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

5 Proven Steps to Mentor New Leaders Part 3: Test


  The second biggest mistake mentors make, after not mentoring new leaders at all, is failing to test them. We tend to be too quick turning things over to the newbie before we are certain the are prepared. Offering them a short period of time to shadow you & then giving them only a bit of teaching before handing over the reins is worse than no mentoring at all. 

When we drop everything into the newbie’s lap too soon, they may become frustrated when things fail to go well. Even worse, they may become embarrassed, believe THEY are to blame for their lack of success when the mentor is the one responsible. 

Rather than quickly giving them the responsibility of their new assignment, take time to make certain they are ready. And the best way to do this is to test them. No, not a written exam! Instead, give them responsibility for an assignment while you are still there to offer guidance & advice. 

Early in their training, Jesus sent the disciples out into neighboring towns to do ministry. He sent them out in pairs so they could support & encourage one another & to hold each other accountable. When they returned, Jesus talked to the disciples about their experience. What worked? What didn’t? Where did they have problems? 

These mission journeys gave the disciples to practical experience, like an internship. They were able to fail on a small scale while Jesus was still available to offer them guidance & advice. 

Nothing discourages a new leader faster than failure. It takes less time & effort to retrain them to overcome their mistakes & weaknesses than it does to start all over with a new person when your current new leader quits in frustration.

Take the time to do the job right!

Lenten Devotion Day 40

Stop Doubting!

Doubting Thomas

Have you ever had someone tell you something so incredible that you just couldn’t believe what they were saying? Was that someone ever one of your children? Don’t feel bad. You’re in good company.

Look at the disciples! Here was a group of men that gave up their careers, their businesses, left their families to follow a man with a message. Sure, it was a message these men believed in but they walked away from their lives to enter a life that had no guarantees. For 3 years, they traveled, prayed, preached, healed, learned, and more. Then, the man they loved as their leader was arrested, tried and put to death. This was NOT how it was supposed to happen.

These men had heard the stories for years about the coming Messiah. All of them believed the Messiah would be a warrior like David, a king that would fight to reclaim their land. Jesus said all the right things. Didn’t He talk about the coming Kingdom over and over again?

Now He was dead and the cause He led was about to die along with Him. These men mourned, not just the loss of their friend but the loss of their faith in Jesus and God. How could this have happened?

Then something incredible happened. Mary Magdalene showed up and told the disciples she and the other women had seen Jesus! He was alive! Rejoice! Oh, wait! They didn’t believe her! Even though she had seen Him with her own eyes, they refused to believe her.

Then Jesus showed up. Well, they believed then. Except Thomas who wasn’t there when Jesus showed up the first time. The others told Thomas what they had ALL seen but he refused to believe it. Finally Thomas got to see for himself. Jesus came back to that upper room and appeared to the disciples, including Thomas. Then Thomas believed. Sure, easy to believe when the truth is standing right in front of you! Not so easy when you just have to take someone’s word for it.

There was an episode of the Andy Griffith Show (it’s on television now!)  Andy’s son, Opie keeps talking about a man he met in the woods. This man walks in the trees. He shines like silver. He makes smoke come out his ears. He has 10 hands. Of course, Andy thinks it’s just Opie’s imaginary friend. Then Opie shows Andy a tool this man gave him. Andy thinks Opie took the tool from someone. Andy insists Opie tell him the truth. Opie swears he IS telling the truth. Andy feels he must punish Opie and Andy is very upset about the entire situation. He just doesn’t know what to think.

Andy goes for a walk to think and, there in the woods, he meets the man, a lineman who works up in the trees. He wears a helmet that shines like silver and has a tool belt filled with tools that he calls his 10 hands. Oh, and he can make smoke come out his ears. As farfetched as Opie’s story seemed to an adult, it was the truth, the absolute truth.

There is nothing more frustrating for a child than having an adult, especially a parent, not believe them when they tell the truth. How horrible when the child needs to tell an adult something terrible.

Thomas couldn’t believe the story the other men told him, even though they all agreed. Thomas couldn’t accept it until the evidence was presented to him, in the flesh so to speak! It is a great kindness to believe a child when they tell you something. Take time to listen.

Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever told the truth about something only to have someone not believe you?

2. How did this make you feel?

3. Have you ever not believed something one of your kids told you? Why didn’t you believe it?

4. If it turned out your child was telling you the truth, what did you do?

5. Has another child ever told one of your kids a story that seemed unbelievable? Was it the truth? What did they do?

6. Take time to talk about truth and doubt. Sometimes, we have to take a story on faith until we can confirm what is being said. Avoid overreacting one direction or the other.

Lenten Devotion Day 39

Here I Am!

The Resurrection of Jesus

I remember hearing a story about a mother and her two daughters. The mother and older daughter were talking in the kitchen when the younger daughter came into the room, waving a dollar bill. “Look what I found when I was cleaning my room!” “Well, you better keep cleaning,” her mother told her, “You might find more money!” The young girl ran out of the room to continue her cleaning and search.

The mother turned to her older daughter and confided, “I hid that money to encourage her to clean her room thoroughly.”

“Why didn’t you ever do that with me?” the older daughter asked.  Her mother turned to her with a smile. “I did!”

Hard work, doing what is required and expected of you has its rewards. Sometimes the reward is just the good feeling that comes from doing a job well. Sometimes, the reward is even better than anything we could ever expect or hope for.

Jesus mother, Mary and two women made their way to Jesus tomb early Sunday morning following His death. Jesus died at sundown. The Sabbath began at sundown on Friday and ended sundown Saturday. Mary did not have time to prepare her Son for His entombment before the Sabbath began and Hebrew law prohibited her from doing it on the Sabbath. So Jesus was put in the tomb and plans were made by Mary and the other women to go to the tomb to do this one last act of love, compassion, and faith for Mary’s son.

The women knew a large stone had been placed before the opening of the tomb. They knew a large group of Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb. They hoped the men would move the stone for them so they may fulfill their obligation.

The women arrived at the tomb, the ground began to shake, the stone rolled away and the soldiers ran off. An angel came down and sat on top of the stone. And that was just the beginning of the excitement! Before they left the area, Jesus appeared to them. They were the first ones to see Jesus following His resurrection!

Mary had an obligation to tend to the body of her Son. She had to be in emotional pain, grieving the loss of her Son. However, just like the younger daughter in the story above, she and the other women were rewarded for doing their job. The women tended to their business while the men huddled in an upper room and for their faithfulness, for their dedication, the women were the very first to hear the Good News that Jesus had risen from the dead!

There are rewards when we take care of things, fulfill our obligations. Just remember those women at the tomb.

Discussion Questions

1. How do you motivate yourself to fulfill an obligation when your heart just isn’t in it?

2. How do you encourage your children to fulfill their obligations?

3. Fulfilling your obligations may be an act of kindness for another person. What are some examples?

4. Discuss times when an obligation earned you a reward you never thought possible.

Lenten Devotion Day 38

Son of God!

The Centurion and the Death of Jesus

Have you ever had your kids tell you they finished their homework, only to check it and find they rushed through it, doing the least they had to do in order to finish fast? Did you ever do that as a kid? Sure! We all did it at one time or another.

Have you ever rushed through a project, at home or work, so you could move on to something more enjoyable? Perhaps a long week-end was coming up and you just didn’t feel like putting much effort into your work. I’m not judging. I think we’ve all done this at one time or another. We get tired. We have better things to do. We want to go home. We always have a good reason for our actions. We also have a little feeling deep inside that we shouldn’t cut corners, no matter what.

The story today’s verse comes from has always fascinated me. A Roman guard has been order to crucify Jesus. The centurion, the man in charge of the soldiers overseeing the crucifixions, watches Jesus throughout His ordeal. The centurion watches the dignity, the compassion, the pain and more in those final hours that Friday. And, as Jesus died, the centurion saw the power and presence of God in Him, a God the Roman soldier didn’t even worship! With His death, Jesus brought another lost sheep back into the fold. As He hung on the cross, Jesus helped the Prodigal Son, in the form of the one thief also being crucified, come home.

Jesus knew He was on His way home. His time on this Earth was almost over. Yet, He didn’t leave until all His work was done and done well. Jesus put everything He had into His work. And when He was done, then He went home!

Discussion Questions

1. How do you remain motivated to do a job well all the way to the end?

2. How can you encourage your children to do all their work to the best of their ability?

3. What is the reward of doing a job well? Of seeing a job through to its finish?

4. How can you work together as a family to encourage one another to always do everything to the best of your ability?

5 Proven Steps to Mentor New Leaders Part 2: Teach


  The disciples first had the opportunity to watch Jesus talk to large crowds & smaller groups, seeing Him share His message. These moments gave the disciples the chance to see Jesus model the behavior He wanted them to imitate & to hear the lessons He was sharing as He spoke to the public. This, however, was not enough. Jesus needed to be sure the disciples understood the lessons so they would be able to teach them later. 

For this reason, Jesus always sat down with the disciples after these events & asked them if they understood the lesson He had taught. He would go over His message in detail, answering their questions until He was sure they not only understood but would also be able to share the message later. 

It’s important for the new leaders you mentor to watch you perform the work they will need to continue when you turn it over to them. It is also very important that they understand the work they are supposed to do. For example, they may think an aspect of the work is minor without realizing how vital that small step is to the whole process.

A woman once spoke to me after I finished teaching a Bible study to a large group of women. She lamented her inability to do what I did, minimizing the gift of hospitality she had been given. Every week, she & her sister stood at the door, greeting every woman that came in & giving them a hug to make them feel welcome & at home. They performed this same task every year during our huge women’s conference. I told her I would probably be speaking to an empty room if not for the warm welcome she & her sister offered women every week. If a new women’s ministry director had taken over without know the importance of this seemingly small task, she might overlook inviting the sisters to greet during Bible study & the conference. This task might seem small but it set the tone for every event the women hosted during my time working with the ministry. New leaders must not only see the process in action, they must have it explained to them so nothing, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is overlooked!