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February Scripture Writing Guide (2020)

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss its full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying. Each day in February you’ll have the opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional mediations or prayers that the verse brings to mind. Click here to download the February Scripture Writing Guide!

scampering about with “beginning” in poetry

When Justin invites me to listen, to pray, asking God for a new word for this year, my head nods. I hear my voice say yes. And then I ask for my heart to catch up.  A new year’s promise of new beginnings can feel heavy if we let it. Funny, isn’t it, that a promise for newness. for starting over, can feel like another thing to do, to get right.  The word “beginning” suggests newness, freshness. It is the start of something, perhaps even the origination of something that has not existed before. And don’t we all want that? A beginning is a positive word–usually suggesting something good: the end of a bad habit, the end of a tough situation, the end of a way of thinking that wasn’t healthy and only led to a dead end.  Beginnings are the opposite of dead ends. They are ...

The Danger of Isolation

The more hurt I was, the more I wanted to run. The more I replayed the past, the more I wanted to simply stay underneath the covers and not get up in the mornings. It seemed the harder life was, the more I wanted to isolate myself from others. And life got darker….and darker…. and darker.  That’s the danger with isolation. When we’re going through hard times, it is easy for us to isolate. We don’t want others around. We don’t want to cry one more tear over the situation. We don’t want to explain our emotions again and again. But the more we pull away, the darker the situation becomes. God created us for community. He created us, so that others around us can encourage us when we are down. He uses people to speak life into us, when we are too tired, or broken, or emotionally weak, to ev...

Being Strong and Courageous

www.courtnayerichard.com I want to start this post by quoting one of my favorite Scriptures found in Joshua 1:9, “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Sis, this was a command for Joshua and it is also a command for us today. The Bible tells us in Romans 15:4, “For as many as have been written before have been written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” If you need to be encouraged or need hope today or later on in the year (or in life for that fact), you can always rely on this encouraging command. Now, you’re probably thinking, “How can a command be encouraging, Courtnaye?” And I would say, “Because when you are afraid or f...

Breathing Faith

Sacred romance embrace my heart. Desire ignite the flame. No fear of being hurt. A love affair, silent and bare. Inhale to stand alive. I run to play with fire. Untamed, so wild, the danger tempts, I come to You oh Lord. Embrace my spirit, I’ll taste the life You died to give.  I will not waste the zest, the zeal. I breathe, no longer numb. The thunder storm, the lightning chase, vibrant I pace the pulse of joy. Exhale in shouts, In praise I sing. To learn I want it all. To turn away, is sin. I won’t, I can’t. Resound the heart of God, with faith, not doubt, Not safe, but worth the risk. Answer the call. Chara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University and ...

What is a Decade Worth?

No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12 (NASB) A decade’s worth of familyEnough to fill the heartWith hope, love, and happinessEven when we are apart A decade’s worth of hugsEnough to go aroundAt least one for every dayWill make our joy abound A decade’s worth of prayersEnough to hear from GodIf we pause to listen closeTo discern the Spirit’s prod A decade’s worth of kindnessEnough to make another’s dayAll our actions steeped in graceHelping neighbors find the way A decade’s worth of loveEnough to vanquish hateEven when it taunts usLove never takes the bait A decade’s worth of writingEnough to tell the storyTo touch someone’s heartAnd bring to God all glory What a decade is worthDepends...

25 Parenting Tips for Single Moms

25 Parenting Tips for Single Moms                 If we surveyed a thousand single moms, there would be a thousand different answers on the best practices of how to parent your children well.  Different strokes for different folks, as they say.  That said, we want to provide some clarity and calm to what can sometimes be a difficult journey of parenting alone.  Let’s be real.  It’s hard.  It’s really hard.  But droves of single mothers have gone before you and have done it well. They have raised well-rounded, loving, respectful adults who are contributing to society in amazing ways.  Don’t let the naysayers distract you from the task at hand.       &nb...

Christianity doesn’t need saving; people do

A trend arose on social media recently where people began sharing photos and memories from 10 years ago side-by-side with photos and memories from the present as a way of talking about how much things have changed personally and societally over the last decade. At first blush, it was cute; but then not so much. The late aughts, for example, were tough on impoverished grad students with very little in the way of what experts call “fashion sense” or “a regular barber” or “a working iron.” In the midst of countless callbacks to floppy bangs, bootcut jeans and quotes from “The Office”(wait, am I talking about 2009 or 2019 – life is a closed-loop!), I noticed a few stories from my feed that mentioned a more personal or existential shift. A number of friends mentioned the loss or “death” of thei...

The Time of Reflection: Between Christmas and the New Year

As excited as we get during the Christmas season, as thankful as we feel for the perfect gift of God’s son, there’s some dead space, some apprehension between the warmth and glow of the manger and what we believe God may have in store for us in the future. As we move from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy New Year,” many of us (myself included), face the new year with a great deal of apprehension. Maybe last year didn’t turn out how you hoped. Perhaps tragedy played a big part in your year. Sometimes wondering what God has in store for us is a terrifying thought. We start to think—what will He spring on us next? I believe this is a false view of the God we serve. This is a picture of a capricious god, a sadistic prankster, who sticks a foot out to trip us, plays roulette with our lives, and...

January Scripture Writing Guide (2020)

Scripture writing plans are incredibly simple, yet incredibly effective for helping us read, interpret and absorb the Word of God. Rather than simply letting our eyes pass over a verse and perhaps miss its full meaning, writing Scripture down helps us absorb each word and really think through what the passage before us is saying. Each day in June you’ll have opportunity to write down a verse. We suggest using a journal where you can add any additional mediations or prayers that the verse brings to mind. Click here to download the June Scripture Writing Guide!

Eight common Christmas Traditions

The Real Story Behind 8 Weird Christmas Traditions Christmas is a beautiful time of year where Christians from around the world gather to celebrate the birth of our Savior. It’s also a time when otherwise sensible people drag gigantic trees into their living rooms, hang flammable decorative socks over fireplaces and try to convince themselves eggnog isn’t disgusting. Let’s face it: The Christmas story may be beautiful, but Christmas has gotten weird. Here’s a look at the strange-but-true backstories of some of Christmas’ most popular traditions. CHRISTMAS TREES Though Christmas trees do have Christian origins with Martin Luther evidently being a big fan (he may have appropriated it from a pagan tradition), they used to be straight-up dangerous. Luther was the first one who apparently decor...

awake to wonder – writing poetry helps us celebrate all that life brings

The rain pelts my hands grasping bike handles, soaks my feet inside my leather tennis shoes, freezes my shoulders bent over the handlebars. (I soon learn my raincoat is water-resistantand not waterproof. Oh, an important difference.) And my legs? Yeah, they’re drenched. But my helmet visor is blocking the raindrops from my eyes–so I can see.  Helpful. A thirty-minute bike ride door to door and the urban outdoors is wild in its beauty. I kind of love it. I tell Justin during one of our Fridays after work that this fall (almost winter now) in the California Bay Area, where we live, is alive with texture and color. More beautiful than I have appreciated before. When we lived on the East Coast for four years, Philadelphia and then New York City, the transformation of trees’ leaves turning...