Archives for September 2009

September Giveaway: Book Winner!

MM1The random winner of Feminine Appeal is Jenny (jennyldodson@)! You should have an e-mail from Pierce My Heart in your inbox. If not, please contact us within seven days to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this contest by leaving a comment on our article. If you didn’t win this month, please check back in October, because we have a special offer coming up.

Congratulations, Jenny! We hope you enjoy your new book!

– Davonne Parks

September Giveaway: Last Chance to Enter!

MM1This is the last day to enter to win our September giveaway. The winner, who will be announced on September 30, will receive a new book!

If you have any questions, please let us know, and we will respond to you as quickly as possible.

– Davonne Parks

Dating: Little Things Keep the Fire Going

Dating2Life is truly a crazy ride. There are great highs and then sometimes the lowest of lows. It’s unpredictable and wild. But with all the big things that we go through, it’s really the small stuff that counts. When we examine our pasts we all remember big events that happened, but with those events we recall the small things that impacted us. For example, when my brother gave his life to Christ, (Mark 16:16) I’m not completely able to remember all of the details, but I do remember the way my big cousin Garrett hugged him. They were, and still are, “manly” men, so to see them hug the way they did with their eyes tearing up, well that’s just something I’ll never forget. This was the most important event in my brother’s life but what I vividly remember is just a small detail. This is just one example of that and I’m sure everyone has had a similar experience.

When writing this, my thoughts were taken to my grandparents, who after 47 years of marriage are still very much in love and happy (Matt. 19:6). They are a strong Christian couple, which in itself makes a huge difference in marriage, but they also care for each other in a deep, affectionate way. On a trip to Mississippi, I asked Grandmommy and Poppa what kept them going all of those years. Poppa was in the Navy for many years, meaning they dealt with a long-distance relationship. To top that off, Grandmommy had five girls to take care of alone. Grandmommy told me willingly that this was a very difficult and stressful time in her life but that her love for God, Poppa, and her girls made it all worth it.

When I asked her what keeps the fire going now, she and Poppa rattled off many reasons, and to prove that it’s the simple things that matter, I’ll share them now. Grandmommy told me that something as easy as holding hands still means so much to her. It’s an effortless thing to do and yet still makes you feel special and loved after 47 years of doing it. As she told me this, she stretched her hand across the middle seat where it was met quickly by Poppa’s. She looked over at him with a loving smile and knowing eyes. Later they also explained that since they shared their “I do’s” they have never left each other without a kiss and saying I love you. The phrase “I love you” is a very easy thing to say, it just rolls off the tongue, but it is still a very important thing that always needs to be said. Verbal and physical affection is necessary in healthy relationships.

They also told me that since they were first married, every night that they have shared together, they have never failed to say I love you before going to sleep. She explained that even if they were still fighting about something, they made a conscious decision to put that aside for a moment and remember that they still and always will care about each other. That to me is a wonderful thing; to never let your anger blind you from your love for each other.

Dating1When they were married, they were different ages and different maturity levels. So because they were apart so often, I asked them if they ever struggled with growing in opposite directions from each other. Grandmommy looked at me and said, “Of course we did!” That response immediately had me ask how they handled it and she gave me the simplest and smartest answer, “We worked at it.” A very sincere and great response from a very wise woman! She told me that in every matter of life the way to get through it is to never give up and continue working at it.

I hope this reveals how important the small stuff is. It keeps relationships thriving and honest. Living for God and your mate rather than yourself makes all the difference in the world as to whether or not your relationship or marriage will work! “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Roman 8:28

By Shelby Garrett

All the Small things

Is your heart right with God?

TSFriends1That’s a really important question to ask yourself. Do you go to church weekly, with a joyful and worshipful heart? When in the service, do you actually listen to what you’re being taught? Do you go home and read your Bible and think to yourself of what you could work on to make your relationship better with God? When we are saved and Christ’s Spirit lives in us, not only do we have a fresh start, but it also allows us to be forgiven of a past we may be ashamed of. Unfortunately, many people don’t attempt to grow in their relationship with God. Some people just go to church because their family or friends do, but we should be going with a heart that is open to hearing His word, and ready to worship our King.

Forgiveness is key

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Offering forgiveness to others will not only help you grow in love, but it will also show the person that you don’t expect them to be perfect. They may need your support and love.

We should remember that we are to be imitators of Christ (Rom. 5:1), forgiving others just as He forgives us. All of us sin. As Christians, we should desire to be forgiven. And the only way we can truly forgive others is with God’s help.

Be willing to work

Telling others about God can seem intimidating, but prayerfully seek to build relationships with others so they may be more receptive to hearing about His love. Be an example to them, and look for opportunities to share God’s love.

Love and encourage others, while being careful to not approve of their lifestyle if it’s sinful. Romans 14:12: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.”

Spread the Word

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Knowing God’s word and spreading it are two different things. Though you go to church, hear His word, and have other Christians to share it with, it’s also important to share God’s love and His salvation with the people outside your church. Be an example to others, be ready to talk about His love with excitement and joy, and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts and lead them to Christ.

With Love,
Michelle Jane

Fun Fact Friday: Free museum entry across the nation!

FFFSept25Tomorrow (September 26) is National Museum Day! Visit for details, and check out their venue page to find a participating location near you. Many museums participate in this day, even without a pass, and will allow guests to visit for free, so check online or call your local museum for details. I checked our area, and our local museum not only offers free entry on National Museum Day, but they also have special events and activities – all free – going on throughout the afternoon! This would be a great free family activity in most areas of the country!

If you could visit any museum in the world, which would it be and why?

– Davonne Parks

Devotional: A Great and Noble Task – Relationships, Actions, and Dress

Devo1Go here to read part one.

Our Relationships

Everyday we associate with people–all different kinds of people. People who are happy, hurting, lost, saved, confused, searching, careless… You might simply be acquaintances with them, or maybe they’re your closest friends. You are affecting them, but they are also affecting you. Having a relationship with someone shouldn’t be thought of as a small thing. Whether it’s a family bond or a friendship you have in mind right now, that person isn’t “just” someone you hang out with. They have a soul, and we who are Christians have a responsibility to let Christ shine through us (Phil. 2:15b) every time we’re with that person!

We know we should also choose wisely who we continually associate ourselves with. Let’s read some Scriptures about the subject:

  • “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Prov. 13:20)
  • “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” (I Cor. 15:33)
  • “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Prov. 12:26)

After reading these eye-opening verses from God‘s word, should we ever think relationships are small things?

Our Actions

This is probably the one we need to think on the most. We’ve all heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words”—and truly, they do. When someone says, “Sure, I’ll be there!” but they never show up, how does that make us feel? When we are saved, and call ourselves “Christians,” but we don’t talk about God, never stop to think about helping others, and put the focus on “what I want” …how does that make God feel? What is that saying to our Father?

Extra5What do you consider a “small” action? Holding the door open for the woman with children in her arms? Picking up a piece of garbage and putting it in the trash can? Telling a visitor at worship services that you are glad they could be there and hope to see them again? Ladies, we all see these things—opportunities, rather—that need to be seized; how often do we take responsibility and do them? Even though sometimes we look at ourselves and think, Oh, I’m young and busy, I’ll let one of the older women take care of that, we have some of the most powerful influence at this time in our lives! Please realize that. Whether they tell you or not, people notice when you take the time to do little things. Your peers will see there is a different spirit in you than in the world. And why do we do good things in the first place? To glorify God. (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12b) Out of love, to show others that we are His. (John 13:35) That we are meek servants of Christ, and here to serve. Our actions, however small we may consider them, have a huge impact on the world for our Savior!

Our Dress

I know this is a touchy topic for a large population of women out there, but it is definitely not a “small” part of representing God, and we need to deeply consider it. I want to ask you to please answer yourself honestly about this: Do you want people’s attention solely for your body and outer appearance, or do you want people’s attention because they see you’re different from the world—with your attitude, words, relationships, and actions—and that you desire to glorify God and reflect Him to them?

Sometimes we feel accused when we hear women speak at ladies’ days or other activities on “modesty.” We think, No one should tell me how to dress; it’s not a big deal! Do you know why we feel this way?

1.We are not fully submitting to God and His will for us: “…that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel,” (1 Timothy 2:9); “…not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13b)

2.We know what is appropriate, and feel guilty when we make the wrong decisions with our dress. (see James 4:17)

SS2Please think on this: when you see a woman who is outwardly very beautiful, but isn’t covering enough of her body, or else dressed too tightly…what do you think of her? Many of us can’t deny that we often go into grandmother-mind mode: What kind of mother would let her daughter out of the house dressed like that? I can’t believe this girl! Does she not realize those guys are staring at her body?! How often do we instead pray for this generation, and set a good example for them by our clothing choices? Way too often we want to fit in and look like all the other women and be accepted for the way we look. But, we need to choose today who we want acceptance from: the world or God. We can’t serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) Choosing to represent God in the way we dress is not a “small” thing, and let us consider it that way no longer!

Our Task

Helen Keller once wrote, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.” Ladies, let’s allow God’s word to pierce our hearts to know that all these things we look at as “small” are great because He is working in them! We should earnestly take on any “small task” for the glory of our Lord. When we truly think of how everything we do is making an impact for Him, we see it’s certainly nothing small. Let us think in the way that Paul was confident of the Philippians: “…He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (Phil. 1:6b). Remember, we don’t know all of God’s plans, but He is doing great things through all of our “small” efforts every day. What an honor!

By Hannah Smith

Devotional: A Great and Noble Task – Attitude and Words

Devo2Our theme for September 2009 is, “Pierce my heart in the small stuff.” This can be approached from many different angles, but first we’ll delve into our main scripture, Matthew 5:18: “…until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (NASB)

Understanding Matthew 5:18

The King James Version of the Bible words Matthew 5:18 differently, but we can easily break it down: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Jesus is speaking to the multitudes, saying that until God has accomplished all that He desires to accomplish, nothing—not even a jot (the English form of the smallest Greek letter, the iota) or tittle (a point)—shall pass away from His word. The word of God is unchangeable, just like He is unchangeable. (Malachi 3:6a; Psalm 90:2) We don’t know all of God’s plans or thoughts, because His thinking is so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), but it is obvious that even things that seem “small” to us are very crucial to His work through us on earth! Sometimes we get in ruts, and life feels like a never-ending pattern of going through the motions—how terrible! With that kind of feeling, nothing we do seems very important! Let’s wake up and make a conscious effort to allow Christ to shine through us in all the “small stuff” in our lives. What kind of daily things might we pass off as “small” or unimportant in relation to our spiritual lives?

Our Attitude

Often, we forget to pay attention to our attitude. The way we say things, and our body language, are big indicators of how we really feel about things. Say you’re with friends Sunday afternoon, when a glance at the clock reminds you that evening worship service begins in thirty minutes. You roll your eyes, sigh, and say, “Well, I gotta go to church now. I guess I’ll see you guys later.” When you arrive at the church building, you slump in, take a seat on the back pew, cross your arms—and stay that way the entire service. You might not consider this attitude of any importance, but what kind of impression does this make on people for our Lord? How do you think God feels when we come to worship Him and have this awful attitude? He deserves so much better. When we have an attitude such as this toward serving and worshiping our great Father, how can we honestly say we are excited to tell others about Him? In the June devotional, we talked about the kind of attitude a worker for Christ must have; we must be respectful, confident in Him, willing to work, steadfast, and cheerful! (Philippians 2:12-18) We should have a mind like Christ (Phil. 2:5); He certainly had a good attitude toward serving His Father! (John 6:38, 9:4-5) Our attitude toward spiritual things certainly has a huge impact on the people in our lives. We cannot consider our attitude as something small; we are representing Christ!

Our Words

Devo1I don’t need anyone to tell you how powerful the tongue is: but how little time we take to prepare our words! Words can be small, but powerful. In James 3:5, we read, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (emphasis mine) Think of the statement, “I love you.” That’s one of the shortest sentences, but definitely one of the most meaningful! On the other hand, harsh, careless words uttered in a moment of anger or thoughtlessness can do damage that can take a great deal of time to undo. Thinking before speaking is something that sounds like a small task, but is truly a great challenge. The book of Proverbs says a lot about the tongue:

  • “…he who restrains his lips is wise.” (10:19b)
  • “He who guards his mouth preserves his life…” ( 13:3a)
  • “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly…” (15:1-2a)
  • “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer…” (15:28a)
  • “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace…” (17:27-28a)
  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (18:21a)
  • “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” (21:23)

It is plain to see how much our words can do. A sincere, “Have a good day,” and a smile to a cashier can brighten their day! A thoughtful, “Thank you,” to someone who prepared your meal will be so appreciated. You might think your words are of small importance, but they contain great power! May our hearts be pierced to use “small” words wisely!

Check back soon for part two.

By Hannah Smith

Marriage: The Little Things

Marriage1How many times have we told our husbands that the little things mean so much? Most of us would love to receive flowers, cards, phone calls, a back rub, a few minutes to relax while he does the dishes or puts the kids in bed… The list could go on forever! Well, how many little things are we doing for our husbands? Most of them don’t care about flowers or phone calls, but it’s easy to become so focused on what we’d like to receive that we forget to think about what he’d like us to give.

If you know your husband’s love language or top needs, then you’re already well on your way to being able to effectively do little things to make him feel loved. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, then I highly recommend reading the books The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr. These books cover the fact that people receive and express love in different ways, and tell how to learn your spouse’s love language and top needs so you can express love in a way that he’ll hear. (While these are two great books to have on hand, if you’re financially strained, look at your church or public library for copies to borrow.)

Depending on your husband’s love language, some of the following ideas are going to make him feel more loved than others, so try a variety of them to see what works for your relationship.

Acts of love

1. Have dinner ready when he gets home from work.
2. Greet him at the door with a smile and a kiss.
3. Leave a short love note next to his toothbrush.
4. Have the house straightened up by the time he comes home, or before he wakes up on a Saturday.
5. Let him sleep in on a day off work while you take the kids outside to play.
6. Give him his favorite snack and soda with the remote and tell him to relax while you put the kids in bed.
7. Borrow a movie he’s been wanting to watch, and put it in the DVD player, then watch it with him.
8. Thank him for something he did that you normally take for granted.
9. Do a job at home that’s normally his.
Marriage310. Pick up his favorite snack at the store.
11. Get a sitter for the kids and take him out on a date (make sure it’s an activity he likes).
12. Bring him breakfast in bed.
13. Pack his lunch, and include a note or scripture on his napkin.
14. Ask him to pray with you.
15. Dress up, even if you’re just staying home. Wear a nice outfit, style your hair, put on make-up and perfume–the whole works!
16. Snuggle up to him when you’re vegging out in front of the TV together.
17. Plan a game night for just the two of you, complete with board games, snacks, cards, etc.
18. Walk up to him and hug him without talking.
19. Wash his car (or drive it through a car wash) and fill it up with gas.
20. Do something you know he’s been putting off.
21. Buy him a CD or movie he wants.
22. Rub his back.
23. Have something (a computer game, book, pack of golf balls, etc.) shipped to his office.
24. Place a list of the top ten things you love about him in his Bible or another book he’s reading.
25. Grab, and hold onto, his hand when you’re walking together.
26. Turn off the TV, get off the computer, close the books, and focus on him.
27. Get his clothes ready for him while he’s in the shower.
28. Text or e-mail him to tell him how great you think he is.
29. Work on respecting him, as we’re told to do in Ephesians 5:22-23.
30. Tell him how much he means to you.

By Davonne Parks

Style Sense: Swap, Don’t Shop

SS1I love saving money, and I have a hard time tossing down huge amounts for clothing (Goodwill, anyone?). Now, there are some things that are worth paying a little more for—good-quality classic pieces that will outlast the trends. But especially in this economic climate, and especially when our size is often changing with age, pregnancy, and diet, spending a lot on clothing can be impractical—and unnecessary.

I love to spend time with my friends, and I love new clothes. So may I suggest a perfect combination—no shopping required. For some “new” additions to this fall’s wardrobe, swap, don’t shop. Round up some of your friends, “old” clothes in hand, and enjoy the pleasure of a new wardrobe from the comforts of your living room. Leave the kids and the cash at home.

Organizing your swap

Inform your friends. Let your friends know that you’re organizing this swap. Grab some girls from your mom’s group, church, carpool, or neighborhood. There doesn’t need to be a limit on the number, but keep in mind how much space you’ll have for the swap. One thing to consider: styles and sizes may vary. Make the best attempt to invite those who have similar tastes and body types.

Choose a time and location. Make sure the location is large enough for your group and all their clothes, and that there is a clear-cut starting and ending time. It’s also nice if there are several “dressing rooms” for girls to try on things.

SS2Collect your clothes. Make sure all clothing is in good condition. Items should be clean, without stains and dirt. Don’t even bother bringing clothing with holes, unless the pieces have been well mended. Remember, if you wouldn’t want it, why would anyone else? The reasons for parting with your clothes is because your style and size change, not because they’re unwearable. Also consider including shoes and jewelry—I have had plenty of unworn accessories in the past that could have had a much better home elsewhere.

Determine the rules. How will the swap be handled? I don’t recommend a free-for-all. Perhaps have a drawing, where each girl chooses a number and you continue in that order until everyone has had a chance to accumulate some pieces. Swaps may also have the restriction that you may take as many items as you brought.

Make it enjoyable. Turn on some great music. Clear the house of men and kids. Set out some snacks, desserts, and drinks (each person may contribute one food item). Acquire some great “new” pieces, clear out some of your own that are cluttering your closet, but most importantly, have some great fellowship with friends.

As you are hauling your new wardrobe back to your house, after an enjoyable time with friends, you may be planning your next swapping adventure. Who knows, maybe you’ll never shop again.

By Lisa Grimenstein

Helping Hands: Little Hands are Helping

HH1Proverbs 31:10, 20, 28 “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her…”

It’s so easy to stretch ourselves too thin, or to think we have to choose whether we’re going to help others or help our family. But, we can do both at the same time! We can involve our children in small service projects for others, teaching them the importance of serving.

Things children can do

Clean. If there’s someone who needs help cleaning her house, this can be a family project. Children can sweep the floor, dust the furniture, gather trash, load silverware into the dishwasher (careful with knives!), etc. Any chore they have at home is a chore they can do in someone else’s home.

Yardwork. Older kids can mow grass or pull weeds while younger kids sweep the sidewalks or help rake.

Cook. Meals are often needed, and we can involve our children in this. The meal doesn’t have to be fancy – chicken nuggets with macaroni and cheese will be appreciated as much as a fancier dinner. The children can help prepare the meal (see a previous Cooking Corner article about cooking with kids), and go along to deliver it.

Bake. Bake some brownies with your kids, or a couple batches of cookies, distribute them onto paper plates, and deliver homemade goodies to your neighbors (you could even put several in a baggie and leave it in the mailbox, along with a nice note, for the mailman).

Make cards. Cardstock with envelopes, or just colored construction paper, with crayons or markers are everything needed to make cards for others. Write the words in bubble letters on the cover for young children to color in, and allow them to draw a picture underneath a nice note on the inside. Older kids can make these on their own, and may enjoy the project more if they’re allowed to make the cards on the computer.

Keoni AnchetaPhone calls. Put their chatting skills to good use – get a small list of shut-ins who would love to hear from someone, and take turns calling each person on the list (you go first to show them an example). Be sensitive to shy children, but encourage them to step out of their comfort zone to do something for Christ (Matthew 25:35-40).

Visit. Take children along to a nursing home, or an elderly person’s home, just to keep them company for a few minutes. Taking food or a card is a nice gesture, but not necessary, so don’t let being empty-handed stop you! Many people just want the company, and most love seeing children.

Not so perfect

Perfection is not the idea, so don’t worry about messy cards, a little dust left on the entertainment center, or some dirt still on the sidewalk. The idea is to teach our children how to cheerfully serve and give to others, and to bless someone else in the process (2 Corinthians 9:7), because sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.

– Davonne Parks