Power of the Spirit: A New Bible Study on the Book of Acts

Hey there joyful mamas! It has been a while since I have popped my head up here on the blog, but not from lack of writing. I am happy today to be able to share HelloMornings' newest Bible study, to which I was honored to contribute.

Power of the Spirit is the first of a three part series entitled Jesus, Light of Nations that will ultimately take us all the way through the Book of Acts.

From the introduction by Ali Shaw:
In this series, we’ll take a journey through the Book of Acts and look carefully at both the actions of Christ’s apostles and of God’s powerful Holy Spirit. We’ll examine God’s plan to spread His message beyond the borders of the Judean province, shining His glorious light into surrounding nations and carrying the story of Jesus to the Gentiles. We’ll discover that God’s salvation knows no bounds; the Gospel message is for everyone!

This particular book in the Jesus, Light of Nations series focuses on the birth of the Christian Church and the power of the Spirit in the hearts and lives of the early Believers. Have you ever wondered what might have happened if the early followers hadn’t been obedient to God’s command to be witnesses? If the Gospel message of salvation hadn’t spread past Jerusalem, you and I might not be Believers today. The apostles’ obedience confirms the importance of submitting to God’s authority and the benefits of doing so. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)
The Book of Acts shows us a mighty God who worked in miraculous ways to advance His Gospel and demonstrates the important fruit that comes with obedience; yet, it teaches us more. This book, which covers a 30-year span, traces the beginnings of the Christian church. It gives church doctrine, shows us doctrine in practice, lays the foundation for missions work, and shows us the patterns of church life. The sacrificial love of our Savior, the sharing of His Gospel, and living out belief in His resurrection are the themes of Acts. Through God’s empowering, we can live obediently and share Jesus like the apostles did. 
Acts is such a neat book to studyit is so unique in the Bible. If you are an adventure lover, this is the book for you! There is drama, suspense, and plot twists galore. Acts would make a great TV series! 😄

But Acts isn't just a historical record of the early Church. It also contains inspiration and wisdom that you and I can apply to our lives today. The Jesus, Light of Nations series will help you work your way through Acts in three 6-week studies, starting with Power of the Spirit.

You can do this study on your own, but if you'd like accountability, a group to discuss the study with, or just wish to grow in your habit of reading the Bible daily, consider joining a HelloMornings group. The next six week session starts on Monday, February 12.

I am delighted to have some digital copies to give away! Add your name to the Rafflecopter below for a chance to get yours (click on the email or Facebook button to begin). You can get up to 4 entries by doing various social media-y things. 😊  The giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST on Friday February 9. Winners will be notified on February 10.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Tammy, Linda, and Katie!

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When Children Doubt

We mamas want it all for our children.

We want them to be healthy, we want them to be productive members of society, we want them to be content. But more than anything, Christian mothers want their children to know the Lord and walk with Him.

Knowing Jesus means that if they are sick, or incapacitated, or struggling (the opposites of all those "wants" I listed) they can still live joy-filled lives for Him. They will look forward to eternity with Him.

So when children walk through seasons of doubt or questioning, many parents panic. I have watched families tighten rules until they strangle, out of fear for their children's salvation.

Obviously we need to set boundaries for our children. But the impetus for those boundaries should be love, not fear.

This week I talked about doubt in children in our monthly "Let the Children Come" series at Do Not Depart:
"I don’t want my children to have faith because I tell them to. I want them to live a life in relationship with the God of Creation. Relationships take time. When children are small, they take whatever we say at face value. But as they get older they need to come to a personal understanding and experience of God.... It is normal to have questions and doubts when you are growing in faith."
Read more about When Children Doubt in my post at DoNotDepart.com...

Cultivating Hearts: Planting What Lasts

I was disoriented.

The house in which I had birthed our second child was barely visible.

We had moved away fifteen years earlier and, on a whim while in the area, I decided to drive by to see what it looked like. I don’t know what I was expecting - probably the house frozen in my memory.

But as I turned the last corner I lost my bearings. 

My view of the house was completely obstructed by two giant trees. I stopped the car and stared. Those gigantic trees had not been there when we moved. But they were exactly where two little trees had been.

One spring, not long after we purchased our first house, my husband and I planted four little trees in the front yard, along with a tiny persimmon tree in the side yard. They were the first trees we had ever planted.

We didn't know what we were doing, so I purchased a book (at a bookstore - no one bought things online in 1995!) and from that book we learned how to plant and care for trees. 

The yard had been completely empty. Like most new builds in Texas, the builder had scraped the ground in the front, and the only green was some lumpy sod and a line of small bushes under the windows. So we added five tiny trees.

A year or so later, when our first baby was brand new, one of those little trees started leaning, as if it was so tired it wanted to lay its leafy head on the car in our driveway (I might have been projecting a little.) A green-thumbed friend came by to meet the baby, and as he was leaving, he gently touched the tree and told me I needed to stake it as soon as possible. A bit of wind might snap it in two.

Super-pixelated photo of my little guy and some scrawny trees
So I staked that sapling, and I kept watering it. It stayed supported for years (above you can see the "baby" riding a tricycle a few years later, and it is still getting help.) I was pretty sure I was terrible at raising trees. Really really terrible.

Years passed and the trees grew, but very slowly. Honestly, they embarrassed me. Right there in our front yard, a testimony to my lack of arboreal skills.

See that bendy tree back there? At this point it's 4 or 5 years old.

When our little guy was almost two years old I got pregnant again. At 13 weeks we lost our wee one in a dramatic miscarriage and hemorrhage that landed me in the emergency room. I was crushed.

It hurt so much that our baby was gone; I needed something tangible that would remind me of him, something to honor him. We went to the plant nursery and our two year old chose a tree for us to plant - a White Texas Redbud that would bloom at that time every year.

We planted the redbud in the back yard, and buried our baby at the foot of the tree. His tree grew strong, bloomed faithfully each year, and blessed my broken mama heart.

White TX Redbud image courtesy of Chalet Nursery

Our little side-yard persimmon tree also grew, and we even ate one or two persimmons from it as it slowly matured. Maybe I could do this tree thing after all?

But those front yard trees were still pathetic. Yes, they grew, but I was not happy with the rate. 

In 2003, now with two kids in tow, we sold our house with its scrawny trees. I hoped the next owners would be better at gardening.

Our house the day we left in 2003.

At our new homestead I planted a lot of trees. A LOT.

Not one survived. I am not exaggerating.

No matter how hard I tried, no matter where I planted them, and no matter how much I amended the soil, watered them, and carefully checked them, every single one died. They were eaten by goats or mowed over or blown down or just plain never leafed out.

It was confirmation - raising trees was not my gift.


As I crept along our old street in 2016, I stared in awe at the trees.

Our old house in 2016.
This is time passing.

This is love and care coming to maturity.

This is something lasting.

And as I think about my tending and my care for my children, I see how often I jump to the conclusion that I am failing. That I have already failed. That it is done - what is now is forever, and these trials won’t pass.

Just like the trees on our homestead, there are times I have failed. Really and truly. Something has changed that can’t be fixed.

But sometimes what seems weak and spindly and ready to be snapped in half is just laying down roots. Sometimes grace is at work deep down, sap is flowing through the veins, and life is pushing through. Living Water is giving nourishment, and branches are reaching for the sky.

My first baby is now twenty. He is a man. He is a strong tree, strong enough even to support his old mama sometimes.

Tending your saplings is long and sometimes tedious work. Growth can’t always be seen as it is happening. But mama, you are planting something lasting.

Cultivate the soil of your child’s heart patiently. Douse your child with prayer. Don’t give up; a beautiful tree will emerge and one day you will shake your head with wonder.

We All Need a New Beginning

I love the dark early morning. 

The windows are black, the house is still. There is something almost sacred about those quiet pre-dawn hours.

I make a hot drink and snuggle on the couch with my favorite blanket, devotionals, and my Bible. My kitten crawls onto my lap and snuggles in. I am in my happy place.

The dark windows slowly turn to gray. The sunrise is coming. I can’t see it directly from my favorite spot on the couch because the window faces west. But steadily a rainbow grows on the western horizon, signaling the coming day. Three hundred and sixty degree sunrises and sunsets are features of the rural Texas landscape that never grow old. 

From my window I see the field behind our yard, with mama cows and their new babies. The field slopes down to a pond, from which rises a gentle morning mist. On the other side of the pond, another hill rises to crest with a line of trees, forming the horizon. The shifting colors of the horizontal dawn rainbow brighten steadily.

A new beginning. Darkness turning to light. Making rainbows of hope along the way.


I have had seasons of struggling with anxiety. The anxiety is worst in the very middle of the night.

In these hard seasons the clock almost always reads 2:00am when my eyes shoot open. My heart pounds. My mind floods with worries. There is a full-on battle happening in my body.

I know there are spiritual aspects when anxiety hits; there are physiological aspects as well. I fight the battle with prayer, with Scripture, with herbal tea, with protein.

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

And in the morning? When my eyes squint open again and the light streams in my windows, there is a palpable shift towards hope. Every single morning is a new start. 

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

God’s Word is full of new starts, story after story of second chances and new beginnings. How we need those stories! 

My favorite online ministry, HelloMornings, is starting a new session next week, and this time the Bible study is all about new beginnings! I had the privilege of writing the third week, which focuses on David.

Oh that David, what a guy, right? Man after God’s own heart. Great- (times a bunch) grandfather to Jesus. Adulterer and murderer. Yeah. David’s story is for all of us who have steered wrong along the way.

And that would be all of us.

David, Noah, Abraham, Peter, Paul… they all needed new beginnings just like you and me.


Will you join thousands of women around the globe as they seek to grow in being intentional about starting their day with God? You will be so blessed. You can join a group here, but hurry because registration closes soon!

This session I am so excited to share that for the first time the HelloMornings Bible study workbooks are available in print! You can order a physical copy through Amazon. Or you can get a digital download (with an audio option) here.

You can also enter my flash giveaway - yep, I have some digital copies (plus audio if you'd like) to give away! Yay! You can enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.

The flash part is because this is a speedy giveaway - don’t put it off, it is only open TODAY, closing at 11:59pm PST on Friday February 10.

I will announce the winners first thing on Saturday so that you have time to get your download before the session starts. If I can’t connect with a winner on Saturday I will select a replacement winner on Sunday. Big thanks to the HelloMornings team (I'm especially looking at you Kat Lee!) for making this giveaway possible.

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