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Hold On To Your Bosom

By Tonya Jewel Blessing from the Bible study, Soothing Rain

Chris and I live in the bush. To get to our home a four-wheel drive vehicle is required. The road is rough, rutted, and extremely sandy. The other day as Chris and I were traveling, Chris muttered just as he hit a large rock, “Hold onto your bosom.”

Several days after Chris’ comment, I was visiting with a woman in one of the local townships who speaks Sotho. Conversing was limited. The woman was sitting under a tree washing dishes, and I was sitting on a log next to her.

The elderly lady touched her partially exposed breasts and then pointed toward mine. It’s not uncommon to see mammaries in South Africa, even at church.

I’m not sure what my friend was saying. She might have been asking if I have children, telling me that she needs a bra, asking my size, or even indicating that she needed food for her orphaned grandchildren. When I didn’t respond, she talked louder and, like my car ride, held onto her bosom.

Sometimes we just need to hold on. Life can get bumpy, and the ride can get tiresome. Sometimes the rockier the road, the more thrilling the destination, thrilling so that we shake our bodies with laughter and need to hold onto “the girls.”

In Colorado, the road home would sometimes be rough and rutted also. We never know what we will see because of a rut, or from the top of the hill, or what lies just beyond the bend.

I was teaching a class of second and third grade gifted readers a number of years ago when during group reading time one of the students read aloud the word “bosom.” He then proceeded to explain to the others what the word meant. It was very titillating for the children and caused me to laugh out loud.

Over and over again in Scripture, we see rocky and rough life paths producing miraculous and thrilling adventures.
We serve a great God. He is with us on the rough roads and the thrilling rides, so get ready to hold onto your bosoms.

Questions for this devotional/conversation starter by Sue Summers.

  1. Life can indeed “get bumpy.” Summarize a time in your life that was especially “bumpy.”

 

  1. Some of the women mentioned in the Bible are Ruth, Esther, the widow at Zarephath, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Select one of these women, locate and read the story about her situation in Scripture, and then summarize her need to “hold onto her bosom.”

 

  1. Read the story of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, in Genesis 17:1-19. Explain how this story fits with the comment: “Over and over again in Scripture, we see rocky and rough life paths producing miraculous and thrilling adventures.”

 

  1. Why do you think God chooses “rocky and rough life paths” for us? Explain your thinking.

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A Rare Leadership Assessment Outline

By author Tonya Blessing

I am currently reading the book Rare Leadership by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder.

Because I am still praying and processing the information contained in Rare Leadership, I am hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend all the material. There is, however, a portion of the book that includes maturity assessments.  I was reading one of the assessments and feeling proud that I had the items discussed in check.  Then, I realized that the assessment was for child-level maturity.

Tonya sells pillows and gift cards with Appalachian folk sayings on them.

The older I get, which also means the longer I am in ministry, I realize more and more that ministries are only as healthy as the people who lead them. It is a trickle-down effect. As a leader, if I am unhealthy emotionally, my teammates and those I lead and teach will be affected by my lack of emotional maturity.

Proverbs tells us that spiritual zealousness without maturity can be dangerous.

According to Warner and Wilder, there are four qualities of emotional maturity that can be used as a guide to assess our own maturity and also the maturity of others with whom we engage.

Remaining Relational

  • Do you avoid conflict?
  • Do you avoid people who upset you?
  • Do you use negative emotions (shame, anger, fear, disgust) to control people and outcomes?
  • When conflict arises do you make people choose sides or do you reach out to those who oppose you?

Acting Like Yourself

  • Do people walk on eggshells around you?
  • Do they feel safe disagreeing with you?
  • Do people share honest opinions with you?
  • Do people avoid bringing their problems to you?
  • Can people expect a tender response to their weaknesses?
  • Do you reveal your own weaknesses and ask for help?
  • Do you fear people discovering what you are really thinking and feeling?
  • Do you present yourself stronger than you really feel?

Returning to Joy

  • Do you know how to quiet yourself when you’re upset?
  • Do you isolate yourself during upsetting emotions?
  • Do you reestablish connections quickly after upset emotions?
  • Do you help others return to authentic relationships quickly from their unpleasant emotions?
  • Do you see moments of upset as opportunities to strengthen relationships?
  • Do you stay annoyed with people who trigger your emotions?
  • Do you ignore people when their emotions are not in sync with yours?
  • Do you help your group maintain an identity that is resilient in the face of difficulty?

Enduring Hardship Well

  • How much stress does it take for you to avoid relationships?
  • How much pressure can you handle before you snap and turn into a different person?
  • How much can you handle before you disappear and turn to your cravings for comfort?

I know that I am sharing a great deal of information.  Some of the questions included above could have pages of discussion written just about one item.  My goal in sharing about emotional maturity is not to cover things completely but to build a platform for us to evaluate on a basic level, and then pray and discuss with others how we can grow emotionally.

Here’s to emotional health and well-being!

Tonya is the co-founder/director of Strong Cross Ministries (SCM). She and her husband currently reside in South Africa, where they assist local leaders in helping their communities. She is also an author of two novels and the co-author of a resource book for women in Christian leadership. Tonya is a national and international speaker. She is especially passionate about helping women grow in Christ.

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Womb Cleansing?

By Tonya Jewel Blessing

When Chris and I first arrived in South Africa we stayed with some dear friends in the town of Rustenburg. Our friends were extremely hospitable. They opened their home to us like we were family, and were instrumental in helping us acquire a car, opening new bank accounts, purchasing cell phones, obtaining insurance, and accomplishing numerous other requirements needed to help us navigate our ministry transition to Africa.

A few days after we arrived, we went shopping in the center of their small town. A piece of luggage had been lost in our travels, and we were on a quest to purchase pants for Chris. The area we were in was nothing like anything I had ever seen in America, and I was curious about everything. Chris had to keep telling me to pay attention and to keep up with our friends who were guiding us.

I noticed signage on almost every street post that said, “Womb Cleansing.” I couldn’t help but stop and read what the posts were about. It didn’t take long for me to understand, even with somewhat of a language barrier, that the signs were advertisements for abortion clinics.

I understand that abortion is common in most parts of the world,  but I had never heard  of the procedure being called “womb cleansing.” The loss of life is heartbreaking to me, and if possible, my heart broke a little more when I realized the deceptiveness of the terminology being used. “As you know not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so you know not the works of God who makes all.” Ecclesiastes 11:5 (KJV2000) Life is sacred. Only God understands how a baby grows in the womb of a mother.

I am always careful when I address the issue of abortion. Babies are harmed and so are the women who have made this difficult decision. I want to speak the truth about the taking of life, and I also want to be sensitive to women who are struggling with the aftermath of abortion.

As Christian women, individually and corporately, may we always stand for life: physical life and spiritual life, because God is an amazing God, who forms all things.

  1. Ecclesiastes 11:5 is a powerful Scripture. Rewrite this in your own words.

 

  1. This is a sensitive subject, but God Himself creates life. He alone maintains the right to life-giving and What was your reaction to the “womb cleansing” signs in South Africa?

 

  1. Focus on “the deceptiveness of the terminology” for the abortion Why does the wording matter?

 

  1. Abortion is a difficult topic to discuss with women. Think about how you would respond if someone mentions she has had an abortion, and write it here:

 

Tonya Jewel BlessingTonya Jewel Blessing has written the Big Creek Appalachian series: The Whispering of the Willows and The Melody of the Mulberries as well the Bible study guide, Soothing Rain.  Each of these books ask in their own way, “What makes females different to males?”

 

Sue Summer wrote the questions for application throughout the Soothing Rain study. She is the expert at mediasavvykids.org/.

Soothing Rain is a devotional written by Tonya Blessing and Sue Summers

Readers' Favorite Novel ISBN-13: 978-0997162547This is Capture Books’ best-selling American-gothic novel by a Golden Writer.A sequel is coming soon!

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Emie Ashby has been raised by an angry and repressed father since the end of WWI. Her mother cannot take the risk of defending her children. Instead, she turns a blind eye. In this way, she becomes part and parcel of the abuse of her daughters.
Emie enters into trouble times as Aunt Grace provides a way to possibly survive it. How does Emie navigate the road that lies before her with so many threats nipping at her heels?

New, 2019! Book Two, The Melody of the Mulberries
sends sixteen-year-old Coral Ashby in search of a Charleston prisoner. Charlie is being held for crimes committed against her family. Her family is not happy about this adventure, and Ernest is faced with dilemmas of the heart and duty.

 

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The Movie Credit: “Compassionate Woman”

Compassionate Teacher Helper A Perfect Tree
A Compassionate Teacher is a Helper in A Perfect Tree Christmas storybook

Chris and I recently enjoyed a date night. As part of our special evening, we went to a movie. The credits at the end of the feature included a character identified as compassionate woman. Her small act of kindness in the movie did not merit her having a name.

“And some have compassion, making a difference.”
(Jude 22)

The same can be true of real life. Small acts of compassion and kindness are often not given merit, except by the recipient. People value and remember when others show them kindness. Noticing someone is like giving them a gift.

Acts of compassion include benevolence, empathy, grace, kindness, mercy, sympathy, tenderness, charity, clemency, commiseration, condolence, consideration, and softheartedness. True compassion focuses first and foremost on the revelation of God’s great love demonstrated through His Son Jesus Christ.

Earlier today, I read an article written by Bette Owens on compassion. “When I think of a compassionate woman, I think of a godly woman.”

Bette Owens also describes the characteristics of a compassionate woman:

  • A compassionate Christian woman has a hunger for God.
  • A compassionate Christian woman lives for eternity.
  • A compassionate Christian woman avoids sin.
  • A compassionate Christian woman loves others.

In my first novel, The Whispering of the Willows, the Ashby children have endeared themselves to a single woman living across Big Creek from them. They escape to her and call her their “love aunt” for good reason. In many ways, her hospitality shows through, by her taking the time to listen to the children, and taking action on their behalf when called for. She hides a child in safety and she calls the sheriff when an investigation is warranted. My own sweet aunt is the prototype of the loving aunt in my story.

What is Your Next Must-Read?

Recently, I enjoyed reading a story featuring another compassionate woman.  This woman is the teacher of a child who has been wronged at Christmastime. She has put away extra gifts for such a time as the story presents. I highly recommend A Perfect Tree by Denise Dunham for your younger kiddos this season. Disappointments abound in life, but compassionate women can make a difference.

“A compassionate Christian woman will make a difference in the lives of all who meet her. Her life is truly one that makes a difference. We can all be a compassionate Christian woman and make a difference if we would love and serve the One who makes a difference.” (Bette Owens)

Author Tonya Jewel Blessing is working on her third novel in the Big Creek series.  Don’t miss out on her first two installments, they have been highly recommended by many readers!

Melody of the Mulberries Book cover perspective

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A Perfect Tree Teacher Helper Scene
A Perfect Tree – scene with compassionate teacher-p19 by Denise Dunham
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Bottoms Up!

Tonya Jewel Blessing

Recently, I joined my family in tubing down the Tuscarawas River.

Everyone had a wonderful time, except for my great-nephew, a four-year-old. The six-hour adventure was too much for him. My peaceful day of sunshine, cool water, and a slight breeze also included Joey’s repeated interruptions and adamant cries, “Get me out of here!” The cutie even told me a few days later, “Aunt T, I hate tubing!”

At once point along the rolling river, I got stuck by the shallow bank among logs, rocks, and overhanging trees.

A helpful friend told me to lift my bottom and kick my legs.

Soothing Rain is a devotional written by Tonya Blessing and Sue Summers

It was good advice, and I was soon on my way.

In my Appalachian historical novel, The Melody of the Mulberries, the Spanish Flu makes an ugly appearance. The flu pandemic originally occurred between 1918 and 1920 and affected the lives of over 500 million people. My story is set during the late 1920s when there was a small resurgence of influenza. In this excerpt, the granny witch is dying. She has been a nemesis in teacher Ernest’s side, but he comes along to help her.

A mystery apprentice acts as a witness.

 He patted her hand and tried to soothe her, “Granny, I’m knowing you think that I don’t like you, but, in truth, I admire you,” Ernest began.
The weary woman opened her glassy eyes and immediately closed them again. The weight of her chin rested on her upper chest.“You’ve been strong in tough times. You’ve lived in the wilds and did your best to be helping others. Now, I am wanting to help you. I know you believe in God, but it’s important to believe that God sent His Son Jesus to save us. Your time on earth might be coming to an end. I’m gonna pray, and I’m wanting you to pray with me.”

            Ernest motioned for Minerva to join them. They made a hand circle. He closed his eyes and prayed a simple prayer. When he opened his eyes and looked at Granny, she had released Minerva’s hand. The wrinkled worn weathered hand was raised in the air like Granny was reaching for someone.

The Melody of the Mulberries

We are living in unusual times.

If we are not careful, we can easily become entangled along the bank, get stuck, and become immobile.  Granny lifted her hand reaching for God. We can also lift our hands reaching out for hope and the love of a Savior.

Published Works (Available on Amazon)

Tonya Jewel Blessing writes and speaks in many types of venues in America, Africa, and Asia
https://www.tonyajewelblessing.com/
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