Living Proof!

Our Winners for the Beth Moore Simulcast Giveaway were Midge and Mary Ann! Thank you all for your encouraging posts. He really does redeem lives. He really does rebuild and renew us. So thankful for our graceful and merciful God!

Hi Everyone,

In case you were wondering who got the Olympic medal for world’s worst blogger this summer, I took home the gold. It was a proud moment. But I’m back with great news about this Saturday, September 15th. You may have heard that one of my all-time favorite bible teachers, Beth Moore, has a simulcast on this day, but you might not have realized that you can be part of this special event in your own living room, on your porch, in your pajamas, eating sugary muffins or bagels with cream cheese. Yes! If you want to involve your friends, which I highly recommend, you can invite them over, or better yet invite yourself over to their house if they have a cushier couch, or stronger coffee. You get the idea. HERE IS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MAKE THIS A REALITY! (PS – I know college football is on, but this is a perfect time for TiVo, or just remind yourself that there will be college football games on every fall Saturday for as long as America endures. What Beth is going to share will only happen once.)

Listen, I’m urging you to tune in this Saturday because I believe Beth’s specific message will have a profound effect on your everyday reality. She’s touching on an issue every single one of us deals with, something that keeps us from living the full life Jesus came for us to enjoy. Also, I happen to be passionate about her teaching, because her teaching of the Word has literally changed my life – or in keeping with the name of her ministry, you could say I am Living Proof of what God has done. If I could distill the intricate, sometimes agonizingly slow, changes God has worked in my heart, I would say I am living proof of God’s love because He has healed an extraordinarily anxious, even angry, soul into one of peace and greater wholeness. I have by no means arrived – not even close – but the profound transformation that’s taken place in my being could have been accomplished by none other than Jesus Himself.

So… here’s what I’m thinking we should do: Comment on how you are Living Proof of God’s love. This is a great exercise because it forces you to reflect on what God has done in your life, and it encourages others in their journey. Also, we just so happen to have TWO FREE simulcast registrations to give away, and we’ll randomly draw those from those who comment. (We’ll do this Wed at noon, so be sure to get your comments in before then.)

I know there are so many events to attend at this time of year. I’m actually speaking in Portland, TN on Saturday and will love being with the women who will be there! But if you don’t have any other in-the-Word commitments this weekend, I can’t encourage you enough to hear Beth’s heart, no matter what your knowledge of the Bible or even the Christian faith. There are NO prerequisites necessary. You won’t want to miss this, I just know it.

September Blessings,





Online Summer Bible Study Opportunities

I’m back from the Amazon and so grateful for all of your prayers. It was an amazing trip as always. Though each trip is different I’m convinced that anytime we avail ourselves to those in need – and receive from them what we ourselves desperately lack – we are blessed. We were able to build a very large chicken coop for a village that desperately needed a sustainable food supply. And when I say “we” built a chicken coop, what I mean is that skilled people from Brazil and our team built it and I cheered them on from my hammock while sipping out of a chilled coconut. This may have happened once.

My hope is to write a book about how God has transformed my perception of the American Jungle we all navigate by visiting the one in Brazil, so I’ll save my stories for later. In the meantime, I want to highlight a couple unique opportunities for online Bible study this summer. Many of you already know that Beth Moore is taking her online community (open to anyone) through a study I wrote called Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break (details here). This begins Tues, June 26th on her blog. I love Beth’s heart and teaching so much I can barely take it, so this is an enormous blessing to me and I pray it is for you.

In other fun news (if slaying false gods is fun), I found out that Kelly Hancock from the blog Faithful Provisions will be leading her online community through my very first study called No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols (June 25-Aug 20). Kelly H. will do blog posts every Monday beginning on June 25 as well as live Facebook chats on Tuesdays. You can find more specific details here. This study is deeply personal to me since I wrote it during a difficult season of having to let go of what was taking the place of a vibrant relationship with Christ. Though quite painful (seriously kinda tough), the freedom, joy and fullness of His Presence has far exceeded anything I had to part with – there is no comparison. If you’re struggling with peace, joy or freedom, it’s possible that you’ve sold out a piece of yourself to someone or something other than Christ. If this is you, Kelly Hancock’s online group might be a help and encouragement. Regardless of your summer plans, check out her blog which has tons of practical advice on shopping, saving and budgeting. You’ll see why so many people follow her site religiously.

There are so many other studies to pick up this summer. My dear friend Lisa Harper just released a study on the book of Malachi. She happens to be one of my favorite people, and she brings me tomatoes from her garden so you can’t go wrong here. Another one of my favorites, Angela Thomas, has a great study out called Brave. Priscilla Shirer has several, most recently a study on Jonah. Tammie Head recently released her first study called Duty or Delight and I hear it’s great. Currently I’m going through Beth Moore’s study on James, and I’m loving it. There are so many to choose from. My encouragement this summer is to get into Scripture one way or another, simply because it contains words of life. And who doesn’t need some life?

Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about your summer study plans. I’d love to hear from you. Also, if any of you have any garden advice for sprawling tomatoes plants that are threatening to take over what I used to refer to as “my” backyard, please let me know.

***Ordering information for Nehemiah or No Other Gods. (If ordering the NOG study make sure you choose the one that says “study”).


My First Garden, Quick Post 2

I’m off to the Amazon Jungle tomorrow morning but had to post a garden progress pic before I left. (This growth is only over one month – I’m in awe on a daily basis.)






Oh, yes, you noticed the new fence. Well this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and now that I have tomatoes at stake (pun possibly intended), I decided to go for it. As you can see, I salvaged some bamboo on the side of the road and made a bean tepee – because I spent all my money on the new fence and am turning cheap. I used some of the branches growing around the old chain-link fence for another mini-trellis in the lower bed for soup beans. I also discovered some brick where my yard was torn up for the fence. This find was the perfect excuse for making another mini bed (not pictured) for another tomato plant along with purple bush beans. My friend April says I’m erring on the side of junky. My neighbors think I’m odd, and somewhat strange garden-y people are beginning to identify me as one of their own. More on this upon my return.

In the meantime, I would love your prayers as I seek to help build a garden of another sorts in a jungle village called Puru Puru. A few of you may have seen the interview from Session 4 of Nehemiah with the pastor of this village sharing about a soup kitchen he and his wife had built. A group of us will be working with Pastor and Mrs. Paiva to add onto this kitchen as well as build a sustainable chicken farm for their village. We’ll also be planting some vegetables, so I’m hoping my “vast” garden knowledge might come in handy.

More than anything, I am longing for Jesus to show Himself to us along the river this week. Please pray with me toward that end. Currently the Amazon river is at one of its highest flood points in all of recorded history. Many are starving and losing their homes. I truly wrestle with why I am able to live where I live, where gardening is more for fun than for livelihood, and where I get to put up things like privacy fences and use water that a timer turns on and off. It’s a mystery to me. One that I often don’t know what to do with.

In the meantime, I am going through Beth Moore’s study on the book of James, and I am comforted by the fact that in the first few verses James reminds us of how important the poor are to him – and should be to us. I am grateful the Bible reveals that riches are not lasting, but what we do through Christ will never fade away. Thank you for your prayers.


My First Garden, Post 1

If everything dies, this will be my first and only post, but so far green foliage is incrementally moving upward, each day stretching just a little closer to the sky. I feel it is now safe to blog about this garden venture because of the initial growth, but also because financially speaking I’m upside down about 30 years worth of prolific vegetable production, so my garden is an investment I’m motivated to see through. Pretty much if I don’t eat squash and pole beans everyday that I’ve personally grown until I’m in my sixties, I will have lost my retirement.

Here’s how it started. Exactly 18 days ago I was having brunch with two friends, April and Mary Katharine.  Somehow we stumbled upon the topic of homegrown tomatoes, probably because this word gets used often in my vocabulary. I can be talking about almost anything and, bam, the word tomato pops out.

“How about I devote tomorrow to help you build raised beds for a garden?” my now forever best friend in the world, MK, says to me.

My articulate response to her proposal went something like, “That sounds amazing. I’m freaking out backwards.”

April was fit to be tied because she was scheduled for a job the next day and was suffering from what my friend Paige calls FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Having no idea what I was talking about, I assured April that there would be years and years of opportunity for her to contribute to what was about to explode in my backyard.

You should know that at this point my backyard was known only for grass, general blah-ness and an occasional firefly. But I’ve always had higher visions. In fact, starting a garden has been a dream of mine over the past few years, ever since I started canning tomatoes from our farmers’ market and subscribing to a CSA, ever since I devoured Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, along with a couple books by Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin. For various reasons I could never get started, partly because I’m the type of person who thinks I need a doctorate in photosynthesis before I toss my first seed in the ground. Friends are a tremendous resource for me when I get locked down like this.

“If we think we have to know everything there is to know about gardening we’ll never get started”, Mk said. This felt like wisdom to me, so the next day we set our alarms – because farmers rise early – and we tore off to the farmers’ market in a blaze of ignorance. Though I was smitten with the burgeoning vegetation roaring in the display beds of the market, I couldn’t even think about seeds or plants yet. I had to get my beds built and the proper soil put in those beds. Fortunately I met a really helpful store manager named Aaron. He seemed to enjoy me at first until he realized I was an unlearned gardening wackadoo. I think the only reason he put up with my myriad questions was because he sensed that my unharnessed fanaticism may lead me to plunk down the money for enough untreated cedar and organic soil to keep him in business until Thanksgiving, as well as to destroy the shocks of my Jeep.

My friend and I loaded up and made 3 round trips, pulled into my backyard and unloaded each time, put together cedar rectangles, wheel-barrowed bags of soil to those rectangles, and dumped them in one bag at a time. As the day wore on and my muscles fatigued I’d slam the bags of soil into the wheelbarrow, gravity would take over, and then the wheelbarrow would take off with a shaky, pale, 30-something woman tearing off behind it. After 140 excruciatingly dense bags of this, I was beginning to rethink this whole garden “adventure” and my friend was rethinking her friendship with me. Turns out that drilling screws into cedar boards and unloading a zillion pounds of manure and worm castings made “going to work” on a Monday look pretty enviable.

After two beds of bordering on illegal amounts of labor I decided to hire my neighbor Manny to build and fill the third bed – this drove up the cost, but again, think of all the money we’ll save if we eat our own vegetables everyday until we’re 109.

Here are the first two beds before Manny built the third one. (There were only supposed be a total of two but I’ll explain the “need” for a third one in post #2. Assuming everything lives that long.)









Here I am celebrating what looks to be pretty much nothing, but it’s all about the hope of what’s to come…









After these two beds were built and filled with the proper soil, I began to obsess about what I would plant in my raised beds. Tomatoes of course, but what varieties and what tomato plant gardener could I really trust? (Heavy stuff.) I had my deep bed for tomatoes and my shallow one for other vegetables like squash and zucchini, beans, peppers and eggplant. Mary Katharine also insisted on okra, cucumber, artichokes, and jalepenos, so these were big dreams we were chasing. And for you gardeners out there, you know they were big dreams limited by small spaces, but I discovered this soon enough.

Next up, my adventures with Lisa Harper to Marrianna’s Heirloom Seed Farm, along with a few spiritual lessons God’s already shown me from elements like plants and dirt. Pretty amazing stuff it turns out.

Would love to hear about your gardening successes and obstacles, especially anything about tomatoes…




Nehemiah and Beth Moore’s Summer Blog

Summer is almost here, that lovely season when some of life’s chores begin to wind down over barbeques and underneath the sun’s warmth. For me, the joy of summer is slower days and lingering evenings, a time when you can breath deeply, hopefully taking some extra time to listen. And seek. And be still. And maybe even extend yourself.

Thinking about this makes me especially excited that Beth Moore will be highlighting the book of Nehemiah for her summer blog study this year. Beth is one of my all-time favorite Bible study teachers who I’ve been learning from since my college years. She’s authentic, remarkably funny, passionate, and a continual reflection of how Jesus loves and changes us. She’s just ridiculously fun and amazing.

***To find out more about being part of her Summer Study click here for more information.

***To place an order for Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break Study(s) click here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What about shipping? Orders that contain 1-2 books take 5-9 business days to arrive. Orders of 3 or more items ship Priority Mail and will arrive in 2-3 business days. If you need expedited shipping or have a special shipping need, please contact Sarah Smith at 615-410-2282 or email
  • Does every study include a leader guide or do I need the kit? Great question! Every study has a leader guide in the back, so you don’t need the kit to get the leader guide.
  • Do I need the DVD Kit for Beth’s Summer Study? The DVD Kit is not essential for the summer study, however, Kelly’s teaching sessions will enhance your experience. You can click here for more information on the DVD Kit (note the Kit comes with 7 DVD sessions and a Nehemiah study book).
  • Do I have to do this study in a group, or can I do it alone? Either one. If you have a small group you’d like to gather together for this study, that’s ideal. But if you’d like to do it alone, that’s great too.

If you have questions regarding this process or experience any difficulty in placing your order, please contact Sarah Smith at 615-410-2282 or email

A Note From Kelly About Writing Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break:
While studying the book of Nehemiah I loved how the book encouraged the process of rebuilding. Whether rebuilding a piece of our own life or the life of someone else, God’s heart for the sometimes messy process of rebuilding is what Nehemiah is all about. It’s an extraordinary story of what God can do with a compassionate heart that’s yielded to His heart of love and redemption for people everywhere – People God placed on Nehemiah’s heart, people He’s placed on your heart.

As a few of you know from my writing, God has done much to rebuild the broken places inside me while inviting me to be part of the restoration process in the lives of a few in my community, as well as those I’ve met in the Amazon jungles of Brazil. Never has life been this exhilarating, because when God calls us to tangibly love people it’s because He loves people, and studying Nehemiah reaffirmed this remarkable truth in me – A truth that will absolutely change our lives if we’ll believe it and get out there.

If you don’t already have summer Bible study plans, I’d love for you to come along for the Summer Siesta Bible Study Ride with our dearest Beth Moore…





Yanno, The Boy From Chita

Our boat pulled up to the cement school in the village of Chita. I remember it being extra hot that day, the kind of heat that zips you in like the footie pajamas you used to where as a kid. The Amazon air has a way of clinging to you like no other place on earth.

We arrived with our myriad soccer balls, blowup animals and colorful crafts, all of which the kids couldn’t wait to kick, bend, glue and whatever else kids do while squealing and fluttering around like hummingbirds. At one strategic point in our visit, we gathered all the children and moms together for our official program which consists of a ‘rousing’ puppet show, a few songs led by me in my lousy Portuguese, some words from a team member about how God’s love tangibly collided with his or her life, and a time of prayer led by my Dad. Pretty straightforward stuff if you grew up anywhere near Christendom.

Gloria, our Brazilian spitfire, closed our time by explaining to the 30 or so moms and kids that if anyone needed prayer to come forward where a few of us were ready to pray over the needs. Before she’d completed her sentence, a four year-old boy sprung from his chair, clutched his mother’s arm and determinedly led her to the front. Yanno was so little that I was certain he didn’t understand what was happening. I was thinking faithless thoughts like, maybe he thinks we asked for kids to come forward for candy.

He shyly explained that his family had lost its home and barely had any food. He said his mom Mara was sad, words she confirmed with slight nods and a hopeless gaze. We prayed for their physical needs and committed to helping them however we could. My Dad explained the beauty of the gospel, how forgiveness through Jesus would forever change them. Mara and Yanno welcomed this Savior into their lives that day.

When Jesus makes an entrance in the middle of standard, Christian camp fare, I don’t know why I’m so jaw-dropping shocked. I couldn’t fathom that a boy so young could understand that God was his Answer. How guilty I am of motioning through the mechanics of a program, misplacing my expectation on the process rather than the Person of Jesus who said, “Let the little children come unto me.” Of course a four year-old could get it!

Flower Girl Dresses

As we made our way toward the boat for the next village, I hated to say goodbye to Yanno. I felt a strong sense that he needed to be blessed, unofficial as anything I could bring him seemed. So I placed my hand on the top of his prickly-haired  wigs head and prayed a blessing over him – it was just the two of us. He must have been wondering what this shockingly white woman was doing with her hand on his head and why her speech was so strange and unrecognizable. I asked God to set Yanno apart like King David. I don’t know why that specific plea, though my urgency for him to be blessed has now become clear:

A few days ago I received an email from Gloria entitled, “Yanno, The Boy From Chita.” She relayed to us some tragic news that while Yanno was in his new house with his Mom and baby brother, Mara was struck by lightening in front of him. After vainly trying to shake his mother awake, he picked up the baby and waded through the river until he found a fisherman who could help.

Yanno is seven years-old. Mara would not be revived.

Gloria has since discovered that Mara was baptized weeks before the lightening struck her. She had gotten back with her husband and the family was attending a jungle church in the village. These expressions are powerless in and of themselves, yet when attached to Jesus they are vibrant signs of a heart transformed by Him. Mara knew Jesus and He welcomed her into His presence that day.

I’m not writing to saddle you with despair or sadness, we have enough coming at us from countless streams. I’m writing out of the discovery that comes from a story like Yanno’s that is still being told. I have no idea why if God had the power to lead us to this boy, He wouldn’t use that same power to thwart the lightening that struck his mother. Without a satisfying answer, I believe that the Spirit who led that little boy to the front of the room for prayer three years ago, was the same One who knew what Yanno would one day face. When God whispered in my heart, “Put your hand on that child’s head and pray for him because he’s special” I didn’t know why I was praying, but God knew.

And now I know too.

Yanno and his family will need our support over the coming years. I pray I will be able to see him when I return to the Amazon this June. I pray His experience of Christ and His church will be ever sufficient in the midst of unspeakable tragedy.

Dear Father, thank you for sending us ahead of such loss. And as we now come behind it, may Christ and His church be the filling Yanno and his family desperately need. Amen.

*A few friends snapped family photos backdrops that day in Chita. This is probably the only picture Yanno will possess of his mother and him. A gift Gloria will bring to him on her next visit.