Mom Heart

Different Discussion Questions | Chapters 11 to 13

Today we wrap up our discussion questions for Different.  Is your Mom Heart group enjoying the new relationships and levels of sharing that this incredibly vulnerable book has brought about?  I pray that the Lord has blessed your conversations and that mothers are being drawn to Him, especially in their deepest, lonely struggles with different children.  Click here to find discussion questions for previous chapters.Chapter 11: Naming the EnemyAt the beginning of chapter 11, Nathan shares his struggles with accepting himself as God created him, with his differences and challenges, and at the same time, seeking to grow.  “And so I justified my unhealthy behavior and anesthetized the pain I felt with escapes and distractions that made me feel better temporarily but hurt me more in the long run.  My so-called self-acceptance was mostly just a justification to remain in my own darkness.”  Page 168This is a struggle most Christians face.  How do you balance self-acceptance with personal growth?  What escapes and distractions are temptations for you?How do you encourage yourself to grow instead of remaining complacent or stagnant?

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord,They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age;They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  Psalm 92:12-15

The next section covers some of Nathan and Sally’s journey into counseling and medication to help Nathan’s brain operate more peacefully.  This can be a very sensitive subject for many families.  Please be gentle and refrain from offering advice in your groups.  Instead, pray for and with the women and point them to Jesus and His Word.On page 177, Sally shares, “Nathan’s dreams were so big, so expensive.  He wanted to be an actor, a screenwriter, to make Hollywood films that reflected the Christian worldview.  And his differences could be so daunting.  I had trouble imagining his prayers being answered in the way he expected.  But Nathan was my son.  So I prayed for his dreams because he wanted us to.  I prayed because he kept on praying.  As the years went by, I would be reminded again and again that the Lord hears not just my prayers, but also the fervent prayers and hopes of my children.”Do you ever feel like you need to discourage your children’s dreams?  How can you encourage them instead?Chapter 12: Beyond “Why Me?”“The truth is, we live in a deeply fractured world, and we don’t always have a choice about being broken.  But we do have a choice about where we let our brokenness lead us.  We can follow it into escape or addiction.  But we can also follow it straight to God.  To the One who knows us inside and out- with all our mistakes, broken parts, insecurities, and battles- and who still loves us.  To the One who can not only handle our anger and our frustration and our questions, but can use them to transform us.  As we practice running back to our Creator in times of trial, we find ourselves in the place where healing begins.” Nathan, page 186.We all have broken places and have lived through broken life circumstances.  Where has your brokenness led you?  Share a time you saw God work through your brokenness.  When did God work through Biblical characters’ brokenness? (For example, see Psalm 51, David’s prayer for forgiveness after his sin with Bathsheba.)Page 193, “God had ordained that I would be the mama of these unique children, tasked with shepherding them through life and teaching them what unconditional love meant.  It was my stewardship to parent my sweet little ones with all the faith and joy I had chosen as my foundation for the other areas of my life.”Sometimes in mothering, we don’t choose the faith and joy that we choose in other areas of our lives such as church ministry, careers, and hobbies.  What is one thing you can do to bring more faith and joy to your parenting?On page 194, Sally says, “If I had not been given [my children] to love, I might never have learned that it’s possible to be content even when life feels out of control.  That as long as we assume we cannot be happy until we can control all the circumstances of our lives, we will continue to be unhappy.  That freedom can be found in surrendering to God’s transcendent purposes, which are infinitely greater than our finite understanding.”How have you found contentment in difficult circumstances or relationships that are out of your control?Chapter 13: Watch Me Fly!This chapter is a wonderful story of God’s faithfulness to Nathan and Sally.  Have someone read pages 214 and 215 aloud.  Spend some time encouraging the mothers in your group about how they can be proud of themselves and the choices they have made to continue to love their children, especially the different and/or difficult ones.  Share stories of how God is working even now.We pray that God has used this book to encourage your heart toward your children as well at the mothers around you.Different Chapters 11 to 13 printable

Different Discussion Questions | Chapters 9 and 10

Has your group been reading through Different together?  It might not be an easy journey to take, but one that can bring encouragement to the mothers around you.  Make your group a safe place for women to share their parenting challenges in a way they’ve never been able to share before.  Click here to find the previous discussion questions.Chapter 9: A Place to BelongOn page 133, Nathan shares, “But no matter where I went or what I did, I always knew that as soon as I opened my front door I would be welcomed home.  My family had created a place where I was not only allowed but encouraged to be Nathan, the person God made me to be.  I was not asked to put on a safer, more acceptable personality.  I was not asked to be someone I was not.  I was simply allowed to be who I was – as I learned to accept and love the ones around me for who they were.  Home was truly a safe place put together by my parents and brought to life by my family, who all knew me so well and actually loved me for it.”What is challenging for you in providing a safe home for your children where they can be themselves?Page 135, “The belief that God is good and that He loves us is our foundation to stand on in times of deep heart and soul testing.  But faith does not take away the pain and anguish; it does not diminish the unforgettable years of heartbreak and despair.”What life circumstances and Bible verses remind you that God is good?Sally states on page 140, “As long as we believe we can control life by trying, controlling, manipulating, putting pressure on life, we will live in constant exhaustion.”What habits do you have or desire to cultivate that remind you that God is in control and not you?On pages 142 and 143, Sally discusses taking breaks and cultivating friendships as ways to take care of ourselves during the marathon journey of mothering.  How can you incorporate small bits of regular self-care into your life?Chapter 10: Voices of Darkness, Voices of TruthPage 155, “The amazing thing about having a loving Creator who freely offers grace, forgiveness, and redemption is that no matter how loud the voices of darkness scream, the Voice of light will always be louder.  But not if we don’t choose it.  Yes, who we listen to is a choice- maybe not always a conscious one, but a choice all the same.”What voices are you tempted to listen to?  Your own?  Culture?  The internet?  Satan?  How will you take action to listen to God’s voice?Page 158, “I made a deliberate choice to put aside many of my own needs and time commitments during this time in order to involve all our kids deeply in this ministry of hospitality.”Parenting will involve continual sacrifices of our time and needs.  What have you chosen to lay down for this season in order to be fully available?  (This does not mean neglecting the self-care that keeps you healthy.)On page 160, Sally discusses teenagers and the need to allow them the freedom to make choices.  For those of you with pre-teen and teenage children, how are you loosening the reins of control in favor of nudging and influencing?Take some time to pray through the issues discussed and anything that the women want to change in their daily lives.Different Chapters 9 and 10 printable pdf

Different Discussion Questions | Chapters 7 and 8

We are making our way through Different!  Have you connected in a new way with any mothers around you?  We love to hear how God is using this book to reach parents.  Click here to find the previous posts about Different.

Rembrandt's Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (public domain)

Chapter 7: Wrestling GodThis chapter talks about how Nathan had doubts and feelings of discouragement and anger that he needed to express to the Lord.  From page 99, “”God loves it when you wrestle Him, Nathan,” she said.  “Because wrestling is a full-contact sport, and God loves it when you are in contact with Him.  Maybe He has a bigger view of your life and is willing to do more than you can presently see.””How do you react when your children question God or faith?Page 103, “So many years later, when each of my children came to me with deep doubts, I understood.  Their pathway was one I had walked, and I knew their need for compassion, sympathy, and support.  So I would put aside the screaming demands of my own busyness, listen to their words, and seek to comprehend their soul issues.”How do you set aside your own “screaming demands” to listen to your children’s doubts and needs?  How can you remind yourself that life is short and the relationships you build are the most important thing?As mothers, we sometimes have the same doubts and struggles as our children.  Consider in your mind, who do you go to with your own doubts and insecurities?  Who is one person with whom you can initiate a more intimate relationship?  Share some ideas for building a closer one-on-one relationship with a woman around you.Chapter 8: Different DrummingOn page 106, Nathan describes how mental illness and personality traits are not something we choose.  They are not able to be turned off and on.  We and our children all have things like this even if they aren’t as difficult as the issues Nathan struggles with.What personality traits or thought patterns are like this for you?  Anxiety, depression, insecurity?  Some of these things are extremely deep rooted and aren’t easily walked through.  Where do you find yourself getting stuck?  How do you need the Lord to change your perspective?One page 113, Sally shares how “Many times [she] just felt a need for someone to listen, to sympathize, to understand and to pray.”We all need both: someone to listen to us and someone who can share openly with us.  Often, these are found in two different people.  How can you cultivate and choose these types of relationships?   Are you committed to listening to someone?  Have you reached out and asked someone to listen to you?  The book Safe People by Cloud and Thompson has helpful  guidelines on healthy communication.Page 117, “Part of my learning to deal with him was to accept the fact that (1) I would never totally understand him or know how to respond to him, but that (2) that was okay!  Carrying guilt for being unable to anticipate all his needs would just add more burden to our lives.  An emotional backpack loaded with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and failure can perilously slow us down or even stop progress entirely.”How can you let the Lord carry your emotional backpack in order to be okay with never getting it exactly right or having all the answers?  Do you need to ask for help to unpack your emotional backpack?  The freedom of walking lightly through life is worth getting help.

Sally and Nathan

On page 120, Sally shares how she and Clay came to the understanding that Nathan “was an essential part of the particular story that God wanted us to live out, the place we could best glorify Him…We had to accept Nathan with God’s unconditional love- just as he was.”What issues or circumstances in your life are you struggling to accept as part of God’s story for you?On page 127, Sally gives a list of decisions and actions she had to take in order to effectively reach Nathan and disciple him along the way.  What do you need to do or make peace with in order to help your children thrive?Wrap up your meeting by taking some time to pray about some of the things you discussed with your group.Different Chapters 7 and 8 printable

Different Discussion Questions | Chapters 5 and 6

Have you been following along with our series on Different?  Using this book in a Mom Heart group can be tricky because it touches such deep parts of our mother hearts, but it is also an opportunity for intimacy and close friendships to blossom as we hear the hurts and fears of those around us.  Here are all the posts with discussion questions for Different.Chapter 5: A Heart Like SupermanPage 67 "Stories put me in the context of something bigger than myself and help me to see my day-to-day struggles as enemies to overcome for the sake of a greater purpose.  Whether as a teenager dealing with mental illness or a young adult struggling with the anxiety of living alone in a big city, I have found these tales help remind me that I myself am living a story.  That every little experience or decision I make affects the meaning and the outcome.  Which means I have a choice in what kind of story my life will tell."What stories have helped you put yourself in the context of something bigger?What stories have helped your children in this way?  If you need ideas, Caught Up in a Story and Read for the Heart, both by Sarah Clarkson, are excellent resources. is also an amazing place to gather life-giving suggestions.Page 78 "But when I put myself in Nathan's shoes, I realized that my constant correction could easily be a source of frustration, insecurity, and anger in my already-fragile child.  That constant feeling of just not measuring up can build a lifelong legacy of insecurity and even despair. Feeling like a disappointment on a regular basis can actually shape the brain patterns of a growing child.  Failure and helplessness can become self-fulfilling prophecies."How do you decide which issues need correction and which you can overlook?  When do you tend to over-correct your children?On pages 74- 79, Sally writes about her determination to give Nathan positive affirmations, modeled after Jesus' words with his disciples and others around him.Ask someone to read aloud the affirmations of Jesus on page 75.  What are some positive affirmations that you would like to say more often to your children?What's preventing you from saying positive things?Chapter 6: The Grand PerformanceAt the beginning of chapter 6, Nathan remembers an experience of viewing God's glory in creation that has stayed with him to this day.  On page 84 he says, "There are moments in life so beautiful that everything in us wants to praise the Creator.  Maybe it's stars- or an ocean view, a magnificent sunset, the birth of a child.  It's important to put ourselves in places and situations that bring us those moments- and to recognize them for what they are."Share about a time you had an experience or moment like this.Page 90 "God was the first artist, after all, crafting masterpieces that would be discovered throughout all eternity. Exposing out children to His handiwork as often as possible was a priority for Clay and me.  Placing our children (and ourselves) in the face of this creator God seemed to increase their sense of delight in Him and left a taste of pleasure in their souls.  It also provided respite and relief from our stressful daily lives."How do you make time to enjoy the outdoors with your children?Page 90 continued, "So much of our life as parents is focused on our children's external behavior: manners, speech, work ethic, accomplishments in school, respect.  And all that training is vital for their future.  But how wonderful it is to make time together when no outward performance is required- only play, love, fun, pleasure, and rest where we can all feel okay about making a mess."If it's difficult for you to turn off the need to "check all the boxes" in your day or in your child's life, how can you take steps toward allowing your children time to just be when no performance is required?On page 91, Sally shares some of the ways she incorporated creation into the lives of her children.  Spend a few minutes brainstorming local places that you and your group members could explore with your children.Different Chapters 5 and 6 printableWe'd love to hear how this book is impacting you and the women in your groups.  Is it challenging to discuss sensitive topics or are your finding new friendships and intimacy with the women in your group?

But I'm Not a Teacher

Are you afraid to read a book in your Mom Heart group that doesn't come with discussion questions?  It's not as difficult as you might think.

"I'm feeling called by God to lead a group but I'm not a teacher.""I've never been trained to lead women's ministry.""I'm an introvert."

Have you ever said anything like these to yourself?  Did you know that you can start a Mom Heart group without being a teacher?  Mom Heart groups gather for the purpose of restoring moms’ hearts to God’s heart for motherhood.  When you gather a small number of women together for this purpose, you just need to be willing to initiate and then facilitate a conversation.  The goal is to get the women talking to each other and to explore ideas and scripture together.Here are some tips in writing questions to generate discussion.First of all, you need to become thoroughly familiar with the material.  Read the chapter once, twice, even three times to internalize and understand what it says.  (This is for both scripture and other books.)As you are reading, mark the passages that jump out at you or that the Lord impresses on you as being for your group.  Make notes in the margin if something occurs to you.Once you are familiar with the chapter and you've marked a few sentences or passages that stood out to you, begin to form them into questions.  Take the passage and turn it into a question that causes women to think or apply it to themselves.For example, in this recent post, you can read a passage that struck me and then read the question that I wrote merely by rephrasing the sentence into a question that can be discussed by the group.Here's another example from page 26 of Different.  This passage jumped out as meaningful so I marked it on my first read-through.  After a second read-through, it still seemed like something that would apply to the women in my group.Here's the passage:  "But none of these qualities were practical or effective in responding to this one who needed my slowness and my attention in the midst of my busyness."Here's the question I wrote down and asked during my group:  "Who needs your slowness and attention?  Are you willing to give it?"Can you see how I took the passage and just rephrased it into a question?Here's another example from page 67.The passage: "Will I choose to be a victim of my circumstances, using my differences and difficulties as excuses for why I failed to do great things?   Or will I decide to view my differences as superpowers that can enable me to live better and live out a story worth telling?"The question:  "When have you chosen to be a victim of your circumstances?  How did you make a choice to rise above the problems and move forward regardless?"  <----- notice that none of these questions are yes/no questions.  I could have asked, "Have you ever chosen to be a victim of your circumstances?"  That only generates yes/no answers, it doesn't elicit discussion.  Always double check your questions after they are written and make sure they can't be answered with a simple yes or no.Here are some general questions that you can use to apply to many different topics or thoughts within a chapter.-How will you implement this in your home?-What feelings does this stir up in you?-How has God used circumstances such as these to bring growth in your life?-What is one thing you can try to apply this week?Leading a Mom Heart group might feel intimidating, but it doesn't have to be complicated or scary.  God will reveal which passages from a book or scripture are those that apply to your group.  Trust Him to bring thoughts to mind as you prepare before hand.What is keeping you from jumping in to lead a group?  Are you feeling called but not qualified?  So were the disciples and just look how God used them!  You can do it.  We are here to support you and answer your questions.  If God calls you, He will provide what you need.

Compelled to Tell

Today's post comes from Jacqui Wakelam, a Mum Heart group leader and the overseer of the Mum Heart groups in the UK and Ireland.  She and her friend, Amy, hosted the very successful Mum Heart conference in London recently.  Read her thoughts on how our stories can impact others.I remember hearing a Holocaust survivor being interviewed once on a leading U.S. talk show. His words were arresting and the stories gripped my imagination and soul. Why had he written his memoirs? His narrative was one of ultimate hope but also of such horror and human darkness, so why share, why talk, why tell others?“You have to free the ones you find,” was his profound reply.This response and insight has always stuck with me. This is why we have a deep, burning desire to convey to others the truths that have shaped our own journeys – we want to see others walk in more freedom, to learn from our own journey, and feel a shared connection.I love when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). She was so impacted by this encounter she left all her stuff and ran back to the village and dragged half the town out to meet Him! Many went on to believe in Him, not just based on what she’d told them, but because they’d now heard Him first hand (John 4:41-42).This is why we share; we’re compelled by our own divine encounters and want others to get in on the feeling!When we’ve been changed, we desire that change for others, to ‘free the ones we find’. When we’ve been reached in our isolation we want to reach into other’s loneliness and bring them to that fullness of life! So we throw all the toys behind the sofa, get out the tea stained cups, the chipped side plate, light the candle, unwrap the biscuits, hide the laundry upstairs…we provide a simple space to come hear more.

Motherhood and the Great Commission

Today's post was written by Tami in Texas.  She is a long-time friend of Mom Heart Ministries and has completed several leadership intensives under Sally's teaching.  Her group was profiled in this post. Welcome, Tami.  Before we think about how the Great Commission applies to motherhood, first we have to define the Great Commission.  This portion of scripture in Matthew is called the Great Commission because it is the final instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples while on earth that encourages them to go and do what He has taught them over the past three years.  Jesus is sending them out into the world to spread His teachings.

Matthew 28:16-20 The eleven followers went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to meet him; and when they saw him, they bowed to the ground before him; although some hesitated.  Then Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to lay to heart all the commands that I have given you; and remember, I am with you everyday until the end of the age.’

The mission Jesus gave to his disciples when He appeared to them after the miracle of His resurrection has not changed. First of all, He says to GO, take action, and then He says to MAKE disciples, which consists of BAPTIZING them into the household of God and then TEACHING them to obey His Word.In simple terms we are to:Go ... make disciples ... baptize ... teach.What about those who hesitated?  Could this again demonstrate that the disciples are just like each of us? Though bold in their faith and their belief in Jesus, sometimes they hesitated before they committed, before they took action.The Great Commission applies directly to motherhood, not just to those going to foreign lands to preach Christ. It begins within our own homes. Motherhood is our mission field. So how does the Great Commission apply to motherhood?  Are we following the basic elements of the Great Commission in our homes?As parents, Jesus has given us the primary disciple-making responsibility of our children.  To put it simply, we are to develop a lifestyle of discipleship--being the example that our kids long to see and hear. To immerse them daily in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by teaching His word and showing them how to practice all the things that Christ commanded. This should simply not be reduced to an activity taught by others outside our homes; instead, it should be a life lived out and taught by us and our example in our own homes.Have you hesitated to take the Great Commission into your home?  What could be the cause of our own hesitation as moms?I see three possible causes for our hesitation:

  1. Moms are not trained for Biblical Motherhood. Perhaps they are not confident in how to apply the Great Commission to motherhood.  What can you read to encourage your heart in this way?  The Mission of Motherhood is a great place to start.
  1. We live in a culture now where all opinions are equally valid. We don’t stand up for Christ because we don’t want to offend anyone. We find ourselves spending more time preparing what to say, than actually saying anything.  Do you know someone who is more brave than you?  Spend time with her and watch what she says and does.  Pray for courage in your own heart.
  1. Sometimes we hesitate because we are too busy trying to keep up with everyone else.  Read the scriptures.  Consider looking up verses on contentment or joy.  Learn what God has to say.

As a mom, we actually possess the prophetic voice and the gift of proclamation of Christ; yet we often hesitate to use it.  Since Jesus is the Lord of our life, we shouldGo ... make disciples ... baptize ... teach.Teaching our children the commands of Christ is more than transferring information.  This teaching involves applying God’s word to their hearts. Obedience in the biblical sense isn’t about outward conformity to the law. Rather, obedience comes from a heart that has been changed by God through the discipleship process.Our homes can be transformed into a community that provides a safe place for edification, training and discipleship, fulfilling the Great Commission we have been given as mothers by Christ.  Sally's ministry encourages discipleship with our children and with other moms. It is mentioned in each of her books, blogs and conferences and is a reminder how we all need discipleship to further His kingdom.Walking out the Great Commission will look different in each of our homes. In mine, we read one chapter of the Bible daily aloud together. We talk about how to apply this to our lives.  Each child will say what verse stood out to them.  This could be a verse they liked or didn’t like or maybe didn’t understand and then we discuss it.  We end in prayer.  Sometimes I wonder if they are really listening, but then they say something profound, that makes my heart smile and I am grateful God shows me this training is worthwhile.This is our Great Commission to Go…make disciples…baptize…teach and then send our children into the world, praying they will keep their focus on Christ and remember their training, to hopefully bring the Great Commission into their generation!Encourage the women in your Mom Heart groups to consider that the raising of their children is actually discipling them to know and love God.  We have the responsibility and privilege of encouraging these little ones in our care.

Some Benefits of Community

Have you been following along on our series about tending to your own Mom Heart?  Not only do we need to learn to tend to our group members’ hearts, but we need to first tend and fill our own heart so that we have something to give.  Find the earlier posts here.Community and Fellowship Provide Us with Affirmation, Affection, Stability and BelongingRecently, I was feeling quite alone and unnoticed in my life. I was carrying several serious burdens of my children and friends, was quite tired of working, and felt so alone.A very loyal and trustworthy friend texted me, “I am going to be gone for a month. I need some Sally time.”IMG_6273As we sipped the strong black tea we both loved from England, I poured out my heart’s issues. Out of compassion, tears came to her eyes. “I don’t know if you realize it, but I am praying for you diligently almost every day. All the things that are piling up in your life are indeed heavy to carry, but my life is similarly burdened, and I want to tell you how I have been seeing God’s goodness amidst my own personal circumstances.”When my friend left, nothing in my circumstances had changed, yet I felt hope in my heart because of her words. Our friendship carried me to peace because she helped to shoulder my burdens and sympathize.God created us for companionship with real people. We were born for community, love, help, encouragement, and the blessing and intimacy that comes from close friendship with others.IMG_6872-972574235-O 800@72

Consequently, fellowship with like-minded women and men is essential to our spiritual health, and to our well-being in the Christian life.A woman alone in her home, giving and being emptied on a regular basis, and dealing with her limitations -- plus those of the sinful people who dwell in her home -- is a target for discouragement, feelings of inadequacy, confusion and a sense of failure.Having support systems is essential to our spiritual life, growth, health and pleasure. God intended us to live in a greater sense of family—to have aunts, grandmas, sisters, cousins, and friends who would surround us and give help and instruction to us as we learn to live life as moms, wives, ministry leaders, and friends.In an isolationist society, we have falsely accepted the premise that we can “do it alone.” That belief brings so much pressure on one person to be all and do all!


Cultivating fellowship, friendship, and community may require you to take initiative, since isolation is the norm in this culture at this time.Keep looking until you find someone more mature than you who can draw you forward in your walk with God. Find someone who is right where you are to share similar issues, ideas, and help, and also find someone younger in the Lord or at a younger stage to whom you can bring encouragement.Read and ponder the following verses in reference to yourself and your current community. How can you apply them to your life?What action steps do you need to move on to create a less isolated life for you and for your family?

How can you spend time intentionally connecting with the women in your Mom Heart group?

ECCLESIASTES 4:9-10 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.HEBREWS 3:13 (NIV) But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.GALATIANS 6:10 (NLT) Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.COLOSSIANS 2:2 (NLT) I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.HEBREWS 10:25 (NLT) And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

ali-inay-9858ACTS 2:42 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.ACTS 2:46-47 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.GALATIANS 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.MATTHEW 18:20 (NLT) “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."TITUS 2:3-5 (NLT) Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

How will you reach out to create community for yourself this week?

Different Discussion Questions | Chapters 3 and 4

As we move through Different, pay close attention to your group members’ reactions.  If someone suddenly goes quiet or gets defensive, treat her very gently.  Ask privately after the group is over if there’s something she needs prayer for.  Remember, we gather to encourage each other and point one another to God and His word, not to give advice or solve each other’s problems.  When there are big reactions, God’s spirit is working!patryk-sobczak-339Chapter 3Page 33 “Perhaps as you read these words you will think of someone you know, maybe someone you love, who fits the characteristics of being different.  But maybe, just maybe, there have been times in your own life when you felt that no matter how hard you tried, you simply couldn’t see life like “everyone else.”  Times when you’ve felt the whole world turn against you.  Times when no matter how hard loved ones tried, they simply couldn’t understand what you were going through.  Times when you yourself may have felt different.”How can you relate to this?When have you felt that you couldn’t see life like everyone else?Page 34 “All too often, in a culture that demands conformity, we try to suppress the traits that just don’t fit in, when in reality the things that make us different can be the things that make us beautiful, and are the traits that God wants to use in our lives to bring strength to others and reflect his beauty.”Considering the previous questions, how has God used your differences to bring strength to others and reflect His beauty?ib-wira-dyatmika-115366Read aloud the italics section at the top of page 39.What does this stir in your heart?On page 42 is the LAUNCH acronym that Sally used to remind her how to love Nathan in his differences.   Click here to find a printable PDF that you can share with your Mom Heart groups.ricardo-cruz-31577Chapter 4Page 53 “I believe that the longing to live a meaningful life resides inside all people.  Not everyone is motivated by epic tales, by swords and swashbuckling and high romance.  But each of us has the deep desire to become a hero in our own story-the person we were meant to be, accomplishing what we were created to accomplish.  And I am convinced that each of us is designed to play a significant role in the history of the world.  God created us with personality, strengths, weaknesses, passions, and preferences we need to play our part.  But to do that, most of us need inspiration.  And stories can give us that.”What other ways have you found to inspire your children if they aren’t engaged by “swords and swashbuckling and high romance?”As most children (though not all) ARE inspired by stories, there are some helpful resources at the bottom of this post.Page 54 “I had always avoided allowing Nathan (and my other children) the crutch of too much “screen time” – TV, video games, computers, and so on.  But that meant I needed to be resourceful about offering creative and engaging alternatives to fill their time.  So I did my best to fill our home with that I call “tools of imagination”-games, supplies, and materials that would engage their interest and help them grow in thinking skills and imagination as they played.”markus-spiske-145014With your group, brainstorm some tools of imagination to inspire your children.  Try to think of things for different age groups- inspiring an 8-year-old is vastly different from inspiring a 14-year-old.  Share your lists here in the comments or over on the Mom Heart groups Facebook page- we’d love to hear them!Page 57 “If I wanted [Nathan] to be all he could be- all God created him to be- I needed to see both his realities and his possibilities and then keep my eyes on what God could accomplish.  Then I needed to invest my energies into training my little boy, expanding his horizons one day at a time, one small step at a time.”How has balancing reality vs. possibility been a challenge for you with your children?IMG_0508Page 59 “So our personal family story was written through days of teaching, training, and celebrating life that required not only patience and diligence, but also thoughtfulness, creativity, and a willingness to engage in cultivating a home alive with imagination, a delightful environment for learning and developing a love of learning.”Patience, diligence, thoughtfulness, creativity, willingness to engage: Which of these areas would you like to grow in?  How will you do that?Spend some time closing in prayer with your group.Helpful linksIntroduction to DifferentDiscussion Questions for Different Intro and Chapters 1 and 2Discussion Questions for Different Chapters 3 and 4 Printable PDFPrintable LAUNCH Poster24 Family WaysNathan’s post of his favorite storiesCaught Up in a Story by Sarah Clarkson (Nathan’s sister)Storyformed instagramRead for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson (my favorite book about books with amazing lists and descriptions of wonderful, wholehearted books)Read Aloud Revival podcast about books with Sally and Nathan  

Obedience Follows Prayer

Have you been following along with our series about tending to your own Mom Heart?  Not only do we need to learn to tend to our group members’ hearts, but we need to first tend and fill our own heart so that we have something to give.  Find all the posts in the series here.Have you ever felt strongly convicted during prayer only to lose the fervor soon after?  Sometimes we hear God's voice or feel his prompting and we choose not to take a step on the path He has laid.francesco-gallarotti-2498Committing to prayer is vital; yet living out our faith and love for God also requires obedience. Obedience is the action point in our moment to moment lives. We must obey His will and His ways if we say we want to love Him with our whole heart.Flagged-172 (1)What do these verses teach you about the importance of obedience?

EXODUS 19:5 (NLT) "Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me."DEUTERONOMY 11:1 (NLT) “You must love the LORD your God and obey all his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands.”JOHN 14:23 (NLT) "Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” 2 CORINTHIANS 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ ."HEBREWS 13:7 (NLT) "Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. "REVELATION 14:12 (NLT) "This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus. "

patrick-fore-26857Consider spending time this week quietly pondering what these scriptures mean for your life and Christian walk.  How can you exhort your Mom Heart group with these verses?

Hold Fast | Tip #19

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

As a Mom Heart group leader and teacher, you are putting into practice what the writer of Hebrews told those early Christians they needed to do to be confident on the journey of faith. You are “assembling together” to “hold fast the confession of our hope” and to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” so that you all can be women known for “encouraging one another” as you live your lives together for Christ. Ask yourself the following questions to help you press in and press on in your vital, biblical ministry to women:• How can I “hold fast the confession” of all that I hope for in Christ? What can cause me to be “wavering” about that hope? What will help me be strong in faith?IMG_5843• What “promises of God” strengthen my faith and steady my hope? How have I seen God be “faithful” to me and my family?• How can I lead and tend my Mom Heart group so that we “stimulate one another to love and good deeds”? How can I make sure that we are “encouraging one another” every time we are together?untitled-34• Is there anything that could make me want to “throw away [my] confidence” in Christ? How can I protect against that in the times when I “have need of endurance” so that I will be able to do the will of God.

Different Discussion Questions | Intro Thru Chapter 2

Leading a Mom Heart group through the book Different might make you feel nervous.  After all, these are extremely personal thoughts and struggles for mothers who might never have shared with anyone before.  I encourage you to be very gentle as you address these topics in a group.  Please read this post first that includes some tips for safety within your group.  If you create a safe place and don’t force anyone to speak who isn’t ready to, you can have a dynamic and intimate conversation, creating amazing friendships with the women in your group.  Don’t be afraid of tears and tender hearts and go ahead and pause the conversation to pray over a specific circumstance if the Spirit prompts you.IMG_5411 (Jacqui Wakelam's conflicted copy 2016-10-30)In our group, after fellowship time and any “getting to know you” questions, we open in prayer and then start with a very general question such as those below to get the conversation started.How did reading this section affect you?Did anything cause you to view yourself or your children with a new perspective?Our group only meets once per month, so we will discuss two chapters at each meeting.  Here are some suggestions of discussion questions to help you get started.  Keep in mind that each group is different and the Lord will prompt you with appropriate questions that befit your group.  Take time to think ahead, pray and ask God to use you to speak His words of life.IntroductionOn page XXV, Sally shares how Nathan found her a safe person to confide in.Do your children have a safe place in you?What do you need to change in the power of the Holy Spirit so that they will find you safe?IMG_4695Chapter  1On page 5, Sally discusses how she was influenced profoundly by her family, and in particular, her mother.   “She also (inadvertently)  taught me a valuable lesson that has served me well as a mama- that it is easy for parents to pass on unnecessary guilt, shame, and insecurity to their children because we fear the rejection of critical and judgmental people in our lives.”How has being rejected caused you to pass on guilt, shame and insecurity to your kids?How can you grow in this area in order to bring them health and security instead?Page 7 “Learning to love ourselves, to be humble enough to admit our limitations, to truly appreciate the gifts our differences bring while also being willing to accept help and healing for the most painful ones, gives us greater mental, emotional, and spiritual health.”Where might you need to accept help and healing or how have you done this in the past?Chapter 2           How did reading of Nathan’s experiences affect you?  Did hearing from his perspective bring new compassion for anyone in your life?Page 21 “Patience and focused attention would often help him to respond and talk to me about what he was feeling.  I prayed, pondered, and sought wisdom and education to find a way to reach him in the impossible moments, which still happened so very often.”What have you noticed about your children when you’ve paid close attention?  Are you calm and attentive enough to really see them?IMG_4691Page 26, “I am not a naturally selfless woman, nor a patient one.  I’m the type to fly through life so that I can get a lot done- now!  I usually have a strong sense of the way life should be, and I tend to get irritated when someone gets in my way or I can’t make things “right.”  But none of these qualities were practical or effective in responding to this one who needed my slowness and my attention in the midst of my busyness.  And I had made a commitment to God to begin to see Nathan as a blessing.Who needs your slowness and attention?  Are you willing to make the sacrifice and find the self-control to give it?Did anything else in this section stand out to you?Keep in mind that these are a lot of questions and depending on how deep you go into each one, you might only get through a couple.  Listen to God’s spirit and follow His promptings.  After discussion, we spend a few minutes sharing about how we can pray for each other and then close in prayer, being sure to end on time in order to respect people’s sacrifice of being away from their families.Are you reading Different together?  I am finding that this book is reaching women in a new and amazing way.   How is it going in your group so far?Below is a printable PDF of the discussion questions.Questions for Different intro 1 2

Mom Heart of North Alabama

We are so excited to share today's post from Pam Turney.  Pam is a longtime friend of the Clarksons and Mom Heart Ministry.  Pam hosts a Mom Heart conference in North Alabama that features speakers that have been trained and mentored by Sally.  Here is a little of her story.


We started in the back room of the local YMCA...a small group of moms struggling together to find joy and purpose in the journey of parenting, each of us desiring to love God and our families wholeheartedly but many of us lacking the biblical knowledge and community of believers to strengthen our faith for the many trials of life.Now, some eight plus years later, we have grown into an area of moms who have now forged deep friendships through shared suffering and celebrating. We embrace life expectantly and with open arms as we continue to gather together regularly for times of study, sharing, and sweet fellowship. The meetings over the years turned into weekend retreats which we outgrew in a few years.556002_10150749749356202_636866201_11271445_1594723725_n This year the Mom Heart of North Alabama team will host the second annual Mom Heart Conference on March 24 and 25 in Huntsville, AL. We are planning a wonderful time of inspiring talks, great food, and fellowship with like minded moms. Having attended these types of conferences since 2000, I have learned the importance of getting away and refueling while building strong friendships with other women who support me. The journey can be long and hard and is not meant to be walked alone.Also, as I embraced the biblical principles presented in these gatherings, I began to see transformation in my own life as well as the lives of my family. Understanding God’s original design for us freed me to love and enjoy my children as gifts my Creator had entrusted to me rather than constantly trying to perform or measure up to some worldly standard.533423_10150749745391202_636866201_11271430_1820010575_nI needed this support more than I would ever when my marriage failed and I became a single working mother of five children: children who still needed to know that God was good and faithful and see that their mom believed in God's goodness. The lovingkindness and support from my Mom Heart friends over the next decade empowered me to stay strong in the ministry God had entrusted to me to disciple my children and other women. I have stuck with this long enough over the past seventeen years to see the fruit in my own life as well as the lives of my children. Having grown up without discipleship and struggling to find my place and purpose has ignited the passion within to make these truths available for others that they too may walk in truth and also make disciples not only in their homes but also their communities.533208_10150749754711202_636866201_11271466_125554309_nIf you are anywhere near our area, please consider joining us March 24-25 for a wonderful time of encouragement and equipping in your journey. It is our deepest desire for you to know how deeply you are loved by God.17022354_10210200021931666_7397459494081069590_n183570_10150101381495848_497401_n

Pam and Sally, years ago!

In The End, It Takes Faith | Tip #18

IMG_0507Leading and teaching a Mom Heart group is not about authority, or great faith, or special training, or strong personality, or spiritual giftedness, or appearance, or deep knowledge. It’s about being faithful to serve, available to God, and willing to learn. David, who would become king of Israel, did not look like a future king, but God told Samuel to choose and anoint him, “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). If you are faithful, available, and teachable, then God is not concerned about the outward appearances such as worldly qualifications and qualities; God is looking at your heart.

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).IMG_4881

If you believe there is a need today to “restore moms’ hearts to God’s heart for motherhood,” then perhaps God is moving you to start a Mom Heart group. You can pray, get counsel from others, research, and make Pro-Con lists, but in the end you will need to take a step of faith. At some point you will say to God, “I believe this is what you want me to do, so I am ready to take a step of faith and do it.” That’s when you move from walking by sight, to walking by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7)—that’s when you say, “This is what I want to do for God.”IMG_0623If you’re ready to become a link in the 2,000-year-old chain stretching back to Jesus, Paul, Timothy, and all who have followed them, then take that step of faith. You will be blessed because of your faith, and other moms will be blessed through you.