Welcome! I’m Jean Ann Duckworth, founder & director of Simple Joy. We have many exciting things planned for you in 2019, including the launch of our GraceSpace social network for women & our Sisters of Simple Joy small groups. We are working to develop programs & materials for women to access no matter where they live. Features include:
  • Online classes;
  • Bible studies;
  • Podcasts;
  • Videos;
  • Books;
  • Online presentations & events;
  • And more.

Our goal for 2019 is to offer you the tools, materials, training, & encouragement you need to reach the incredible goals God has set for you in the coming year.

I look forward to encouraging you in the coming year & getting to know you as we work together to help you answers God’s call for your life!

Hugs & blessings!
Jean Ann

Lenten Study Day 16

Sit Down and Be Quiet!

Calm the Storm

It’s easy to read this verse and question the faithfulness of the disciples. After all, in the verses just before this event, Jesus had performed many miracles, including healings. The disciples had seen incredible things. Yet, they still had doubts about Jesus’ ability and His concern for them.

Then I think about myself. How many times has the Lord taken care of me? How many times has He come through when I thought there was absolutely no hope? Still, the next time a storm arises in my life, I become frightened and cry out for help. Yep, me of little faith!

Of course, this was a really wicked storm. It’s not like the disciples were inexperienced on the water. Some of them were fishermen, spent most of their lives in boats on the water. Storms with strong winds would spring up all the time in this region so they men weren’t unfamiliar with these conditions.

I think what frightened them was Jesus’ lack of concern for their plight. The boat was taking on water. The wind was blowing their boat out of control. And through it all, Jesus slept. Rather than taking comfort in His calm, the disciples misread it as indifference. They believed He could do something about the storm but He just kept on sleeping. Come on, Lord, let’s get with it before it’s too late!

How many times have you felt this way? A friend of mine refers to these moments as “just in time miracles.” While I would never criticize Jesus for His timing, my nerves sure could use a break occasionally. This “last minute” business can be trying. How swamped do I have to get? How many times must I be blown over? How soaked must I be before He calms the storms in my life?

My mother always told me I must learn to be more patient. Perhaps this is all Jesus is trying to teach me. All things in HIS time, not mine. Yet I must never doubt that His time will come and, as always, it will be perfect. Until then, I can tread water.

Discussion Questions

1. What are the storms in your life?

2. How do you respond when a crisis arises?

3. How does your family respond?

4. Do you have a lack of patience? Does it apply just to the Lord or are you impatient with people too?

5. What can you do to increase your patience?

6. How can you have more faith that the Lord is going to handle the situation?

Lenten Study Day 15

Remember Your Manners

Cleansing of Lepers

When I was a little girl, my mother always had strict instructions before we went out, “Don’t leave Mr. Manners at home!” Back then, kids were expected to practice good manners at home so they knew how to behave when they went out. Sometimes going somewhere new was so exciting, it was easy to forget my manners. Thus the caution from my mother.

We used to call manners “common courtesy.” It seems terribly uncommon these days. We all seem to think we can say what want and act how we like wherever we are. Boy, is this a really bad idea!

Believe it or not, manners are not some outdated practice that went the way of the Victorian Era. Manners actually made life much easier for all of us. I never felt uncomfortable since I had been trained in the proper behavior for most situations. I knew how to behave at the dinner table when we went out. I knew to shake hands. I never pushed my way ahead of anyone when entering a building or elevator. All this wasn’t difficult. Most of it was just common sense.

Of course, the most important thing I was taught to remember was please and thank you. “What’s the magic word?” could be heard in homes across America every day. And when we were given something, we would be asked, “What do you say?” Every child that could speak knew what to say. Please and thank you. They were just a natural part of our lives.

Good manners are never wrong as we learn in today’s story. Who would have thought a lesson on good manners could be found right there in the Bible. Of course, there are many lessons on good manners but this one is just so blatant. Jesus heals 10 lepers and only one comes back to say, “Thank you!” Granted, He told them to go to the priests but, once each saw they had been healed, wouldn’t you think they would all come back to say, “Thanks?” But no, only one came back and he was a Samaritan. The one who might have been forgiven his bad manners, because he was from a different culture, was the only to show the common courtesy of thanking Jesus. And Jesus had plenty to say about it!

Bad manners are just bad form. There is no excuse for not at least saying, “Thank you” when someone does something nice for you. This is a great lesson for parents and children alike. Never leave Mr. Manners at home!

Discussion Questions

1. Does your family practice common courtesy in your home?

2. Are you teaching your children the importance of good manners?

3. What type of example do you set for your children?

4. Do you make it clear that you expect good manners from everyone in the family both at home and away?

5. If manners are lax in your home, how might you begin to change that today?

The Problem with Guilt Part 3: We Overreact

Let’s review: we say we feel guilty. Our brains process guilt with doing something wrong. If we have done something wrong, then we must work to make it right. Unfortunately, we haven’t REALLY done anything wrong so we find it’s impossible to make things right. Out of frustration, we simply try harder. And that is when we overreact.

Continue reading “The Problem with Guilt Part 3: We Overreact”

Lenten Study Day 14

Doing What’s Right

The Widow and Her Son

Jesus was a very busy man. He had a lot of work to do and very little time in which to do it. It would have been easy for Him to walk on by the funeral procession that day on His way to conduct other business. Instead, He stopped to do something incredible for a woman He didn’t even know.

In Jesus’ day, women had no rights. As a widow whose son had died, this poor woman now had no one to speak for her. She was nothing in her community. What would become of her? Suddenly, a man she had never seen before comes up to her and tells her not to be upset.

Then He did the most remarkable thing! He turns to her son and tells him to get up! GET UP? Is He kidding? The young man is dead. How is he going to get up? However, the young man does indeed get up and begins speaking. No wonder the crowd was afraid! At first, at least until they realized the incredible thing they had just witnessed. Then they began praising God and giving praise to Jesus.

What makes this story remarkable is the fact no one asked Jesus to do this great thing. He simply did it out of compassion for the widow and to demonstrate the power of God. What a remarkable way to show everyone that the Kingdom of God was now at hand!

This story offers one of the best examples of a simple act of kindness. Perhaps raising someone from the dead is not simple for any of us but it was simple for Jesus. He could have made excuses to Himself: I’m too busy, I don’t know this woman, she hasn’t asked my help, and on and on and on.

How many times during the day do you have an opportunity to do a simple act of kindness for someone you pass as you go through your day? Do you take a moment to help them or do you put your head down and hurry on to the next thing on your schedule? Do you always tell yourself that someone else will help them? Perhaps you think it’s not your problem? Whose problem is it then? Why was the widow Jesus’ problem? She wasn’t but He took a moment to do what He could to help her.

Take a moment to consider the times today you might have helped someone, something that would have only taken a moment. Consider the things that prevented you from offering help. Then determine how you might do better tomorrow. It doesn’t take much to do but it may mean so much to the other person. More than you may ever know.

Discussion Questions

1. What excuses do you give yourself for not offering help to strangers?

2. How can you make sure these excuses aren’t an obstacle in your life?

3. Talk to your children about their experiences offering help to others.

4. Discuss ways your family can be more open to offer help to people in need.