21 inspirational Bible verses to comfort and encourage you

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This life is hard. Everyone, at one time or another, needs to be reminded of God’s love that He reminds us of in His Word. Below are 21 of my favorite Bible verses assuring us of God’s comfort no matter what situation we find ourselves in or what curve ball life throws our way.

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isaiah4031

psalm327

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psalm2911

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What are some of your favorite verses that you’ve drawn upon in those difficult times?

who inspires you?

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

I recently met a woman in my water aerobics class who is 94-years-old. An inspiration, this woman is sharp in her mind and active in her body. As a matter of fact, she took swimming lessons for the first time at age 84, with the goal of diving off the diving board!

After much hard work, she accomplished her goal.

So many women throughout history are inspiring:

Ruth in the Bible, widowed as a young woman, followed her mother-in-law to her homeland and bravely supported both of them.

Esther of the Bible risked her life to save her people.

The midwives in Egypt in Moses’ time risked their lives to deliver babies against the Pharoah’s wishes.

Or the more recent inspiring women of history:

Eleanor Roosevelt overcame a difficult childhood to become a first lady and champion for human rights. She fought for what she believed in and never gave up.

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Corrie ten Boom, a woman I greatly admire, helped to hide Jews during WWII until caught. She survived the horror of the holocaust in concentration camps during WWII. Her amazing faith allowed her to forgive one of the Nazi guards where she was held. She is a true example of putting into action the message Jesus spoke of forgiveness.

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Joni Eareckson Tada is nothing short of inspirational. A diving accident left her a quad­riplegic when she was just a teenager. While she cannot use her hands, Joni can paint using her mouth. Her faith in the Lord, despite what she has been through, strengthens my own faith.

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Or the inspirational people in my own family:

My grandma, who while in her 80s, lets nothing stop her.

My mom, who while chronically disabled, sets an example of faith for her children, grandchildren, and those at the places where she volunteers.

Everyday is a day we have a chance to inspire others without even knowing it.

Who, past or present, has inspired you?

 

 

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Tweetables:

Who inspires you? (click to tweet)

What women throughout history inspire you? (click to tweet)

These women, past and present, are true inspirations. (click to tweet)

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Movie Monday – Seasons of Gray

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Today’s Movie Review Monday Movie is Seasons of Gray.

IMG (29)Seasons of Gray is a modern re-telling of the story of Joseph in the Bible. We are introduced to Brady, who deals with his older brothers’ vicious jealousy on a constant basis. The fact that he is their father’s favorite son only fuels the fire, as does Brady’s gift of being able to interpret dreams. When Brady receives a new truck for his birthday, his brothers decide they’ve had enough and take matters into their own hands.

Their ruthless decision forever changes the course of Brady’s life.

But does God still have a plan for Brady’s life despite the horror of what is to come?

Later sentenced to prison based on the words of his boss’s wife, who dishonestly accuses him of assault, Brady is faced with a decision. Does he turn his back on God, or grow in his faith?

That’s not the only major decision of which Brady faces. He’s also faced with yet another dilemma regarding his brothers.

Seasons of Gray has many great discussion points, including:

God’s plan for our lives, even when things go awry (Jeremiah 29:11);

Forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:22);

Being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17); and,

What was intended for bad, God can use to accomplish His purposes (Genesis 50:20).

While Seasons of Gray is a family film with nothing objectionable, it does contain thematic elements appropriate only for those 13 and older. There is some violence, but it is tastefully done and not of the typical “Hollywood” variety. Regarding the scene with Brady’s boss’s wife, the issue of sexual assault is also discussed, although not explicitly shown.

Everything about Seasons of Gray is well done. The acting is top-notch, the plot engaging, the story line realistic, and the scenes vivid.

Some movies are “downloads” or “rentals.” And some movies are “to purchase.” Seasons of Gray falls into the latter category. With a clear presentation of the Gospel and must-watch bonus features, I highly recommend it as one of the best movies of 2014.

I am passionate about finding movies suitable for families. For a complete listing of family movie suggestions and an archive of past reviews from a Christian worldview for Movie Monday, please go to my Mom-Approved Movies Page.

For an archived list of movie reviews, go to my newly created Archived Movie Reviews page. This page will be updated regularly to show all movies included in Movie Review Monday.

10 ways to encourage others

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “encouragement” as “something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the Bible tells us, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…

So, what are some simple ways we can inspire others?

In everyday life:

  • Give genuine praise and encouragement to family and friends. This can come in the form of how much you appreciate them, value them in your life, or just how much you love them. Little notes of encouragement are big hits. For some ways to encourage your kids, check out my post 9 Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them.
  • Did you get excellent service at a restaurant ? Tell the waiter and the manager. Did someone at local business go above and beyond? Let them know! The lady who signs members in at our local YMCA always has a smile on her face. She is quick to go the extra mile. I recently told her how much we appreciate her, and I also let her boss know. (This can also be done by completing “survey” or quality-of-service questionnaires available at many businesses).

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  • Encourage a mom. Motherhood is a hard job at times, and what mom doesn’t need a bit of encouragement? A quick word or note letting a mom know she’s doing a good job means a lot. You can even encourage a stranger! What about that mom in the long line at the grocery store with a hungry infant and grouchy toddler? We can discourage by giving a “judgmental” look or we can encourage by asking if we can help unload her groceries onto the conveyer belt or even by a simple sentence, “oh I remember those days!” and a smile.

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  • Be an encourager by mail. In my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others, I give ideas on how to Create a Card Ministry. Why not send a card to someone you know is having a difficult time and let them know you are praying for them. This can be done anoymously, or to someone you know. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
  • Encourage other women. What about hosting a Girls Night Out? More details are found under the Sisters in Christ Group tab.

1094303_3_friends_5In Social Media:

  • Retweet someone’s tweet that you find interesting on Twitter. Not only does it help the tweeter, but it also provides useful information to your followers.
  • Tweet about someone’s blog post. There are so many great  blogs out there. If I stumble across one that is on the topics I regularly tweet about (#faith, #motherhood, #humor, #fitness, or #writing) I click on that little “tweet” button on the blog post and wah-lah, that post is shared with my followers.

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  • Mention fellow tweeters in a #FF (Follow Friday) or #WW (Writer Wednesday) tweet.
  • “Like” a post you find interesting on Facebook. Don’t just peruse past it, but “like” it, and even “share” it if you found it be of interest.
  • Did you just finish reading a book that you absolutely loved? Don’t be shy about it ~ spread the word! Post a positive review on Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. (By the way, this means more to authors than you will ever know – trust me on this one!)

Each and every day, we all have a chance to be either an encourager or a discourager.

Which one will you be?

I’d love to hear some of your favorite ways of encouraging others.

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Tweetables:

10 ways to encourage others (click to tweet)

How can you be an encouragement to others? (click to tweet)

Encouraging others in their walk through life (click to tweet)

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quick and easy delicious crock-pot chili (gluten free)

We’ve had extremely cold weather this year, so what better meal than a crock pot of chili? Here’s the quick and easy directions for a delicious dinner of crock-pot chili – one of our personal family favorites:

chiliThe night before: wash, then soak 2 1/2 cups of pinto beans according to directions on package. If you forget to soak them the night before, no problem. Simply wash the beans, then boil them until softened the day of the meal.

Brown a package of hamburger meat.

Combine the hamburger meat and the softened pinto beans in the crock pot. Add two cans of Hunt’s Dinner Starters seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili.

Add two cans of water and stir.

Turn your crock-pot to low and let simmer throughout the day, stirring on occasion.

For side dishes: fresh spinach or tossed salad and homemade cornbread. :)

Enjoy!

*Note: Since my husband is Celiac, this is a safe meal for him. At the time of this posting, my research concluded that Hunt’s Dinner Starters Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili was gluten free. If you have a food allergy, always double check the label and call the company (or find their website online) to determine if the product is gluten free.

We use The Cravings Place Grandma’s Unsweetened Cornbread Mix (gluten free, wheat free, nut free, dairy free) for the cornbread. We add honey to the mix (per package directions) to sweeten.

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Tweetables

Quick and easy delicious gluten free crock-pot chili recipe (click to tweet)

Perfect dinner idea for a cold day! (click to tweet)

What’s for dinner? (click to tweet)

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how to make your plans succeed

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Four things were on the immediate agenda:

It was November and my youngest daughter and I planned to enter a power-walk/run relay to raise money for the local homeless shelter.

In the weeks before Christmas, our family planned to donate time standing outside Walmart ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

In December, I planned on taking a swimming lessons class with my brother to finally learn how to do the freestyle stroke we never learned in the olden days of youth swimming lessons.

After the first of the year, our family planned to go on a quick family vacation, which included a fair amount of hiking and other active activities.

And now on to reality…

The lovely picture my husband recently received from his employer to commemorate his years of service reads: “You can make plans, but the Lord determines your steps ~ Proverbs 16:9.”

I was about to find out just how true that was.

During the week of November 25, I noticed some slight pain in my left ankle, but figured it would pass. I proceeded with my regular exercise program, which included some kickboxing, kettlebells (with squats), and some time on the exercise bike. Did I mention I love fitness?

On the morning of November 27, I was in for a surprise when I woke up and couldn’t walk. My ankle was swollen, disfigured, and painful.

After some time in Urgent Care, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon.

Fast forward to a diagnosis of “acute anterior ankle impingement,” a couple weeks on crutches, and many many hours of ongoing physical therapy. I wasn’t able to stand on my foot for more than a few minutes at a time and was given an unstylish boot to wear.

So much for plans - my plans. The power-walk/run relay, the donation of time standing and ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, and the family vacation would have to wait. (I was still able to somewhat take swimming lessons and that’s a quite humorous story I’ll share in another blog post).

014While my ankle still isn’t fully healed, I continue to make progress under the care of my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. I still limp and have some pain, but the crutches have been relegated to the furthermost corner of the closet and the unstylish boot is on its way there as well.

I look back to November and December and really wished I’d been able to do those things I’d planned. Was I disappointed? Yes, very much so.

But through it all, I learned something really important – something I knew, but couldn’t really digest until now. You see, I can make all the plans I want, but it’s the Lord who truly determines my steps (never more true than when you only have one good foot. :)

I learned to surrender everything to the Lord, not just the big things, but the day-to-day, minute-by-minute things, even things I planned to do for His kingdom.

So…how do you make your plans succeed? Give those plans to the Lord. Surrender the big plans, the small plans, and all the plans in between. He knows how it all turns out and Jeremiah 29:11 assures us ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We are told in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Untitled

So I commit my plans to the Lord because more than anything, I want my plans to align with His plans.

Have you ever had to surrender something particularly difficult to the Lord?

5 things a man should never buy his wife for Christmas (and a fun Christmas blog hop!)

Enjoy the post and then scroll down and add the link to your blog post to join in on my first-ever blog hop. :)

 
Penny Zeller, Christian Author

All right, all you sweet and thoughtful husbands…have you decided what to buy your wife for Christmas yet? Start making those lists!

And wives, if you’re reading this, kindly suggest to your husband to read this post – it could make your Christmas much merrier. :)

 
Ok, here is some helpful and humorous advice from a veteran wife of 21 years…

Disclaimer: these are just generalities and some wives may like the items on the “do not buy” list. Plan accordingly and good luck!

Do not buy your wife:

1. Something she doesn’t want, but that you would like. For instance, don’t buy your wife a new (or gently used from the wrecking yard) car muffler for Christmas, unless she’s a mechanic or big into NASCAR. Lon bought a loud muffler thingy for our Jeep Cherokee years ago that sounded like what would belong on the vehicle of a high schooler. Guess who drove the Jeep 99.9% of the time? Yep, me. (And no, I wasn’t a high schooler!) Guess what happened when we went to trade the Jeep in for a bigger vehicle once we started our family?

The thing was so loud that the car salesman told us we needed to “fix” the loud muffler before trading it in. Lon finally did convince the car salesman that the muffler wasn’t broken, but that it was a “high performance bought- and -installed- on- purpose- muffler.” Now some other poor wife is driving a Jeep that you can hear from a mile away!

Nix the new car tires too. While that’s nice that you want your wife to be safe, instead save it as a “family purchase” rather than a “gift for the wife purchase.”

2. Clothing. Husbands, unless you know your wife’s correct size, stick to a gift card at her favorite department store instead. Here’s why: If you buy her a size that’s four times her actual size, she’ll think you think she’s fat. Alternatively, if you buy her a size four times smaller than her actual size, she’ll think you think she needs to lose weight. See how this is a lose-lose situation?  So, unless you know for sure that she always wears a size medium in sweaters, please pass on the clothes. Otherwise, you may find yourself in deep trouble with your sweetie poo.

 

3. A toolbox. When Lon and I were first married, he wrapped a large present and hid it under the tree. I was so excited and couldn’t wait until Christmas. Imagine my suprise when I opened the package and it was a toolbox complete with my own set of tools! I thanked my sweet husband for his nice gesture, but I was puzzled. I’ve never been very handy with tools and the farthest thing from a “fix-it girl” there ever was. Our story landed us on the pages of Woman’s World and the toolbox remains in the garage where Lon uses it on a regular basis. Disclaimer: this is a perfect gift only if your wife is the “fix-it type.” Otherwise, please pass on this gift idea!

4. A kitchen appliance. Unless she specifically asks for it or you can tell from her look of anguish at the toaster you received for your wedding gift 45 years ago, keep away from kitchen appliances. Ditto for mops, a years’ worth of cleaning supplies,  a garden tiller, a chainsaw, or a lawnmower. Just trust me on this. Really.

5. An exercise video. Does this one really need any explanation? Also, unless she asks for that new treadmill, pass on the expensive (or not-so-expensive) exercise equipment too. You and your marriage will be glad you did.

So, as a wife, what tops your Christmas list?

And now, I’m so excited to be a part of my first-ever blog hop! A big thank you to Katherine at Katherine’s Corner for allowing me to be part of this fun and fantastic blog hop. I’m thrilled to discover new blogs and catch up with some old friends. I invite you to join me.

After linking up, please leave feel free to leave me a comment. I’d also love to connect with you on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

Here are the details…

Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop! 
 
GetAttachment.aspxIt’s time to hop!  The Thursday Favorite Things Blog hop is where you can link your favorite post of the week or write a post about your favorite things and share it with old and new followers. The hop is hosted and posted on 6 different blogs! That’s right, your link will appear on the blogs of Katherines Corner, Sew Crafty Angel, Cuddlebug Cuties, Over 50 Feeling 40, Vintage Mama and The Tablescaper. Six times the opportunity to make new bloggy friends and to share your wonderful blog and discover others too.
 
  RULES
Please DO NOT link and run…….please visit a few of the wonderful blogs that are sharing here.
Adding your link to this blog hop gives Katherines Corner permission to share your posts and pictures via social media and as features on Kathereines Corner Note- All features on Katherines Corner will be linked back to the original source .Social media features are linked back to the hop.
To get email reminders for the hop please visit Katherines Corner and sign up on her hop post.
Now hop on and share your favorites. If you’d like to post this blog hop on your page too please grab the linky code.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list. (You will be directed to a Linky page to enter your blog post link. It will then show up on six different blogs. To find out which blogs those are, please go to the Katherine’s Corner website mentioned above).