Monday, January 31, 2011
On Saturday, God gifted us with a beautiful day. I am so thankful for the warm, sunny weather that we were able to enjoy. I spent almost the entire day outside with the girls. It was the first day in a long time that they were able to just get out in the yard and play. They ran around the yard, rode their little motorized vehicles (Gracen has her own now), played kickball, played in the sand box, played on the swing set, jumped on the trampoline, and swung on the swings. Gracen LOVED the swing. I know she stayed in hers for close to an hour, and then when we got home from church on Sunday, she got out of the car and made a bee-line for her swing again. Gene went out and swung both girls while I made lunch. Both days were so nice....long and lazy.
Well, Saturday was lazy for me and the girls, but not so much for Gene. He had to be at UPWARDS at church from 9:00 until 1:30, and then had to set up chairs at 5:00. He did come home for the few hours in between because he said he knew that we were outside enjoying the day. It was hard for me not to fuss because gas is at almost $3.00 a gallon. I was actually very glad to see him....but I did think about that gas. Just saying...
On Sunday, we had church. Thankfully, both girls are well, at least for now, so I was able to go to worship. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Randy did a great job and the music brought me to tears. I love good praise and worship music.
We had breakfast for supper and then pulled out the air mattress for a family movie night, complete with popcorn and Sprite, of course.
Gene and I have been talking about the LIFE groups at our church and several have asked why we aren't hosting one. Our main two issues are childcare and living so far out of Prattville. We have decided that we aren't going to let those two things hinder us anymore. We feel like we should be leading a group, so we are going to list our group in the bulletin this Wednesday and Sunday and see if anyone is interested in making the drive.
Our group will meet here at our house every Sunday at 4:30 beginning February 13th. We will go through a Bible study, which is still undecided, and then take a month or so off. Please give us a call or email me if you're interested in joining our group. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We had talked about walking through the Book of James because Gene has taught through that book before and that is what I am currently studying. But, Gene received word just today that two other groups are starting and they are studying James, too. Gene really wants us to have some variety with these LIFE groups, so he wants us to choose something else. I am trying to "submit" to his leadership and get excited about something different, but I really want to walk through James because it has been so good.
I wanted to encourage my readers to pray for Cricket Jones and her unborn baby boy, Tate. Cricket doesn't go to our church, so many of you might not know her personally, but her family does attend our church. Cricket is the daughter of Danny and Grethen Loftin. She received some devastating news about her precious little one. You can go and read about his condition HERE. I am praying for them everyday and would love for you to join me. God is the God of all miracles and I am begging God to perform one on behalf of this family.
Until next time...
Friday, January 28, 2011
S-write down the scripture, which has been 1-3 verses each day...
O- write down any observations from the scripture...
A-write down any applications for my life from the scripture...
P-pray over what I am learning.
I have to admit that at first, I wasn't too sure about doing this. I am kind of a Bible study junkie. I love going through Bible studies written by authors like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Kay Arthur, etc. I told Gene I just didn't feel like I was doing a "real" study because I didn't have much of a guide. I know...I probably shouldn't have admitted that!
I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I am learning and how God has opened my eyes because I am spending time focusing on one or two verses per day. I am not really reading someone else's interpretation of the Bible, as I normally do in a study, even though I do have a commentary I am using. The one verse just rolls around in my head throughout the day, and I have already been able to encourage a few people with the particular verse that I studied that morning. It is neat when that happens!
I have studied James 1:1-18 over the last two weeks, and my eyes and my heart have been opened to the purpose of trials.
"Consider it all joy, my brethen, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
Consider it all joy....yeah, right! Clearly we are not going to consider it joy and jump up and down with excitement when a trial hits your life. But, you can absolutely trust that God is good and that every single thing has a purpose and has been filtered by His Hand. If I yield myself to His purposes, the end result will be good, and that can bring me a sense of joy while I am on the journey. When I get to the end of my life and meet Jesus...after facing many trials and enduring them with God...then I will be perfect and complete.
Problems are necessary. Problems strengthen our character. Too often we become frantic to cut short the trial without consulting the Lord about His purpose for it. And then it is possible that we just might have to undergo an even longer trial in the future before His particular purpose is realized in us. No problem is too great for God, but some problems might not be removed. We must learn to accept them and to prove that His grace is sufficient. Others are removed when we have learned our lessons from them. Most of us (myself included) lack wisdom to view the pressures of life from God's standpoint. We adopt a short-range view, occupying ourselves with the immediate discomfort. We forget that God unhurried purpose is to enlarge us through pressure. (That came from one of my commentaries, but I don't remember which one.)
Verses 5-6 talk about asking God for wisdom and then not doubting. If you look at these verses in context, they are referring to praying to God for His wisdom IN the trial. We need to constantly ask God to see things from His perspective....and not our own. We must trust that He is good and nothing is impossible for Him. If we doubt His goodness and His power, we will have no stability in times of trouble. One minute we will be resting calmly (in the trial) and the next I will feel like God has forgotten me....like the waves of the sea...back and forth my emotions will go.
Oh, there is so much more....but Reagan is begging me to read to her and this post is getting long.
I encourage every person to find a method of Bible study that works for you. The Word is life changing and worth every effort you put into studying it!
It's not too late to join Dana Roten and myself as we walk through the book of James and email each other every day with what we learned. Let me know if you are interested and I will get you started!
Until next time...
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I will persevere though. It may be years before I see the fruit, but I am trusting God for exactly that... fruit...love and respect in their relationship. I know that His Word will not return void.
And here is one that I posted recently...making cookies together. Gracen wants to be right beside Reagan at all times.
I found a great blog entry with suggestions of how to nurture the sibling relationship. I wanted to give the link in case any other mothers out there feel like I do. You want to encourage a healthy sibling relationship, but you're just not exactly sure how to do that.... You can read the blog entry HERE. I thought it gave a lot of great tips.
Monday, January 24, 2011
This is mainly just a post of pictures for my family. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you have already seen these photos.
Here is the cupcake table, waiting on girls to decorate their own cupcake.
Goody bags ready to go....minus the crowns and wands that the girls will make.
The birthday girl with her finished crown and wand.
Friday, January 21, 2011
She loves the book Pinkalicious so I bought her the other two books in the series. She was tickled "pink" about that!
Reagan had to go to school after all the fun was complete, and I took cupcakes for the class. She said that she had a fabulous day. She got to wear a crown all day long. She got two smiley face stamps (one for each hand). She got to hold Mrs. Vicky's hand at the front of the line. Her class sang to her and she got to help pass out the cupcakes. She thought all of that was pretty cool. Her friend and classmate, Drew Hicks, even remembered her birthday and brought her a birthday gift. It was a kit to make her own jewelry and she loves it. Thanks again, Cassandra.
With my mom...Gram!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
These pictures, taken by my niece Ariel Reynolds, totally exemplify Reagan. She is so full of joy all of the time. She talks all the time, sings all the time, and totally enjoys herself wherever she is...just like with these leaves. I showed a few of these pictures in my Thanksgiving post, but I had to post them again in honor of her special day because I just love them.
Just this morning, as I was studying in the book of James, I was reminded of the trial that I endured during all those years of infertility. It was hard and I am glad that it is behind me.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Yesterday afternoon, I was able to take the girls outside for a little while to get some fresh air because it was much warmer than it had been. It was so nice and made me yearn for spring. Then we had an early supper and did one of our family movie nights. Gracen did really well this time, sitting for most of the movie.
The James Bible study starts today that I mentioned last week. The main web-site is http://www.goodmorninggirls.org/. This is what I have settled on for my quiet times in the mornings. Dana Roten and I are doing it together and emailing one another for accountability. If anyone would like to join us, please email me at email@example.com. It is not too late to start. I will get you the links and help you get started. And, Beth Moore is currently writing a Bible study on the book of James and I would love to do it when I finish this 3 month study. I hope it comes out about the same time.
This week is a big week at our house. Reagan turns 5 on Wednesday. We are redoing her room for her birthday and she has been asking for a room that is pink and purple...it is currently pink and brown, which was my choice, not hers. Just last night she said, "Who picked this anyway?" She was talking about the brown portion of her room because she no longer likes brown. She says that it is a boy color. I guess it is time for a change. So today, we are going shopping to let her pick out her new bedding and some accessories and then we will go and pick out a matching paint color for her walls.
On Wednesday, her actual birthday, she informed me that she wanted a cupcake for breakfast, complete with a candle. I said, "Really...a cupcake for breakfast, huh?" She said, "Oh, yeah, and I am not kidding." Funny!
She has preschool from 8:30-11:30 and I will be taking cupcakes to the class. Then her grandparents will be meeting us at my house for lunch, more cupcakes, and a time of opening presents from them. If you are counting, this will be three sessions of cupcakes on Wednesday. My apologies in advance to the Cubbie workers at church that night. She might be bouncing off the walls.
On Saturday we will be having her Pinkalicious birthday party. I think I have everything I need.
I am so excited for her. I still cannot believe that she has been mine for 5 years, after waiting so long for a baby. She is a gift, a reminder every single day of God's goodness.
Until next time...
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I love the verse, and it is an easy one to quote but it is very difficult to live out, especially when something difficult happens. Just this week I was reminded on Facebook of a quote from Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love. He said this, "Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives." I don't want to ever imply that to those around me. My girls are with me almost 24/7 and they hear my words, and they can ver easily learn to worry.
I know God is big enough, I know God is powerful enough, and I know that God is loving enough to handle every single thing that touches my life. I have got to let the truth of what is in my head seep down deep into my heart. What is in my heart is what will flow out of my mouth and that is what my girls will hear and learn.
In the last week or so, I have seen how senseless worry really is and how little it accomplishes. Reagan has developed this weird fear of throwing up. She had a stomach bug back around Thanksgiving, toward the end of December someone threw up in her classroom at school, and over the Christmas break she had a bad cough and gagged up stuff in her sleep 3 nights in a row. The combination of these things has left a constant worry that she is going to throw up. Every night in our prayer time she wants to pray that she won't throw up in the night and that she won't throw up at school in front of her friends. We have had several mornings that she hasn't wanted to go to school so she will cry and say that she has a stomach ache. Due to the "stomach ache" she says she should "just stay home because she might throw up in front of her friends and then they will laugh at her". This is driving me crazy.
Just recently I got so aggravated at her, that I yelled at her, telling her to stop worrying about something that probably wasn't going to happen and that she cannot control. I told her that it is silly and a waste of her time. As soon as the words left my mouth, I thought about my heavenly Father and the way He must feel when I worry needlessly. Later that day, when I got alone in prayer, I confessed the sin of continually worrying about the unknown. I want to live a life that displays my trust in Him, through my actions, thoughts, and my words.
This is a verse that I need to not only learn but to life out!
You can join Beth Moore's Memory Challenge HERE. There are over 9,000 participants this year. I think that is pretty cool.
Until next time...
Friday, January 14, 2011
As bedtime approached, I knew she was getting worse and not better. She was burning up and just layed on me from afternoon until bedtime. She was fussy and cranky and developed this cough almost out of nowhere. I put her to bed and she might have slept 2 hours, and then we were pretty much up the rest of the night. By morning she was barking and wheezing, her nose was pouring, and she remained incredibly cranky. I called the doctor and we went in at 2:00. She was diagnosed with croup, given steroids, and we were sent home. By bedtime her cough seemed to be a little bit better and she slept all night.
Children can go from well to incredibly sick overnight. As I held Gracen on Wednesday for hours, and felt the heat radiating off of her little body, I became immediately grateful for pediatricians, medications, thermometers, etc. We take it for granted, don't we? In foreign countries, mothers watch their babies develop simply things like colds, that turn into flu, that turn into infections, that kill....and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. What an incredibly hopeless feeling. As I held Gracen, I became more and more sad about all the mothers that have lost babies, all over the world, from very simple things, things that could have been treated, if they had access to medical care and the means to afford it. I could picture in my mind mothers holding babies who were burning up with fever, begging God for mercy.
I know God brought this to my mind because since reading the book Radical, by David Platt, I have thought a lot about poverty and the call for every single believer to get involved with the needs around the world. Gene and I have talked a lot about who we can help and what we can do. We just want to do SOMETHING, we want to do MORE, but we always feel powerless to make any kind of significant change. We tithe, we sponsor mission trips, we help families in need when we are made aware of the need, but there is always more that can be done. God has blessed us in so many ways, and we don't always want to be on the receiving end. We want to give. So, as I thought about all of this, we decided to sponsor a child from Haiti through Compassion International. It is the one year anniversary of the horrific earthquake/tsunami that struck the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and there is still so much to be done there.
We involved Reagan and talked to her about what we are doing. We showed her a map of Haiti and pictures of the poverty there. We even let her pick the child we would sponsor. She picked Daniella, a 3 year old girl. As a family, we are going to pray for Daniella and her family every day, and for Haiti.
I want to encourage you to get involved with Compassion International as well. You can find the link to pick a Haitian child HERE. One neat thing I just noticed, when we signed up there were 1800 kids waiting to get sponsors and now there are 913 waiting. People are doing it and you can too.
Another very worthy organization that Gene and I give to is Cure International. They surgical heal medical conditions like club feet or cleft lips. Doctors provide their services and sponsors help with medical costs. After being in the hospital with Gracen, I became a little more sensitive to medical needs. God certainly uses everything we go through, doesn't He? You can check out their ministry HERE.
I want to encourage you to pray and ask God where He might want you to get involved, who He might want you to help. He wants us all to reach out beyond our little family and sacrifice our materialistic wish list. The needs are great and we can each make a difference!
Proverbs 21:13 "He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered."
That's a pretty clear call from scripture.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
And I found out today that little Gracen has the flu...so we might not return to normalcy for a while.
While I have had a little time at home, I have been doing a little planning...trying to be a little more organized for 2011.
I created a schedule for this new year, or at least until May when Reagan gets out of school for the summer. I am going to do my best to blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday...exercise every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday...and I have divided up cleaning tasks by the day of the week, in a different way than I did last year. If anyone is interested in my schedule, just let me know. I am happy to share.I also came up with a neat little way to menu plan that takes the guess work off of me. I have meals planned out for all of January and that makes me feel good. Now if I can just follow the plan. Just last night, I had taco salad planned...soft tacos for the girls...and when supper time came around, I just wasn't that into cooking. I really just wanted a bowl of cereal and then some couch time. I had everything I needed and the meat was thawed out and ready to go, plus I had 3 hungry faces looking at me that probably wouldn't have been as eager as I was to eat cereal. I pushed through the laziness. We all ate together and I glad that we did.
Speaking of planning, Reagan's birthday is next week. She will be five....FIVE! Crazy, right? Anyway, I have been planning her party. This year, she wants to have just girls come to her birthday party. This is actually the first year that she has really cared who I invited or what I planned. She named the girls specifically, and the list never changes. I bet I have asked her for two months to "list who she wants to come to her party" and it is always the same. She wants a Pinkilicious party, based on the book Pinkalicious, one of the cutest book ever. It is about a little girl named Pinkalicious who loves all things pink. One rainy day, she makes pink cupcakes with her mother. She eats way too many of them and she turns pink...and starts to call herself Pinkerbelle and Pinkerella, dressing up like a pink princess, complete with a crown and a wand. The story tells about her journey to becoming her regular color once again.
Anyway, here is what I have planned for the party so far...
- The girls that were invited were asked to wear something pink.
- When they arrive, I have a few little activity sheets for them to do as we wait on everyone to arrive.
- I will read the book to everyone so they are all familiar with the story.
- We are going to play "Pin the Cherry on the Cupcake"...from the story.
- We are going to decorate our own crowns and wands. I ordered all this from Oriental Trading..
- We are going to decorate our own cupcakes...from the story.
- We will eat our cupcakes, along with a large cupcake cake, pink ice cream, pink drinks, and some other pink foods.
- If we need some more "fillers", I have two more games we can play, plus a funny way to read the book again that I think the kids will love.
All the decorations will be pink with cupcakes on them. And I will be giving out things like pink boas for prizes. Doesn't that sound fun! I will definitely have to post some pictures. It is going to look like someone threw up pink...hopefully no one will with all the pink food. Reagan is sooo excited. Now I just pray that all her little friends will be able to come.
Continuing the theme of "planning"...I am also still trying to decide what Bible study to really focus on. I have 3 going. I am reading Colossians in the mornings, reading the book Made to Crave while watching the weekly web-casts, and reading One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer. I also want to start the James study with the Women Living Well blog that I told you about. It begins next week. I know, I know...it's too much. But, it is all good and instead of just focusing on one, I wanted to hit a little bit of each. Not a method I suggest to anyone.
I am also helping Gene plan the LIFE groups...of course he is doing most of the planning...like 99%, but listening takes work too.
I am just about planned out...I know my brain is pooped!
Oh, and we are also redoing Reagan's room for her birthday...yep, more planning.
Until next time...
Monday, January 10, 2011
LIFE Groups are basically home Bible study groups that meet in a home, restaurant, coffee shop, or at the church.
The purpose of LIFE groups is found right in the name:
Learning God's Word and living it out together.
Intentional outreach as we continually invite the unsaved to join a group.
Fellowship as we build meaningful relationships together.
Encouragement as we grow, serve, and do life together.
The goal is to see God working in the lives of the saved and the unsaved as these groups come to LIFE throughout the Prattville, Millbrook, and Deatsville area (and beyond if God so wills). LIFE groups are not to take the place of the corporate worship service, nor are they intended to take the place of current Sunday School classes. The goal is to simply expand our small group Bible studies throughout our communities, to invite unsaved people, and to give more options to our members.
If you are a member of EMBC, I want to encourage to get involved. You can either host a group in your home or you can teach a group....or both. Some people have the gift of hospitality but would never teach a Bible study. Others have the gift of teaching, but cleaning their house or preparing a "dessert" would stress them out. Some people could do both of these well.
Of course, everyone will not host or teach. We need group members who will come and soak up the Word. Getting plugged into a small group is so vital to your faith. Sunday morning worship, once a week, is not going to grow you into a vibrant Christian or inspire you to live for God. It is in those small group settings like Sunday School and home Bible study groups where you truly experience community. When you experience community, you experience growth in your Christian walk, you move forward in your life change, and you stay for the long haul. To continue in your growth with Christ you HAVE to be around other people who are growing in Christ. That is just how the deeper impact happens.
LIFE Groups can be any size. Your group might have 6, 12, or 20. The goal, however, is to continually grow and then create a new group from an existing group. Once a home gets too crowded, we would love to see a couple from that group step up as new leaders, starting a new group in a different location, and then grow it until it becomes too crowded for its location, and on and on it would go.
Our desire is to have groups meeting in neighborhoods all over the area, with lost people in those neighborhoods being invited to those groups, being introduced to Jesus, seeing faith lived out, and getting saved. We would also love to see groups becoming very mission minded, ministering to needs right in their neighborhoods.
Gene is currently working on a LARGE list of Bible study ideas. Your group might walk through a book of the Bible, or maybe be a "book club", reading a book like Radical or Crazy Love, or maybe work through a Bible study by a trusted Christian author. The sources are almost limitless.
The meeting time and night or day of the week your group meets is totally up to each group. We would love to have groups meeting every single night of the week so there are lots of options for our church body to choose from. A few people have already said that Sunday nights would be perfect since we no longer have evening services.
The most exciting thing to me is that we already have 10 leaders ready to teach with more people praying about the option. That is a pretty good foundation.
Gene and I are so excited....have I used the word "excited" enough in this post ? We are praying for God to do a new thing through this new ministry at EMBC. Pray with me and get involved!
Until next time...
Thursday, January 6, 2011
The first one is on the Women Living Well Blog. This is one of my favorite blogs to read. The author, Courtney, is so inspiring...as a wife, mother, and growing Christian. She is leading a Bible study on the book of James. It is a walk through the book, teaching you how to study a book of the Bible for yourself. This is something that I want to do more and more, instead of always relying on a study....as much as I love those. You can check it out HERE. It is totally free and you can link up with other sisters in Christ on her sister site Good Morning Girls every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, to see what everyone is learning, by clicking HERE.
Courtney also recommended many great Bible studies that she has completed. You can go and check out those resources HERE and HERE.
Another site that I love to visit is Lysa Terkeurst's blog. She is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and has written many books. Her newest book is called Made to Crave. It is basically about a woman's battle with food, self esteem, and what it is that she should really be craving. I bought this book because it looked really interesting to me. My weight has gone up and down my entire life. It is up right now...about 15 pounds up to be exact. But, even at my lowest weight, which was pretty skinny for me, I still didn't feel "pretty" or satisfied with myself. I am missing a link somewhere to fully believing that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". Anyway, Lysa' blog is HERE. The Made to Crave website is HERE. And there is an online Bible study to go along with the book HERE.....and it is free as well. That study starts January 16th and looks really good. There will be webcasts on Monday evenings to watch online and blog posts written on Monday and Wednesday, I think, to encourage you. There are already 1600 women signed up to participate. I think that is pretty cool.
You can also link up with Beth Moore for her scripture memory challenge. You can read about it HERE.
I have a few other books that I have purchased recently I would like to study as well. I seriously cannot decide what to study, because I cannot do all of these, as much as I would love to.
Oh, so much to do...so little time.
Until next time...
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Colossians 2:6-7 says, "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."
When I read those verses, I immediately thought, "That is exactly what I want for my life in 2011...and every year." I have received Jesus as my Savior and because he is my Savior, I have been called to walk in Him. I should be firmly rooted. I should be established in my faith because that is what He has instructed for believers to do. And because I am walking in Him, rooted in Him, and established in Him, my life should be OVERFLOWING with gratitude.
So I wrote the verse and this prayer in my prayer journal..."Lord, what a great verse to start the year with. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for salvation...for saving me, for grabbing my heart, for not letting go, for washing me clean, for walking with me every single day. You are enough for my life. Help me to walk in you every day."
I stopped and wanted to know what all my references said about the phrase "walk in Him". I found that the word walk is often used to describe the Christian life. It speaks of action and PROGRESS. You cannot walk and remain in the same place. So it is in the Christian life. I am either going forward in my relationship with Him or I am moving backward. This is a call to be active in my study of Him.
So, I stopped and prayed again..."Lord, I want to walk in you. I want to continually move forward in my relationship with You. Continue to impress upon my heart a desire to do just that, to grow and move forward with You."
The next phrase "having been firmly rooted" is something that I have talked about before. I have a desire to be firmly rooted, for my roots to grow deep, deep enough to hold me firm during the storms in life, and I continually desire to go deeper with the Lord. As I studied the verse though, the phrase "having been firmly rooted" is not talking about a continual growth process, but rather something that happened at the moment of my salvation. When I asked Jesus to come into my heart and to be my Savior, I was immediately firmly rooted in Him. Jesus Christ is the soil and my roots are buried in Him. I draw my nourishment from Him. The root is deep and it will hold firm. He will never let me go.
This portion of the verse led me to these verses...
*Matthew 13: 1-23...The parable of the soil
*Psalm 1:3..."be like a tree, firmly planted..."
*Ephesians 3:17..."being rooted and grounded in love..."
*Romans 11:16..."if the root is Holy, the branches are too..."
*John 15:1-17...the vine and the branches
Wow! Those verses are rich and gave me much to study and think about. Many of these pointed me back to the idea of growth in my Christian life, past the moment of salvation, and the fruit that my life should display because I am rooted in Him. So, I was led to pray again about the fruit in my life and the desire I have to see that fruit increase. (I won't share all my prayers, but you get the idea.)
The next phrase in my Colossians verse is this..."and now being built up in Him".
The symbolism switches to a building. Jesus is the foundation, and I am continually being built up in Him. He is the Rock of Ages, the Rock of my Salvation! I was rooted once and for all at the moment of salvation, but I am continually being built up in Him until the day of my completion. This idea led to more prayer and more verses to read.
*1 Corinthians 3:9-16..."we are God's building"
*Ephesians 2:20 ..."having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone..."
There are other verses, but I am just trying to give you an idea of what studying through your Bible might look like.
To wrap it up, there are two more phrases in my Colossians verse.... "established in my faith" and "overflowing with gratitude".
In my Christian walk, I am continually being established in my faith, a process that will continue throughout my entire life. But, what am I being established in? 2 Peter 1:5-9 talks about the characteristics that I should be growing in: moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly love, and kindness. These qualities should be ever increasing, growing, just as a plant continually grows. My life is a building in process, being built up stone by stone. I want these things to be true of my life so I will be fruitful for the kingdom and strong for the body of Christ. There is a lot to pray about here.
And lastly, my life should constantly be overflowing with gratitude because of the work of Jesus Christ in me. This thought led to repentance because despite all that I have been given, I don't thank God enough or remain in a place of continually gratitude. My heart should be so captivated with love for Jesus and the marvelous truths of the gospel, that my heart overflows in praise throughout the day....uh, that's not happening.
Well, I hope that helps someone.
The Bible is rich and speaks to the individual, but you have to make the time to mine its riches just as a miner digging for gold.
Until next time...
Monday, January 3, 2011
I have been in God's Word every day of this new year and that is the most important thing I can do. I bet many of you have started off the year with a new commitment to read God's Word. Maybe you have been successful so far or maybe you haven't. Don't ever give up on this most worthy goal. The neat thing with God is that every day is a brand new day to start over with Him. He is waiting.
I thought I would give you some tips about having that daily quiet time. It really is a passion of mine...to have that daily time with God and to encourage others to do the same. It is the only way to grow in our relationship with God and we are CALLED to grow in Him. In every group I have ever taught, I stress this thought...over and over again.
Start your time with the most simple prayer. Ask God to give you a desire to read His Word and then ask Him to help you understand His Word, to open your eyes to a new truth that you can apply to your life. It is a supernatural book and because of that you need supernatural help to understand it. Actually, the Bible says that the lost can NOT understand it, so if you can never make heads or tails of anything you read in the Bible, that might be a sign of bigger issues.
Pick a book of the Bible to read and stay in that book for an entire month. I wish I could tell you what book to start with, but the truth is, I love them all. Some of my favorites are Psalms, Proverbs, John, 1 John, Matthew, Ephesians, Galatians, James, 2 Peter, and Colossians. Read it all the way through several times to get the overarching themes in your mind and then start to study it. (For Psalms and Proverbs, I wouldn't read the book all the way through at first, but rather one chapter each day.) Right now I am reading the book of Colossians. It only has 4 chapters so it is a quick read. I spent the first week just reading through the book and now I am studying through each chapter. You might stay in one chapter an entire week or you might read a chapter a day.
What do I mean by "studying" through each chapter? Good question.
I have a Life Application Study Bible with notes at the bottom that go with each verse. I read all of those. It also gives me scripture references to read additional verses where the same idea is taught throughout the Bible. The cool thing is that those verses lead you to others verses, and so on. I also have a commentary that explains the entire Bible, verse by verse, so I am reading that explanation along with all the notes in my Bible. You can get a good commentary at any Christian book store or online at http://www.christianbooks.com/. You can buy a commentary on the entire Bible or you can buy one for each individual book of the Bible. One for the entire Bible might run $50.00 or more, where the individual ones might run less than $10.00. I can suggest some good ones if you would like. Just message me.
I am praying the entire time that I am reading, stopping in between verses, asking God to help me understand what I am reading and to make application to my life. I am also journaling things I want to remember.....things that resonate with me so clearly that I know God meant them just for me. This happened this week with Colossians 2:6-7. I now have 4 "prayer journal sized" pages of notes for these 2 verses. I'll share some of that next time.
I also save time for prayer....praising God for who He is, thanking Him for all the ways He has blessed me and my family, confessing sin, and then lifting up my personal requests and requests for others.
My quiet time can easily take me an hour, but I love it. It is the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning, and I set my clock early enough so I can have this time with God.
So many will say that they just don't have time to study God's Word, so they settle for a 3-5 minute devotion or they do nothing at all. It really isn't about time, but rather what is a priority to you. We all make time for what is important to us.
When I worked outside the home as a teacher, I would sign up for on-line Bible studies, usually Beth Moore studies, and would get up before 5:00 am to do them. I had to be in the shower by 6:00am, so "early" was the name of the game. I would never fit it in after I got home from work, so those early mornings became a priority for me, and surprisingly, everything else got done in the day.
As a stay at home mom, I still have to do it in the morning, which is the only time my house is still and quiet. Once the girls get up around 7:00, I am busy until bedtime.
I was talking to someone this week about "how to have a quiet time" so I thought someone else out there might have a similar question. I hope this helps.
I will be giving you some more suggestions this week.
Whatever your life looks like right now, whatever season of life you are in....you can do this! Bible study is worth the effort!
Until next time...
Saturday, January 1, 2011
It is time to process the year that just came to a close and think about the year to come. I don't really want to make a list of resolutions, but I definitely want to list some areas that I would like to improve upon. I can do better is so many areas...
1. My walk with God
I want to go deeper in my walk with Him. I want to want Him like I want my next breath. Every morning I am in His Word and talking to Him in prayer, but I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of all the He has for me. I feel this way because I don't always retain what I am studying. I still struggle with worry, fear, discontentment, pride, control... I know what God's Word's says about each area, but head knowledge has to become heart knowledge, in the sense that it changes how I live. Change comes through the Word of God. Romans 12:2 says that I am to be transformed (changed) by the renewing of my mind and that renewal will come through the work of the Holy Spirit as I memorize and meditate on the Word.
To help me, I have joined Beth Moore's scripture memory group that begins January 1st. Basically you pick two verses a month to memorize, a verse on the lst and the 15th of the month...verses that God has revealed to me during my daily quiet times. At the end of the year, I should have 24 verses set to memory. My first one is James 1:5 that I posted about HERE. It says, "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to Him." I desire wisdom in being a mother. Every. Single. Day.
I love Bible studies but right now I am just reading my Bible. The Bible should be enough, but I miss the topical focus that a Bible study offers, the deep questions that make you think, and the interpretations of others that are smarter than myself. I am praying every day though that He shows me what He has for me as I read "just" His Word. Right now, I am reading the book of Colossians and writing those little nuggets of truth that He reveals to me in my journal.
2. My Marriage
Gene and I are in a great place in our marriage, but we have to remember to make one another a priority. It is very easy to put him at the bottom of the priority list because the girls scream louder than he does. Their needs have to be met by me all through the day, and if I am not careful, I don't have time and energy left for him. We are trying to do better with date nights and making time for uninterrupted conversation, but it can be a struggle. I know that Satan would love to get a foot-hold and tear us apart. He would love to do that to any marriage, but especially a pastor's family, so we cling to each other and pray through the hard moments. I love him more every day and I want to make sure that he knows that. One big way I show my love is through my time and attention.
3. Structure to my day
I have yet to really figure out the best way to manage everything. I want time in each day to study God's Word, to get on my computer and blog and check email, facebook, etc., to clean my house and do laundry without it overwhelming me, to spend adequate time with my children just playing with them, reading to them, and doing puzzles with them, to exercise, to plan and prepare healthy meals, to run errands, to pay bills,.... You get the idea. I need structure. I need a daily schedule. The schedule I created earlier in the year is obviously not working because I don't even know where it is. At the end of the day, I need to feel like I have accomplished something, because as every stay-at-home-mother knows, all things are never done. It is also easy to get lazy in certain areas...because who's checking on me anyway.Well, God is! Full time motherhood is what He has called me to and that is a call to lay down my selfishness and laziness and to serve and sacrifice for my family....and honestly, some days, I just don't feel like doing that. I have got to remember my calling and that I have to work "as unto the Lord". A structured day will help me accomplish that.
She is almost 5....5 years old! Can you believe that? Because she is almost 5 years old, she needs more responsibility. Another thing I have gotten away from is her chore chart. There are things that she can do around here to help me, things that will teach her that she needs to be an "active" member of this family...things like making her bed, cleaning up her toys and her messes, emptying the smaller trashcans into the big trashcan on trash day, helping me empty the dishwasher, etc. This will help her to turn into a more responsible adult, which is what I think I am trying to create.
She also needs a little more structure to her day. She loves television and she has had a little too much freedom with it. She needs more book time, more time with me, more time outside, and more activity/art time. So this brings me back to a need for a schedule of some kind. I don't want every second of her day planned out, but it would be nice to know that at a certain time every day it is "Book Time". When that time rolls around, we cuddle up with books of her choice and spend that time together. The alternative is laying down at night realizing that we didn't read today. That has happened too much lately.
Of course, all of the above applies to Gracen too. But she naturally gets more time with me and her day is a little more structured because of her age.
Discipline has got to be consistent and has to be connected to God's Word so it not only changes her outward behavior but her heart. I am reading Ginger Plowman's book, AGAIN. She does a wonderful job of connecting discipline to God's design for it. She has a chart with verses that go with the various areas of discipline and fair consequences that go with each bad choice that Reagan or Gracen might make. It takes the pressure off of me, when I remember to consistently use it. I have had these resources since Reagan was three and I highly recommend them...
*Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman (She does not believe in counting to 3 but rather teaching "first time obedience".
*Heaven At Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home by Ginger Plowman
*Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman ( a chart to hang on the refrigerator with verses, consequences, etc.)
Another great book is Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.
I have got to work it into my day. I still have 15 pounds from pregnancy on my body that I have just not really cared about. I haven't exercised in months and my eating habits haven't been all that great. These combined make me feel sluggish and tired. Not good with two young children. I am never alone so I am not sure how I will fit cardio into my day, but it needs to happen.
Well, those are the big ones floating around in my mind. That's enough, isn't it? If I can improve upon these areas, then I will be doing pretty good.
In 2011, I want to enjoy my family and spend quality time with all of them. We went to the visitation for a college student on Thursday night and it was heart breaking. She was killed in a car wreck, thrown from the car because she wasn't wearing her seat belt. Life is precious and can be so short. I want to realize the gifts that I have in my life and appreciate them....love them, hug them, spend time with them... I encourage you to do the same.
Until next time...