A QUICK LOOK at BETTER TOGETHER 2014

For those of you who were wondering what BETTER TOGETHER was like and if you REALLY SHOULD HAVE COME… well… WE MISSED YOU but we did have fun and we did grow closer to the Lord, closer to each other… and we were more equipped to be the moms we long to be and the mentors and ministry leaders God calls us to be.

BETTER TOGETHER was BETTER THAN WE EVER could have imagined!

We heard a lot of feedback and the majority of the ladies there said…

  • This conference changed my life!
  • I learned a lot that would help me in some areas I was struggling in.
  • I’ll never be the same!
  • I’ve never been to a better conference – ever!
  • There was literally something for everyone!
  • And at our next BETTER TOGETHER, we want to see YOU THERE!
  • You are having it next year, right?!

Here’s a little UNEDITED clip of some of the happenings and interviews. ENJOY!

 

If you can’t see it in your reader, please click this link

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Encouraging First Time Obedience

1stTimeObedience

First time obedience is a goal parents desire for their children.

 Parents desire it so children learn to respect authority, for their safety, and our sanity.

 However I often wonder if the goal for first time obedience removes the human element from our children. Children are not robots. They have plans, desires, dreams, and wills of their own. Therefore children will get frustrated when a parent demands they immediately stop what they are doing to put on shoes, go to the bathroom, or even do a chore. Think about the last time you were engrossed in washing dishes or writing an important e-mail and your husband or boss interrupts you and insists you do something else right then. You may not throw a fit, but I bet you have to struggle to stay civil. (Or is that just me?)

 Although children need to acknowledge their parents’ authority, it is also important for parents to recognize their children’s emotional responses to their directions.

 How can parents help make first time obedience easier for kids?

  1. Set the expectation. Tell your children you expect them to obey first time. Let them know before they disobey the consequences of disobedience.
  2. Give warnings. It is important for kids to understand what is expected of them throughout the day. Some children have issues with transition time – the period of time between ending one activity and beginning another one. Therefore it is important to give a warning. I often give ten and five minute warnings. I tell my kids, “You have ten more minutes and then we will need to ________________.” This helps children switch gears more easily.
  3. Praise obedience. One way to encourage kids to do the right thing is to praise their efforts when they obey. Don’t just “expect” that behavior, encourage it by noticing their efforts and telling them how much you appreciate it.
  4. Cool down (both the parent and the child) before speaking about the consequences. Otherwise you and your child may end up in a discipline bidding war. “If you don’t pick up your shoes you won’t get to play X-box for a week. Alright, two weeks, a month…” In the end both of you lose because your child wouldn’t pick up his shoes. Instead cool down first, then discuss the consequences of your child’s actions.
  5. Speak with respectful authority. It is best to tell a child what he needs to do in a polite respectful voice for two reasons. First no one responds well to an irritated or aggravated tone. Secondly your child needs to know that they need to obey your instructions. Therefore say, “You need to pick up your shoes.” If you child does not do it you can say, “You know what you need to do.” This makes your instructions non-negotiable, but not demeaning or demanding.

 Our goal of first time obedience is a goal and one that we must work on with our children. 

What helps encourage your children to obey the first time?

 

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The Three B’s of a Brave Mom

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The bravest thing I’ve ever done was let go of who I thought I was supposed to be and embraced who God purposed ME to be. It meant performing a 180 – a complete reversal in attitude and performance. Instead of living how I thought I should or by someone else’s standards, I began to live out each day through whispers from God. It took courage to  say no to opportunities, time with friends, projects, and volunteer work so that I could carve out a daily routine reflecting the roles I was meant to partake in. And if you’re wondering how to be a brave mom; here are The 3 B’s of Being a Brave Mom. 

The Three B’s of Being a Brave Mom

BraveMOM

A Brave Mom – Begins her Day with God.

Before we can open our eyes, our thoughts are already jumping on a train of “to do’s”, worries, and anxiety. Before you know it, the train has left the station chugging full speed through your mind as you zip through the day. Suddenly you find yourself feeling weighted down, heavy laden as the words NOT ENOUGH become your last stop of the day.

Come to Jesus each morning and do the divine exchange. Instead of being weighed down with doubt, feelings of not enough, and high expectations of mothering – Matthew 11:28-30 shows us how to exchange our worry for peace. 

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30

A Brave Mom Uses Balance

Motherhood often puts us on a balance beam – we are usually good at keeping our lives balanced and focused but it’s when the unplanned or a new situation occurs that our confidence wavers and suddenly trying to find balance between who we are, what we do, and who we are becoming feels like a daunting task. 

A brave mom does not allow any extras that would affect the essentials of her life. In other words she is aware of the time commitments to essentials like: how many hours she works, how much time it takes to clean, how much time is needed for creating nourishing meals, and how much time is needed for herself like friends, relaxing, or exercise. When someone suggests she should be a room mom or part of the PTA, she considers the time and asks herself if she has the emotional, physical, and spiritual reserves to add this “extra.” She then wisely says yes or no, this creates balance. 

A Brave Mom Relies on His Strength

A brave mom doesn’t look like a body builder nor is she a woman who wears a heels and tightens her pony tale before diving into something. A brave mom knows the words of Joshua 1:7-9

In order to be strong and courageous, she keeps God’s Word close. So close she can recite it at a moment’s notice. In order to be a brave mom, we have to be able to think the Word, see the Word, and Quote the Word. Holding onto God’s Word as our  strength keeps discouragement and fear at bay. It helps us tune our souls to the truth of who we are instead of falling prey to the lies we are not good enough. 

Though it takes practice the three B’s allow us to be brave in the face of motherhood as God tempers our souls, schedules, and dreams.  He knows  we will face constant change in the landscapes of mothering, working, decisions, and challenges. But we can brave each day and anticipate the unknown as we holding tightly to the known–the presence of our Father God. 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9 

 

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{Moms of Girls} When Clothing is an Opportunity for an Eternal Investment

Can you remember the days when you were able to dress your daughter in a cute little onesie covered in polka dots or a little seersucker sundresses with matching white underpants?

Once upon a time, we were mommies who got to play dress up with our little girl.

But then she grew up and older and morphed into a tweenager while you still wanted to hold her hand and guide every single choice.

Are we missing the eternal investment?

Now clothing is no longer  a matter of cuteness — it’s a declaration of independence.

It’s the source of stressful conversations and potentially explosive drama, especially for the mommas among us who would like to have some say in how their daughters look when they walk out of the house. Ahem. I’ve was one of them and have made my fair share of clothing conversation faux pas. I’ll never forget the time my oldest daughter came down the stairs to ask my opinion on a hand-me down shirt that she was convinced should be a sweater-dress. It barely graced her behind and she was innocently, wondering if it would be okay for church. Let’s just say my tongue transformed into a whip lashing of words, for which I didn’t see coming.

What ARE you thinking? Did you even look in the mirror? Have you heard nothing that I’ve taught you about modesty over all these years?

I totally blew it. Instead of responding with grace and gratitude, thankful for her willingness to seek out my opinion, I came down on her as though her choice was a dire sin and personal offense.  I later realized that my reaction was a result of personalizing her choice, believing that I was failing as a mother instead of recognizing her good and necessary attempt at independence.

Unfortunately, I think most of us personalize the clothing issue more than we should, since we fear that our reputation is linked to our daughter’s appearance and behavior. But is it really?  

Sadly, I do think we judge other women based on the behavior, decisions, and appearances of their children — daughters and sons. We judge and compare from a place of insecurity, while trying to figure out how to do our own motherhood job well. Wouldn’t it be wiser to seek the Lord for His wisdom and perspective when it comes to mothering decisions, instead of measuring ourselves against the perceived success or failure of others moms based on what we see in their children.  Instead of focusing on the outer appearance — whether that’s clothing or behavior — we need to consider what’s going on inside the hearts and minds of our tweens and teens as we desire to shape their lives with an eternal perspective.

Could it be that we’ve set an eternal value on the matter of clothing and modesty with our daughters, while missing the opportunity to make an eternal investment into their identity?

Instead of seeing clothing as the enemy, it’s really an invitation to begin a conversation where we can come aside our daughters and ask them how they’re defining their worth and identity. As they share their hearts, we have the opportunity to answer their spoken and unspoken questions with Biblical truth, but first we have to get a grip on our emotions so that we can respond to the practical with an eternal perspective:

The Practical

Yes, we need to educate our daughters on matters of modesty and beauty, giving them a broader understanding of how certain styles will communicate a message.  We have to seize these teaching moments to emphasize the way their clothing can hinder or enhance the way they are received by others, and help them discern what message they want to communicate.

The Eternal

We also need to respond to more than their appearance, looking beyond what they put on to discover what is going in their hearts.  Are they feeling insecure and seeking attention? Are they trying to fit into a crowd, or get out of one? Are they exercising independence from us or are they rebelling against us?  And if they are rebelling, have we done something to exasperate them or are they struggling with a crisis or deep emotional wound?

Imagine if we looked at the matter of clothing and modesty in a whole new light? Imagine if all the fights mothers and daughters had about clothing came to a screeching halt, and instead the topic of clothing (or fashion in general) became a vehicle for discussing matters of eternal consequence?

Imagine.

Will you begin this new trend today?

How have you handled the topic of clothing and fashion with your daughters?

 

Feel free to download the Modesty discussion guide and Redefining Beauty resources available at More to Be for ideas on how to connect with your daughters on matters of fashion and appearance.

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5 Ways to Know If You’re Giving Your Children too Much or Not Enough Attention & 5 Ways to HELP!

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There we were in the middle of aisle 5 of the grocery store when my little guy decided to make a scene. He was 4, impatient, and he wanted my attention RIGHT THEN!

MOMMY! MOOMMMMMY! MOOOOMMMMMMMYYYYYYY!! I neeeeeeed you!

I rushed to find out what my frantic little four year old wanted when I quickly discovered that what he was pitching such a noisy fit over was a box of cookies. .

When I told him no, the noise escalated at warp speed and all I wanted to do was grab that boy and get out of the store ASAP.

Maybe you’ve been there before – not wanting your children to feel like you’re ignoring them but also not wanting them to think your world somehow revolves around theirs.

I know we each have the best kids in the whole-wide world, but as sweet as they are, it doesn’t take long for us moms to realize that those little munchkins are masters of manipulation.

f3e93c8b-e71f-4012-b891-7b66a7269f97_zpsb40e941eIn The Making of a Mom, I devoted a whole chapter to the attention factor because it’s such a big issue in just about every home on the planet.

It’s really hard to find the balance somewhere between between having a child-centered home and having an attention starved child. I mean, how’s a mom supposed to know how much attention to give her child when each one is different and there are no cookie cutter answers?

Most of us border on giving our kids way too much attention and feeding their frenzy for the “It’s all about me” world they want you to live in, or starving them for the attention they need because we are too distracted or disengaged to notice.

I don’t know where you might find yourself and where your children are on the attention scale, but their need for attention is sort of like Goldilocks’ perfect bowl of porridge… Not too hot! Not too cold! But JUST RIGHT!

Okay, so won’t get it right every time, but I want to share 5 facts that can help you know whether you’re giving your kids too much or not enough attention. (NOTE: Each behavior listed does not mean your child is absolutely attention-starved or that you have a child-centered home. However, they are behaviors to look for that would indicate these things to be a very REAL possibility.)

You know your children are attention-starved if:

  1. They create a disturbance to get your attention
  2. They cry, pout or whine a lot
  3. They withdrawal from you and/or from others
  4. They tell you that you are neglecting them
  5. They show signs of depression

You know if you have a child-centered home if:

  1. You children throw a temper tantrum to get their way
  2. Your children yell at you, scream when you tell then no, or they tell you they hate you
  3. Your children expect to get their way and they become selfish, rude and argumentative 
  4. You find yourself cowering to your children’s demands
  5. Your child tries to tell you what to do

So, what do you think mom? Are your children starved for attention or do they demand it? And what do you do in either case?

I don’t want to leave you with the knowledge of where you are on the attention scale without offering you some helpful tips about how to tilt that thing in the right direction so you can have more balance in with your children when it comes to giving them the right amount of attention.

Here are 5 things things you can do if your children are attention-starved:

  1. Start with yourself. Consider what has been captivating your attention and begin realigning your priorities.
  2. Use bedtime to bond with each child so you can spend some one-on-one time with each. Stagger the bedtimes if you have one or more child.
  3. Discover their love languages and love them in their language.
  4. Have a Mom & Son or Mom & Daughter Day Out with each child individually. (Create a calendar for them and make it fun!)
  5. Pray with them and for them. (It’s amazing what happens in their hearts when they hear you pray for them!)

Here are 5 things things you can do if you have created a child-centered home:

  1. Set rational boundaries and stick to your stuff. You’re the mom! Don’t forget that.
  2. Don’t lose your temper. Again…you’re the mom. Expect first time obedience.
  3. Let your children fail. They need to learn consequences, how to deal with struggles and adversity. Help them through it without helping them out of it.
  4. Point out patience, kindness and self-control in others so that your children can see what it looks like and then commend them when the display those types of behaviors.
  5. Don’t go overboard with the rules…but be consistent with the ones you make. Consistency really is key.

It’s hard to navigate how much attention each child needs, but if you seek to discover what their personal needs are and meet them where they are – and help them become all God created them to be… you will be one happy momma!

WHAT ABOUT YOU? DO YOUR STRUGGLE WITH A CHILD WHO IS ATTENTION-STARVED OR DEMANDS ALL YOUR ATTENTION? 

PS… a little look at Isaac and Rebecca’s tendency to favor one child over  another gives us an all-in-one glimpse of what happens when children feel like one parent’s world revolves around them and at the same time feels as though they are attention-starved when it comes to the other parent. (Genesis 27)

 

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Teach Kids to Welcome Dad Home

TMI - JoanneKraft.com Greet Dad WellHow do you greet your husband when he comes home from work?

           When he walks through the front door is it just business as usual? Or, do you celebrate his return with a hug or a kiss? Better yet, how do your children treat him?

                My dad worked long hours as a truck driver. When he came home at night my sisters and brother and me made a beeline to the front door to greet him with arms open wide. As much as I’d love to tell you we were just an incredibly loving family and it came natural for us…that’s not entirely the case.

                My mom trained us that way. When she heard dad’s old El Camino pull into the driveway she’d yell, “Dad’s home!” It was a joyful occasion. She taught us by leading the charge. Dinner was on the stove and no matter what happened in her day, she respected my father enough to welcome with a loving hug and a kiss.

We Live What We Learn

                Last week my husband was on a business trip. He called me from the airport to surprise me—he had booked an earlier flight home. I hurried and cleaned the house (Which was an extreme mess while he was gone), popped pumpkin bread into the oven and shared the news with the kids. When their dad came home he was greeted well. We even had a little chalkboard sign to make the celebration official.

                What about you? When was the last time your husband came home and you made a big deal out of it? If you struggle to be happy that he’s home—your kids will struggle with it, too. Don’t wait for him to be different, take the lead and show kindness first.

                When your husband comes home tonight:

  • Turn off the TV. Give him your full attention. 
  • Tell the kids their dad is home and send them off to greet him.
  • Take the initiative and kiss him when he walks in. (Kids may protest but they love to see affection between their parents.)
  • I’ll give you extra credit points if you have dinner ready.

Don’t wait for a special occasion. Teach your children to greet their father with love and respect. Better yet, race them to the front door and greet him first.

 

Joanne Kraft*Joanne Kraft is the author of Just Too Busy–Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids (Coming Spring 2015). Connect with her at JoanneKraft.com . 

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Praying Ephesians 1:17 for Your Children

Praying Ephesians 1:17 for Your Children

 

Do you want your children to grow spiritually? 

As moms, it’s something we long for… to see our children walking in the truth.

But how often do we really pray for it? 

The M.O.M. Initiative wants to help you pray Scripture for your children and today, we are praying for YOUR children and OURS that God would FLOOD their hearts with SPIRITUAL WISDOM and INSIGHT, so they will grow in their knowledge of God.

Raising our children to become adults who KNOW God and who WALK WITH GOD is the biggest desire of a momma’s heart. So, let’s link hearts and pray like crazy for our kids.

Pray on, sweet mom! We’re in this with you!

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Carve a LIGHT Pumpkin

Christian-Cross-Carved-Pumpkin
Standing beside mama
, I watched with wide eyes as she took a kitchen knife and cut a circle in the top of a bright orange pumpkin.

Carefully, she lifted the top off and told me to look inside.  Standing on tip toes, I peered into the pumpkin.  “It’s yucky,”  I announced.

With even more interest, I watched mama pull out the gooey seeds while she explained, “We have to clean  the inside so we can place a candle it.”

After several minutes, Mama was satisfied. “Now, we will make a face on the pumpkin.”

Taking a pen, she drew two triangle eyes, an upside down triangle nose, and a big smiling mouth; then took another knife and carved the face.

Turning to me, she asked, “Do you want to put the candle in it?”  Jumping at the chance, I carefully reached into the pumpkin and placed it in the center. When Mama lit the candle, I was fascinated at the transformation. The lifeless pumpkin now smiled at me with a glowing face.

For Christians, October 31 can be much more than a day of too much candy and ghosts and goblins. We can bring Christ into the day in a memorable way.

Which of the following might you do to point your children to Jesus on Carve a Pumpkin Day?

  1. If your child wants to wear a costume, choose a Biblical character  or animal. Talk about that person or the animal God created. Or, help your child select a positive role model like a fireman or  character of good influence.  Discuss how that person or character is kind and that it pleases God for us to be kind.  Share from Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another.
  2. Cut pumpkins out of orange construction paper and print “Be kind to one another” on them. Tape a piece of candy to the pumpkins and let your child hand them out to family and friends during the day.
  3. If you haven’t yet selected a pumpkin, take your child to the store and let them help you select one.  As you look at the various sizes and shapes, discuss how each pumpkin is special. Tell your child, “You are special to God.”
  4. When you get home, let your child help you wash the pumpkin. After cutting the top off the pumpkin, let them see inside the pumpkin and how it, too, needs to be cleaned. As you clean the pumpkin, explain that Jesus cares about us on the inside, too; not just the outside.  That’s why we pray and ask God to forgive us when we do wrong.
  5. Help your child draw a happy face on the pumpkin. Carve out the eyes, nose, and mouth. Let your little one place a candle in the pumpkin.  When you light the candle, explain that just like the candle shines through the pumpkin, Jesus wants to shine through us. Every day, we can pray and ask Jesus to shine through us.  Pray with your child, “Jesus, please shine through me.”  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16. 
  6. Direct your child to the pumpkin seeds. Let them help you wash and roast them.
  7. As an alternative to trick or treating, attend a church “Harvest Fest” so your child can safely enjoy the company of others.  Remind them, “Jesus likes it when we come to church.”

When you return home and tuck your little one in bed, you can know that you’ve done much more than participated in Halloween or Pumpkin Carving Day.  You’ve infused your child’s mind and heart with Jesus. Now that’s something to glow about.

Debbie Taylor WilliamsSpreading the Word & love of God

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READ MORE by Debbie Taylor Williams:  * Marriage & Parenting Tips   * The PLAN A MOM in a PLAN B WORLDFIND DEBBIE ONFACE BOOK,TWITTERPINTEREST.

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When Your Kids Have Good Ideas…

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It happens in parenthood. Sometimes our kids jog us from our comfort zones, and I don’t know about you, but it always takes me by surprise.

One of the things I wish I’d put into practice more as a younger mom, (and honestly, I’m still learning), is to be quicker to listen and slower to speak when they had ideas.

“Hey mom, you wanna play Barbies with me?” “No, mommy’s doing dishes.”

“Hey mama, let’s go to the park.” “No, I just got out of the shower.”

“I have an idea! Let’s make brownies!” “Not right now, okay? I’m busy.”

“Why don’t we go serve at the food kitchen this Thanksgiving, mom.” “We have other plans, maybe another time.”

Fast-forward now to a college-aged son and two teen daughters. Often, I desire to do things with them and spend more time with them (now that I see how fast it goes), and they are too busy for me. But I’ve learned when the rare moments come, I consider their requests more thoughtfully.

The other day, I was busy trying to update my calendar and answering emails, and honestly just enjoying some rare time at home instead of my mom taxi route…and my athletic runner girl asked me to go work out with her. I’m confessing, I would’ve rather been hit over the head with a frying pan than go work out that day. Every single excuse rolled off my tongue, and I almost lost a God-given opportunity.

I apologized and told her I changed my mind a few minutes later, and it turned out to be not only a bonding time, but good for my mind, body & soul as well.

This is only one example of many, and I’ve seen moms who go completely too far in the other direction, letting their children rule the schedule and the day. In either case, the same principle applies.

Do we take the time to listen and really think through our kids’ questions and requests before we reply?

One of the best responses I’ve learned is to tell them to let me think on something before I answer yes or no. I certainly appreciate when others do that for me. Sometimes an immediate answer is known and warranted, but often it’s not. I guess it’s all about being flexible and intentional at the same time, a balance that’s not easy to find. But isn’t that part of living a surrendered life unto the Lord?

Let’s ask for His wisdom, His direction, His insight, His perspective all throughout the day, Mamas. Sometimes our kids have ideas that fit better into God’s plans for us than our own well-intentioned plans ever could.

 

Philippians 2:3, NCV

When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves.

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The Three Kneelers

The three kneelers
Do you love dreams? I do. Well, the good ones anyway. But I can barely remember them. I love to try and see if I can figure out what they mean. I love the story in Streams in the Desert about a woman’s dream.

It’s the story of three women as they knelt to pray. I can picture myself in the position of each of the pray-ers. This woman’s dream is full of meaning. See which one you are…

As three women knelt in prayer, the Lord appeared and began walking toward them. Drawing near the first one, He bent down to her in tender care, smiling and speaking to her in phrases of sweet love.

As He approached the next one, He merely placed His hand upon her bowed head, giving her a loving look of approval.

And the third one? He quickly passed by her, never offering a word of encouragement or a touch of care.

In her dream, the woman thought to herself, “By His gestures, the Lord must have dearly loved the first kneeler. The second one, He merely patted her with acceptance but none of the recognitions that He gave the first one. But the third kneeler…did she do something to grieve Him that He spoke not a word or give her a passing look? What made the difference between them?”

As she pondered the actions of the Lord, He came and stood beside her, saying, “Oh, my sweet child. You have so misjudged Me and My actions. The first kneeling woman needs all My love and attention every moment, for without it, she would fail.

“The faith of the second kneeler is greater and her love is fuller, so I know she will trust Me no matter what comes her way.

“The one whom I seemed to neglect has faith and love of the choicest and most precious quality. Her intimate knowledge and trust of Me is so solid that she needs no words nor looks, no outward expression of My approval.

“The varying circumstances that I allow in her life do not impede her way. She trusts Me when all outward stresses bring discouragement and frustration, when all the agonies of life attack her sensibilities, attempting to cause her to rebel. She knows that I work My eternal purposes in her and all that she does not understand now, she will later. I am training her for My highest and holiest principals.

“My silence does not mean lack of love, for my love knows no bounds; it is not confined by mere words of approval nor expressions of acceptance. My silence goes beyond the human heart and mind to comprehend. In my finite reasoning, My intentions are perfect, for each child of Mine, that each may learn, in response to My love, to love and trust Me with all his or her heart, without any outward encouragement to bring it forth.”

Are you, precious child of God, going through some crushing blow, or heartbreaking sorrow, or bitter disappointment?
In your prayers, are you looking for a word from your Beloved, a tender pat on the head, a look of approval, or longing to hear some sweet phrases of encouragement?

“The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.”

Which kneeler is you?

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