Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Life’s Vision Statement

This is the last week of reading Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, which is part of an online Bible Study (OBS) through Proverbs 31 Ministries.   #LimitlessLife

Part of our growing this week, involved applying what we've been learning to our life.  Chapter 9 was titled From Worker to Worshiper. The main teaching is realizing God made us to worship as an identity, not an activity. We need to make our life around God, putting our identity of worshiper in all we do, including the workplace, and our future plans. 

We were challenged to answer questions about our Life's Vision and to create a Life's Vision Statement in 140 characters or less.

The five questions were:
1: How do you want to be seen in ten years? 
2: What do you want to be known for in ten years?
3: What do you want your family to be like?
4: What makes your heart sing?
5: Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself?
  (Limitless Life, p.181-182)

On my journey through 10 years of future, I realized most of my answers were around being a servant.  I firmly believe that my calling is to serve others. It's ironic to me, because I would not have chose that for myself. But, I've learned that initial thought of "you want me to do what?" shouldn't stop you, when you are called.  Just do it. Do what God wants you to, life is so much more blessed when you do.  We all have talents that can benefit our church community. You don't have to say yes to everything, but you can get out of your comfort zone and say yes to God. He knows what you were created for, and knows what you need to do.

My life's vision statement is as follows:
To be a servant of God, sharing the love of Jesus, living with grace, dignity, and respect; shining His light in all I do. 

Another part of the book that chapter that stuck out this week was a prayer that Pastor Derwin says helps you be better at bringing worship to your work (p 188).  I've copied it to a note card, and ran out of space. Normally, this would irk my perfectionist heart. When I re-read the prayer, I noticed the part that carried over to the back said "give me the words to share Your gospel of grace clearly". Hmm, that seemed sufficient all by itself, so I left the card as is.  That's a sum of what I want God to do in me, to give me the words to communicate the gospel of grace. I also feel that's what He wants for me to have come out of my mouth.

This post is part of a blog hop for my current Online Bible Study. Click on the link below to join us, and see what other Jesus Girls have to say!
P31 OBS Blog Hop

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Snap It- My Bible Study Spot

I am currently participating in an Online Bible Study through Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I am in week 3 of Limitless Life, by Derwin L Gray. I think this is my 7th  online Bible study, and I love each and every one!

I have included a picture of my favorite place to do my reading and studying.  It's not glamorous, in fact I have an old sheet thrown on the couch, because I hate vacuuming cat hair all the time, it's easier to just wash a sheet. My cat follows me around and sits next to me during my quiet times.

Missing from the picture is my Kindle Fire.  I love reading and  have using digital and audio books as a preference.  For Bible studies, I wound up missing the paper books, so I  order both. I listen to the Kindle read me each chapter, then I go through the paper book highlighting, making notes in my journal and looking up verses in my Bible.

My other favorite place is my at desk and computer.  I won't take a picture of that mess   Instead, I've included a picture of a note-card that is attached to the computer.  This verse is from a different study. There are many tasks that I accomplish each day, and I like that verse to remind me to put my busy, busy life in God's hands and trust that all will be well.

What's your favorite place to relax and spend time with God?

This post is part of a blog hop for my current Online Bible Study. Click on the link below to join us!

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Thursday, June 5, 2014

From Orphaned to Adopted

I have no memories of my father. He passed away a few months shy of my 2nd birthday. I have pictures of him; pictures of a young man who died when he was 22.  Pictures that show him smiling at a baby girl and wrapping his arms around his young wife.  I have pictures of him holding up various fish, for he loved to fish.  He went fishing one fall day and didn’t come back.  He slipped and was knocked unconscious, and carried away by the river current.

I did not have a horrible childhood, but I grew up fast.  I was a child who knew about death from a young age. My mother’s first funeral was my father’s funeral, so she brought me to funerals; I’ve been to more funerals than weddings. The problem with excepting that everyone dies at a young age, is when you start to believe the effort of letting people in, for whatever time it lasts, hurts too much.

I was spoiled, cuddled, loved, played with, witnessed to, read to, carted to dance class, friends, family and sports.   I was taught worry was a sin, and to ‘let go and let God’.  I was taught that if I worked hard, helped others and believed, that God would never let me fall.  How could a child with a life so full, feel so empty?

We all have our struggles in adolescence. Mine struggle was family. My step-dad was verbally and mentally abusive to my mother and myself.  I call him my step-dad, but my mom never married him. I called him by his first name.  He was a long time-live in boyfriend of my mother from the time I was 5 to 19.   He is the father of my brother and sister, they are 7 and 14 years younger than me.  Thankfully, they don’t have the same memories, being much younger and his real kids. I lived in a house with two families. My mom and I or my mom and her family with him.

My mom is a strong woman, who always taught me to have faith, but didn’t bring me to church every Sunday.  I didn’t know all the Bible stories, or how the Bible flows around the church calendar.  I went to church a couple times a month, with what ever friend I stayed with that weekend.  My middle school and high school years were spent being in school activities, sports, work and at friends houses. It hurt too much to be ‘home’.

I had to grow up, starting from the time I was five and my step-dad told me the truth about Santa and taught me fear. I learned to try to be perfect, so he would have nothing to yell, lecture or punish  me for. I learned that I needed to stay above reproach and be the best or above average at everything. I had to dress and present myself a certain way, have good grades and handwriting. Everything I did was cheapened by something he said. My mom made fun of me for being ‘perfect’.  She couldn’t believe she’d raised such a snobby, prim person.

At some point, in middle school, I realized I had a Heavenly father. I found a passage in the Bible that spoke to me, and comforted me. “God is a father to the fatherless. He is a defender of the widows. God makes it known that he protects the weak and disenfranchised and that they have place in his kingdom.”
Psalm 68:5, NIV.   This verse let me know I was going to be okay. I already knew life wasn’t perfect, but I had a new daddy. It made me feel value and gave me confidence in some areas of life.

I became very busy my high school years.  I don’t think I went to church or read the Bible, more than a handful of times. I had friends, good grades, played sports, was in band, drum and bugle corps and worked.  I also had a baby girl my senior year of high school, with a boy who was not daddy material, and was not involved with her.  I did have a platonic best friend in high school who I eventually married.  He walked into the role of daddy in my daughter’s life.  Things were ok as far as young marriages go, but God was a spectator in our lives. We started to grow up, and apart and did not work to save our marriage. So, now my daughter was 5 and had two daddies that walked away, and a momma who hurt in her soul about letting a child born fatherless. 

I remarried when she was 7 and I was 25, I had two more kids by the time I was 28. I married a strong, hard working man who loves me and all of my children.  She cannot accept him as her dad, and it hurts him.  It hurts me, because I see a love offered to her that she turns her nose at.  She’s reliving the family life I did, but her step-dad provides for her and fights to make her a strong young woman. She fights him every step of the way, alienating, manipulating and dividing the family. 

I’ve been married 10 years and went back to church three years ago.  I never found much use for church. I knew people who were only Christian every Sunday, and that seemed messed up to me. But, I  knew my oldest has a spot in her heart she needs filled.  So, I dragged my kids to a few VBS (vacation Bible school) that summer, and found a church family.  It was my first church family.  I’ve never had that before.  I went for my kids, but stayed for myself.  I became involved in small groups, volunteering and children’s ministries. 

My oldest daughter is a natural servant, but doesn’t see God in anything for herself.  She believes he exists, but thinks herself unworthy or unloved. Like God is not for her, so if you’re reading this please pray for her. She does not connect with anyone at youth group, so has stopped going. She works by my side volunteering at church and in the community for its children. She loves babies and children.  But, she has not accepted her heavenly father.

As for my other two children, my son says some beautiful prayers that let me know he’s feels God into his life.  My youngest daughter is beautiful and loving. We sang Christmas carols to a group of elderly at a long term care facility last year, she holds the hands of elderly strangers like an angel and smiles and talks to them with such love…it brings tears to my eyes. 

My current small group study is “Limitless Life” by Derwin L Gray. (photo from this post is from a chapter in this study)

I study online through Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies. It has fueled this post as part of a blog hop.  When I sat down today, I didn’t know what I would write.  My first small group was almost two years ago and called “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman. I have been growing non-stop since then.  I want to follow Jesus, be a servant and show the world love that’s so beautiful it’s unstoppable. I am amazed, humbled and loved.  I am adopted, anew.  I’m still sad to have never had that father-daughter dance, but I except the brokenness of this world as a temporary situation, not my future.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

God, Action, Romance and Love

The following is a review of the book A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano.

This is the second book of the Ladies of Distinction, by Jen Turano. The story is more enjoyable after having read book one first, but you don’t have to.  Based in the late 19th century it reminds me how far women have come in society. I absolutely love the characters, especially their stubbornness, what better way to show how God’s grace works. In this historical romance, you’ll find God, action, love, family, friendship and repeat characters.   At the end there are book there are discussion questions that make you think and evaluate what you would do or believe. Without giving away the story, I have to say another job well done on an enjoyable book.

This book was given to me as a  review copy from Bethany House Publishing Group.  I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.

Another Great Christian Romance

The following is a review of the book A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano.

This  is another ‘can’t-put-it-down’ by Jen Turano.  Her characters are fun and loveable.  This is the third book I’ve read by her. They are not written in a series, but contain repeat characters in each.  I love that each book stands alone, yet makes reading all of them desirable.  Of course, there is a strong minded gal, romance and trouble. Best of all, God and a relationship with Him is weaved into the story line. At the end there are book there are discussion questions that make you think and evaluate character, theme, and faith. I hope to be reading more of her books, for years to come.

This book was given to me as a  review copy from Bethany House Publishing Group.  I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own

Monday, February 24, 2014

Great Study on Ephesians

This is a book review on The Full Armor of God by Larry Richards.

This book is enjoyable, however it is serious. I found myself taking a lot of time to read it, because it reads like an interesting text book. I wanted to know and study the information slowly, as to remember it.  I think arming yourself against the enemy’s schemes is important for all of us.  This book covers the book of Ephesians, breaking it down and explaining the different aspects (armor) so we can be prepared for spiritual battle. It examines how the enemy attacks us through modern media, lies and circumstance to drive a wedge between us and God’s love and grace.   I love books like this, that cover books/sections of the Bible.  I can see myself reading this again for reference and sharing it with others.

This is a review copy from Bethany House Publishing Group.  I chose this book from a list as an item of interest.  I was not compensated and opinions are my own.

Jesus Calms the Storm

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” 
~Luke 8:22-25 New International Version (NIV)

The above verse is what I studied for Sunday Preschool prep yesterday.   I did a web search, thinking I would find a video of the story, and I fell across a page talking about making a storm.  I did not bookmark the page and don’t remember who posted it to what blog. I just excitedly shut down the computer and started looking for things to make the sounds of a storm. I went to church that morning planning to have fun with a story; hoping that playing out the story would help them want to hear and remember it.  I’m not a trained teacher, so it’s hard to get a group of 3-4 year olds to sit still and pay attention.

We played ‘storm’.  We made noise, flashed lights and rocked a boat. Then we took turns saying “Be still., Stop. Quiet” and made the noise stop abruptly, as a cease was called.  After all this racket, we talked of Jesus and his power to calm a storm.  We read about Jesus and his friends in a boat during a storm .  The scene was played out by Lego men in a boat borrowed from my son’s room, with permission, of course. We also had plastic to crumble, pans to beat on and rice shakers.

It seemed a simple Bible story.  Yet, I am awestruck consistently by the Bible, when you take just one little story and apply it to life. I’m sure a storm will come again in my life. I may even have a pity party and make it worse for myself, for a bit.  Will I remember which book(s) in Bible this story played out or the exact verse? Probably not! However, I will remember the meaning and remember my God can quiet a storm if I have faith. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

1 Peter 5:7-8a

 Happy Thursday,!  I hope you’re making it a great day.  I am currently on Week 2 of "Made to Crave" by Lysa TerKeurst, the current Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study. This is my 5th Online Bible Study.

Today I’m focusing on 1 Peter 5:7-8a.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert.

My first response is to think this verse sums up much of the Bible’s teachings.  It asks us to give Him all our anxiety, reminds us of His love and warns us to be alert.  The Bible frequently asks for all we have, to commit to God.  We are always told of God’s great love. We are also to prep for battle and arm ourselves.

Some of you may think battle is a strong word.  Well, I have many strong feeling invoked when I focus on scripture.  We do battle a lot, as Christians. We face so many things of the modern world that reek of the enemy.  It may not seem that way, but anytime we crave or seek something of the world and give our energies or self over to them, we are losing a small battle.  It may seem innocent, that yearning that tugs us towards what we think fills us.  We say to ourselves we will be happy with more money, perfect hair, a purse or something fried or chocolate covered. After we get what we want, we just refocus on the great, gap filling thing. Over and over again.  My cravings involve sweet and savory foods.

My current Bible study focuses on cravings.  I am using it to make my body journey towards health, to be a better daughter of God, mother, and wife.  I have put on weight my whole adult life. I used to be an athlete in high school, but my knees hurt too much to exercise the way I used to.  I was diagnosed as Type II diabetic almost eight years ago, at a post pregnancy appointment after being gestational diabetic.  I had two diabetic pregnancies, in which I did everything the doctor told me.  Afterwards I went back to old habits, but carb-counted to keep my sugar in control.  I did not lose weight, I maintained, frustrated by how my body felt when I  deprived it. Less food and more exercise meant lots of monitoring, and losing half a day to feeling sick with low sugar, or physical therapy for my knees. I was in a cycle of not wanting to put the work into a healthy me.

This study has me making a positive investment into my self.  God did not intend for me to be broken and defeated.  He believes I have a purpose, and I need to battle my body, to be healthy for that purpose. I am making slow changes, so I don’t have extreme knee pain or sugar crashes.  I am using scripture to kick the habit of eating too much dessert, or large portions. I want to achieve a energetic level of Jesus girl I feel on a good day, everyday.  I can make things happen by praying my way through each meal, each workout, until God brings me to the next part of my journey.

What can you give or give up to be a better child of God?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Permissable But Not Beneficial

I am in the middle of Week 1 of "Made to Crave" by Lysa TerKeurst, the current Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study. This is my 5th Online Bible Study.  

I found the verse of 1 Corinthians 10:23a to be simple yet profound. It speaks not only of what we crave in our thoughts and actions with food, but to any behavior, any choice. It's going to be one of my go to verses. 

How do I define a go to verse? Its a verse I used in my battle to be a Jesus girl.  A verse that helps with the struggles I encounter.  It will help me make decisions based on truth, instead of desire.  It will comfort me in that, I do have freedom of choice, but not all choices make us feel free in the long run. Its a verse I've studied, highlighted, written down and memorized.  I write them on note-cards and scatter them in random places, and find them in just the right moment of need.

I find the more do to actively pursue God, via reading Bible studies, listening to sermons, and just trying to show the world love, the more I feel free. I feel strong, armed with truth and ready for battle. Thank you, God, for your love and letting me share it.