how to become an undercover prayer warrior

After Christian historical romance, Christian suspense is my favorite genre. Especially when characters go undercover and the tension builds as covert operations are planned to catch the bad guys.

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It may be that I have read one too many of these novels. Or that I have watched Sue Thomas F.B. Eye too many times to count. Or that my grandfather was a retired police officer for the San Diego Police Department.

I’ve recently felt God prompting me into my own incognito activities.

I’ve become an undercover prayer warrior.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still (and always will first and foremost) intercede for family and friends numerous times a day. There is not a time during the day when I’m not in constant contact with the Lord.

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However, now I’ve added strangers to the list. People who don’t even know I’m praying for them.

Want to join me in this venture? Here’s how to become an undercover prayer warrior:

1. Keep your eyes open. There’s a woman I see each time I’m utilizing the elliptical machine at my local gym. A salt-and-pepper pixie haircut and a somber expression line her face. I’ve never seen her smile. Not once. Not when the machine she wanted was available, and certainly not to return a smile. This woman became my mission. Each time I see her, I pray earnestly for her. I pray for whatever struggles she is facing. I pray for joy and peace in her life. And I pray that if she doesn’t know the Lord, she would someday come to know Him.

Had I not been keeping my eyes open, I may not have noticed this woman and had the privilege to pray for her.

2. Keep your ears open. Ambulance sirens? Emergency helicopter? Both denote that someone is injured, or may even be possibly fighting for his or her life. Whenever our family hears either of those sounds, we stop what we’re doing and immediately pray for those who are being transported. We pray also that the Lord would provide wisdom and guide the doctor’s hands, as any necessary medical procedures are done.

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3. Keep your heart open. Whenever I pass by the hospital or local cancer center, I pray for those who are receiving treatment. I pray for God’s healing, and that He would make Himself known to those who don’t yet know Him. It’s beyond difficult to struggle with an illness, especially one that’s terminal. Prayer support is the most important thing we can offer someone.

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4. Keep your mind open. Some of the hardest people to pray for are those who are unkind. I experienced some unkindness recently from a woman in desperate need of prayer. I didn’t necessarily want to pray for this meanie, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I had to keep an open mind and pray for this person. (Matthew 5:43-47)

So become God’s undercover prayer warrior. Slip into detective mode and…

  • Pray for that exhausted mom in front of you at the grocery store with the seven children.
  • Pray for the clerk at the department store or the waitress at your favorite restaurant.
  • Pray for the man in front of you at the doctor’s office who has just been told to go to the E.R. because he may be having a heart attack.
  • Scan the newspaper and pray for comfort for the families of those who have recently passed away.
  • Pray for those in jails and prisons.
  • Pray for those in drug treatment facilities attempting to overcome addictions.

And the list goes on.

God always hears each and every prayer we pray.

Why not bless someone today with your prayers?

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
Our family is always on the lookout for wholesome family films for our weekly Family Night. Some of the best movies we’ve ever seen have been undiscovered gems we’ve stumbled across by accident.

The 20 undiscovered treasures below are in no particular order. Some are newer and some have been out for awhile, but they all are must-see movies for your next Family Night!

 

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

The Redemption of Henry Myers (12+)

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Finding Normal

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The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

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Though None Go With Me

The Gospel of John

Time Changer

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Last Ounce of Courage

The End of the Spear (13+)

King’s Faith (13+)

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Hidden Places

The Perfect Gift

Duma (12+)

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Seasons of Gray

Christmas Angel

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The Good Book

No Greater Love

Christmas Oranges

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Backroads and Lilies

Civil Love

 

For a listing of other fantastic movies, check out my Mom-Approved Movie List.  Interested in movie reviews? Go to my Mom-Approved Movie Reviews tab.

 

 

Top 50 Christian Workout Songs

weightsThere’s nothing quite like a good beat with uplifting words to accelerate your heart rate. Whether out for a run, mountainbiking, or in the gym on the elliptical, these songs guarantee a workout like none other. And with these upbeat tunes, time will fly by and you’ll scarcely notice you’ve been working your heart and muscles for the past hour.

Some from the past and some from the present, in no particular order, here are the top 50 Christian workout songs:

1. Greater – Mercy Me (and really, you must watch this video – it’s hilarious!)

2. Do Life Big – Jamie Grace

3. Made New – Lincoln Brewster

4. Me Without You – TobyMac

5. Big House – Audio Adrenaline (so this song is very old, but it’s still a goodie! And check out the video. We’ve come a long way with technology).

6. Restart- The Newsboys

7. This is the Time – Superchick

8. Words – Hawk Nelson

9. Overcomer – Mandisa

10. Do Everything – Steven Curtis Chapman

11. Turn Around – Matt Maher

12. You Save Me – Kutless

13. Lay Me Down – Rush of Fools

14. Take My Life – Jeremy Camp

15. All the Time – Whosoever South

16. Hurricane – Natalie Grant (Moms, can you identify with this song?)

17. I Am Free – Newsboys (another oldie but goodie)

18. This is Who I Am – Third Day

19. Drifting – Plumb

20. God’s Great Dance Floor – Chris Tomlin penpen

21. Make Believe – Seventh Day Slumber

22. Everything About You – Sanctus Real

23. Right Beside You – Building 429

24. On My Own – Ashes Remain

25. Jesus Freak – DC Talk (take a trip to the past and check out Toby Mac and Michael Tate in this video).

26. Every Good Thing – Afters

27. I Thank You – Rebecca St. James

28. Come to the River – Rhett Walker Band

29. I Believe – ZoeGirl

30. Shake – Mercy Me

31. The Only Name (Yours Will Be) – Big Daddy Weave

32. The King is Coming – Newsboys

33. Hello My Name is – Matthew West

34. Finding Who We Are – Kutless

35. Alive – Hillsong Young and Free (check out this video for some dance-move inspiration!)

36. Song of  Hope (Heaven Come Down) – Robbie Seay Band

37. Risen Today – Aaron Shust

38. You Lift Me Up – Rachel Lampa

39. Reckless – Jeremy Camp

40. Promises – Sanctus Real

41. Tonight – TobyMac

42. More Love More Power – Jeff Deyo

43. Reaching for  You – Lincoln Brewster

44. O Praise Him (All this for a King) – David Crowder Band

45. Incredible – Building 429

46. This is Love – Kutless

47.  Matchless – Aaron Shust

48. There’s Gotta Be More – Stacie Orrico

49. Fix My Eyes – for King & Country

50. I Refuse – Josh Wilson

And, as a bonus, here are five awesome “cooldown and stretch” songs:

1. Remain – Royal Tailor

2. We Won’t Be Shaken – Building 429

3. More of You – Colton Dixon

4. That’s What Love Looks Like – Among the Thirsty

5. Beauty of the Cross – Johnny Diaz

What are some of your favorite Christian workout songs?

 

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12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

Life is hard. Things don’t always go as we’d like. Discouragement, disappointment, fear, and anxiety can overtake us at a moment’s notice. Everyday we are faced with trials, hardships, and frightening news about the world around us. What should we do when faced with these feelings?

Everyone, at one time or another, needs to be reminded of God’s love and that He never leaves us.

God’s Word has much encouragement for the burdened heart. Here are 12 inspiring verses of God’s promises to be with us and give us comfort no matter what life tosses our way.

 

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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.

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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