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Let me introduce you to my friend, Emily. Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. Follow Emily on Twitter or Facebook.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I've invited friends to share their words in this space as we explore the mysteries of prayer during the Summer Bible Study.

Emily and Solange

by Emily T. Wierenga

I didn’t know I was praying.

All I knew was I was hungry. Sobbing into my pillow with my skin pulled tight across my rib cage begging the cotton, which smelled like the wind—because Mum hung our sheets on the clothes line strung across the skies of northern Ontario—to be normal.

No, I thought prayer was what I did at the very end of the night, in those final moments before falling into a sleep bloated with dreams of chocolate and sandwiches and cakes.

The long rote of a thing this preacher’s kid did which begged God not to send her relatives and friends to hell. It was a detailed list of names, and if I missed one it felt as though they were damned. And I put it off until the very end because this nine-year-old didn’t know God was love. She just knew life was as hard as the wooden church pews she sat on each Sunday morning.

But when the nurses told me at thirteen that I was a miracle; when they looked at this hypothermic girl whose braces showed through her teeth, whose hair was falling out in clumps, when they said Someone out there loved me, I knew then those nights of begging had been some kind of letter-writing to the sky. Continue Reading...

Let me introduce you to my friend, Carol. Carol Kent's love for the Lord and her passion for equipping, encouraging, and empowering people to live for things that matter shines through. Her readers are irresistibly drawn to see God’s astonishing “grace places” in the middle of their roadblocks. A sought-after speaker and teacher, Carol is the author of many books including her latest, Unquenchable. Carol and her husband live in Tampa, Florida. I had the privledge of meeting Carol at an Extraordinary Women event this spring.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I've invited friends to share their words in this space as we explore the mysteries of prayer during the Summer Bible Study.

Does prayer work?

by Carol Kent

As a teenager I wanted to live for something that would outlast my life.

I remember saying, “God, I’ll do anything for you.” After I graduated from college and got married, I began a home Bible study. A couple of years later I was directing women’s ministries in a large church, followed by an opportunity to teach a city-wide Bible Study Fellowship class.

But in the middle of saying, “Yes” to a speaking ministry, I was stopped in my tracks when my only child, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was arrested for a serious crime. Continue Reading...

10 Best Ways to Save on Your Next Trip to Disney

A friend of mine who pastors a church in California wanted to take his daughters on a trip to Disneyland. But quickly realized that just one day at the Disney parks quickly adds up.

I asked my friend, Cherie the Queen of Free, to share some tips and tricks to save money on a trip to a Disney park. Check out some of her responses below and add your own in the comments.

Here are 10 Best Ways to Save on Your Next Trip to Disney: Continue Reading...

Before and After Pictures of What It Looks Like to Be Spiritually Ripped

You've seen the ads.

A photo of a pot-bellied, hairy man who looks unhappy is posed next to the same man, newly shaved, tanned with ripped abs and a toned body.

Well, now, stories are emerging of people who are debunking the myth of the before and after shots that circulate online all too often as marketing for weight loss programs.

People are revealing these "before and after" gimmicky weight loss shots for what many of them are: schemes.

A great example is Andrew Dixon via Twenty Two. These photos are taken within hours of one another: Continue Reading...

5 Reasons to Join an Online Bible Study What do you do about your weekly small group when your schedule gets crazy?

You can’t find a small group that meets on the only night you’re available.

The Bible study at your church doesn’t offer childcare.

You miss too many meetings because of the kid’s practices, concerts, and the never-ending carpool responsibilities.

Or maybe your church doesn’t offer small groups during the summer because of conflicting schedules. Continue Reading...