by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on September 11th, 2017

One Jar At A Time


A perfectly timed word or gesture from someone can be one of the most memorable gifts someone ever receives. It was for me.

At a very difficult time in my life when more people were pulling away than drawing near, I received the most simple thing in the mail – a birthday card. I’m not sure the sender knew just what it meant, I’m sure my little “thank you” didn’t quite sum up the impact. It was 13 years ago, and the thought still makes me smile.

I have wondered if they heard a whisper from God, a gentle nudging that I was in need of a kind word. I must admit that all too often I’m just too busy and absorbed in other things to notice those spirit nudges, or don’t do anything when I do hear them.

We live in a loud world, to hear the whisper of God’s voice we must be able to recognize His voice above all others. Recognizing God’s voice requires being familiar with His voice. Being familiar with God’s voice only happens when we spend time with Him.

To hear the quiet God whispers, we have to be listening for them, paying attention. And paying attention to those around us so we can notice when they are a little down, or not having a good day or just need a little encouragement.
 

​This month, as we are learning about being speakers of Gracious Words, we are reminded that it takes desire and purpose to speak with kindness and mercy. And today I want to share with you a way we can share Gracious Words – One Jar At A Time.

One Jar At A Time is an outreach ministry developed and implemented by our ministry partners Jodie and Donna over at Faithfully Following Ministries
 
“Our world needs joy! Will you join us on a mission to deliver joy, One Jar At A Time? Simply grab a jar and fill it with something that will brighten someone else’s day. Then deliver that jar with a smile and a request for the receiver to pass the jar to another person. It may seem like a small thing to do, but consider the small things that God uses to do mighty things….2 loaves and 5 fish to feed a multitude, not to mention one small boy to deliver that simple lunch. One simple delivery can let another person know that they are loved. Keep it simple! Use the things you have on hand or buy just a little extra of something at the store.  The possibilities are endless.”

So we are teaming up with Jodie and Donna to spread joy by gifting others with “Gracious Words – One Jar At a Time”

​Sometimes we just need to hear a word of encouragement or our hearts need to hear straight from God’s Word. So let’s fill some jars with Gracious Words and share them with our friends, family, co-workers or anyone you know to whom you can speak life and lift their hearts.

I’ve put together this printable of blank cards which you can print as many times as you need. Simply print, color, cut and add your own gracious words. Maybe an encouraging quote or a special scripture. Fill the jar up with encouragement! And add a few sweets to go with your sweet words.

Then give the gift of Gracious Words – One Jar At A Time.

​How to fill your jar:
1) Gather your jars – any size will do!
2) Download and save the printable file to your computer
3) Print on card stock for best results and print as many copies as you need!
4) Paint or color the cards then add your own gracious words. Consider scriptures or encouraging quotes.
5) Cut out each card.
6) Add the cards to your jar along with any little goodies you want to include.
7) Decorate the jar anyway you like and add the gift tag
8) Then gift your joy jar full of gracious words!

 

Looking for other ways to gift Gracious Words?


Host a One Jar At A Time get-together
This week I’m getting together with some friends to fill up several jars so we can gift gracious words to our friends and family. If you want to do the same, make as many copies of today’s printable as your group needs! Consider having your group fill their jars to gift to a special organization or group of individuals.
 
Send Gracious Words through the mail
Do you have some far away friends you would love to bless with your gracious words? Instead of filling an actual jar, just fill an envelope! Send them to someone who is separated from their family and needs to hear your gracious words of encouragement. Maybe even include their favorite goodie if you can – Jodie once sent a case of joy filled peanut butter overseas!
 
Pack Gracious Words in someone’s lunch
A great way to brighten someone’s day is a surprise note in their lunch or backpack or computer bag. Add a special note of encouragement to bless their busy day especially if they are facing a challenging class or project. What joy it will give to them to open their bag and find your beautiful gracious words.
 
Post Gracious Words around your home
When my girls were in high school, I would write out scripture and tape the cards to their bathroom mirror. I even do this to my own for memorization. A gracious note on the mirror is a great way for someone to start their day.
 
Send a friend a sweet card
It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to send them a card. Today we text more than talk and communicate more via social media than mail, it’s seems easier. So make someone feel even more special that you took the time to think about them and the extra time to write them a note and drop it in the mail. Use a post card or greeting card or use this Sweet Friendship printable to color and personalize for your friend.

What other ways can you think of to spread joy and bless someone with gracious words? We would love to hear from you so join the convo below. And post pictures of your Gracious Words & joyful One Jar At A Time gifts on social media and tag Sweet To The Soul and Faithfully Following, we would love to see and encourage others!


Blessings Soul Friends,
For more info about our Gracious Words study and resources, visit www.sweettothesoul.com/gracious-words

For more info about One Jar at a Time and Faithfully Following Ministries, visit www.faithfullyfollowingministies.org/one-jar-time

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on September 5th, 2017

"Gracious words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24
 
​Several years ago, when the Lord began nudging me into a ministry, Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”, was the scripture He gave me. This is what Sweet To The Soul would be about, inspiring women through God’s gracious words.

I specify “God’s” gracious words because Jana’s words are not always gracious.

In fact, my words can, sadly, be anything but gracious. But this was the scripture God had
planted as a seed in my heart almost 30 years ago.
 
​ 
Naturally, since this was my ministry scripture, when I began writing I naively thought this would be my first topic, but God still had much to teach me and I still had much to learn. It was more like a breaking than a teaching. You know, like a cowboy trying to break a wild mustang into submission. Something like that. I wasn’t exactly willing.

What I have written in our newest Bible Study is more devotional style as I share some of the teaching (breaking) moments in my own life. And these are hard to share. My vanity urges me not to share because I dare to think of the self-portrait I am painting here. In truth, these devotionals were written over the last 2-3 years. 
 
​So I would like to invite you to join me over the next 6 weeks as we take a look at what the Bible has to say about the impact of our words and how we can speak with kindness and mercy. 
Our discussion topics will be:
​* ​How Gracious Are My Words
* Choosing Mercy in the War of Our Words
* Working For Peace
​* Stopping the Dripping Rain of Negative Words
* Taming The Tongue
Take a peek inside the 70+ page Gracious Words Bible Study booklet.
Follow along here on our blog and on Facebook and Instagram for daily discussions and weekly blog posts. ​
In addition to the Gracious Words study booklet, we also have a fun Bible Journaling Kit filled with ​words & phrases, cards, color pages, tip-ins, tags, tabs, stickers and more!  All are printed and ready for you to color, cut, journal and let your soul be inspired! 
Take a peek inside the Gracious Words Bible Journaling kit.

​You can also download our daily scripture reading list for FREE and follow along on-line during September and October. 

​To get us started, I'd like to gift you this lock screen of our core scripture, Proverbs 16:24. Just download the image to your phone and set it as your wallpaper or lock screen.

​Blessings Soul Friends,
Today's blog post is part of our Soul Inspired series: Gracious Words


 
​Jana Kennedy-Spicer is a wife, mom and Nana who is passionate about inspiring and encouraging women on their daily walk with Christ. A woman rescued and repaired by the grace of God, she loves to share about the realness of God's love, redemption and faithfulness. Embarking on a new life journey, she is dedicated to using her blogging, Bible teaching, writing, photography, drawing, painting and graphic designs to bring glory to the Lord.

​Find out where Jana will be teaching next.

Check out our other Soul Inspired  series.

by Melissa Gross on May 19th, 2017



​When I married in 2001, I moved 5½ hours away from my family & friends to a town where I literally knew no one except Robbie, my new hubby! We immediately found a church home, and a few months later a tall, slightly-stooped elegant woman approached me and introduced herself as Faye Holt. Ms. Faye, along with her friend Ms. Ruthie, had recently begun a new small group that met in their homes once a week. The group was called M&Ms – Mentors & Moms – and Ms. Faye’s desire was to mentor and encourage younger women. She was 72-years-old, a widow with grown children heeding God’s call to begin a new ministry. She invited me to attend because she had learned that my family was hours away and she wanted to mother and encourage me.
 
Thus began a relationship that would have a profound impact on my life (and eventually my own ministry) as Ms. Faye became my mentor and friend.
 
A mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, someone who will invest in your life in a personal relationship. A mentor is not someone who is going to tell you what to do. Not only did Ms. Faye open her home and offer a safe place for young women to find encouragement and love and advice, she shared God’s Word every week and took time EVERY DAY to pray for each of the ladies she came to know through these times together. Even when Robbie and I moved out of the area, she continued to call regularly to check on us and ask how she could pray for us in her daily time with the Lord.
 
Mentoring is a powerful and personal way to walk in relationship with other women. M&Ms was a group of women walking together, with Ms. Faye & Ms. Ruthie helping and guiding each of us as we grew in our relationship with the Lord and learned to deal with life’s ups and downs as godly women.
 
Mentoring is also scriptural: Titus 2:3-5 (NKJV) says,
"​and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled"
​Many of us are familiar with these verses, but I was privileged to see this scripture lived out!

 
As time went by and Ms. Faye could no longer drive, I stopped by occasionally to take her out to lunch, hoping to be a blessing and encouragement to her. Every time I drove away after one of these outings, I felt renewed and refreshed and blessed because she was a natural encourager and never failed to ask about all that was going on in our lives, to compliment any achievement no matter how large or small, and to say a prayer asking God’s blessings on our endeavors.
 
​After a year of declining health and memory, Ms. Faye went to be with the Lord last fall. I remember the last time I talked with her on the phone – I knew she couldn’t truly identify who I was . . . but it didn’t matter! True to her mentoring nature, she asked how things were going in my life and ended the call with a prayer asking the Lord to continue to bless me and guide me as I continued my own quest to encourage other women to serve Him in their everyday lives.

​Maya Angelou once said, "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

It’s true! I will never forget the feelings of love and acceptance and confidence and blessing that came from spending time with Ms. Faye, my inspiring mentor and friend!


Blessings Soul Friends,
Today's blog post is part of our Soul Inspired series Inspiring Women.
​And we have a special FREE printable to use for Bible Journaling or creative crafting.
​Just click on the link below - download - print - and journal!
​[ I printed my copy on clear label (sticker) paper and card stock. ]

DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE

 
   
​Melissa Gross feels the Lord calling her to lead and encourage women in their walk with the Lord. She is a teacher by passion and by training and has taught everything from Children’s Church to Ladies’ Bible Studies to the Young-at-Heart (elderly) Sunday School, from middle school technology classes to university level business courses. She is also an avid scrapbooker and has taught and coached in online and in-person scrapbooking, cardmaking, photo organization, mixed media, and illustrated Bible journaling classes. When she’s not teaching Bible Journaling workshops or gluing pretty pieces of paper together in her craft room, Melissa enjoys reading, cooking, blogging, and traveling. She lives in Texas with her best friend/husband, Robbie, and shares their everyday adventures and her latest scrapbooking and Bible Journaling projects on her blog: Daily Life – Bits & Pieces (www.melissagross.blogspot.com).

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on May 18th, 2017

"​So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”  John 4:28-29
 

​Can I share a little truth with you? I have always tensed up a little bit when someone has asked me to share my testimony. And then I feel guilty. I’m a Christian, so sharing one’s testimony is standard practice, right?
 
I mean, talk about the latest episode of Fixer Upper, no problem! Send a friend a text about the great steal I just found at the craft store, of course. But sit down with someone and share about the Gospel, paralyzed.
 
Maybe you feel the same?
 
But God help me to see that I had a perception problem.
 
​Let’s read Psalm 78:1-4 MSG, especially taking note of the tone of the speaker,
​ “Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth, bend your ears to what I tell you. I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation— God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done.”
 
​Did you notice that excitement? That “I’ve got something to share and I can’t wait to tell you!”?
 
So why is the Psalmist so excited and I’m so nervous?
 
The answer is in their words... “sweet old truths” ... “stories we heard” ... “we’re passing it along”.

To them, they were simply passing along family stories of how God was present in the lives of their families. Just like when we get together with our families and share the fun and wonderful memories we share with each other. One generation telling the next generation about the past generations.
 
Ok I can do this. I can tell others about what God has done in my life, in my family’s life and even in the lives of others.
 
My perception about sharing my “testimony” was all wrong. I thought it had to be some profound scripture quoting monologue at the end of which the person I was speaking with should fall on their knees confessing their sin. I thought my words should transform someone’s life. And that was (is) a tremendous amount of pressure.
 
It is also not true.
 
Transforming someone’s life is not our job. That’s God’s job. He is the transformer. He’s the life changer. I’m just the story teller. I’m the seed planter.
 
Is there someone in your circle that needs to hear about what God has done in your life?
 
​Pray and ask God to reveal a name. Then ask God to create the circumstances so you can share with this person. It’s a bold prayer, I know. Ask Him also for courage, and remember the seeds planted in your life by those inspiring women who gave testimony about what God had done in their lives.
 
Be Bold. Be a seed planter. Be Inspiring.
 
​Blessings Soul Friends
Today's blog post is part of our Soul Inspired series Inspiring Women.
 

by Mitzi Neely on May 12th, 2017



I’ve always wondered how I could be so blessed to have not one, but two women in my life who nurtured me, encouraged me, and inspired me to be all I can be.

Each of them represents differences, but they also share similarities. One I’ve had for 56 years. The other for 37 years. My mom and my mother-in-law are the best of both worlds.

Both women endured challenges and hardships in their lives.

One was born during the Great Depression. The other experienced the Great Depression. Each lost an adult child, suffered the loss of a spouse, and were blessed to remarry and enjoy happy lives.

One was an educator. The other, a businesswoman. And they shared similar skill sets that include detailed, organized, well-informed, astute, and savvy. They enjoyed their careers and performed to the highest level.

I have learned so much from them over the years. They taught me that loving God was first, and that family was the heartbeat of your existence. While each differed in their talents and abilities, they both loved people, and treasured their children and grandchildren.

 
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Proverbs 31:25-30

They each possessed the kind of strength, character, integrity, and morals that were non-negotiables. Each of them showed me it would be difficult to survive the daily doses of life without the Fruit of the Spirit. Their shining examples are forever etched in my soul.

 
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

My two mothers were poster girls for confidence, and their courage and perseverance carried them through the tough times. They encountered setbacks, endured tragedies, and picked themselves up more times then they cared to count, but it’s who they are. Their kindness and graciousness extended beyond their families to friends and acquaintances alike. In the years since becoming a wife and mother, I have witnessed countless times how important it is to be gracious, kind, thoughtful, forgiving, courageous, and respectful of others. I try to model those same attributes daily.
 

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
Proverbs 31:26

Their teachings equipped me with confidence, passion, godly thinking, and spiritual awareness, so I can face the circumstances and challenges of this life.

As I reflect on, and treasure what I’ve learned from these two beautiful women over the years, it comes down to a simple, but powerful list.
  • Seek God First
  • Encourage and love one another
  • Never lower your standards or expectations
  • Be a role model, for you never know who is watching, and
  • Share a mixture of grace, love, and laughter everywhere you go.

I am who I am today because of my two mothers. They loved me, instructed me, counseled me, advised me, and modeled for me. I am forever grateful for their selflessness, their joy filled hearts, and for wanting me to be all that God intended.
             
Blessings Soul Friends,

*I recently lost my mother-in-law, Lalon Neely Pirkey (left), in December, 2016, at the age of 97. She was the true matriarch and I am thankful for our time together. And while my mother has experienced recent health issues that come with her being in her 80s, I am making the most of every moment we have together.

 
Today's blog post is part of our Soul Inspired series Inspiring Women

 
​Mitzi Neely is an inspiring motivational speaker who encourages women of all ages through her experiences and shortcomings. She has been blessed with a passion and love for people that stretches across the generations. Her heart is to lighten your load, while conveying her message that nobody’s perfect. Whatever your struggle or need, you will find encouragement through her words as she refreshes your heart and renews your joy. Follow Mitzi at www.peacefullyimperfect.net





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