Every Day Ask a Question & Listen Really Well

Ever since I can remember I’ve had a question on my tongue. When I was younger I kept a lot of these questions to myself and simply pondered them in my heart.

My father was an inquisitive man and he taught us how to ask questions. He regularly drilled us with questions after we watched a movie, “What’s the message in this movie? What did you learn?” I would sit at the dinner table regularly debating about everything under the sun.

Well, around my high school/college years my question began getting me in trouble. They were no longer looked upon as inquisitive or insightful they were suddenly viewed as a form of questioning authority or overstepping my role and they were not welcomed.

I have always tried to be respectful when I ask questions or when I want to address a topic so it was shocking to me that I would offend people by simply asking a question. I remember asking a doctor some questions about his observations from my appointment and he was so annoyed with me. He basically told me I could go see another doctor if that made me feel better. Wow! In some way, I would even say the church denomination I grew up it was frowned upon when women asked questions.

Good questions get to the heart of issues

While I was in college I had the joy of meeting a white-haired man who was the newly hired pastor at my church. He not only welcomed my questions but we would meet regularly and he would ask me this question– How’s your heart? It was one of my favorites.

In our time we discussed his upcoming sermon and we debated about theology to my heart’s content. I loved a good debate so this meeting time I had with him was something I treasured. He and his wife quickly became some of my good friends. He actually performed our wedding and we still keep in touch.

Questions have always been a way for me to get to know people, it’s how I process (but not always out loud), it’s how I identify problems, understand hard things, come up with ideas and sometimes it’s what God uses to speak to me.

Speaking of God. I want to add that God is not frightened by our questions. We can come to Him with our questions. The reality is He already knows them even when we choose to keep them to ourselves. So come to Him with your pondering, confused, doubtful, and intrigued heart.

A Week of Asking Questions

So today when I came across this beautiful story by the author of Desperaux Katie DiCamillo. She talked about a 5th grade boy who came up to her at a book signing and said, “My teacher said fifth grade is the year of asking questions.
“Really?” I said.“Yeah,” he said. He took out a notebook. “Every day we’re supposed to ask someone different a good question and listen really good and then write down the answer when they’re done talking.”

“My question is how do you get all that hope into your stories?” “That’s not a good question,” I said. “That’s a great question. Let me think. Um. I guess that writing the story is an act of hope, and so even when I don’t feel hopeful, writing the story can lead me to hope. Does that make sense?”

Ask Someone a Really Good Question

Isn’t that a wonderful practice? Let’s add this to our daily routine–Ask someone a really good question, listen really good and then write down the answer…

Well, you may be thinking, “What’s a really good question?”
Have you heard the saying, “No question is a dumb question?” There may be some truth to this statement but I think in life we sometimes ask “dumb” questions simply because we didn’t take the time to think about what we wanted to know. So keep reading because I will share a few good questions that you can keep in your back pocket.

So I propose that this week we do these two things:

  • Ask someone a really good question.
  • Listen really well.

The author DiCamillo ends her post with this,

Maybe this is a time to start asking good questions, a time to write down the answers, a time to listen to each other really well.

What’s a Really Good Question?

The questions I share below vary from simple to deep. Many of these are good starting points that can lead to more questions. If you listen well you will know what to ask next. Sometimes it can be as simple as rephrasing what they just said or saying “Oh, wow! And what else?” or “What’s on your mind?”.

I love using some of these questions to my children and spouse. You can use these questions with your co-workers, strangers, family and friends.

  1. Were you named after anyone in particular?
  2. Were your parents strict or lenient?
  3. What did you find to be the most difficult part about growing up? Being a teen? A young married? An empty nester? A college student…
  4. When are you the happiest?
  5. How’s your heart?
  6. What was your favorite Bible story as a kid?
  7. Did you have a nickname as a kid? How did you get that name?
  8. What’s something embarrassing that you’ve done?
  9. What advice have you received that has stuck with you?
  10. Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
  11. Do you think you’re beautiful?
  12. What verse in the Bible has influenced you?
  13. What hobby have you wanted to develop?
  14. What’s your favorite series to watch?
  15. What are you reading lately?
  16. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
  17. When did you come to know Christ as your Savior?
  18. What was your first impression of me?
  19. Where did you grow up?
  20. Do you remember your first crush? date?
  21. If you wrote a book what would the title be?
  22. What’s missing in your life right now?
  23. What are you grateful for today?
  24. Where do you go when you need peace?
  25. What was/is your favorite childhood book?

This week make it your focus to ask one good question to your spouse, neighbor, friend, children or stranger. And don’t forget–listen really well. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn about a person when you listen.

Strong Women Laugh at the Days to Come

You are probably familiar with this verse from Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity she can laugh at the days to come.” It truly is a beautiful passage to have on the walls of our home.

Grab this image HERE!

I don’t know what the times were like when King Lemuel’s mom gave him this sound advice about women –She is clothed with strength and honor, She laughs at the future. Proverbs 31:25

But currently, we find ourselves in the midst of a challenging year with a global pandemic, racial tension, and hate on the rise, political divisiveness, and a tremendous amount of stress and fear. With people all over the world wondering what the future holds for them.

We definitely do NOT find ourselves in “laughing at the future” times maybe it’s more like “anxiety-filled about the future” times wondering what will happen with our health, finances, politics, family, community, and the world at large. I can’t say I have felt strong nor I have felt like laughing at our future throughout these past 11 months.

So this morning when I read “She is clothed with strength and dignity she can laugh at the days to come.” I was immediately filled with questions like–Where does this strength come from? Why does this woman have that gives her the ability to laugh at the future?

Clothed With Christ

In Proverbs 31:30 we get the answer to those questions. We clearly see that this woman is not just any woman she is a woman who fears the Lord, a daughter of the King. A woman of God knows her Heavenly Father and chooses to imperfectly lean into His strength and live in accordance with His truth.

A woman of God knows that her “might, courage, honor, dignity, and boldness” comes from the Lord.

I love the word used in verse 25 “clothed”.

She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs at the days to come”.

Proverbs 31:25

Let’s take a look at other passages of Scripture to see how the word “clothed” is used. There are lots of verses in the New Testament reminding us to clothe ourselves with Christ. In Colossians 3:12 it says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with… The reason we can clothe ourselves with Christ, with compassion, kindness, and humility is that we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.

We are called out as”God’s chosen people” to put on Christ on a daily basis like we would put on a blouse we clothe ourselves with Jesus. John Piper says, “Never be without the covering of Christ.”

We put off worry, anxiety, lies and manipulation and we choose to cover ourselves with Christ.

When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalms 61:2

What do you clothe yourself with?

Clothed with Strength

Can you imagine slipping on a glorious dress of strength and dignity? As daughters of the King, we able to put on this gorgeous dress of strength and we can pair it with incomparable dignity.

This statement “She is clothed with strength” is a jolt to our weary and fearful hearts. It’s a call to rise up and claim the promises He has given to His children in His word. This is what gives us strength.

Related: She is clothed with Strength printable can be found HERE.

It’s not just any old strength that she wraps herself in but it is the strength of Christ. Throughout scripture “our strength” is connected to Christ. As I looked up the Hebrew for the word “strength” I came across various verses that focused on God as our strength.

-The Lord is my strength and my song… Exodus 15:2

-You have guided them with your strength… Exodus 15:13

-The Lord is my strength and shield my heart trust in Him… Psalms 28:7 We can count on His strength on a daily basis because our Heavenly Father does not grow weary.

The storms may prevail against us but we can stand strong because He is our strength.

And one of my all time favorites is in Ephesians 3:16, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”

She is also clothed with “dignity”. The word “dignity” means worthy of honor or respect. Some of us may not feel like we can walk with dignity. When God looks at us He does not see our sins and mistakes, He sees Jesus. Jesus who clothes us with His righteousness. That is why we can walk with our heads up high.

So when the winds of change, loss, sin and confusion prevail and the rain doesn’t stop beating over your heads you can stand strong. You stand strong not because “you’ve got this” or because “you’re enough” but because He is your rock and fortress– no matter what may come.

He is your refuge and strength so clothe yourselves with Christ and let it be the reason you remind yourself today–I have nothing to fear.

Our strength does not come from changed circumstances but from our unchanging God.

This is why we don’t fear the future. This is why we can laugh at the days to come because we are daughters of the King who holds all things together.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, We come to you confessing that more often than not our hearts are filled with concern about what the future holds but we want to be defined by who you are not our circumstances.

Teach us to stand strong. Remind us to hold on to what we know for certain and that is your Truth and Hope in the midst of uncertain circumstances. Strengthen our inner being Lord so we do not waver no matter what.

In your name, amen.

Proverbs 31 in 5 Minutes a Day Bible Study

The Proverbs 31 in 5 Minutes a Day: A Bible Study for Women 

offers short lessons on Proverbs 31, a joyful poem describing the characteristics of a godly woman. Unlock the guidance in its verses, exploring who you are and whose you are as a daughter of the King, discovering your influence in every season of life even in the mundane.

In this Bible study, you’ll examine womanhood and faith in Proverbs 31 through commentary, guided prayers, and more. Designed for your busy life, most lessons take just a few minutes and require only a pen and your Bible. The integrated writing space lets you collect your thoughts during Bible study directly in the book―finding more ways to put His love into action.

You can go buy my book here!

Proverbs 31 in 5 Minutes a Day: A Bible Study for Women includes:

  • Five minutes a day―The brief, accessible daily studies include thoughtful lessons, prayers, writing prompts, exercises, and more.
  • Seven weeks to grow―Delve deeper into reflection and discussion on Day 7, and find concrete steps to act on what you’ve studied.
  • Together in Christ―Work through the Bible study on your own or in a women’s group―each week has plenty of inspiration and insight to share.

Deepen and grow your connection with God with Proverbs 31 in 5 Minutes a Day: A Bible Study for Women!

What Others Are Saying:

“The author does an excellent job of bringing the reader through Proverbs 31. This can be done at home with mothers and daughters, or would also work well with a group of ladies. The title is true…each day’s work can be done in 5 minutes (or more if you really want to put more into it!) There are questions in each section to help the reader think through the portion of Scripture, and also ample space for journaling.

In the writing of this devotional, Mari Hernandez Tuten really engages us, by being vulnerable herself, and giving us examples from her own life. I found myself smiling and nodding my head in agreement. I found it very encouraging and was pointed to Jesus, and who I am as a child of the King.

I loved that the author included quotes from others that made me say, “Wow”, for instance from Joni Eareckson Tada, “He has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me.”.” ~Patti Goggin

The Four Fears Women Face When Impacting Others for His Kingdom

Can you imagine a world where women realized how strategic and impactful their role is in God’s kingdom?

God has created us with influence from the beginning of creation we see it played out with Adam and Eve. I have heard many say that the Devil went to Eve first because she was easily fooled or more vulnerable. But I think it was because he was very aware of the impact and influence a woman has on others.

Since the beginning of time the enemy who is also known as the Deceiver; has been trying to sidetrack, silence, confuse, and crush the impact women have in God’s kingdom.

Not anymore! We will no longer stand quiet listening to the deceiver’s lies or his threats.

Not only have we been entrusted with the Gospel but we have been equipped.

He has placed you exactly where you’re at, for this time, on purpose, to declare His word and live it out for His glory.

Let’s take a look at the word “ministry” before we unfold the 4 fears women wrestle with. The word ministry in greek is “diakoneo” which means to serve. That’s it! Pretty simple! It doesn’t mean ordained or theologian it simply means to serve.

Serving God and others for His glory. But in the Christian circle, we’ve taken that word “ministry” and have used it as a label for those with the role or career of a pastor, women’s ministry director, children ministry, missionary, Sunday school teacher…

It’s seen as a vocation for a select few instead of an overflow of who we are.

I do believe that there are vocations like pastors and teachers but ministry is not reserved for only the select few it’s for all of God’s children.

Maybe if we viewed the word “ministry” as an overflow of who we are as God’s children then we would live differently.

The Four Fears Women Face Impacting Others for His Kingdom

  1. I have nothing to offer. We often confuse ministry with thinking it involves being on stage or sharing on a big platform, having a seminary degree or evangelizing many.Ministry happens in our everyday ordinary life.

    It can happen when I’m washing the dishes, changing diapers or guiding and teaching my children. It can happen when I interact with my neighbors or write that email. How about when I get on social media? It can happen when I forgive that family member or reach out to that person that has wronged me.
    We see 1 Thessalonians as Paul writes to the church what he’s calling them to in verses 7-12. Look over those verses for just a minute. You’ll notice his charge “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling” doesn’t require a degree or a specific role. He uses words like caring, loving, teaching, exhorting and encouraging one another. 

  2. I am not qualified. You’re so right you’re not. It is what Jesus Christ did on the cross that qualifies you and me. I have seen over and over again in my life that God will equip you for what He has called you to. We are reminded of this in verse 5:24, he says, “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
    Even if you are physically or academically qualified we still need God to fulfill the good work He began in us. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do.” Friends whether you feel qualified or not please don’t ever forget that it is God’s work on the cross that qualifies us to do His work.
  3. If it’s challenging, God must not want me there. This is another lie we tend to believe but imagine if Paul believed it we would not have most of the New Testament or his missionary journeys. In Matthew 16:24 we are told, “Take up your cross and follow me.” We are constantly warned in scripture that we will suffer. The book of Thessalonians amongst others were written while Paul is imprisoned. Scripture constantly reminds us that we will suffer as believers.
    Everything that is of value to us in life has cost us. The beautiful thing is that in the midst of the suffering we are not left alone. He is with us.
  4. My past is too messy. This is a lie straight from hell. We are not defined by our mistakes or sins. He redeems our past for His glory. Do you know what Paul did before he wrote this loving and caring letter using words like “We were like nursing mothers, fathers…”? Paul killed Christians.
    Murder may not be in your past but we all can relate to sin that so easily entangles us. We live out the gospel not because we are perfect but because His perfection already covered our sin and shame. He tells us in verse 13 “it is His word at work in us.”

Stop Holding the Baton

Because my children ran track I can’t help but use the baton as an example. Can you imagine if in a race when you get the baton you just stand there and look at it? Or you stick it in your back pocket and go along doing your own thing? Perhaps you take it and decide you’re going to hang it around your neck as if it were the prize.

Runners have been trained to know that when you get the baton you run with it. and pass it on. You don’t keep it for yourself, you run with it and you keep passing it on until the race is finished.

In the same way, we have been entrusted with the Gospel. We constantly have God’s word reminding us and training us to do the same–pass the baton.

We not only have been entrusted with God’s word but we’ve been equipped to declare it and live it out for His glory–right now, right here where God has placed us.

Isn’t that amazing? He’s entrusted us with the gospel. 

God  has placed you exactly where you’re at,

 for this time, 

On purpose, 

To declare His word and live it out for His glory.

Did you know I wrote a book? It makes a great gift for your daughter, grandmother, mom or friend. It’s for the busy woman so you can do it in 5 minutes a day. You can read more about it HERE or HERE.

Take Heart! God Sees You and Calls You By Name

Do you remember Hagar an Egyptian slave to Sarah? She reminds us to take heart because God Sees you and calls you by name!

As you may recall Sarah is unable to give Abraham children. As time went by she grew more impatient and concerned. Her problem got bigger and her God got smaller. Usually, when we find ourselves in this place we are tempted to take matters into our own hands.

Sarah did the very exact thing and she told Abraham to take Hagar as his wife in hopes that she could build a family through her.

Well, Abraham slept with her and she conceived. Sarah became jealous and bitter so she began mistreating Hagar. We don’t get the details of her mistreatment but for a woman carrying a child to run out to the wilderness to die, I think it would be safe to say she was harshly mistreated.

Maybe she felt like God had forgotten her but He had not.

The Lord goes out to find her with a message Genesis 16:9-12:

  • He calls her by name– Hagar. He doesn’t simply address her as a slave but by her given name.
  • He gives her a blessing–Descendants too numerous to count.
  • But before this promise, he asks her to do something hard. Go back to Sarah and submit to her.
  • He tells her about the child in her womb.
  • He tells her that the Lord has heard her misery.

Her Response to the God Who Sees Her

Our all-knowing gracious God…calls her by name. He blesses her, comforts her and reminds her of who God is and whom she belongs to.” ~Proverbs 31 in 5 Minutes a Day Bible Study

She responds with praise. She gives God this name–El Roi. She says in vs 13 “You are the God who sees me”, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me”.

She also responds with obedience to Him even when it’s hard. We read further in the text that she returns back to Sarah.

He Sees You

This morning I was reminded in my time with God that it’s easy to feel forgotten, taken for granted, or unappreciated.

He sees your hot mess. He sees the ordinary mundane routines you help your children with, He sees the ugly cries (that come forth from your inner soul), the precious moments–He sees ALL of it.

He sees you wake up in the middle of the night with a sick child. He sees you running around trying to get to the grocery store in time to get back home for your child. He sees you listen to that person who needs some TLC. He sees you stand firm in your convictions at work even if it means possible ridicule. He sees you come early to church and stay late to serve. He sees you patiently and sometimes impatiently handle another tantrum. He sees you write another blog post that will go into the world-wide-web without a single response. He sees you leaned over the kitchen stove stirring another pot of food for your tribe. He sees you up late at night because you’re heart is worried about that thing.

He sees you! Nothing is wasted in His hands and nothing goes unseen on His watch.

Your Turn

So I’m going to ask you to do what I was asked to do in my devotional because it was so healing for me to write it out.  Write out 2 or 3 things you do that go unacknowledged or unappreciated.

“Instead of shoving those feelings down, bring them to God and let Him, minister to your heart. Ask Him to comfort you and guide you.”

It will do us good,

To remember in the darkness what God has told us in the light”.

So for each thing you listed, write out–

You are the God who sees_____. Help me _____.

For example, You are the God who sees what I do to keep our home a safe and loving place. Help me not become resentful when my efforts are taken for granted or ignored. Help me remember that you see it and it’s worth it.

Now pause and list yours.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I proclaim the words of Hagar, “You are the God who sees me.” I praise you for being El Roi (Hebrew for “the God who sees”.) I thank you because nothing is wasted in your hands and nothing goes unseen on your watch. Help me keep my eyes on you. In your name, Amen.

 

The quotes mentioned above can be found in week 3 of the Proverbs 31 5 Minutes a Day Bible Study.