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October Devotion: Lydia

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Written By: Lory Ruiz

Scripture Reading: Acts 16

In Acts 16, we read about Paul and Silas’ journey to Macedonia though it was not part of their original plan. But because Paul had a vision one night of a man from Macedonia urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us,” Paul and Silas immediately received the vision as the Holy Spirit guiding them to preach there. While in Macedonia, they met a woman named Lydia who became the first convert in Europe.

But who was Lydia? She was a successful business woman and entrepreneur who was well known for selling purple cloth, a color worn mostly by the wealthy. This type of business brought in great wealth for her and her household. Though a single woman, she made a name for herself through her business dealings and hard work. The Bible also says Lydia was a worshipper of God. She did not miss an opportunity to worship and pray with others. As we read in Acts, Paul and Silas meet Lydia while she is at the river outside the city which was known to be a place of prayer. Her decision to go to the river that day changed her life for eternity. Paul begins to preach the gospel and Lydia receives the message of salvation! Thus making her the first European convert to Christianity.

Because of her great influence, her whole household is immediately saved and baptized. Can you imagine this woman, who already had great influence, using her new found devotion to the Lord for impacting those in her home and those she conducted business with? People trusted her, and now they would see the love of Christ in her as well. What a woman of influence! She eventually convinced Paul and Silas to stay in her home, which made her house the meeting place for the first European church. Uncommon for women to have such position in the community, Lydia demonstrates the influence we can all have as women.

No matter where God has called us, He has purposed extraordinary moments of influence for each of us for His kingdom. Your influence is not determined by your time nor your resources. Lydia made room for God and used what she had, her home, to see a nation know the truth of Jesus. Your choices today with what you have in your hands will be the story of your vision coming true. When you choose to make room for Jesus, your influence can be as powerful for God’s kingdom as Lydia’s. This month take time to make room for God moments.  

Activation:

1. What are some areas of influence God has placed you in? (job, family, neighbors, etc)

2. How can you use what’s in your hands or where you are to impact others for the Lord?



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September Devotion: The Canaanite Woman

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Written By: Terrica Mitchell

Scripture Reading: Matthew 15:21-28

When it came to protecting her daughter, the Canaanite woman would not take ‘no’ for an answer. She did not allow her origin nor her beliefs to limit her. The thought of her not being a Jew or not being good enough never crossed her mind. Her focus did not include her failures nor her shortcomings, but instead what she could achieve if she remained persistent. This woman knew that in order to accomplish her desire, she had to be intentional, determined, resilient and consistent.  

The Canaanite woman desperately searched for the deliverance of her daughter as she cried out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, King David’s Son! For my daughter has a demon within her, and it torments her constantly.” As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. But she was a Gentile, a people who were considered pagan and unclean according to the Jews. Knowing how society perceived her, she refused to let that stand in her way. Her determination to save her daughter pushed her through the embarrassment and rejection. “Tell her to get going,” they yelled, “for she is bothering us with all of her begging.” Fully aware of His mission, Jesus told the woman, “I was sent to help the lost sheep of Israel-not the Gentiles.” With this response from Jesus, the Canaanite woman became even more resilient. She fell to her knees to worship Him and pleaded, “Sir, help me!” At that very moment, she created an altar demanding the Master’s full attention. Jesus replied to her saying, “It doesn’t seem right to take bread from the children and throw it to dogs.” This was the perfect moment for her to get offended. Instead, she was unbothered and continued to show her faith. “Yes it is! For even the puppies beneath the table are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall.” Impressed with her faith, Jesus granted her request and immediately healed her daughter.

The Canaanite woman did not need the whole loaf to be satisfied. A crumb the size of a mustard seed would do it. It was almost as if she knew the scriptures in Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith be it unto you.” Matthew 7:7, “Ask and you shall receive.” And Mark 9:23, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Just like this woman, there are times in life when we become frustrated, tired and desperate. During these times we should step out of our comfort zones and make our requests known unto God. It does not matter how big or small it might be, or even how long we have been waiting for our breakthrough. The key is to push through, remain persistent, and believe God will help us. We must remain in pursuit of our vision.

Activation:

  1. Is there a request you need to bring back to the Lord?

  2. Ask Him to give you the strength to pursue His heart for it and to be bold!

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August Devotion: Leah

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Written By: Sarah Eslinger

Scripture Reading: Genesis 29

How often do we think things will change for us when some illusive x-factor occurs? We daydream naively, or even angrily, about what it might be like when…

And we begin to believe lies like:

I’ll be happy when…

I’ll be satisfied when…

I’ll feel loved when…

The list can go on and on.

Well, the good news is we are not the only ones who have battled these lies. In the book of Genesis, we find the story of Leah. There are few women in the Bible who felt more overlooked, unwanted, or unloved than Leah. Given in deception as a wife to Jacob, she awoke on day one of her honeymoon to her new husband’s despair. Why? She was not the sister Jacob wanted. She was not the one he loved. “When the Lord saw that she [Leah] was unloved, He made her able to bear children… Now, my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:31). Four sons later, Leah still believed more sons would gain her the love of her husband. But even that was never enough. Acknowledging that God was near in her heartache and loneliness was not much consolation either. Not because God’s plan for her was bad, but because she was unable to release to Him the one thing she felt she needed most, Jacob’s love. It was when she gave birth to her son, Judah, that she finally exclaimed, “This time I will praise the Lord.” In that moment, she chose to praise God for the blessings, not the lack. She chose to praise the Lord no matter what seemed to be missing because she finally knew only He could satisfy the deepest desire of her heart. Only He could offer her real love!

Isn’t this how our lives can feel? If only “this” would happen, it would create the perfect opportunity or circumstance for us to tackle and accomplish our dreams. Perhaps the thing that will bring us the greatest joy is not what we hold the tightest, but what is right behind it. Choose this month to offer your praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, regardless of what you feel is missing. Praise will shift the atmosphere of your heart and your home.

Activation:

  1. Is there something you are waiting to see happen, thinking it will allow you to move forward?

  2. What are the desires of your heart? Ask God to reveal them to you.

  3. Do you know how much the Lord loves you? Ask Him to show you and spend time praising Him for His love like Leah did.

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July Devotion: Hannah

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Written By: Rachel Betz

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-28

"Hannah stood up." Such a powerful, significant, and quite frankly, rowdy statement. When you get to know Hannah, you realize life had not been easy for her. In fact, she was quite depressed. She longed for children and yet, was unable to have any. To make the situation harder, her husband took another wife who was able to give him children. And this other woman rubbed Hannah's nose in her inadequacy everyday. Hannah was ridiculed, forced to watch another woman living what she thought was her greatest dream. She quit eating. She cried daily. Her husband tried to encourage her, but it was no use. Until one day..."Hannah stood up."

If I am honest, I can relate to Hannah on many levels. Like Hannah, I have certainly struggled with depression in the waiting. Like Hannah, I can be guilty of looking at another woman's life and feeling inadequate in my own. And like Hannah, I have had moments when action was needed; I needed to stand up. Like a scene from an action movie, I see Hannah surrounded by her family and the woman who had ridiculed her for years, ready for change. Ready to surrender her God-sized dream. Can you just imagine the look on everyone's face as this "hidden" woman rises to her feet? And then she prays. She prays and weeps and promises the Lord she will surrender to Him the one thing she has wanted more than anything else, a child. And God shows up. He blesses her with a child whom she names Samuel. But God's revelation and Hannah's miracle do not end with the birth of Samuel.

Hannah's obedience is put to the test as she is faced with the decision to follow through on her promise and walk in obedience. She must surrender her greatest dream, her son, to the Lord. I don’t know if she wrestled with this decision, but I certainly would have. But Hannah's commitment and obedience was steadfast. Even her husband knows she cannot be deterred from keeping her promise to the Father. His only response, "Do what seems best to you." He must have looked at her like she had lost her mind as she explains to him that she is going to give up her son. Hannah's obedience cost her the one thing she desired, a son. But because she trusted God, her obedience paved the way for our Savior to enter the world. You see, Samuel was responsible for anointing David as King which established the lineage of our Mighty King Jesus. Hannah could not see the big picture, but her obedience in what she could see was history in the making.

I do not know where you are today, but perhaps it is time to stand up in your spirit. Maybe there is an area of your life you have chosen to give up. Sweet friend, the time is right; it’s now! Rise up, get up, stand up! This month it is time to stand.

Activation:

1. Is there a God-sized dream He is asking you to surrender?

2. Is there a step of obedience God is asking you to take requiring you to trust big?



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June Devotion: Naomi

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Written By: Charme Thongsavanh

Scripture Reading: Ruth 1:14-18

Mentorship is a beautiful gift from the Lord. One of my favorite verses, found in Titus 2, urges older women to train younger women in the ways of life and in loving the Lord. Life can be overwhelming at times and having wise counsel speak into different areas of our lives is like finding a rare and precious jewel!

One of the most beautiful stories of mentorship in the Bible is seen in the story of Naomi and Ruth. In Ruth 1, we meet three women who have experienced the depths of grief through the loss of their husbands. Naomi not only lost her husband, but her two sons as well. Though now left in a state of great sadness, she is not without hope. Hearing the famine is over in her homeland of Bethlehem, Naomi sets out on this great journey with her two daughters-in-law; however, it is only Ruth and Naomi who ultimately travel to Bethlehem.

Once they arrive, Naomi immediately became the major influence and mentor in Ruth’s life. This relationship grew organically as Naomi shared insight, wisdom, and knowledge through conversation, experience, and prayer. Wisdom was the first of many things she would impart. Naomi knew the people and connections Ruth needed in Bethlehem in order for the two women to survive. Naomi could not work because of her age, but she could introduce Ruth to the right people to get work. Naomi also coached Ruth on how to act and behave when she encountered Boaz, Naomi’s relative, who would ultimately become Ruth’s husband. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons Naomi would share is the way to walk forward after heartbreak. She exemplified trusting God in the midst of deep sorrow and pain. Through Naomi’s instruction and coaching, generations would be impacted. Naomi is a beautiful example to us of how to be a Titus 2 woman.

God desires each of us to learn from those women ahead of us in life, experiences, and spirituality. But it does not stop there. As we learn, we are called to lead and mentor others as well. As you make plans this month, ask the Lord to highlight women you can encourage through mentorship!

Activation:

  1. List any women God shows you to mentor.

  2. What are some ways you can invite these women into your life (family dinners, grocery shopping, pool time)?

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May Devotion: The Shunammite Woman

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Written By: Amber Colberg

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-37

It was in the rolling hills of Shunem, a village about seven miles south of Nazareth, where the prophet Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s dead son back to life.

Her son was a promise from God. An unknown promise to anyone else, but a desire the Shunammite woman must have had buried deeply in her heart. Elisha wanted to thank her for her kindness and hospitality since she had built a room for him to stay in when he passed through Shunem. He told her in one year’s time she would hold a son in her arms. It did not look promising for her to have a child of her own. Her husband was very old and scripture leads us to believe they were content and comfortable in their current situation. However, Elisha’s prophecy came to pass, and the woman’s desire was revealed and fulfilled exactly one year later!

Twelve years passed and one day, suddenly the son of promise became a limp, cold, precious body on his mother’s lap. Being of great strength and faith, the Shunammite woman placed her son on Elisha’s bed, closed the door, and left him there. Normally, she would have taken him to be wrapped for burial and then laid him in a tomb. But this faithful woman was not going to bury her desire and fulfilled promise from God! Her sure confidence in God restoring what He promised her is displayed in her actions. She walked away from her son lying on the bed; symbolic of leaving her promise with God, trusting His plan, and standing firm on His word. She says twice, “It is well.” She knew in her heart, this was not how it would end.

I want to personally encourage you this month. Unknown to anyone else and content in my current circumstances, I had a desire in my heart for another child. It was buried among uncertainty of the future, fear of experiencing another loss, and a lack of hope. God restored this desire in a vivid dream in 2017, rocking a child in my arms. I knew a previous miscarriage was not how it was going to end. In the months ahead, it did not look promising for us to have another child. Numerous high-risk complications mounted a battle against my dream. But God fulfilled His promise exactly one year later. The desire of my heart and promise from God was born at full term! Just as He did for the woman from Shunem, just as He did for me, God will also restore to life what He has promised you!

Activation:

  1. Do you have a promise from God which you laid down?

  2. Are you standing in faith that it will be restored to life again?

  3. Ask God if this is the time to pick your dream back up.

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April Devotion: Deborah

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Written By: Lindsay Cochran

Scripture Reading: Judges 4

In Judges 4, we meet a woman named Deborah. Deborah is known for her leadership, strength, and faith. She was the only female judge mentioned in the Bible, and through her prophetic gift and faith in action, she led Israel to victory against their captors, the Canaanites. Throughout this situation we see her commitment to hearing God, trusting Him, and encouraging others to trust Him too.

One of the things that stands out most about Deborah is her confidence in what God had spoken to her. In Judges 4:14, she said, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” (NIV). Although she could not see exactly how God was going to deliver this king of Canaan into their hands, she encouraged the armies of Israel to go and walk forward in faith and strength because she had confidence God was going to do what He said. She sensed both God’s promise and His timing, encouraging the army to follow her. She knew God had already gone before them and would fight for them if they stepped out in faith. The people went out as Deborah encouraged them to do, and they won the victory over Sisera just as the Lord had promised. What if she had hesitated? What if Deborah had chosen to listen to her fear instead of the promised word from the Lord?

But even with us, how often do we hesitate or even stay home, knowing the Lord has spoken to us? Is it because we do not fully believe that He will go before us? Or how many times do we stand still out of fear even after we hear God’s voice? We can learn from Deborah’s faith and confidence in God. Not only did she have faith in God’s word, but she demonstrated faith through action. Her choice to move forward in faith affected everyone around her and ultimately lead the nation of Israel to victory. She was able to walk forward with strength and faith because she had a word from God that she could hold on to. As you look to this month, be challenged to walk in confidence and faith in the word God speaks to you and in the dreams He is birthing in you.

Activation:

1. What words has God spoken to you that you can hold on to and walk out in faith?

2. Are there dreams or ideas God has asked you to act on that you haven’t because of fear or uncertainty?

3. Do you truly believe that God will do what He said?



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Spread Love Everywhere You Go

by Katie Racine

I was in my car headed to the gym for my morning workout. At the stoplight, I prayerfully went through my daily "to-do-list" and invited Jesus to speak into my day. As I listened, I sensed that I was supposed to go to Target instead of the YMCA. While this prompt seemed strange, I knew that I was being redirected and obeyed. As I approached the entrance at Target, I saw my friend Michelle walking out.

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Making Space

by Liz Martin

I am a doer. I love doing ALL.THE.THINGS. Be on the planning committee for a women's event at church? Yes please. Be on the steering team for our local mom’s program? Duh! Speak at a women’s event? I’m in. Oh you need a room parent for my daughter’s Kindergarten class? Of course I can! I love having a seat at the table and being in the game. It’s not that I can’t say no, it’s that I genuinely LOVE it! Who’s with me? 

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Why Refresh Retreat?

Join us for a two day retreat designed with great intention to help activate you further into your God-given purpose. Refresh Retreat is a place for you to hear from the Lord, gain inspiration and be equipped to boldly walk in the unique calling on your life.

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Dream On

by Amanda Merritt

I am a dreamer. I love to come up with big, over the top ideas. I’m also a practical detail planner to a fault. I’m not really sure how those to traits came together, but here I stand. Depending on the situation, I can take a dream or vision and run with it, planning out all the little things to make it successful, or I can take a dream and kill it with rationality.

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March Devotion: Woman with the Issue of Blood

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March Devotion

Written By: Kassidy Bezet

Scripture Reading: Luke 8:43-48

Have you ever been desperate for a miracle? The book of Luke, in chapter eight, tells us about a woman who was desperate for a miracle. We do not know much about her other than she had been battling a bleeding condition for twelve years. The other thing we know is she had spent all of her money seeking a cure, but doctors were not able to help her. It seems bad enough to have suffered for so many years with no hope of a cure, but it gets worse. In those days, she was considered unclean. Laws banned her from public places including the temple. Can you imagine not only battling an incurable disease but also rejection? She was desperate for a miracle. But there was a name she had been hearing around town lately… Jesus. Could He help her? Could He give her the healing and relief she’s been so desperately desiring?

Jesus was on His way to heal another man’s daughter with a huge throng of people following Him to see what would happen. Now I am sure this woman is well aware of the crowd, knowing if she touches anyone they too become unclean; the penalty, death by stoning. But she knew Jesus was her last hope. She timed it up perfectly, touching the hem of His robe and then… it stopped. In an instant she was made well and in the same instant the Word says Jesus realized power had gone out from Him. He asked, “Who touched my robe?” And of course the disciples answer is classic, “There’s thousands of people around, and you ask who touched you?” Oh, but it was not a physical touch, it was a touch of faith. She did not ask Jesus to lay hands on her and pray for her. In fact, everyone in the crowd probably had a need of some sort, but her faith grabbed His attention. She put everything on the line to reach out to Jesus. She had nothing left! No other options. No other alternatives. No essential oil bombs to mix or diffuse. Jesus was all she had. Her faith moved Him so strongly that He declared over her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” This woman who was once known as unclean was hearing the sweetest words she had heard in decades! He was her miracle!

God isn’t moved by our needs, he’s moved by our faith. Do you want faith that makes Jesus stop? Do you want faith that causes power to flow out of him? Whatever situations we face, all it takes is faith as small as a mustard seed! He responds to your heart.

Activation:

  1. Ask God to stir up your faith, to get your hopes high!

  2. Now ask Him to show you what situations you are facing this month which need great faith.

  3. How does He want you to walk those out?

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Supernatural Sense

by Teresa Lickliter

As humans we were created with 5 senses: sight, hear, smell, feel and my favorite, taste. It’s the stuff that dictates how we respond to the world around us. We often rely on them to keep us safe and make us feel in control.  But most likely, we are so distracted by them that we miss what is really happening, giving us a false sense of security.

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Grace for the Bedtime Hour

by Allison Wallwork

Bedtime can honestly get the best of me sometimes.  Somewhere between dinner dishes going into the sink and eyelids finally closing with sleep, craziness tends to happen. We’ve had the same bedtime routine for years: baths, pajamas, teeth brushing, stories, prayers, and lights out.  

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Community

by Julie Bratcher

2013 was the toughest year of my life.

After a 7-year battle with Lou Gherig’s disease, also known as ALS, I lost my mother to this wretched disease. I won’t lie; it was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through and there were days I didn’t think I could go on. My faith told me, “God will heal.” But my faith didn’t heal her.

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Behold

by Taylor Quintini

Vision. For each of us that hears the word, a different emotion begins to rise to the surface of our hearts. 

There is the girl who brims over with excitement. “Oh, you want to talk about vision?!?! Well don’t even get me started sister. I have a journal, tons of dreams, a 10-year plan…” – you get the type. 

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February Devotion: Jochebed

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Written by: Melinda Denton

Scripture Reading: Exodus 2:1-10

The story of Moses’ birth and survival does not begin with the future “Giver of the Law” floating down the crocodile-infested waters of the Nile River. No, we are first painted a beautiful vignette of one of the most courageous mothers in the Bible, Jochebed. This woman of great faith cleverly hatched a plan to rescue her infant son from certain death and destruction.

Her Biblical narrative begins as a mother of two and now pregnant for a third time. We can only imagine the despair she must have felt as she wondered if it would be a girl or a boy. And then came the gut punch of all gut punches: it was a boy! Normally, this would be cause for much celebration, but not this time. With a Pharaoh bent on ridding himself of all Israelite males, having a son at this point in time meant certain death for the new baby. Courageously, she tucked her son away for three months, and when she could no longer hide his cries, she prepared a basket out of papyrus and put her helpless child into it.

She let go of the vessel.

She surrendered her little boy.

She walked away and trusted her God.

My momma heart cries imagining this scene. The fatigue of three months of nursing her infant. Trying to muffle his sobs, living day and night in the grips of anxiety. Now all of it surrendered into the loving hands of Yahweh. Only because of her full confidence in the Lord could she abandon her son rather than see him slain. This is a portrait of true bravery in the face of angst and struggle. Jochebed showed great courage where she could have chosen fear.

When she situated little Moses on the Nile River that day, Jochebed could not have realized he would mature to be one of God's most notable leaders, chosen to deliver the Hebrew people from bondage in Egypt. She would never know that her baby boy would one day lead the people of Israel to the edge of the Promised Land. By courageously letting go and trusting God, an even more remarkable dream was satisfied. Like Jochebed, we will not always foresee God's purpose in our letting go, but we can have courage to step out and trust Him. His plan is far superior. This month ask the Lord to reveal areas in which you need to walk courageously.



Activation:

1. What areas of your life do you need courage?

2. List some scriptures on bravery and courage to help you when tough times come.




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Unraveling

by Amy Patton

The room was cold, the lights were fluorescent, and the coffee was strong. I don’t remember much else about that night. It’s almost like I was so aware of myself I didn’t have the bandwidth to be aware of anything else. Person after person paraded across the front of the room as they muttered something along the lines of “Hi, my name is BlahBlah, I am a following of Jesus Christ finding freedom from suchandsuch.”

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In the Middle

by Becky Jones

Recently I found myself sitting in front of a monstrous pretzel, drinking a latte with Pooh Bear art on top, eating a giant stack of pumpkin pancakes, and downing a basket of chicken fingers with a side of fries. While this sounds like a Pepto Bismol commercial about to happen, I didn’t actually partake of all this goodness in one day. That would have been epic; #stretchypants.

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Without Distraction

by Taylor Quintini

Can you lay down all you find yourself to be anxious and concerned with – endless emails, calendar pressures and deadlines, maybe the weight of motherhood and all the things you are holding onto for dear life? Join me in April as we spend two days in Dallas striving to listen without distraction. I love what Matthew Henry shares in His commentary on this story. “We must either sit at Christ’s feet or be made his footstool; but, if we sit with him at his feet now, we shall sit with him on his throne shortly.” I desperately want it to be said of me, like Mary, she set aside her distraction and chose the better thing! Will you join me?!   

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