As believers, we should be the first to come alongside parents of disabled children. Yet, the truth is that it is easy to shy away out of fear, lack of understanding, or even apathy. Certa author Shelly Roberts has years of experience fostering and loving kids of different abilities and she has put together a very practical list of ways that we can support parents like her and show them the love of Christ.

Here is an excerpt from her blog post, What your friends {with children affected by disability} need:

Sometimes we struggle to reach out, not because we don’t want to, but rather because we’re just not sure what would be helpful. After having been on the disability journey for several years, I’ve found there are three main things that can make a world of difference to families.

SHOW UP. It’s ok if you don’t know what to say. Chances are you can’t really change your friend’s circumstances. Just being reminded that they aren’t facing them alone will mean so much. Showing up might be an actual in-person visit during a long hospital stay. A bonus is walking in with their favorite treat they can’t buy at the building they currently reside in. It might also be a text with something funny or a scripture to cling to. The reality is that a life affected by disability can feel really lonely. You can be that reminder they aren’t alone.

SEND HELP. No doubt your friend faces exhaustion daily. While there are many things you probably can’t do for them, there are so very many that you can. Receiving a gift card in the mail for pizza will mean they can focus on their family that evening instead of juggling one more thing. Taking care of a tank or two of gas for them can be a huge load-lifter when they put on so many miles for appointments. Offering to be taxi for another family member can be one of the best practical helps there is, especially if they can’t leave the house with a fragile child. Hint: if you ask them what they need, they will likely struggle to tell you. Offering specific things is so helpful. One of my favorites is when a friend will offer to get what I need at the store.

STAY CONNECTED. It might have to look a little different in various seasons. As their children age it might take some creativity, especially if it’s difficult for them to come visit you in your home that has stairs to enter. You might notice their church attendance is slim during flu season. Don’t forget them. Send a text and ask how their week is going. See about stopping in for a quick visit over coffee {and take some chocolate!}. Ask them how you can pray for them. I guarantee you, they will be deeply encouraged by your efforts.

Get creative. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself. Keep it simple. Your friend doesn’t need your extravagance. They need your sincerity. Jesus modeled to us so beautifully how to be a friend and meet the needs of others.

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


Over the years, as Shelly has walked with countless adoptive families, she has heard their hearts. 

In this book, Shelly sheds light on the abounding HOPE available to these moms, their families and the children to whom they said YES.  Nugget by nugget, you will be drawn to the source of all HOPE.  You will come away deeply encouraged and better equipped to care for the needs of your family.  You will be reminded that you do not walk this journey alone.

142 pages | $14.99

Shelly is a dedicated wife and mother of five blessings from around the globe. She is known for being an encourager, prayer warrior and advocate for the fatherless. While serving with the ABBA Fund, Shelly strives not only to see children be placed in families, but for those families to thrive. She blogs at reachingheartswithhope.com and is also a women’s speaker and enjoys traveling all over the US, bringing inspiring insight to impact and encourage all who hear. 

Three practical ways to help families with disabled children

We love that our authors are always doing what they do best… writing! Here is a fantastic example by Bruce Lengeman, author and marriage counselor. His recent blog post 10 Principles of Successful Servanthood offers some wonderful counsel for those under authority. We think this would be an excellent list to share with a teenager who is learning to work diligently. But the truth is that we can all improve in this area!

The following points are to help you become responsible, efficient, diligent, and trustworthy, thus helping you to be successful in every arena of life. Learn this and you will bless your children with the same.

1. DO NOT DELAY your work assignment. When given an assignment, the servant is responsible for following through on that assignment either at the time designated, or the first available opportunity.

When you delay, you may find yourself being distracted later and then say, “I couldn’t perform the command, for it rained.” I will answer you, “You were not diligent when the job could have been done, before the rain.” Remember, “Slow obedience is no obedience.” A task is to be completed ON TIME. If you are told to be home in an hour, do not come home in an hour and one minute. If you are told to do this by Thursday, don’t do it on Friday. Every morning does not mean every afternoon.


2. NEVER SAY, I forgot, rather say, your command was not important enough to remember.

In life, forgetting duties is always irresponsible. Should you have a problem remembering, write yourself a note.


3. PERFORM the assignment as instructed. Listen closely to each instruction and detail as it is given. Ask questions if in doubt, for the job is not to be done according to your way, but according to the way of the one who assigned the job.

Do each assignment according to the heart of your authority, and not according to the technicality of the words. Again, if in doubt, ask questions.


4. DO YOUR BEST to overcome all obstacles that hinder completion of the job you are assigned.

If a tool breaks, fix it if you can. If another need beckons, return as soon as possible to finish the job. If the paint runs out, find, borrow, or buy more. Try diligently to resolve problems—not weak, half-hearted attempts. You will learn the most when you apply wisdom and determination to overcome a difficulty.


5. A CHORE is not completed until every last detail of the job is done.

If cleaning dishes, clean out the sink before you quit. If fixing something, put away all the tools where and how they belong. Never do a chore 99%, but 100%.


6. CERTAIN RESPONSIBILITIES are permanent and need not to be re-assigned.

When I say, keep your room clean, I will also say, this is for all times, forever, never to change. Or I will say, Do not EVER let your possessions lay around the house after you are finished using them, for it is never your mother’s or father’s duty to pick up after you. Do not think that because a regular responsibility is not checked upon or inspected that you have been freed from that responsibility, such as, Keep your dresser drawers neat–at all times.


7. A TASK IS NOT acceptably completed unless it is performed well.

Synonyms for well are neat, clean, good, best, thorough, exact, wholehearted, excellent, proper. Silly excuses for poor work will be disregarded.


8. DON’T QUIT a task before you complete it because of an “acceptable obstacle” without telling your authority for permission.

Perhaps your authority may be able to help you find more time to assist you in finishing the task.


9. BE BRISK with your work; do not be sluggish.

The diligent man does in one hour what a sloth does in four. Overview your work at the beginning and organize it to be executed in the most efficient way possible. Do not take unnecessary breaks or be distracted foolishly.


10. BE A WORTHY servant. A worthy servant is twofold, doing more than what was instructed, and going the extra mile to do what you were not asked to do.

Do not expect extra privileges for obedience but earn privileges by being a worthy servant. Develop a lifestyle of going the extra mile to serve, help, and labor.


Bruce Lengeman has been in Christian ministry since 1976. He and his wife Ruthie have been actively teaching a variety of life-building seminars and classes, including marriage conferences, inner healing conferences, leadership courses, and more.Bruce’s recent emphasis is challenging men to be all they can be and to walk in sexual wholeness. He was a professional counselor for several years and pastored in a variety of ways in several churches. 

Bruce has authored several books, including Come Alive to her Her Heart. This book is practical, filled with the author’s personal testimonials of how he learned, through failure and experience, to nurture a happy, healthy partner for life. Written for husbands but wives will benefit, too!

Successful servanthood

We love this quick and easy overview of the book of James by Certa author Linda Knight. You can read along here or listen on Spotify here.

This New Testament book is Oh so practical in nature. It was written by James, the oldest brother of Jesus. After his conversion, he became a pillar of the Christian church in Jerusalem and was widely known. His opening lines direct this letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians who had been scattered abroad after the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). James is referred to many times in the New Testament as Jesus appeared to him personally after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), was known as a pillar in the church (Galatians 2:9), was visited by Paul on various occasions, was Paul’s first choice of whom to tell upon being released from prison, (Acts 12:17), was important in the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15:13, was the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1) and history records that he was martyred in A.D. 62.

His short letter of 5 Chapters is packed with practical knowledge and instruction on how to live out a life committed to Christ that is filled with faith and good works. James was a servant of Christ and desired that those following Jesus serve Him wholeheartedly. It is filled with wisdom on how to treat others, tame the tongue and submit to God. If you desire to learn to think biblically it is a great book to memorize. The truths will permeate your being and infuse godly thinking into your mind. As James would say, it leads to solid faith and good works that show our love for God as we serve Him. Here are a few of my most favorite verses that have transformed my thinking.

James 1:2-4 talks about attitude and the results of trusting all of life’s events to God.  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 5-6 instructs us to go to the source of all wisdom when we need answers but to do it with faith!  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:17 confirms the immutability of God. He also assures us that God is good in all He gives. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

James 1:19-20 instructs us to control our anger.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 2:1 begins his teaching on treating others with impartiality. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” He concludes this chapter with words about faith and good works. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (2:14)

James 3 delves into the harm and good that we can do with our tongues!  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (3:6)

James 4:7-8 is one of my favorite promises as it shows us clearly the way to draw near to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

In his last chapter James talks about the whining rich, the need for patience and the importance of prayer. James 5:15-16 encourages us in our prayer life! “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Which of these nuggets of wisdom do you need today? Are you struggling with trials in your life and need the perspective of joy? Are you concerned that God is perhaps whimsical and will change His mind about your salvation? Are you being confronted with favoritism, gossip or want to know how to get closer to God? Are you struggling with prayer and asking yourself why pray? James is a book that can be read, meditated upon and digested slowly so that the truths contained therein will permeate your life and allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out.

Be encouraged today by the practicality of James and how he makes faith in Christ applicable to our daily walk with Jesus.

Check out these resources from Linda knight:

We live in a world filled with uncertainty, stressful situations, demanding circumstances, and even challenging people. In Promises for Dynamic Living, you will discover the specific promises which God has provided for you through His Word.

200 pages | $13.99

Shop now

Fearless Living is a unique, reflective journey that leads the reader from looking at the world, circumstances, events with fear to a place of trust in God. Each day the reader is offered a passage of scripture, a reflective thought and a prayer to combat fear and build our faith.

172 pages | $13.99

Shop now

Before you jump into James

When one of our authors submitted this essay, we couldn’t help but think that the word “detour” is an excellent description of COVID-19. For some, it has meant a delayed wedding date, time away from family, a decision to move or a complete change of educational choices. No matter how the pandemic has detoured or derailed your plans, we think these thoughts from Joan Crombie will encourage you…

One beastly hot July day back in the early 1970s, I remember our family of five taking a day trip from our farm in northern South Dakota to the state capital at Pierre, a 150-some mile jaunt. I do not recall the make or model of our car—only that it had no air conditioning, and that it was cherry red inside and out—a fitting color for how searing hot the vinyl seats felt on my bare ten-year-old legs in shorts.

A good portion into our trip we began to see those dreaded signs indicating road construction ahead. Before we reached any actual construction, however, we came to a large, striped sign set in the middle of the road: “Road Closed Ahead. Use Detour.” A big arrow pointed left. As we paused, my mother pulled the accordioned state map out of the glove compartment, and my dad studied it, determining that the detour would take us at least forty miles out of our way on an already long trip. He eyed the perfectly fine paved highway ahead of us. Who knows exactly what he was thinking, but there were few roadway options out in the middle of rural South Dakota, and apparently that perfectly fine paved road seemed like a worthwhile risk to take. We went around the sign.

You can probably guess what happened. We were confidently cruising along with the windows open on that picturesque, paved road for a good twenty miles before the road turned to gravel. We slowed, cranking the windows up to an inch, enduring the hot, dusty drive for another eight to ten bumpy miles—until the gravel turned into the mushy, loose stuff spread across what we realized was a newly constructed road not yet packed. But oh, we’d come so far! Surely, we’d be driving out of it soon, right? We crawled along through the mush gravel until we came to—minor key—the literal end of the road. Ahead of us was a river over which a bridge had not yet been built. The worst part was having to backtrack all that way to the original detour!

Sometimes life is like that. We’re cruising happily along, when suddenly our plans are rudely interrupted. We’re forced to make hard changes. Most of the time God’s detours are inconvenient and/or frustrating. Other times, they can be tragic and heart-wrenchingly painful, life-altering and hard to understand. Either way, God promises to be with us, and he promises that “all things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) If we yield to him, God uses our trials to build our faith and to form our character to be more like him. Plus, we often forget that those roadblocks and detours protect us from dangers or hardships we may be unaware of.


In Joan’s soon-to-be-released book Loving Leah, Leah Labanora struggles to come to grips with a harsh change of plans in her life. Unable to fathom why God would allow such a humiliating situation to happen to her, Leah turns from God and becomes bitter toward those who have hurt her. But God brings her on a wide detour—straight back to him! As she embraces the hard work of forgiveness, Leah learns that her disappointment was God’s hand of protection over her life.

Loving Leah is a mystery and a love story. But more so, it’s a powerful story of healing and reconciliation! Look for it on our site in early August!

The daughter of a cattle rancher, Joan Crombie grew up in a small town on the prairies of South Dakota. In 1985 she graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in English Education. She and her husband Steven Crombie have been married for thirty-five adventurous years and have raised five children—one daughter and four sons. Currently, they reside in beautiful southern Minnesota where they pastor a church. Joan is also the author of Keeping Kyla, the first book in the Healing New Hampton series.

Trusting God’s Detours

As Christians, we like to believe that we are immune to trends. But the truth is that the church rises and falls upon the waves of what is popular and new just like the secular world does. Sometimes these shifts serve to advance us toward that which is new and fresh, but more than often they can distract and delay our spiritual walk.

One trend many have noted, as the church has rapidly modernized in the past 20 years, is a lack of Biblical literacy among congregants. No longer are church-goers expected to bring a Bible to church because all of the scriptures are projected for them. Scripture memorization has faded as an expected practice and expository preaching and Bible studies have become less and less prevalent. A 2015 article in Christianity Today by Ed Stetzer noted:

LifeWay Research found that while 67 percent of Americans believe heaven is a real place, 45 percent believe there are many ways to get there—including 1 in 5 evangelical Christians. More than half of evangelicals (59 percent) believe the Holy Spirit is a force and not a personal being—in contrast to the orthodox biblical teaching of the Trinity being three Persons in one God.

Thankfully God’s people are people of action and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, there will always be those brave few who call us all back to the narrow way.

Jen Wilkin is one of these truth-tellers. As the Women’s Ministry Director at The Village Church in Texas for many years, Jen began teaching women in a way that felt new, but was really quite traditional. She taught the women to study the Word for themselves and to value good and true theology. Instead of offering “10 quick tips to being a better mom,” she encouraged moms to go back to the scriptures and mine it for the answers they so desperately needed.

In her excellent book, Women of the Word, Ms. Wilkin says:

When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected. Rather than acting as salt and light, we become bland contributions to the environment we inhabit and shape, indistinguishable from those who have never been changed by the gospel. Home, church, community, and country desperately need the influence of women who know why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. They desperately need the influence of women who love deeply and actively the God proclaimed in the Bible.

Ms. Wilkin is not alone in pushing for a shift back to Biblical literacy.  The Gospel Coalition is a conglomerate of like-minded writers, pastors, and thinkers who are calling us back to the Word and their impact is growing by the day. One of their bestselling resources is the New City Catechism series, which helps churches and parents catechize children from a young age. This is definitely a far cry from Veggie Tales and the fluffy, low-content resources of the past. Another group seeing rapid growth is Risen Motherhood, a podcast and blog aimed at providing Gospel-based resources to moms looking for more than shallow answers to their deep questions.

Here at Certa Publishing, we are proud to offer our own collection of resources that point us back to Biblical literacy.  In A Remedy for Itching Ears, Dr. Jesse Williams points the younger generations back to the foundational doctrine of the Word. Dr. Williams serves as the Senior Pastor of Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem, New York.

Reclaiming Prophecy by author Darin Slack implores the Church to return to a scriptural application of the gift of prophecy. Mr. Slack has served in prophetic ministry for many years with Metro Life Church in Casselberry, Florida.

No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, no matter which denomination or background, we highly encourage you to devote yourself to Biblical literacy. No sermon, video or podcast will ever replace the living, breathing Word of God, which is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Let’s get back to basics

We all know the stereotypes of moms on Mother’s Day. They awake to the banging of pots and pans as their husband hushes and hurries the kids to make her breakfast in bed. Even though she had hoped to sleep in, the mom beams with joy at the thought of her family honoring her this way.

But your Mother’s Day may look nothing like that at all. Instead, you might be staring at another negative pregnancy test, missing kids who are far away or struggling with separation due to COVID.

Or maybe you mothering falls into a unique category… adoptive, foster or stepmom. For you, there may be less breakfast in bed and more consolation of kids who miss their mom. There may less cards and gifts and more FaceTime chats with biological parents. There may be less “Happy Mother’s Day!” and more “You’re not my real mom!” It’s these moms we want to speak to today. It’s these moms that we want to feel seen.

While there are many thoughts we could share, we knew there was no one better than Mark Gregston, a family counselor who has walked countless families through these unique challenges. Mark runs a home for troubled teens, many of whom come from foster care, adoption and blended families. In a recent article entitled Encouragement for Adoptive Parents, he spoke to these issues and we’ve excerpted it for you here:

Life is made of stories

Some of those stories have happy endings.  Some less so. 

Some stories involve people you never would have imagined coming into your life. But when someone adopts a child into their home and their heart, I think it’s a very cool thing to do.  I also think it paints a real-world picture of how we have been grafted into God’s family for everyone to see. 

My good friend, Wayne, who also happens to be the announcer for our program, Parenting Today’s Teen, is one of those people with a story. Adopted as a child, Wayne recently discovered some interesting details about his biological family through one of those DNA test kits he received as a gift. 

Wayne had been given up for adoption by a mother who was not married, but who wanted him to have the best life possible.  It was through her selfless act of kindness and love that he was adopted by a loving couple and grew up having a wonderful childhood, in a loving home.  Wayne’s story may not be a new one, but it’s an important one that reminds us every day there are a number of kids who, for whatever reason, need a family that’s willing to open their home and their heart.  And while it might seem like we only hear stories of adoption where there are some real struggles, I think the majority of adoptions turn out best for everyone involved. 

Each adoption story is unique because every life is different.  And it’s important to remember that there is hope for those who are struggling with adoption.  Things don’t always happen on our time table, but on God’s.  So, we need to keep in mind that He’s always on time, and He’s always working things out for the good of those who love Him. 

Encouragement for Parents 

At the end of the day, love will always win out, so keep loving your kids, even when it’s hard! 

Keep connected with your teen.  Show them you love them by pursuing a relationship with them and overcoming the struggles you both are facing right now. 

Most adoptive kids resolve their childhood issues in their mid-twenties.  There are exceptions to the rule, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Give them time and don’t rush them to be “okay.”  Abandonment issues often rock people at a core level. It’s a deep wound that needs to be healed, but with time and lots of assurance and love, those wounds can be mended. 

It’s also important for you to remember that as young women grow, they begin to think about becoming mothers and that will cause of a flurry of questions.  Don’t be afraid to answer the questions honestly.  They’re not rejecting you—they’re trying to discover if there’s something in them that will cause history to repeat itself, or if they can be a different person from their biological family.  Whether they voice it or not, kids are often left wondering how far the apple is going to fall from the tree. 

Change comes through conflict, difficulties, and hardships, but those struggles are so worth it when it comes to changing the life of another person.  God in His sovereignty places people together on purpose.  Just as your child was wonderfully and fearfully made by our loving Creator, He made you for this!  You were chosen for a purpose.  And just as He doesn’t give up on us, you shouldn’t give up on your teen. You have been made in His image with His love to share your life with someone who needs you and the gifts that only you can bring to their life. 

Encouragement for Stepparents 

Blended families have a unique set of problems and challenges, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome.  Many blended families have seen their share of heartache, but just as many have walked through the struggles and come out well on the other side. 

Conflicts and challenges don’t have to be a hinderance to your family dynamics.  Use your family’s conflicts to strengthen your bonds while showing your teen how to struggle well through the loss, confusion, and excitement of blending lives.  It’s difficult to live with other people, but when you walk with faith, love, hope, and grace, it’s a lot easier. 

God knows what He’s doing, and He has a plan for your life.  You are not together by accident and He will give you strength and wisdom to endure, encourage, and love one another every day.  All you have to do is ask Him to guide you and direct you in the way you and your family should go! 

Conclusion 

Mom, Dad … your efforts and commitment to your adopted kids and to the expansion of your family is to be applauded and celebrated.  And whether it’s going well, or you’re struggling through those adolescent years, I want you to remember this: when your adoptive child goes through their teen years, they will probably wonder why they were abandoned and given up.  And they will ask this during a time of struggle and growing, so listen well and know that the answers you gave them during their younger years, won’t work when they are teens.  Their way of thinking has changed and so must yours if you can help them navigate the world for the answers they seek.  Don’t give up!  You are to be applauded and celebrated for your commitment to your child. 


Mark Gregston is a Certa author and director of Heartlight Ministries, a residential program for struggling teens. He is also the host of the nationally acclaimed radio program, Parenting Today’s Teens. Mark and Jan have been married for 45 years and have two children, both of whom are married and have blessed them with four wonderful grandchildren.


A fantastic Mother’s Day gift idea!

Mark Gregston offers a devotional just for moms!

  • When difficulties with your teen call for God’s intervention….
  • When you need help expressing your emotions and parenting concerns in prayers….
  • When your heart is overflowing with thankfulness and joy….

These verses and short prayers will help you pour out your heart to God and cover your teen’s life in prayer.

161 pages | $13.99 | Shop now

Mother’s Day for the adoptive mom

Maybe you’ve stumbled across this blog today because you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer. Or perhaps someone you care about very much has just heard that dreaded diagnosis. Maybe it’s not cancer, but another chronic health condition that has stolen your joy and hope. Whatever the reason, we pray that you will find inspiration in this excerpt from Certa author Nicole Body who was diagnosed with a very rare cancer at age 27…


“Good morning,” he said to us upon entering the room. “We have received your pathology results, Nicole.”

He stood across from me and leaned up against the sink in the room with his arms folded in front of him much as he did the last time we saw him. He seemed distraught, though, which was uncharacteristic from our last visit with him.

“What did the report say?” I asked him while my voice cracked.

“The pathology shows that you have what is called sarcoma cancer,” he began.

“It is cancer?” I asked him as I felt my body go numb.

With his head tilted down toward the floor, he shifted his eyes up toward me and slowly nodded.

“What is that?” Wes asked, insistently shifting to the edge of his chair. “I’ve never even heard of that.”

“It’s very rare,” he said. “Fewer than one percent of people are diagnosed with it. It was described to me as ‘angry,’ ‘aggressive,’ and ‘high grade.’ I’m so sorry to have to be the one to tell you this news.”

It began feeling as if the walls of the room were closing in and the oxygen was being sucked out. I panted a few times and without even realizing it, I had stood up.

“I just need a moment to breathe in the hallway if that’s okay,” I said motioning my hand toward the door.

“Absolutely,” Dr. Barnes replied. “Please take your time.”

“Aggressive,” “angry,” and “high grade” are how he described it. That’s pretty horrifying. Less than one percent of all cancer diagnoses? Well, now it makes sense why the radiologist and my doctors have never seen anything like it.

How am I not crying right now? Maybe the shock has absorbed my tears. Maybe since this is technically the second time in a month for me to be “diagnosed with cancer” I don’t believe him. Maybe it’s because I can’t even remember the name of the cancer he just told me I have! I have a million thoughts and a myriad of questions. Since Dr. Barnes didn’t take all of the tumor out in my surgery, this means that the cancer is still inside me. What’s going to happen next?

I immediately stopped and thought about the scripture Wes had read to me before my surgery. I was thankful to have my phone so I could pull it up and read it.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I took a few deep breaths and leaned up against the wall as I noticed someone walking to a room past me. I glanced back at the verses and felt calm enough to go back inside to meet Wes.

“Well, it looks like you’ll need another surgery,” he began in a solemn tone.

“Who do we need to see?” I blurted out in desperation. “Where do we need to go? I’ll do anything.”

“Sarcoma cancer is very rare and there are few oncologists in the country who specialize in it,” he explained. “But there is a place I know could help you.”

“Where?” Wes asked with vigor.

“There are three major cancer centers in the United States that I can think of that would be helpful for your case,” he said to us. “There is one specifically in Houston called the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Is it possible that you could make that work?”

“Houston?” I repeated as a question while I covered my mouth with my hand. “In light of recent events, I believe we can make that work. I just need to make a quick phone call to my parents, since they just moved there about a month ago.”

Wes held my hand and shook his head while smiling. We were continually encountering opposition, but each time it had been met with something that brought us hope. The scripture that Wes had read to me reigned true. Even though I was afflicted, I was not crushed. Amidst feeling perplexed, I was not driven to despair. I may have felt struck down, but I was far from being destroyed.

I squeezed Wes’ hand, nodded back at him, and called my parents. Even in life’s scariest moments, God was still working in the midst of it all.

Why do I ever doubt him?


This excerpt is from Nicole’s new release When Love Broke Through, which chronicles her journey and survival story.

Nicole Body is an author, speaker, and creator of the faith-based cancer blog SparklySurvivor.com. She currently works as the Communications Director for WoodsEdge Community Church.

Her life verse is John 16:33 and is in the heart of everything she writes and speaks about. Nicole is dearly devoted to her husband, Wes. They love ballroom dancing, traveling, and all things Disney with hopes of visiting every Disney park in the world one day. 

When Love Broke Through is the compelling story of discovering that love is a force to be reckoned with in all seasons of life. Authentic, genuine, and uplifting, this book shares the true story of God’s faithfulness and finding hope when it seems to be lost. This is a must-read for anyone who is in need of their faith to be ignited, courage to be summoned, and a reminder that love can break through.

224 pages | $14.99 | Buy it here

Diagnosed with rare cancer at age 27

Certa author Kevin Baird was recently published in the Iowa Standard and we think you will find his thoughts on the subject of church metrics both insightful and challenging. Here is the text of his article PASTOR BAIRD: It’s time we changed the metrics of the church from numbers to substance:

If anything good can be said of the pandemic, perhaps it will precipitate a strategic reset which the Church at large has been needing for some time. It is no secret that over the last 40 years churches have gotten larger and larger as the metrics of church success were directly tied to the size of congregation. That is not necessarily a bad thing. The presupposition was that if you could get a person inside the doors of the church, then the likelihood of creating a new Christian would increase. As pastors and Christian leaders embraced that thought, Church growth conferences abounded as these leaders flocked to such events eager to learn the “secret sauce” of growing a mega-church. Church planting efforts exponentially skyrocketed as young couples learned the pragmatic templates for creating the next super ministry. Bigger is better we were told, because every nose and number was a soul for which Christ died.

It was hard to argue initially with much of that logic. The Bible and Church history certainly have examples of large gatherings and churches. The Church was birthed in the book of Acts in a few short weeks, by some estimates, with over 12,000 people. God is not predisposed to be against numbers and size apparently.

That said, after a generation of using such metrics for success, the answers have arrived concerning what we have been producing in the 21st century American Church. I was reading a recent article citing the Barna Group who does worldview research in the Church on a yearly basis. Barna calls this research the “most sophisticated nationwide survey of worldview conducted in the United States.” The assessment is based on 51 worldview questions, examining both beliefs and behavior, which were provided to a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults.

The results include the following:

* Although 7 out of 10 Americans consider themselves to be Christian, just 6% actually possess a biblical worldview.

* Just one-fifth of those attending evangelical Protestant churches (21%) have a biblical worldview, as compared to one-sixth of those attending charismatic or Pentecostal churches (16%). The study finds even smaller proportions in mainline Protestant (8%) or Catholic (1%) churches.

* The number of American adults holding a biblical worldview has declined by 50% over the past 25 years.

* Regarding the youngest adult generation, the numbers are even more startling. A mere 2% of those 18 to 29 years old possess a biblical worldview.

We may be growing some of the largest churches in modern history, but the question has to be asked, “What kind of churches are they?”

Apparently, not orthodox, evangelical churches anchored to the historic Christian faith. We may be creating growing organizations that are using the label, “church’, but is our label an accurate depiction of what actually exists? The statistics seem to say, no.

The issue we face today is not the value or benefit of the size of a church, but rather the fidelity of the church. It’s time we changed the metrics from numbers to substance. Let me suggest something potentially even more radical. Perhaps we should have a moratorium on evangelism and outreach and consider the concept of preservation.

What are we doing to preserve the historic, orthodox, evangelical Christian Faith both corporately in our churches as well as in our families? I know that twenty years ago I would be ridiculed and dismissed for suggesting such an inward focus. The problem is, if we don’t focus on what is going on inwardly, there will be nothing outwardly of any true or lasting value.

Is there a plan or strategy to actually produce Christians that will maintain their faith in the coming years of adversity? Or will we, as Rod Dreher suggests in his book, The Benedict Option, “content ourselves to be chaplains to a consumerist culture that has fast lost its sense of what it means to be a Christian”.

It is inarguable that Christianity is no longer the prevailing ideology in America. We can no longer assume that any church attendee is grounded with a faith that will sustain them, much less their family tree, with the changes that are headed our way. We simply cannot wait for the day when our omnipotent government tells us that we can lose our masks and open our buildings only to return to business as usual.

If you believe in the numerical metrics that Barna reports, then you realize that a return to business as usual will be the death rattle of the church in the West.

The good news is that there are pastors who are “getting” the season that has been thrust upon them. Their number needs to increase swiftly and exponentially, not in the next years, but the next months. If you are a pastor reading this article, or a concerned Christian layperson, then begin today to formulate your plan to begin building a resilient Christian church and family, not only for your own sake, but for the sake of a nation that needs real deal Christians and not slick substitutes. It is time to reclaim the true faith in America.

And who knows, perhaps these will be the ones that history records as the foundation of true renewal.

I would say, that’s a definition of real success.

Have you ever felt STUCK? Stuck in a dead-end job? Stuck in an unfair situation? Stuck in your spiritual journey? or 100 other immobilizing circumstances?

How did you get STUCK? And how do you get OUT?

In I’M STUCK AND I CAN’T GET OUT, Dr. Kevin Baird digs deep into these questions and identifies some specific reasons why you may find yourself in a paralyzing quagmire. He will then share practical steps you can take to dig your way out and move forward.

152 pages | $14.99 | Buy here

Kevin Baird is the Director of Pastoral Ministries, a division of the Florida Family Policy Council, and a veteran minister for over 40 years. His ministry experience has been extensive through the years as a lead pastor, church planter, national conference speaker, college professor, talk radio host, biblical worldview advocate in public policy, and media analyst on politics and culture. 

A fresh look at church metrics

Ask any marriage therapist, and they will tell you… emotional connection (or lack thereof) is one of the biggest marital struggles they see. The wife complains that her husband is distant, doesn’t care or doesn’t empathize with what she’s going through. And often the husband is surprised she feels this way, thinking but we talk all the time and I feel like I’m a good listener. Here’s where Certa author and marriage counselor Bruce Lengeman is well-suited to offer advice. You see, he’s heard these concerns again and again. In fact, he’s seen them so often that he’s written a book for men on this exact subject. Don’t worry guys, this won’t be a book that bashes you or demands you set aside your God-given masculinity. Instead, it calls you to more and offers you an opportunity to come alive to her heart.

Here’s what Bruce has to say about the book:

Through decades of counseling, pastoral care, marriage seminars, and friendships, Ruthie and I became well aware that married women, aching for their husbands to connect to their hearts, is a major issue in marriages. I’ve had many classes in my men’s groups on intimacy and connecting. I discovered that many men simply don’t know how, or what it means to connect with the wife they are supposed to become one with–but they desire to know.

In writing my new book Come Alive To Her Heart, it was a delicate concern, for I didn’t want to destroy the glory of manhood, feminize men in the process–or make them “touchy-feely.” I initially only had 100 books printed. They sold overnight. Then 250 more. Back ordered! One man, who had been married several months before said, “If only I had read this book before I got married, my wife and I would have saved a lot of hardship in our first months.” Ruthie taught me how to meet her emotional needs. I wanted to know.

Our culture fuels a fatherless, orphan spirit for men, so addressing the issue of male insensitivity is far more than addressing how to do it. It is revealing to men the glory of who they are in Christ, and the glory of Godly manhood.

Yes, we are working on a sequel–Ruthie is writing Wind to His Back, a look at marriage from the other side. But for right now, our prayers are that Come Alive To Her Heart will save or upgrade multitudes of marriages! Oh yes, our recommendation is that husband and wife read the book together, so that when hubby says, I do that, wifey can reply, no you don’t, so hubby can then say, Oh! 

This book is practical, filled with the author’s personal testimonials of how he learned, through failure and experience, to nurture a happy, healthy partner for life. Written for husbands but wives will benefit, too!

$9.99 | 68 pages | Buy here

Bruce Lengeman is a pastor, counselor, business motivation speaker, and the author of several works. He has a passion for seeing people set free and living to the fullness God has for them. He has worked in ministry for over 30 years and has had the privilege of seeing countless lives changed by the Lord.

Bruce is the author of Kingdom Culture: Uncovering the Heart of What Empowers Teams and To Kill a Lion: Transforming Your Life Through Sexual Freedom.

The emotional connection your marriage is missing