrie, along with her father Casper ten Boom and sister Betsie, converted their home in Haarlem, Netherlands, into a secret hiding place for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

They constructed a concealed space behind a false wall in one of the bedrooms, where fugitives could stay hidden from the prying eyes of the Gestapo and Nazi collaborators.

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2. Acted as a Safe House:

Corrie and her family acted as a safe house for Jews on the run, providing them with food, shelter, and protection from the ever-looming threat of arrest and deportation to concentration camps.

Despite the constant risk of discovery, they remained committed to their mission of saving as many lives as possible, regardless of the personal danger involved.

3. Involved in the Dutch Underground:

The Ten Boom family was actively involved in the Dutch underground resistance movement, collaborating with other resistance members to smuggle Jews out of the country and provide them with forged identification papers to help them evade capture.

Corrie played a crucial role in coordinating these efforts and ensuring the safety of those under their care.

Their Betrayal

But their heroic efforts were not without consequences. In 1944, the ten Boom family was betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo. Corrie, along with her father and sister, was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where they endured unimaginable suffering and hardship.

Following their arrest, Corrie, along with her father Casper and sister Betsie, endured months of imprisonment, interrogation, and torture at the hands of the Gestapo.

Despite the harsh conditions and brutality of their captors, they remained resolute in their faith and commitment to their principles.

Yet, even in the darkest of times, Corrie’s faith remained unshaken. Amidst the brutality and despair of the concentration camp, she clung to the belief that God was with her, offering comfort, strength, and hope in unspeakable horrors.

After the war

Following her release from Ravensbrück due to a clerical error, Corrie dedicated the rest of her life to sharing her story of forgiveness, reconciliation, and the power of God’s love to transform even the most broken of hearts.

Through her bestselling book “The Hiding Place” and her worldwide ministry, Corrie touched the lives of millions, inspiring countless individuals to embrace forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of adversity.

Today, Corrie Ten Boom’s legacy lives on as a beacon of hope and inspiration to people around the world.

Her remarkable story serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of faith to overcome even the greatest of obstacles.

How to be more like Corrie Ten Boom:

1. Show Compassion:

Cultivate a heart of compassion for others, especially those who are marginalized or oppressed.

Look for opportunities to extend kindness and assistance to those in need, just as Corrie did when she risked her life to hide Jews during the Holocaust.

2. Stand Up Against Injustice:

Speak out against injustice and discrimination wherever we see it.

Use our voices and resources to advocate for equality, human rights, and dignity for all people, regardless of their race, religion, or background.

3. Practice Forgiveness:

Embrace the power of forgiveness in our lives, letting go of bitterness, resentment, and hatred towards those who have wronged us.

Forgiveness was a central theme in Corrie’s life, and her ability to forgive even her captors and tormentors serves as a powerful example for us all.

4. Trust in God’s Providence:

Develop a deep and unwavering faith in God’s providence and guidance, even amid life’s darkest moments.

Corrie’s faith sustained her through the horrors of the Holocaust and gave her the strength and courage to endure even the most difficult trials.

By embodying these principles in our own lives, we can honour the legacy of Corrie Ten Boom and continue her mission of spreading love, compassion, and hope to a world in need.

The Legacy of Amy Carmichael: An Example of Courage, Compassion, and Faith

Discover the remarkable story of Amy Carmichael, a missionary whose life was marked by courage, compassion, and unwavering faith. Follow her story from her humble beginnings in Northern Ireland to her transformative mission in India. Amy’s journey serves as a powerful example of what it means to live a life of purpose and dedication to serving others. Learn about her incredible life and explore the lasting impact of her legacy on the world.

All about Amy

Amy Carmichael was a remarkable missionary who left a lasting mark on the world through her dedication to serving others and her deep faith in God’s call.

Amy was born in Northern Ireland in 1867, Amy’s early life was marked by a deep sense of compassion and a passionate desire to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

It was during her teenage years that Amy first felt the call to missionary work. Inspired by the stories of missionaries serving in distant lands, she felt a stirring in her heart to dedicate her life to spreading the love of Christ to those who had never heard His name.

Little did she know that this calling would lead her to the distant shores of India and into the heart of one of the most challenging and dangerous missions of her time.

Amy’s mission in India was not an easy one. Faced with the harsh realities of poverty, injustice, and the deeply entrenched system of temple prostitution, she knew that she had to take action.

With unwavering courage and determination, Amy embarked on a mission to rescue and rehabilitate young girls who had been sold into temple slavery.

Despite facing numerous obstacles and dangers, including threats to her own life, Amy remained steadfast in her mission.

She established the Dohnavur Fellowship, a sanctuary for rescued children, where she provided them with love, care, and education.

Through her tireless efforts, Amy saved countless lives and offered hope to those who had been cast aside by society.

What truly set Amy apart was her unshakeable faith in God’s provision and guidance. In the face of adversity, she leaned on her belief that God was with her every step of the way, providing her with the strength and courage she needed to carry on.

Her life was a testament to the power of faith in action, as she fearlessly pursued God’s call to love and serve others, no matter the cost.

A picture of 4 women huddled together, all with smiles on their face. Under the picture are the words, The legacy of Amy Carmichael. An example of courage, compassion, and grace. www.onedeterminedlife.com

Her blue eyes

** As a child, Amy’s favourite colour was blue. She was discontent with the fact that she was born with brown eyes and used to pinch her youngest brother’s cheeks to see the prettiest colour of blue as his eyes filled with tears.

Her mother taught her from a young age that God would answer her prayers if she prayed. 

So, every night before Amy went to bed, she prayed for God to change her eyes to the colour blue. 

In the morning, she would wake up, jump out of bed, and run to the mirror–only to be disappointed to see two brown eyes staring back at her. 

Her mother then explained that sometimes God answers ‘no,’ and that she had to accept that God gave her brown eyes for a reason. 

Amy Carmichael would later come to realize as an adult that her brown eyes helped her gain access to the Indian temples.

In 1901, Amy Carmichael moved to Dohnavur, India. There, Amy founded Dohnavur Fellowship, which became a home for former child prostitutes. When Amy stepped into the struggle to end the wicked service, she found that even the missionary community condemned her work.

Although people trafficking was not new, they thought she exaggerated the situation of temple prostitution.

The truth of what went on behind the temple scenes was so hard to get people to understand, that Amy found she must pretend to be an Indian and visit the temples herself. She would dye and stain her light skin brown with coffee or tea bags, and her brown eyes helped her fit right in as a Hindu.

No one would guess that the dark-skinned woman wearing a light blue sari, which was associated with the lowest caste, the untouchables, was a missionary from Ireland. 

Amy devoted the next fifty-five years of her life in India rescuing children from the temples and raising them as her own. She eventually became known by the children and the community as “Amma,” which is Tamil for ‘mother.

To this day, Amy Carmichael is known for opening a safe house called Dohnavur Fellowship after rescuing children from being trafficked in the Hindu temples.

She served in India for fifty-five years without a furlough, and in the last twenty years of her life, she remained bedridden and wrote several books and poems about her deep love for Christ.

Her dedication to serving God has inspired many Christians to become missionaries and to remain steadfast in their faith. Her story continues to inspire Christians from around the world. 

** Reference: Peña, W. (2020, April 13). Amy Carmichael: Mother to India. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from https://bethanygu.edu/blog/stories/amy-carmichael/

Dedication to serve God

Amy dedicated her life to serving others, often putting their needs above her own. We can learn to cultivate a spirit of selflessness and sacrificial love, seeking opportunities to serve and uplift those around us.

Today, Amy Carmichael’s legacy lives on through the countless lives she touched and the lasting impact of her work.

Her story serves as a powerful reminder of the difference that one person can make when they are willing to step out in faith and answer God’s call to love and serve others.

May we all be inspired by her example and strive to follow in her footsteps.

Steps to Be More Like Amy

1. Cultivate Compassion:

Make a conscious effort to empathize with others and seek opportunities to help those in need, whether it’s through volunteering, donating to charity, or simply offering a listening ear to someone who is struggling.

2. Step Out in Faith:

Take bold steps in following God’s call, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone or facing challenges along the way. Trust in God’s guidance and provision as we pursue His will for our lives.

3. Serve Others Selflessly:

Look for ways to serve others selflessly, putting their needs above our own. This could involve volunteering in our community, serving in our church, or finding creative ways to support those who are marginalized or vulnerable.

4. Leave a Lasting Legacy of Love:

Live our lives in such a way that our actions and deeds leave a lasting impact on those around us. Leave a legacy of love, compassion, and service that will continue to inspire and bless others for generations to come, just as Amy Carmichael’s legacy continues to do.

20 Simple Active Listening Tips for Parents

In the fast-paced world of parenthood, sometimes it’s easy to forget one of the most fundamental aspects of communication: listening. 

Yet, active listening with our children is the cornerstone of building trust, understanding, and meaningful connections.

 As parents, we often find ourselves juggling numerous responsibilities and distractions, but taking the time to truly listen to our children is paramount for their emotional well-being and the strength of our relationship with them.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 20 simple Active Listening Tips for Parents.

From simple gestures like making eye contact to more nuanced approaches like reflecting back their thoughts, each tip offers a valuable tool for fostering open communication and deepening your bond with your child. 

So, let’s dive in and discover how we can create a supportive and nurturing environment where our children feel heard, understood, and valued.

20 simple active listening tips for parents

1. Give your full attention 

When your child wants to talk to you, it’s super important to give them your full attention. 

That means putting away anything that might distract you, like your phone or the TV. Instead, focus on your child and look them in the eyes. This shows them that you’re really listening and that what they’re saying is important to you. 

Try not to do other things while they’re talking, like checking your email or looking around the room. This can make your child feel like you’re not really interested in what they have to say. 

So, remember to give them your full attention and show them that you care about what’s on their mind.

2. Use open body language

When your child talks to you, it’s good to show them you’re listening by how you act with your body. Try facing them directly and nodding sometimes to let them know you’re interested. Facing them shows you’re paying attention and care about what they’re saying. 

Nodding lets them know you understand and are following along with what they’re talking about. It’s also important to avoid doing things like crossing your arms, which might make them feel like you’re not open to what they’re saying. So, keep your body language open and friendly to make your child feel heard and understood.

3. Encourage your child to express themselves 

It’s important to help your child feel comfortable expressing themselves, and one way to do that is by asking open-ended questions that get them talking. 

Instead of just asking yes or no questions, try asking ones that need more than a simple answer. 

For example

Instead of saying, “Did you have a good day at school?” you could ask, “What was the best part of your day at school today?” 

This gives them a chance to share more about what happened and how they feel.

Encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings without worrying about being judged or criticized. Let them know that their ideas and opinions are valued and that it’s okay to express themselves freely. 

By creating a safe space for them to talk, you help them develop confidence and communication skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

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4. Practice patience:

It’s important to be patient and let your child finish what they’re saying without interrupting them. Interrupting can make them feel like you’re not listening or that their thoughts aren’t important. 

So, try to resist the urge to jump in while they’re talking. Instead, wait until they’re done before you respond. 

This gives them the chance to say everything they want to without feeling like they’re being rushed or cut off.

By waiting for your child to finish speaking, you show them that you respect their perspective and value what they have to say. 

It’s a way of letting them know that their thoughts and feelings matter to you. Plus, it encourages them to communicate openly and share their ideas without worrying about being interrupted. 

So, next time your child is talking, try to be patient and give them the space to express themselves fully.

5. Reflect back what your child has said 

When your child tells you something, it’s good to repeat it back to them in your own words. To make sure you understand correctly, you can use phrases like, “So what I hear you saying is…”

This helps make sure you understood them right and clears up any confusion. 

For instance

If they say they’re upset because they didn’t get to play with friends, you might say, “So, you’re feeling frustrated because you didn’t get to hang out with your friends today. Did I get that right?” This way, your child knows you’re really listening and trying to understand how they feel.

Reflecting back what your child said also helps you connect with them better. It shows that you care about what they’re saying and want to make sure you’re on the same page. 

Plus, it can make them feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with you in the future. 

So, next time your child talks to you about something, try repeating it back to them in your own words to show you’re listening and understanding.

6. Avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions 

When you’re trying to understand how your child feels or what they’ve been through, it’s important not to jump to conclusions.

Resist the urge to assume you know everything about their emotions or experiences without hearing their side of the story first. Instead, ask them open-ended questions to learn more about what’s going on in their mind and heart.

This shows that you respect their thoughts and feelings and gives them the space to express themselves without feeling like you’re not really listening to them.

By avoiding assumptions and asking questions, you’re showing your child that you value their perspective and want to understand them better.

This approach helps build trust between you and your child, as they’ll feel more comfortable opening up to you when they know you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Plus, it gives them the freedom to express themselves without worrying about being judged or dismissed. So next time you’re unsure about how your child is feeling, take a moment to listen and ask questions before jumping to conclusions.

7. Validate your child’s emotions

When your child is feeling a certain way, it’s important to let them know that their feelings are okay. Acknowledge what they’re going through by showing empathy and understanding. 

Instead of brushing off their emotions or making them seem unimportant, recognize how they feel by saying something like, “It seems like you’re feeling sad because your friend didn’t want to play with you today.” 

This shows your child that you’re there for them and that it’s okay to feel the way they do.

Validating your child’s emotions creates a safe environment where they feel comfortable expressing themselves without worrying about being judged or criticized. 

When you acknowledge their feelings without judgment, it strengthens your bond with them and helps them feel understood and supported. 

So, next time your child opens up about how they’re feeling, take a moment to validate their emotions and let them know that you’re there for them, no matter what.

8. Express empathy and understanding

Put yourself in your child’s shoes for a moment. Imagine what it’s like to be in their situation and feel what they’re feeling. When you do this, you’re showing empathy – that means you understand and care about their emotions.

 Let them know that you get it by saying things like, “I understand how you feel,” or “I can see why that would make you sad.”

By acknowledging your child’s experiences and feelings, you’re letting them know that their emotions are valid and important. 

This helps them feel heard and supported, which strengthens your relationship with them. So, take the time to show empathy and understanding, and watch as your connection with your child grows deeper and stronger.

9. Use affirming statements

Let your child know that you’re there for them by using supportive words. Say things like, “I understand why you’re feeling that way,” or “It’s okay to feel sad or angry.” This shows that you accept and respect their emotions, no matter what they are.

When you affirm your child’s feelings, you’re telling them that you hear them and that their emotions matter.

This helps them feel understood and valued, which brings them closer together as a family. So, don’t hesitate to offer words of support and validation – it makes a big difference in building trust and open communication with your child.

10. Avoid dismissing or minimizing your child’s feelings

It’s important to respect your child’s feelings, even if you don’t feel the same way. Avoid brushing off or downplaying their emotions. Instead of saying things like “You’re overreacting” or “It’s not a big deal,” take a moment to acknowledge and validate how they feel.

When you validate your child’s feelings, you’re showing them that you care about what they’re going through. This helps build trust and strengthens your bond.

By respecting their emotions, you create a safe space for them to express themselves openly without fear of judgment or rejection. So, next time your child shares their feelings with you, remember to listen and respond with empathy and understanding.

11. Be attentive to nonverbal cues

It’s not just about what your child says – pay attention to how they’re feeling without using words. Watch their body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. These little signals can tell you a lot about what’s going on inside.

When you notice these nonverbal cues, it helps you understand your child better. You can respond with empathy and show them that you care about what they’re going through.

By tuning in to these cues, you’re not just listening with your ears – you’re listening with your heart. This kind of attention strengthens your relationship and makes communication smoother between you and your child.

12. Create a safe and non-judgmental space 

Make your home a cozy haven where your child can be themselves without worrying about being judged or criticized. Build an environment full of warmth and kindness where your child knows they’re always accepted just as they are.

When your child feels safe and respected, they’ll feel confident opening up and sharing what’s on their mind.

Encourage them to speak freely and know that their thoughts and feelings are important. When your child knows they won’t be judged, they’ll be more likely to share their joys, worries, and everything in between.

By creating this welcoming space, you’re building a strong foundation for honest and meaningful conversations with your child.

13. Encourage your child to share their thoughts and opinions 

Let your child know that their voice matters in the family by inviting them to join in on important conversations and decisions.

Show them that you value their opinions and ideas by actively listening when they speak up. When your child feels heard and included, they’ll feel more confident sharing their thoughts and perspectives.

Encouraging your child to participate in family discussions fosters a sense of independence and empowerment. It shows them that their input is valued and respected, which can boost their self-esteem.

By involving them in decision-making processes, you’re teaching them valuable life skills while strengthening the bond within your family.

14. Practice active listening during everyday activities

Turn everyday routines like meals or car rides into chances to chat and really listen to your child. These moments might seem small, but they’re perfect for having meaningful conversations.

Use this time to ask open-ended questions and show interest in what your child has to say.

When you actively listen during these everyday activities, you’re showing your child that you care about their thoughts and feelings.

This simple act helps build a strong connection between you and your child. It also sets a positive example for how to communicate openly and attentively in any situation.

15. Use positive reinforcement to praise your child

Let your child know how awesome it is when they speak up and share what’s on their mind. Give them a pat on the back or a big smile to show you’re proud of them for expressing themselves.

When you celebrate your child’s efforts to communicate, you’re boosting their confidence and showing them that their thoughts and feelings matter.

This positive encouragement makes them more likely to keep sharing with you in the future. It also helps create a family atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable talking openly and honestly.

16. Avoid criticizing your child’s perspectives

It’s important to remember that everyone has their own way of seeing things, including your child.

So, even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, try not to put them down or make them feel small for having a different perspective. Instead, show them that you respect their right to think and feel the way they do.

By avoiding criticism and judgment, you’re creating a safe space where your child feels accepted just as they are.

This helps them feel valued and appreciated, which is super important for their confidence and self-esteem.

So, next time your child shares their thoughts with you, try to listen with an open mind and respond with kindness and understanding.

17. Model active listening

Being a good listener is like being a role model for your child. You can show them how to listen carefully and respectfully by doing it yourself. When your child talks to you, give them your full attention.

Show them you’re listening by using encouraging words and repeating back what they’ve said in your own words. This helps them know you understand and care about what they’re saying.

When you practice active listening, you’re teaching your child an important skill. It helps them feel heard and valued, which strengthens your relationship.

Plus, it sets a positive example for how they can communicate with others in their lives. So, next time you’re chatting with your child, remember to listen closely and respond with kindness and empathy.

18. Be patient and understanding

When your child is upset or going through a tough time, it’s important to be patient and understanding. Instead of jumping in with quick solutions, give them the time and space to express themselves.

Let them know you’re there for them no matter what, and that their feelings are important.

By showing patience and understanding, you’re building a strong bond with your child. They’ll feel safe coming to you with their problems and know that you’ll listen without judgment.

This helps them learn to manage their emotions and solve problems on their own, with your support. So, next time your child is upset, take a deep breath and offer them your patience and understanding—it can make a big difference.

19. Practice empathy

It’s essential to understand and empathize with your child’s feelings. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can better understand what they’re going through and how they’re feeling.

Show them that you care by acknowledging their emotions and validating their experiences.

When you practice empathy, you’re showing your child that you’re there for them, no matter what.

You’re creating a safe space where they feel understood and supported. This strengthens your relationship and helps them feel more confident in expressing their emotions and sharing their experiences with you.

So, take the time to listen and empathize with your child—it can make a world of difference.

20. Seek opportunities to deepen your connection with your child 

Spending quality time with your child is key to building a strong relationship. Take the chance to have one-on-one talks and share experiences that bring you closer together.

Whether it’s chatting about their day or doing something fun together, these moments create lasting bonds.

Find activities that you both enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine. Whether it’s playing a game, going for a walk, or cooking together, these shared experiences deepen your connection and create cherished memories.

By prioritizing these moments, you’re showing your child that they’re important to you.

Investing in your relationship with your child pays off in the long run. It builds trust, strengthens communication, and fosters mutual respect. So, take the time to connect with your child—it’s worth every moment.

Conclusion: 

By incorporating these tips into your interactions with your child, you can cultivate a supportive and nurturing environment where they feel heard, understood, and valued.

In the comments below, share your tips on listening to your child. 

8 Biblical strategies to overcome self doubt

I’ve been saved for most of my life, and my number one stumbling block is believing Satan’s lies. He likes to question my intentions and bring on self doubt. When I talk to different women about their faith, I can see that most of us struggle with self doubt. We believe we are not doing enough, good enough and so much more! So, to help me (and hopefully you) beat self doubt, I want to share 8 biblical strategies to overcome self doubt.

8 Biblical strategies to overcome self doubt

1. Claim Your Identity in Christ:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

Strategy: Remember that your identity is rooted in Christ, and you are uniquely designed with a purpose.

In the face of doubt, remember that you are God’s masterpiece. 

It’s an active and intentional choice to base who you are on Christ. When you do this, you’re accepting the fact that your identity isn’t determined by your mistakes, faults, or what others think about you.

Your identity in Christ is not based on worldly standards. It is based on Jesus and what He has done for you.

This strategy invites you to acknowledge God’s view of you and you should know that you are not meant to conform to society’s expectations or comparisons with others.

 Instead, you are a distinctive creation with a specific purpose in God’s grand design.

To implement this strategy

1. Create a habit of reflecting on Ephesians 2:10 regularly. 

When self-doubt whispers that you’re not good enough or that your purpose is unclear, fight against those thoughts with the truth of being God’s masterpiece. 

Let this scripture be a source of hope and comfort and a reminder that God has specific plans for your life. 

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2. Renew Your Mind with God’s Word:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2 –

Strategy: Combat self-doubt by filling your mind with the truths found in the Bible.

This verse reminds us of the influence of worldly perspectives on our thoughts and beliefs. 

The world often fills our thoughts with comparisons, unrealistic standards, and fleeting validations, fostering an environment conducive to self-doubt. 

However, Romans 12:2 introduces a counter-cultural strategy: the renewal of the mind.

The strategy is to fill your mind with the truths found in the Bible. 

Imagine God’s Word as a steady stream of refreshing water, washing away the doubt and negativity that builds up in your mind. 

This doesn’t happen naturally. You have to deliberately choose to turn away from the world’s standards and fill your mind with the unchanging truths found in The Bible.

To implement this strategy

1. think about incorporating regular Bible reading, meditation, and memorization into your routine. 

As you read God’s word, focus on verses that speak directly to your identity, worth, and purpose

For instance, the following verse declares,

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” reinforcing the idea that your uniqueness is divinely designed.

Psalm 139:14

2. meditate on passages that emphasize God’s promises and faithfulness.

One popular verse you can think about is this one:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

This verse gives you a strong base for getting rid of doubts about where your life is headed and its purpose.

Plan to fill your mind with God’s Word This is an ongoing process where you intentionally spend time with the Bible regularly.

Doing this helps you think the way God wants you to think. So, when difficult things come up, you can deal with them confidently, knowing that you’re valuable and loved by God.

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3. Trust in God’s Plan:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Strategy: Surrender your doubts to God, trusting that His plan is perfect.

Relying on God’s plan is a strong way to fight self-doubt. It means giving our uncertainties to the Lord.

The verse says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t rely only on what you understand. In all you do, follow Him, and He will guide you.”

In simple terms, this strategy is about letting go of our doubts and trusting in God’s all-knowing plan for our lives.

How to implement this strategy

1. Admit your understanding is limited

To use this strategy, start by admitting that you can’t know everything about the world, and your life has its limits. Instead of trying to figure everything out by yourself, give your doubts to God.

Trusting in God’s plan means deciding to stop trying to control everything and putting your future in the hands of the One who knows what’s best.

Submitting to God in “all your ways” means letting Him guide every part of your life—your choices, relationships, dreams, and goals. Trusting in God’s plan is about giving up control in every aspect, not just picking and choosing.

2. Add prayer into your daily practice

Consider adding prayer to your routine, sincerely asking God for help and wisdom. Share your doubts, fears, and uncertainties with Him, trusting that He listens to your prayers.

When you give up your doubts and believe in His plan, you’re inviting God to guide every part of your life.

Even when things are uncertain, this promise guarantees that God’s plan will lead to fulfillment and purpose for believers.

In simple terms, following this strategy means committing each day to trust God, especially when you’re unsure about things.

When you let Him guide your path, you open yourself up to a peace that’s hard to explain, knowing His plan is perfect and made with your best interests in mind.

Psalm 139: 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, 
I know that full well.

4. Seek Godly Counsel:

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.

Proverbs 15:22

Strategy: Surround yourself with wise and supportive individuals who can offer godly counsel and encouragement.

The verse above encourages us to surround ourselves to wise and supportive people who can provide godly counsel and encouragement.

How to implement this strategy

1. Recognize that there is value to other people’s insights

To use this strategy, it’s important to see the importance of seeking advice from people who have wisdom based on what the Bible teaches.

Godly counsel means asking for guidance from individuals who follow the teachings of the Bible. This makes sure that the advice is based on moral and spiritual integrity.

2. Build relationships with wise Christians

Consider building a circle of relationships with people who are wise and have strong faith. 

These people can be mentors, spiritual leaders, or friends whose perspectives are shaped by their commitment to biblical truths. 

Looking for godly counsel isn’t just about finding answers to problems but also about creating a supportive and encouraging environment. 

These mentors can
  • Remind you of your value and purpose
  • Be a reliable source of encouragement when self-doubt creeps in

3. Actively seek counsel

When faced with decisions or challenges, you should get advice from Godly people you know can steer you in the right way.

It takes being humble to admit that you don’t know everything and being open to getting advice from people who can share their wisdom based on their faith and experiences.

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5. Remember God’s Promises:

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

Strategy: Remind yourself of God’s promises and draw strength from them when doubt creeps in.

This strategy encourages people to root themselves in the promises of God and draw strength from them when doubts attempt to creep in.

How to implement this strategy

1. Develop a practice of Remembering what God has done for you

Practically, this strategy involves developing a practice of remembering God’s promises, particularly during moments of uncertainty or self-doubt.  

2. Know God’s word

This strategy also involves knowing The Word of God, reading it regularly and memorizing verses that highlight His promises.

Scriptures that reinforce concepts of strength, courage, and divine support become like armour against the arrows of doubt.

For instance, when doubt surfaces, reflecting on promises such as 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

These promises remind believers that they are not alone, and God’s strength is a constant source of support.

3. Praying God’s Promises

You can also integrate these promises into prayer. Rather than believing your doubts, you can turn to God in prayer remembering His promises.

4. Create physical reminders of God’s promises

To support you even more, you can make physical reminders of God’s promises. Think about putting Bible verses in places you see often, like your home, phone, or journal.

These visual reminders act as anchors, keeping you grounded in the certainty of God’s faithfulness.

Finding strength in God’s promises is like building a collection of truths from the Bible that you can easily remember when you feel unsure.

By regularly reminding yourself of these promises, you strengthen your mind and heart, developing a strong spirit that can withstand self-doubt.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV): "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

6. Pray for Confidence:

On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.

Psalm 138:3

Strategy: Approach God in prayer, seeking His guidance and asking for confidence in your abilities.

The scripture declares, “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” 

This strategy encourages people to talk to God in prayer, asking Him for guidance and specifically requesting more confidence in what they can do.

Praying for confidence means believers should open up to God, sharing their doubts, fears, and insecurities with Him.

We are encouraged to tell God about our uncertainties, recognizing that we can’t fully understand everything and trusting in God’s wisdom and guidance.

How to implement this strategy

1. Add special requests in your prayer time

A practical way to implement this strategy is to incorporate specific requests for confidence into daily prayers.

Make sure to be honest with God about the areas where you doubt yourself the most. Ask Him for comfort and a stronger sense of confidence to handle those challenges.

2. Remember God’s word

Think about Bible verses that talk about how God gives confidence.

For instance, Psalm 23:1-3 compares the Lord to a shepherd who guides and restores the soul, creating an environment where confidence can grow.

When you pray for confidence, it’s not a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing conversation with God. It means being humble and realizing you need God’s help when you’re feeling unsure about yourself.

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7. Focus on God’s Unconditional Love:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.

1 John 4:18

Strategy: Meditate on God’s unconditional love for you, understanding that fear and doubt diminish in the presence of His love.

This approach suggests that you should spend time in deep thought, focusing on the idea that God’s constant love is strong. When you truly understand this, any fear or uncertainty tends to fade away because of His perfect and flawless love.

How to implement this strategy

1. Think about God’s love for you

Start by purposely thinking about how much God loves you, and remember that His love doesn’t depend on how well you do or if you’re deserving of it.

This knowledge can give you comfort and security, knowing that God’s love stays strong even when you’re not perfect.

The Bible says that understanding God’s perfect love helps get rid of fear.

So, when you spend time thinking about how big God’s love is, it changes the way you think and makes doubts less scary.

2. Think about Bible verses that show God’s love

A practical way to do this is by regularly thinking about Bible verses that talk about God’s love, like Romans 8:38-39.

These verses say that nothing can separate us from God’s love, which can be a source of strength when you’re feeling unsure.

By thinking about these verses, you let the idea of God’s unconditional love sink into your mind, making it harder for doubt to stick around.

3. Thank God for His Love when you pray

You can also include the idea of God’s love in your daily thoughts or prayers. Thank God for His love and ask to understand it better.

Doing this helps you actively recognize and accept God’s unconditional love, creating a kind of protection against doubts.

Remember, this is an ongoing process. If you keep focusing on God’s love, you’ll not only feel better about being accepted by Him, but your way of thinking will change.

As God’s love shines, fear and doubt will fade, giving you the confidence to face life’s challenges because you know you’re loved deeply and completely.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV): "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

8. Serve Others:

Serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

Strategy: Engage in acts of service, as focusing on others can shift your focus away from self-doubt.

Helping others is a powerful way to overcome self-doubt, according to the Bible. The scripture says, “Serve one another humbly in love,” encouraging people to focus on others to shift their attention away from self-doubt.

Serving others means showing humble love. It’s about setting aside your own worries and actively looking for ways to make a positive impact on the people around you.

By doing this, you move beyond self-doubt and discover fulfillment in acts of love and kindness.

How to put this strategy into action

1. Help others in your community

To put this strategy into action, you can find ways to help others in your community, church, or daily life. Acts of service can be simple, like offering a helping hand, or more involved, like volunteering for a charity.

What matters is the genuine desire to contribute to others’ well-being.

Serving others is a powerful way to distract yourself from self-doubt.

When you focus on meeting others’ needs, you shift your attention away from your own insecurities. Serving becomes a way to affirm yourself, showing that you have unique gifts that can make a positive difference.

2. Follow the example of Jesus

Serving others follows the example of Jesus, who lived a humble and service-oriented life.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45

By imitating this selfless attitude, you not only fight self-doubt but also reflect the transformative power of Christ’s love.

In practical terms, you can look for volunteer opportunities, help a neighbour in need, or simply be kind in your daily interactions.

Each act of service is a tangible way to express love, leading to a positive change in your perspective and a decrease in self-doubt.

As you humbly engage in acts of service, you not only lift others up but also find a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment that counteracts the shadows of self-doubt.


If you use these strategies in your life, you can find strength and confidence in the wisdom of the Bible. It helps you overcome self-doubt with a faith-filled way of thinking.

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How to Overcome Self Doubt and Thrive Spiritually

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to figure out who you really are? Well, guess what? You’re not alone! Sometimes, we have this little voice inside our heads that says, “Are you sure about this?” or “Can you really do that?” – That voice is called self doubt, and it can mess with our spiritual growth.

Our job is to kick self doubt to the curb and help you be more confident in the person God has created you to be. If that is something you have a hard time doing, continue to read as I share strategies to overcome self doubt. 

“Finding out who you are is tough, but being happy with it is even tougher.” Ellen DeGeneres

That makes sense, especially when we’re talking about our spiritual journey. So, let’s chat about it! This blog post is a guidebook to help you beat self doubt in your spiritual walk.

How to Overcome Self Doubt and Thrive Spiritually

Understanding Self Doubt in the Spiritual Journey

Let’s explore how self-doubt relates to our spiritual gifts. 

Picture your spiritual gifts as special skills The Lord has given you. It’s like having a magical toolkit. 

However, self-doubt tends to play the spoilsport, introducing uncertainty about your abilities using these remarkable gifts. 

Imagine having a remarkable talent and questioning its true brilliance—this is the nature of self-doubt, a subtle voice attempting to cast shadows on how amazing you truly are, and how doubts how God can use you.

Factors that contribute to self doubt: 

Let’s dive into why women may encounter self-doubt. 

1. We engage in comparisons

When we witness someone else gain attention or display their abilities, we compare their abilities to ours.

This can lead to questioning whether our abilities are as good, or why people are noticing someone else- and not us.

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2. External Scepticism 

Another factor contributing to self-doubt is external skepticism. Imagine dancing joyfully to your favourite tune, only to encounter someone expressing a different opinion about the music and your enjoyment of it. Their opinion can suddenly make you question your taste in music, or question why you like it. 

Similarly, external skepticism can impact how you see your spiritual gifts. When you serve The Lord in a certain way and feel like you are following God- someone may question what you are doing and why. This may create doubt about your gifts and how you use them. 

Despite these challenges, our mission is to dismiss self-doubt completely. 

Your spiritual gifts are given to you to give glory to God. So, our goal is to display them with unbridled pride. 

So, in those moments when doubt seeks entry, remember that you were created in the image of God. He has given you specific gifts to use for Him and NOT for the approval or praise of other people. 

You can also remember the following: 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 

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Recognizing Your Unique Spiritual Gifts

The Bible highlights recognizing one’s unique spiritual gifts, emphasizing that these gifts are intentional endowments from a higher source. 

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

This passage highlights the diversity of spiritual gifts and who gives us our gifts.  

The Bible encourages believers to use their gifts for the greater good, contributing to the unity and well-being of the community. 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

1 Peter 4:10

This underscores the responsibility to employ one’s unique gifts in service to others, fostering a harmonious and interconnected spiritual community. 

Therefore, recognizing and embracing these gifts is not only an acknowledgment of our identity in Christ,  but it’s also a commitment to fulfilling our purpose within the broader church and walk with God.

The Role of Comparison and External Expectations

As we scroll social media or spend time reflecting on ourselves, an incorrect image may emerge and we start asking: “Am I measuring up? Does God love me the way He does others? Do I have something special about me that I can do?” 

These types of questions are normal and many people experience this. But, these thoughts require us to pay attention and start some personal examination.

When playing the comparison game, we may find ourselves questioning our spiritual journey, and relationship with God compared to others. 

This tendency is an unseen intruder and has the potential to start self-doubt.

But, we don’t have to fall for this trap. We can use those initial thoughts of self doubt to remind us of the truth. 

When we see another christian doing something awesome for The Lord, instead of feeling down, we can look at what others are doing and think, “Hey, that’s pretty neat! Maybe I can try something similar.” 

This turns comparison into your personal coach, nudging you to explore, learn, and grow.

Remember, your spiritual journey is YOURS. There’s no race, no finish line. 

So, let’s kick that comparison to the curb, and turn it into inspiration.

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Dealing with skepticism and criticism

Dealing with skepticism and criticism is like mastering takes practice, but you can tackle it with grace and confidence.

When faced with skepticism, try to understand where it’s coming from. Sometimes people just need a little enlightenment about your journey. Stay calm and share your experiences with genuine authenticity. 

When faced with criticism, take a moment to breathe and resist the urge to react impulsively. Respond with grace by acknowledging the feedback, even if you disagree. 

For both of these, communication is key! Express yourself with clarity and kindness. Use “I” statements to share your feelings and experiences rather than pointing fingers. 

Remember, not everyone will understand your journey, and that’s perfectly okay. 

10 different spiritual gifts and how to use them

Spiritual Gifts are mentioned in The Bible a few times. But, have you ever wondered about what they are and how to use them? Well, today I’m sharing 10 different spiritual gifts and how to use them. I will share what each gift is, give you a brief description, share a few examples, and uncover why these gifts hold such significance. So get ready to learn more about spiritual gifts!

10 different spiritual gifts and how to use them

1. Prophecy:

The ability to receive and communicate divine messages or insights.

Examples:

1. Foretelling Future Events:

One fascinating aspect of the gift of prophecy is the ability to share insights about future events.

Someone with this gift can provide a glimpse into what lies ahead, offering a unique perspective on things to come.

We see this gift being used by prophets in the Old Testament.

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7 (NIV)

In this verse, we see the concept of God revealing His plans to prophets.

The gift of prophecy allows individuals to share foreknowledge about future events, acting as messengers who convey divine insights to bring understanding and preparation.

2. Guidance Through Divine Revelation:

Another example is the power to offer guidance based on divine revelation. Picture this – someone with the gift of prophecy sharing wisdom and direction that goes beyond human knowledge.

It’s like receiving a personalized roadmap for navigating life’s challenges, helping individuals make decisions with a deeper understanding of the divine plan.

We see Paul having this gift in the New Testament.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

Acts 16:6-7 (NIV)

In this passage, we see that Paul is on a missionary journey. He wants to go into a certain city, but the Holy Spirit guides them by preventing them from preaching in certain regions.

It’s a powerful example of the Holy Spirit’s active role in directing and guiding the early Christians in their mission work.

The specific cities mentioned here are Asia and Bithynia, where the Holy Spirit guided Paul and his companions away at that particular time. This shows the sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the journey of faith and ministry.

Significance:

Those with this gift of prophecy share divine insights. They contribute to a community that is attuned to God’s voice, responsive to His guidance, and equipped to navigate the future with faith and confidence.

Prophecy, when exercised with humility and in alignment with biblical principles, becomes a source of inspiration and direction.

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2. Service/Helps:

The capacity to serve and assist others selflessly.

Examples:

1. Acts of Kindness:

The gift of Service can be seen in simple yet impactful acts of kindness.

Whether it’s helping an elderly neighbour with groceries, assisting a friend in moving, or even holding the door open for someone, individuals with this gift embody a spirit of selfless service in their daily lives.

The Bible gives us clear directions to serve one another.

Serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13b (NIV)

This verse encourages believers to serve one another with humility and love, in their interactions with others.

2. Volunteering for a Cause:

Another beautiful example is volunteering for a cause. Picture someone spending their weekends at a local soup kitchen, participating in community clean-up projects, or offering their time and skills to organizations that support the less fortunate.

The gift of Service can be seen through a commitment to making a positive impact on the community, addressing needs, and contributing to the well-being of others.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

This verse emphasizes the idea that every believer has received gifts to serve others. Volunteering for a cause becomes a tangible expression of being faithful stewards of the grace bestowed upon them.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms

3. Supporting Those in Need:

Individuals with the gift of Service spend time supporting those going through challenging times.

Whether it’s providing a listening ear to a friend in distress, offering practical assistance to someone facing difficulties, or extending a helping hand to those experiencing hardships, this gift shows a genuine and compassionate response to the needs of others.

It’s about being a source of strength and comfort in the lives of those who may be struggling.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”This verse highlights the significance of supporting those in need, portraying it as an act of kindness that is pleasing to the Lord and carries a promise of reward.

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

These verses illustrate how the principles of the gift of Service encourage believers to engage in acts of kindness, volunteer for the greater good, and be a source of support for those facing challenges.

Significance:

The gift of Service or Helps can strengthen communities through acts of compassion.

By selflessly serving and assisting others, individuals with this gift contribute to the creation of a supportive and caring environment.

Acts of kindness, volunteering, and supporting those in need become the threads that bind a church or community together and foster a sense of family and care.

In a world that can sometimes feel hectic and detached, the gift of Service stands as a witness, reminding us of the power of selfless service and the impact it can have on the people around us.

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3. Teaching:

The ability to effectively communicate and explain spiritual truths.

Examples:

1. Leading Bible Studies:

The gift of Teaching is often seen in the context of leading Bible studies.

Picture someone gathering a small group, diving into the scriptures, and facilitating discussions that unpack the deep truths found in the Word of God.

Whether it’s exploring the Old Testament or diving into the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

Individuals with the gift of Teaching help others connect with the timeless wisdom contained in the Bible.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

This verse underscores the importance of the scriptures for teaching and training in righteousness, highlighting the significance of those with the gift of Teaching who guide others through the transformative power of God’s Word.

2. Providing Theological Instruction:

Another example of the gift of Teaching is seen in those who provide theological instruction.

This is someone who can break down complex theological concepts and can explain the nature of God, the work of Jesus, and the principles of faith with clarity and insight.

Whether it’s through formal education, seminars, or mentoring relationships, individuals with the gift of Teaching contribute to the spiritual growth of others by offering a solid foundation of theological understanding.

Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Proverbs 9:9 (NIV)

This proverb emphasizes the idea that instruction leads to increased wisdom. The gift of Teaching plays a crucial role in sharing wisdom with those who seek to grow in their understanding of spiritual truths.

Significance:

The gift of Teaching is important because it helps people in the church and community understand and grow in their faith.

People with this gift are like guides who make it easier for others to learn about God and His teachings.

Whether they’re leading Bible studies or explaining complex ideas about God, those with the gift of Teaching help others on their spiritual journey.

Their ability to explain things well has a positive impact, creating a strong and knowledgeable community.

4. Encouragement:

The gift of uplifting and motivating others.

Examples:

1. Offering Words of Encouragement:

The gift of Encouragement is often expressed through sharing uplifting words.

Imagine you see a friend going through a tough time, instead of dwelling on the challenges, you choose to share words of hope and positivity.

Whether it’s a thoughtful note, a kind message, or a sincere conversation, individuals with this gift become beacons of encouragement, bringing light into the lives of those who may be facing difficulties.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

This verse highlights the importance of encouragement within the Christian community.

Those with the gift of Exhortation/Encouragement play a crucial role in building each other up and creating a supportive environment.

2. Providing Comfort in Challenging Times:

Another beautiful expression of this gift is seen when people offer comfort to others during challenging times.

Picture someone coming alongside a friend who is grieving, facing a setback, or experiencing a difficult season.

Those with the gift of Encouragement are skilled at providing not just words of comfort but also a comforting presence.

Their ability to uplift others in times of sorrow or distress becomes a tangible expression of God’s love and compassion.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

This verse describes the comfort we receive from God and that it is meant to be shared with others.

Significance:

The gift of Exhortation/Encouragement is significant because it inspires and supports fellow believers, fostering resilience and a positive atmosphere.

Whether through uplifting words or comforting gestures, people with this gift contribute to the emotional and spiritual well-being of the community.

In times of joy or sorrow, the gift of Encouragement becomes an important part of building a compassionate and uplifting community of faith.

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5. Giving:

The ability to generously contribute resources for the benefit of others.

Examples:

1. Financial Support:

The gift of Giving is often seen through financial generosity.

This is someone who recognizes a need within their community and gives resources to help out.

Whether it’s supporting a local charity, contributing to a church project, or helping an individual facing financial challenges. People with the gift of Giving joyfully and willingly provide financial resources to address these needs.

Their generosity becomes a tangible expression of love and care, making a positive impact on the lives of those who benefit from their financial support.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

This verse emphasizes the importance of giving with a willing and cheerful heart, reflecting the spirit of generosity that individuals have with the gift of Giving.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver

2. Donating Time or Possessions:

Another way of using the gift of Giving is seen in those who generously donate their time or possessions.

Whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter, offering practical help to someone in need, or sharing personal belongings with those who lack, individuals with this gift understand that giving goes beyond finances.

Their willingness to give up their time and possessions reflects a selfless commitment to meeting practical needs and promoting a sense of community and unity.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Acts 20:35 (NIV)

This verse highlights the blessings we experience when giving. Those with the gift of Giving actively help the weak and generously share their time and possessions.

Significance:

The gift of giving creates a spirit of generosity within the community, addressing practical needs and promoting unity.

Whether through financial donations or the donation of time and possessions, people with this gift play an important role in creating a community that cares for one another.

Their acts of generosity go beyond meeting immediate needs. It becomes a powerful force in building a community marked by compassion, generosity, and shared concern for the well-being of each member.

6. Leadership

The gift of guiding and directing others in a way that aligns with spiritual principles.

Examples

1: Leading a Church

In the context of leadership within a church, individuals with the gift of leadership are responsible for providing spiritual guidance, overseeing the congregation, and ensuring that the community grows in faith.

This involves making decisions that align with biblical principles and fostering an environment where people can deepen their relationship with God.

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 1:7-9 (ESV)

This verse outlines the qualities expected of a leader within the church, emphasizing integrity, discipline, and a commitment to sound doctrine.

2: Organizing Community Events

Leadership in organizing community events involves coordinating activities that foster a sense of unity, provide support, and contribute to the overall well-being of the community.

This can include events such as outreach programs, charity initiatives, or educational seminars that align with spiritual principles and values.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

This verse encourages believers to support one another and actively engage in helping each other. Organizing community events that address the needs of individuals aligns with the biblical principle of bearing one another’s burdens.

Significance:

The significance of leadership in these examples lies in providing vision and direction to the community.

Believers with the gift of leadership promote order, spiritual growth, and a sense of purpose among believers.

By displaying the qualities outlined in the Bible, leaders serve as role models and facilitate an environment where individuals can flourish in their faith and collective mission.

Leadership in a spiritual context is not about wielding power for personal gain but rather about serving others selflessly, leading by example, and steering the community toward a deeper connection with God.

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7. Mercy:

The ability to show compassion and empathy to those who are suffering.

Examples

1: Providing Comfort to the Grieving

Christians with the gift of mercy can offer solace and support to those who are grieving. This involves being present for people during times of loss, offering a listening ear, and providing practical help as needed. The focus is on demonstrating God’s love through compassionate actions and empathetic understanding.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

This verse emphasizes the idea that the comfort believers receive from God in times of trouble is meant to be shared with others. Providing comfort to the grieving is a practical demonstration of God’s compassion working through individuals.

2: Extending Forgiveness

Mercy also involves extending forgiveness to those who have wronged us.

It goes beyond simply overlooking offences; it involves actively choosing to forgive and release others from the burden of their mistakes.

This reflects the mercy and forgiveness that God has shown to humanity through Jesus Christ.

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:13 (ESV)

This verse highlights the connection between God’s forgiveness and our responsibility to forgive others. Extending forgiveness is an essential aspect of mercy, creating an atmosphere of grace and reconciliation within the community.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Significance:

By practicing mercy, individuals contribute to an environment where people feel loved, supported, and understood.

This not only aligns with the teachings of Jesus but also serves as a powerful testimony to the transformative power of God’s love in practical, everyday situations.

Mercy is not just a passive feeling; it is an active expression of love and compassion. It plays a crucial role in building relationships, promoting healing, and ultimately reflecting the character of God within the community.

8. Wisdom:

The ability to apply knowledge and experience to make sound decisions and discern God’s will.

Examples

1: Offering Practical and Insightful Advice

People with the gift of wisdom possess the ability to offer practical and insightful advice based on a deep understanding of God’s principles and a keen discernment of situations.

This involves not only having knowledge but also applying it in a way that aligns with biblical truths and leads to positive outcomes.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Proverbs 3:13-18 (NIV)

This passage from Proverbs underscores the value of wisdom and understanding, portraying them as treasures that bring blessings and positive outcomes.

Offering practical advice rooted in wisdom is a way to guide others toward a path of blessing.

2: Making Wise Choices in Challenging Situations

Wisdom involves making decisions that align with God’s will, especially in challenging and complex situations.

Those with the gift of wisdom can navigate uncertainties and dilemmas with discernment, seeking God’s guidance in every choice they make.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

James 3:17 (ESV)

This verse describes the characteristics of godly wisdom, emphasizing qualities such as purity, peace, gentleness, and sincerity.

Making wise choices in challenging situations involves seeking and embodying these traits.

Significance:

Those with the gift of wisdom play a crucial role in guiding the community with godly insight, ensuring that decisions are made in alignment with God’s will.

This not only leads to positive outcomes but also fosters an environment where individuals can grow in their understanding of God’s principles and apply them in practical ways.

Wisdom is a gift that benefits both individuals and the community at large, contributing to a culture of discernment and thoughtful decision-making.

It reflects a deep reliance on God’s guidance and a commitment to living according to His wisdom as revealed in Scripture.

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9. Knowledge:

The capacity to understand and apply deep spiritual truths and insights.

Examples

1: Grasping the Meaning of Scripture

People with the gift of knowledge can understand and interpret the meaning of Scripture in depth.

This goes beyond surface-level comprehension; it involves diving into the historical, cultural, and theological context of biblical passages to extract profound spiritual truths.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

This verse emphasizes the importance of Scripture as a source of knowledge and guidance.

Those with the gift of knowledge play a crucial role in unlocking the richness of God’s Word, enabling the community to be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2: Comprehending Theological Concepts

People with this gift of knowledge can grasp complex doctrines, theological frameworks, and the interconnectedness of various biblical truths, providing a solid foundation for sound doctrine within the community.

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:2-3 (ESV)

This passage highlights the interconnectedness of understanding and knowledge, pointing to Christ as the source of wisdom and knowledge.

Those with the gift of knowledge help the community reach the riches of full assurance by providing insights into the mystery of God revealed through Christ.

Colossians 2:2-3 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Significance:

People with the gift of knowledge play a vital role in deepening the community’s understanding of God’s Word and theological concepts, fostering a robust and informed faith.

Knowledge is not just about intellectual comprehension; it serves as a tool for spiritual growth and equipping others for effective service.

Those with this gift contribute to a community that is rooted in the truth, able to discern right from wrong, and capable of articulating and defending the faith in a thoughtful and informed manner.

10. Faith

A strong and unwavering trust in God’s promises and the ability to act on that trust.

Examples

1: Facing Challenges with Confidence

People with the gift of faith show a strong and unwavering trust in God’s promises, even in the face of challenges and uncertainties.

They approach difficulties with confidence, knowing that God is faithful and capable of guiding them through any situation.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

This well-known verse from the “faith chapter” in Hebrews emphasizes the essence of faith—confidence in the unseen.

Those with the gift of faith display this confidence when facing challenges, demonstrating a belief in God’s ability to bring about positive outcomes.

2: Believing in God’s Faithfulness Despite Circumstances

Faith involves trusting in God’s faithfulness even when circumstances may suggest otherwise.

People with the gift of faith remain steadfast in their belief that God is trustworthy and will fulfill His promises, regardless of the challenges or difficulties they may encounter.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:20-21 (NIV)

This passage refers to Abraham, who is often regarded as a model of faith. It highlights Abraham’s unwavering trust in God’s promise, even when faced with seemingly impossible circumstances.

People with the gift of faith similarly demonstrate a resolute belief in God’s ability to fulfill His promises.

Significance:

People with the gift of faith serve as examples within the community, moving others forward with trust in God’s provision and demonstrating the transformative power of unwavering confidence in God.

Faith is not just a personal conviction; it has a communal impact, influencing the collective attitude and actions of the community.

Those with the gift of faith contribute to a culture of hope, perseverance, and reliance on God’s promises, fostering an environment where individuals can overcome challenges and experience the fulfillment of God’s plans.

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3 Powerful Lessons from Elizabeth and Zechariah

Every year I am always surprised at how many Christians chase after positions. We like to gather more stuff and we focus on our material goods. But God wants us to focus on something else. He wants us to focus on Him and what He has for us. Let us learn how God can use us by turning our attention to the Bible story of Elizabeth and Zechariah.

Amber Durgan wrote this blog post. To get to know her more, you can find her at www.amberdurgan.com or get more information from her Bio at the end of this post.

There is one untold story that we often ignore. It’s the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Let’s take some time to learn what they can teach us.

Every year, I read about how Gabriel came and visited Mary and how Mary then travelled to Jerusalem to have a son in the manger. This is the central story of Christmas and one we should read.

This week I want to take a journey with you into the lives of Elizabeth and Zechariah to see what we can glean from their experience and the wisdom their story shares. It may surprise you how we can relate to a couple who lived over two thousand years ago.

The Story of Elizabeth and Zechariah

Luke is the only gospel that shares the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. This is the story of a woman and her husband (a priest) who were “well advanced in years”.

They were a couple who loved the Lord and went about Kingdom work here on earth. We know them for their righteousness, and also for being barren.

Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”.

Fertility Issues

One of the first things we learn about Elizabeth and Zechariah is that they don’t have any kids.

To our 21st-century minds, this might not sound like such a big deal, but in their culture, it was a big deal. Being married without children meant something different. People of this time viewed children as a reward and blessing from the Lord. If a couple experienced infertility, it was likely interpreted to mean that they had some unconfessed sin in their lives.

We can rejoice in the wisdom of God, who included Luke 1:6 in this narrative, to show that the belief is false. They do not set their identity in Christ in barring children but is something so much better.

Elizabeth and Zechariah were God’s righteous children, who hadn’t been blessed with a child… yet!

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Zechariah Chosen for Duty

In Luke 1 the story continues with Zechariah being chosen as the priest who was chosen to perform the priestly duties inside the temple by the casting of lots.

As Zechariah is going about this work of burning incense, an angel (Gabriel) visits and tells him that he and his wife will have a child.

Let’s take a minute to think about this. God hadn’t communicated with anyone for nearly four hundred years. It is not as if Zechariah was expecting to encounter an angel that day.

The first thing the angel does is to comfort Zechariah, as the very sight of the angel terrified him.

Gabriel tells Zechariah that his prayer was heard and answered.

  • Luke 1:13 Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to call him John.” Zechariah heard the angel, and then chose to doubt what the Lord spoke through Gabriel
  • Luke. 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

On this side of Christmas, it is easy for us to know that Christmas is synonymous with miracles, but Zechariah wasn’t so sure.

His wife was infertile, and they were beyond childbearing years.

I can just see Zechariah asking “Are you sure God?”

At the time Zechariah was in the temple, we can guess that Elizabeth might have been outside the temple offering prayers to God. She would soon learn about the promise of having a son.

Because of his unbelief, Zechariah could not speak until his son was born.

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3 Lessons from the Story of Elizabeth and Zechariah


Imagine sitting across the table from Elizabeth as she shared this story with you; oh the wisdom she would impart! If we look closely, there are some true gems in the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah for us to gather.

1. Being barren is not a curse

The ultimate calling of a woman is not that of motherhood. Read that again: The ultimate calling of a woman is not motherhood.

Unfortunately, there are still many Christians who believe that motherhood is the ultimate calling for women and that to be a mom means you have God’s ultimate blessing.

There are many barren women in the bible, and God always blesses them. Not always with a child, but He always blesses them.

Friend, if you are waiting for children this Christmas season can I assure you that nothing is wrong with you.

You are not broken, you are not overlooked, you are not forgotten.

God calls us into more than motherhood as His daughters.

There are other things that can lead us to a fulfilling life.

While, yes, children are a blessing, our ultimate calling is to live to bring glory and honour to God.

If you have ever struggled with fertility, my heart hurts with yours. We too have had some pain with fertility. I hope you can be in a space where you can hear this. You are not deficient. Your fertility issues do not reflect God’s love for you. God may just have a different plan for your life. He withholds no good gift from us.  

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2. God’s timing is perfect

Elizabeth fully saw the hand of God in her life and rejoiced over His plan for her.

Given a baby at an old age, Elizabeth could have complained that God waited too long. She could have thought that it would be harder to raise a child. She could have decided that she no longer wanted a child. She could have even balked at the plans God had for her child’s life.

But she didn’t do any of those things (that we know of). Rather, she turned and offered her praise back to God. She rejoiced over the blessing she was given and gave God the glory.

Perhaps there is something in your life that makes you wonder what God is doing.

Maybe you are waiting for a husband, a job, a new home or for a child to call your own.

Perhaps your circumstances look hopeless.

Friend, take heart. We serve a God who delights in blessing you. He has a plan. His timing is always perfect.

We know His plans are always for our good. They may not look -anything like we had hoped for, but I can assure you His plans are always better.

3. You can trust God

This story is that it builds our trust in God. This lesson comes directly from Zechariah, however, it still applies to us as God’s daughters.

When God proclaims something over our lives or we read something in the Bible, we need to trust Him.

That seems really logical as head knowledge. However, what happens when it comes right down to it? What happens when God says to move and we don’t because we really like where we live.

What happens when we want to do something we know is against God’s commands for us?

What happens when our finances are tight and we hear God tells us to sponsor a child or pay for our neighbour’s rent?

Do we stay in fear, or do we trust God?

Do we joyfully trust God in the moment? Or do we do what we want instead?

The story of Elizabeth and Zechariah shows us that God can be trusted. His timing may not be the same as ours, but God will never lead us into something that He won’t equip us for. He will not tell us to give away without supplying the means.

Let us rejoice for the example Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah serve, as we walk our salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord!

In the comments below, share a time when God asked you to do something and how you responded.

What Is Advent and why we should celebrate it

Are you curious about Advent and why it’s such a cherished part of the holiday season for many people? Advent is a time filled with hope, joy, and anticipation of Jesus’s birth. It’s a tradition that helps us slow down and remember the real reason for the season – the love and warmth that Jesus brings into our lives. In this blog post, we’ll explore what is Advent and why we should celebrate it.

What Is Advent and why we should celebrate it

What is Advent: 

Advent is a special time of year that comes just before Christmas. 

It’s like a countdown to the big day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. 

The word “Advent” means “coming,” and it reminds us of Jesus coming into the world. 

During Advent, people often use calendars or wreaths with candles to mark the days. It’s a time for getting ready and waiting, helping us focus on the real meaning of Christmas, which is all about love, hope, and the gift of Jesus.

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The Significance of Advent: 

Advent is important because it helps us slow down and remember the true reason for Christmas. 

It’s not just about presents and decorations; it’s about the birth of Jesus and the love He brings to the world. 

Advent teaches us to be patient and hopeful, just like people were before Jesus was born. 

Advent is a time to reflect on what really matters and to share that love with our family and friends. 

The Origins of the Advent Season: 

The Advent season began a long time ago as a time of getting ready and waiting for something special. 

In Latin, “Advent” means “coming.” 

So, during Advent, people prepared for the coming of Jesus.

The origins of Advent can be traced back to the early Christian church, and it was a time of fasting and praying.

People spent this time thinking about the birth of Jesus and also looking forward to when He would come again.

Historical Development of Advent: 

Over time, Advent became more structured and organized. 

Different churches and communities had their own ways of celebrating it. 

The idea of having a special time to prepare for Christmas began to take shape. 

In the 6th century, Advent was officially linked to the idea of four weeks before Christmas. 

People lit candles to count the weeks and help them get ready. As the years went by, more traditions were added, like the Advent wreath and calendar. 

How Advent Became a Christian Tradition: 

Advent became an important Christian tradition over many centuries. 

The early Christians wanted a special time to remember Jesus’s birth and look forward to His return. 

As the years passed, Advent developed its own customs and practices. Churches began to use it as a way to prepare for Christmas. 

It spread to different parts of the world and became a common tradition for many Christians. 

Advent is a special time in the Christian calendar when we can slow down and remember why Christmas is so important. It’s all about celebrating Jesus and His love for us.

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the Advent Calendar: 

An Advent calendar is like a countdown tool for Christmas. 

It’s usually a pretty card or a small box with tiny doors or pockets. 

For each day in December, you open one of these doors or pockets, and inside, you’ll find a surprise. 

It can be a picture, a piece of chocolate, or a small toy. 

The best part is that these surprises remind us of the exciting days leading up to Jesus’s birthday. 

The Purpose and Symbolism Behind The Calendar 

The Advent calendar is more than just a fun way to count down to Christmas. It’s a reminder of the hope and anticipation that people felt before Jesus was born. 

The little doors or pockets symbolize the days of waiting. 

The surprises inside can represent the love and joy that Jesus brings to our lives. 

These are all symbols to remind us that Jesus is coming, and to remember His life, and birth. 

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The Four Themes of Advent:

 

Advent is a special time leading up to Christmas, and it’s made even more special with four themes that help us get ready for the big celebration. 

These themes are four themes we think about during Advent. 

  1. Hope reminds us to have trust and look forward to good things. 
  2. Peace is all about calmness and getting along with others. 
  3. Joy is about feeling happy and spreading that happiness. 
  4. Love is the most important, as it’s all about the love Jesus brings to our hearts. 

These themes help us understand the meaning of Christmas and make it more meaningful.

How These Themes Prepare for the Celebration of Christ’s Birth: 

These four themes are like the building blocks for a wonderful Christmas celebration. Click each theme to direct you to a devotion about that theme.  

  • Hope tells us to be excited about what’s coming, just like people were excited for Jesus’s birth. 
  • Peace helps us feel calm and happy during a sometimes busy season. 
  • Joy is all about spreading happiness and enjoying time with family and friends. 
  • Love is the biggest one because it reminds us why Christmas is so special—it’s about the love of Jesus. 

When we think about these themes during Advent, it helps us get ready for the big day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the best gift of all.

Why You Should Celebrate Advent

Celebrating Advent is like hitting the pause button during the busy holiday season. 

It’s a special time when we can take a breather, slow down, and reflect on what Christmas is really about. 

With all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of the holiday. 

Advent gives us the chance to think about the love, hope, and joy that Jesus brings into our lives. 

By taking this time to pause and reflect, we can make our Christmas celebrations more meaningful and feel the warmth of the season.

How Advent Deepens Your Understanding of Christmas: 

Advent is like a journey that takes you deeper into the heart of Christmas. 

It’s not just about the tinsel and the presents; it’s about understanding the amazing story of Jesus’s birth. 

By lighting candles, reading Bible verses, and focusing on the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love, Advent helps us truly get what Christmas is all about. 

It’s a time for us to dive into the real magic of the season and discover why it’s such a special time for people all around the world.

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The Sense of Anticipation: 

One of the coolest things about Advent is the sense of excitement and getting ready. 

It’s like counting down the days until something fantastic is about to happen. 

Just like you look forward to your birthday or a big event, Advent helps us look forward to Christmas. 

Each day, as we light candles, read stories, or do special activities, we’re preparing our hearts and homes for Jesus’s birthday. 

The feeling of anticipation also reminds us that Jesus will come again, and we’re preparing for that day. 

Tips for Celebrating Advent 

Starting or making your Advent traditions even more special is a great way to enjoy the holiday season. 

You can begin by choosing simple activities like lighting an Advent candle each week or reading a short story about Christmas. 

To enhance your traditions, you can involve the whole family in creating an Advent calendar or wreath. 

The key is to make it enjoyable and meaningful for everyone. 

You don’t need to do everything at once; take small steps and add new traditions as you go along. 

The important thing is to create a special atmosphere of love, hope, and joy in your home during Advent.

Incorporating Advent into Your Daily Life: 

Advent isn’t just for Sundays; you can make it a part of your daily life too. 

Start your day with a short prayer or reflection on the Advent theme of the week. 

You can also share Advent stories or verses during family meals. Think about small acts of kindness you can do for others each day, like helping a neighbour or sending a thoughtful message to a friend. 

Try to keep the focus on love, hope, peace, and joy in your daily interactions. 

By incorporating Advent into your routine, you’ll feel the Christmas spirit all around you.

Resources for a Meaningful Advent Experience: 

There are plenty of resources and tools to make your Advent experience special. 

You can find Advent calendars and wreaths in stores or even make your own. 

There are many books and websites with Advent stories, prayers, and activities to choose from. 

The Road to Christmas Family Devotional Pack

The Road to Christmas Family devotional pack helps you draw closer to Jesus this Christmas season by following His steps from creation to His birth. 

Click here to grab this collection of Advent devotions, verse cards and more to help you and your family focus on Christ this Christmas season

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How to put your hope in The Lord

It’s easy to look at the world and hope for a better future or hope that some leader is going to come around and change it all. But the word of God tells us that we shouldn’t be putting our hope in the world, we should be putting our hope in the Lord. But how do we do that? Join me, Anne Marky, as I share how to put your hope in The Lord.

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How to put your hope in The Lord

I think we can all agree that the last couple of years have been crazy. I’m turning 40 and my next birthday and I’ve never experienced years like this. 

I know older generations have also experienced a lot of crazy things, but I just feel like every time I turn on the news, it’s just one thing after another, after another,  after another. 

And these events aren’t small. These are life-changing, historic moments that we experience on a regular basis. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a break. 

But unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem like that break is coming.

The bad news just keeps piling on, and on, and on. Sometimes I can get caught up in the news cycle and when I start focusing on all these bad stories, I start losing hope. 

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Teaching my children to hope in The Lord

My middle daughter is really struggling in school right now. She’s coming home every day in tears and she’s experiencing a lot of frustration. And even though we’re taking steps to help her, nothing has helped yet. So she’s had a lot of breakdowns and sadness about this.

One night when I was tucking her in, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and she said, Mom. Is this always going to be like this?

Her tone of voice and the face she was making just broke my mama’s heart.

I had to keep myself from crying because I could see that she had lost hope.

As a mom. I wanted to tell her that everything was going to be OK, that things were going to change and that she could look forward to that, but I couldn’t.

I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. I don’t know if anything at school is going to change. I don’t know if the steps we’re taking are going to help her in the short run or in the long run.

So I couldn’t make any promises, but I knew she wanted an answer, so when she asked me, I needed to think for a minute.

Since I couldn’t make any promises, instead of focusing on what was happening right then and what wasn’t changing or even speculating about the future. I thought it’d be better if instead, I helped her focus on the Lord.

Our hope is in Him

Lamentations 3:24: The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in him.

It’s easy to look at the world and hope for a better future or hope that some leader is going to come around and change it all.

But Lamentations 3:24 tells us that we shouldn’t be putting our hope in the world, we should be putting our hope in the Lord. He’s the only one that can give us true, sustainable hope.

May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope. By the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

When we look to the world or something other than Christ to fill our hope, we will actually walk away more empty, feeling less hope.

So it’s really important that we know where our hope comes from and not only where it comes from, but that we go to that source on a regular basis so that it may fill us with hope.

When we do that, we are filled with so much hope from the source.

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A pure source of Hope

I’m not a fancy water person, but I’ve seen enough commercials to know that when they’re trying to sell you water, they focus on where that water comes from. And if that source is closest to a mountain and fresh water, the better.

Customers want you to know that you are getting clean water and that the source that this water has come from isn’t contaminated. And it sort of seems like the more natural the source, the more expensive the water becomes.

As Christians, we have access to living water.

And this is an eternal source that doesn’t run out, that never has any contamination, and it’s everlasting. There is no better source.

But just like we go to the supermarket and choose what type of water we want to purchase, we have to actively choose what type of water we’re going to drink.

As Christians, we also must choose to go and drink from the source and pick where what we’re consuming is coming from.

And so we have two choices.

We can fill ourselves with the things of the world which are contaminated and really won’t quench our thirst. Or we can turn to the everlasting source to receive our true hope that is really going to fill us with everything that we need.

We don’t need to earn our salvation, but we do need to be active in seeking out our relationship with the Lord.

Because the Lord is there. He is with us, He is in us, He is around us, and He’s waiting for us to come to Him and seek Him for hope.

Action Steps

So if you’re here today and you’re losing a little bit of hope, or you’d like to feel some more hope, I encourage you just to spend a few minutes with the Lord today.

Regardless of what’s happening in your life. With however bad the situation is. You can access true and living hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hope isn’t dependent on what’s going on around us, it’s dependent on the source of it, which is God himself. He never changes and He’s already proved that He loves us and that He wants a relationship with us.

I hope today, you are clear as to where you can turn to for hope. And that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As I said, these devotional times are going to be a little bit short, but I hope it’s been encouraging to you, and I’d love to know from you in the comments how the Lord has given you hope so that we can encourage one another.

5 simple steps to get started in Bible Study

turn past struggles into building blocks of faith

If you are reading this, I’m going to assume you’ve travelled down some hard roads. The Bible tells us we will face trials of various kinds. If you want to grow in your faith, it’s important to learn from our struggles. Continue to read how to turn past struggles into building blocks of faith.

A picture of a woman arching her back with her face to the heavens and her arms behind her. She is in front of a glowing sun. Beside her picture is a dark blue background with white letters that say spiritual growth, how to turn past struggles into building blocks of faith.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

I don’t know about you, but if it were up to me, I would never choose to walk through trials. 

I’ve gone through quite a few and would love not to revisit them, or wish those trials for anyone else. 

The bad news is that trials can’t be avoided. 

The good news is, that the trials we face can help us grow and become building blocks to our faith. 

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love.

1 Peter 1: 6-7

When our faith is tested, it can encourage others in their faith, bring glory to God, and strengthen our foundation to face the next trial. 

So, how does this all work? 

5 simple steps to get started in Bible Study

How to turn past struggles into building blocks of faith

I love giving examples from the Bible, so that’s what I’m going to do now. 

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4 NKJV

These verses tell us again that we will face trials. But these verses also assure us that trials have a purpose and can help us grow. 

How do trials help us grow? 

As I think about our walk with The Lord, I can’t help but compare it to the physical growth we go through in our lives. 

The first time a baby tries to walk, they are wobbly, tumble and then fall. 

This “failure” doesn’t keep them from trying again. If anything, it gives them more confidence to try again. The more they fall, the more times they get back up, try again, and then “master” walking. 

The same can be said of us when we face trials. 

The first time we face trials, we are like that baby taking its first steps. We stumble and fall and our faith can be tested, and we may feel overwhelmed. 

But, when the trial is over, we see we made it through and it gives us confidence that we can do it again.

A Personal trial that helped me grow

My husband and I have been married for 15 years, and years 2-5 were rough. Not because our marriage was on the rocks, but because we faced one trial after another, after another. 

It was an extremely hard time. 

Over a couple of years, my husband lost his job 3 times. 

The first time, I was livid toward God. I could not believe that God would let my husband lose his job when I knew Greg was a hard-working person who was just never given the chance to succeed.

I spent a while being mad about the scenario and was an emotional basket case. 

But, after a few months, my husband found a job, and we rejoiced.

  • The next time my husband lost his job, my first reaction was to be angry. But this time, the process of me going from angry at God to depending on God was much shorter. 

Then, I’m not sure how long after that, my husband lost his job a third time. 

It’s been a while since that happened, so I don’t remember the details, but I remember someone saying: 

“You seem so calm about this! Why are you not worried? 

I just remembered thinking: Greg has lost his job before and each time, The Lord brought a job at the right time. We never went hungry, without food, clothing or shelter. Since The Lord has provided for us before, I know He will again. 

I never knew what the provision would look like, or how long we would be in this scenario, but I had first-hand proof and experience that God can provide for us now because He has done for us before. 

The previous 2 job losses increased my dependence on God and taught me to trust Him. 

They built my foundation of faith so that the next time a storm hit, my faith was anchored. It didn’t move. 

I don’t share this to promote me and my faith, because none of it was me. It was ALL The Lord. 

He is the one who gave me the faith to trust in Him, He is the one who heard me screaming and comforted me, He is the one who was with me in the trial, and He is the one who grew my faith. 

The experience of going through those trials, and “coming out of the other side” grew my faith. 

Do you see how one trial helped me grow and built my faith to face the next one? 

5 simple steps to get started in Bible Study

So, how can we replicate this? 

When we face trials, we need to take a minute and remember what God has done for us

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.

Deuteronomy 8:2

Remember all the work he had done

The Lord was calling the Israelites to remember all the works he had done. 

  • How The Lord led them out of Egypt and saved them from Pharaoh’s army 
  • How The Lord provided water and food in the desert when they were hungry and thirsty
  • How The Lord helped them conquer nations and armies to bring them to the promised land. 

Not only were The Israelites told to remember what God had done, they also placed stones to help trigger their memory and share God’s work with the next generation

Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” 28 So Joshua let the people depart, each to his own inheritance.

Joshua 24: 26-28

This was not the only occasion on which the people of Israel placed stones, you can read about more in the Old Testament. I added some references in your notes if you want to study this further. 

Joshua 4:1-7, Exodus 13:3–6; 24:4; Deuteronomy 27:1–8; Joshua 22:9–12; 24:24–28; 1 Samuel 7:12

Placing stones in my life

Placing these stones was done regularly to help Israel remember what God had done, and it was a way to share their history with the next generation. 

It reminds me of when we would drive around town with my dad. We lived in the same city he grew up in, so anytime we passed a place he had worked, he would say: have I ever told you I worked there? It became this passing joke. But it was his way of sharing his life with us. 

The Lord wants us to remember the works He has done in our lives, and we should have practices or symbols that help us remember them and share them. 

God has done so much for me and in my life and God wants me to remember that. 

For me, I don’t collect rocks to remember God’s work. I sit down and write everything that God has done for me, and it reminds me that God does exist. He loves me, He takes care of me, and He carries me through. I have specific instances I can point back to in my life as proof of His work in my life and know that God does see and hear me. 

Now, you may think: well…. Anne, that’s great for you, but I have never seen God help me through a trial before, so I don’t have this firsthand proof. 

That’s ok. Read on.

What to do if you don’t have a first-hand account

If you don’t have a firsthand account, go back to scripture. 

1 Chronicles 16:12 Remember His marvellous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth

You can go through the Bible and read/write how many times God made a promise and kept it, how much He loves you, and last but not least: His death on the cross, the salvation you have, and everything you receive when you become a child of God. 

When you don’t have firsthand experience, you can always trust that scripture has proof after proof of God’s power, love, and everything else. 

Start with those things, and then, over time, as you see how God provides for you, add it to your list and go back to it repeatedly. 

Homework

To make this session really practical, I have a bit of homework for you. 

I want you to take out some paper and a pen (or a computer doc of some sort) and make a list of 

  • ALL the ways God has guided you
  • ALL the ways God has provided for you
  • All the things God has done for you
  • All the ways God loves you

If you still can’t think of anything, go to scripture and note 
  • All the promises God gives us 
  • The promise of Salvation and the hope we have in heaven 

Once you have written this list, keep it handy. Fold the paper and put in your Bible, or save it as a note in your phone. The water you do, keep it somewhere you can easily find it. 

Then, the next time you are going through a trial, and you feel discouraged- take out your list and read through it. 

Let it remind you of all the ways God has loved you, provided for you, and guided you. 

I promise that this one simple exercise will help you turn past struggles into building blocks of faith and help you when you face anything that comes next. 

Do you have a personal and thriving relationship with The Lord? 

If you said no, or want to grow in your faith, I have something really special for you. 

I’ve put together a webinar for you called: 4 Simple Steps to a Thriving Relationship with The Lord, 

In this webinar I’ll tell you:

✅ The exact steps I took to change my relationship with God

✅How asking a few questions unlocked the key to a thriving relationship with God

✅ How to discern the best way for you to connect with God

✅ And more!

If you want a closer relationship with God and aren’t sure where to start, register for this FREE Webinar

Click here to get all the details and get your FREE ticket.

4 simple steps to a thriving relationship with The Lord

Prayer: The Key to Living as a True Believer

I’ve been a Christian most of my life, and there are times when I just want to know ALL the answers! I don’t want to read more or learn through mistakes or trials, but just KNOW what God wants me to do. Thankfully, there are many things The Bible makes clear to us. One of which is the Key to living as a true believer, and that is to pray! I know that many people may feel this answer is too simple, but it’s the truth. Continue to read and learn how prayer can guide and encourage us in our Christian lives.

This blog was written by Annie Weber. She is the author of Astounding Truths of the Bible. You can find her on her blog here. Learn more about her by reading her bio at the end of this blog post. You can also check out her book: Astounding Truths of the Bible*.

*This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Prayer: The Key to Living as a True Believer

A picture of folded hands over an open Bible. Under the picture are the words, Prayer, The Key to living as a true believer. www.onedeterminedlife.com

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Apostle Paul – the GOAT evangelist – loved to write letters. He thrived in his letter-writing ministry in the first century, and much of the New Testament of the Bible is composed of various letters he wrote to encourage the early churches.

Paul’s encouragement to Persevere

In his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul addressed some pastoral issues that had risen in this young church. 

He encouraged them to persevere through persecution, pursue sexual purity, and live their lives as people who believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 of this letter opens with encouragement and a reminder that Jesus is returning.

However, we won’t be given the opportunity to post this on our calendar.

Paul wanted his readers (including you and me!) to know that we should not be sleepwalking through life while we wait.

5 simple steps to get started in Bible Study

Paul’s teaching on prayer

Then, Paul lands the plane with his words about prayer after a long list of various exhortations.

  • Verse 12 encourages us to love and respect those who are our spiritual leaders.
  • Verse 13 reminds us to live in peace among the other followers of Christ.
  • Verse 14 tells us we are to be patient and attentive to the individual needs of others. Verse 15 reminds us to see the best in each other.

Paul wrapped up his letter with bite-sized commands, completely trusting that the Holy Spirit would equip his audience with the knowledge they need to live these commands. 

Verse 17 is where Paul makes a shift to discuss what our prayer life should look like.

The command on prayer looks different depending on which version of the Bible you prefer.

The NIV commands us to pray continually; pray without ceasing is used in the ESV version; never stop praying is found in the NLT version; and finally, pray constantly is used in the HCSB version.

Regardless of your preferred translation, the message is crystal clear. Paul wants us to know that forming a lifestyle of prayer is the goal that we should be striving for as followers of Christ.

Praying nonstop means we are having a continuous dialogue with God, coming boldly to the throne of grace to offer up praise, supplication, intercessions, petitions, and thanksgiving.

How can a follower of Jesus model the prayer life Paul described?

8 characteristics of a Biblical prayer life:

  • Someone who prays continually is someone who does not rely on their own strength (Philippians 4:13).
  • They desire to maintain a close and personal relationship with God by pouring their heart to God (Psalm 62:8).
  • They acknowledge the Holiness of God (Matthew 6:9).
  • They cast their anxiety on Him, acknowledging that God cares (1 Peter 5:7).
  • They know that God can sympathize with us in our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).
  • They know that God promises that if they ask anything according to His will, that He hears them (1 John 5:14). 
  • Living a life of continual prayer means a constant conversation with God is happening and that you acknowledge that He is a friend (Psalm 25:14).
  • It also means allowing yourself to praise God for who He is Lord (Daniel 2:20).

The Bible tells us to always be in prayer- if this is something you want to grow in, you can pray something like this:

Equip me to do this.  Bless me with a desire to have an ongoing dialogue with you, knowing that as I pray Your spirit will guide my words. Allow me to have a deep awareness of your character and your faithfulness. Guide my thoughts to be continuously aware of your presence in all circumstances. Align my will with Your will. Amen

5 simple steps to get started in Bible Study

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