I just bought an adult coloring book!

Ya’ll I love fellow Christ follower, author and bible study teacher Margaret Feinberg. She is deep, playful, personal and so down to earth. Her ability to take scripture and teach in such a succint way has drawn me in from the beginning. I’ve learned a lot about my God through her teaching. This summer I did her Fight Back with Joy study from home in my hospital bed with a neighbor and a friend from church who recently lost her husband. It was such a blessing to all of us. I figured if I was ever tempted to lose my joy it might be while laying flat on my back for the Summer. One particular days homework had a major impact on my life and I still turn to that page to reference throughout my week. Such a great study.

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So when I went online to check out her sale this week I was so excited to see an Adult Coloring Book!! I love to doodle and I love color. I’m not sure if it’s because I might have ADD (I don’t really know if I do but I consider growing up doing incessant flips on our couch and memorizing scripture while standing on my head as possible indicators?) or what but I LOVE to scribble while listening. It really helps me to retain what I’m hearing. Thankfully I don’t do that headstand thing anymore because I’m pretty sure I’d break my body in half.  This adult coloring book is designed to help you focus on God’s Truths of his love. So while you’re coloring a scripture there’s also a doodle page across from it. I LOVE IT!!!! I really am thinking about ordering another one and taking it up to the nursing home to work on a page with some of the folks there. How fun – to color with old people and talk about God’s love. What a great open door for some divine conversation.

Okay, so my family doesn’t know yet I ordered myself a coloring book. I’m not exactly sure of the response I will get. HA!!!! Oh, and I also got a t-shirt that says, “God bless this hot mess.” Ahaha! I love it so much. I’m wearing it now and about to go color about God’s love. I’m a happy camper.

Have a great weekend friends!

Linking with Barbie this weekend.

Meditation doesn’t have to be weird

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Yes, that is my daughter and she’s such a poser.  Occasionally she whips out a meditation pose complete with a mesmerizing “Ahhhmmmmmmm” for pure entertainment. I admit that it gets a laugh of out me just about every time. We can thank big brother’s influence for this trick. I was shopping at Harolds trying on clothes and came out to four year old Mitchell doing this exact pose on the silk covered circular stool in the middle of the store. He had escaped his assigned spot and felt the need to reflect. I was mortified but apparently all the customers and workers thought it was great because he had quite the crowd gathered talking about how even children meditate these days. On the way out I asked Mitchell where in the world he learned to do that. He said, “It’s on Ice age.”

So when I talk about meditating this is NOT what I’m talking about.

But what I am talking about is simply reading a verse or two of scripture and simply thinking about it. I suppose you could stand on your head and hum if you want but really it’s not necessary. And your family might worry about you. Instead just write out a verse and think about it. Read one word at a time and think about each word. Pray and ask God to open your eyes to what those words strung together mean for you. Ask questions about the verse.

Let’s take Job 2:10 from the tagline of my blog and practice:

 “Shall we accept good from God and not adversity?” Job 2:10

It’s important to read scripture in light of scripture. Meaning – in context. Reading stand alone verses can get us into trouble if we don’t read a little before and after to get the bigger picture.

A lot has happened between Job 1 and Job 2:10. Like his whole life changed in Chapter 1. And when Job 2:10 comes along he’s still grappling with things but his firm belief in who God is enables his wise response.

So I could write this verse out on a note card and read it a few times.

Then I might ask myself who is speaking these words. Is it Job. Is it God. Is it someone else? (Answer: Job)

I could further question and ask who Job is saying this to. (Answer: his wife. yeah, she kinda got a talking’ to)

Then to bring it home personally I might think about the good things I’ve accepted from God in my own life. Maybe even write them out.

The same thing with the word adversity. Think through the adversity that God has allowed in my life. That’s uncomfortable. But necessary.

And then finally I will ask what God wants me to understand about this verse and how to use it in my life. I have always found Him to be faithful in revealing these things to me. I don’t mean immediate understanding. Sometimes I really have to dig it out. Research. Ask my pastor. Sometimes it’s a matter of waiting on the Holy Spirit to show me in His time.

Meditation is a powerful tool that will help imprint the truths of scripture on our hearts and minds. I’m trying to be more purposeful in this area of my life and thankfully it’s without the headstands.

Linking withKristin, Holley and Jennifer.

A powerful question that can change the way you look at scripture

I love Margaret Feinberg because she always challenges me and stretches me in great ways through her articles, books and bible studies. A question she challenged people to ask in their personal time of Bible study back in February has been transforming my own personal study. It’s pretty simple but extremely probing and revealing. So here’s the question:

What do you most need to read that you least want to hear? 

Pretty simple sounding. But when you get in there and read scripture and then ask yourself this question it’s really amazing at what the Holy Spirit reveals. I’ve never thought to ask myself this question in relation to scripture.

Today I read Psalm 13 because I’m working through the Psalms while I’m down with my leg. Verse 2 says, “How long will I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” David asks God to give light to his eyes. Later on David says, and I can’t help but note his situation has not changed, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.”

In my journal I have the question “What do I most need to read that I least want to hear?” based on these verses and my heart this is my answer:

God allows sorrow to remain in our lives sometimes. 

I also noted that David’s response was that he still asked God to take the sorrow away and then he ended his plea with a contented trust in the goodness of God – even when God didn’t take the sorrow away immediately.

I want to be like David and ask God to take away my sorrows and I want to be like David and trust God even when He doesn’t take them away knowing that His salvation and goodness is all I need.

So maybe you want to try asking yourself this same question as you read the Bible. I am finding it extremely practical. Of course there is no right or wrong answer. God’s word stands true and our response to it with the Holy Spirit’s leading is what brings growth and maturity. What you want to “hear least” might be very different than what I want to hear least right now.

**P. S. A quick leg update and anxiety update: God has blessed us with four great nights of sleep. We are praising Him for it! The anxiety seems to be gone. My pain is under control so my pain meds are further apart. Every single day is better with more strength and energy although it’s still hard to walk across the room without being exhausted. I know that will change with each day and week and month. I will say that my heart is more empathetic to people who have anxiety attacks than ever before. I’ve never understood this before. Never experienced it before coming home from the hospital. It is so real and it’s a horrible feeling. I cannot help but think God will use this experience for me to be able to intercede on behalf of others during their times of anxiety. I pray he spares me from ever having to deal with it again but should it come my way again I praise God that I have an army of godly men and women who are willing to stand in the gap for me and pray over me.

Linking with Holley and Kristin today.

 

What spiritual training looks like for our family right now

 

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We are participating in a 40 day Bible Reading Plan with our church which started on Monday. We are reading in Proverbs and one other section of the Bible 5 days a week for 40 days. The kids are working through it as well with less verses than the adults. We have a Facebook page where we post the daily reading and then comment on what God showed us in our reading. I love how a first grader in our church family got a jump start on Sunday afternoon and set the example for us all with an eager heart; one that couldn’t wait until Day 1. Oh how precious!

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Mitchell and Sophie are getting used to the habit of getting up 15 minutes early to participate in daily devotions. Yes, this is new for us. Don’t go bashing the preacher’s family now. Seriously ya’ll I had a lady say to me recently, “I just figured your family sat around and read the Bible together for hours.” And she was so serious.

After cracking up to my-super-spirtual-self I said, “Well of course we do. In Greek and Hebrew”. And then we laughed together and I fessed up that the scene was not as she had conjured up in her head. She probably wouldn’t have said that if she heard our 13 year old say for the 100th time at the Sunday lunch table, “What’s that guys name that walked on water and fell?” I think Randy about fell out of his chair. Really? You couldn’t remember Paul’s name? Come on man! (ha ha)

In all seriousness we work hard at spiritual training in our home. We read God’s word and we pray together. We pray about ways we can serve others as a family and we memorize God’s word on occasions together. There are different ways we all read and study the Bible but sitting down together as a family of four in the mornings to read the Bible before school is not part of that routine. And so we are making sacrifices necessary to make this happen every morning before school. We’re only 3 days into this and it’s been awesome. To pray, read and talk about what God’s word is saying before we all walk out the door has been really neat.

But here’s the thing……

I don’t want to be a kill joy or anything but I know me and I know us. The awesomeness wares off in about 7 days and reality sets in. It gets harder to get up earlier. Attitudes fly over wet towels on the floor and not being ready on time. Running out of lunch materials and spilled cereal…..all leads to a failed effort in carving out time in the word.

And this is where I believe accountability makes the difference. Knowing there’s more people working towards the same goal. Even sharing their thoughts about their reading encourages me, us, to press on. To do the hard thing after the 7th and 8th day.

So I’m praying that we will press on with this new habit of training ourselves spiritually before school starts. That it won’t be a matter of checking off the box but it will be something we look forward to as a family. To hear from God individually and together. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter when we spend time in God’s word but that we spend time with him and in his word. But for us we are choosing to make this part of our morning routine for 40 days. And I truly believe God will change us and move in us as a result. And not only us but our church family. That excites me.

Linking with Holley, Jennifer and Kristin today.

 

Red Hot Faith – A Bible Study Give Away

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I am so excited to be telling you about a Bible Study called “Red Hot Faith” taught by my friend Cindy Bultema. I met Cindy at a conference a few years ago and it was an instant connection and love for this sweet woman of faith. She has an incredible testimony of God’s grace in the midst of tragedy. She is an overcomer by God’s transforming power and she is the greatest encourager I know. You will love her too!

Red Hot Faith is an 8 week dvd based Bible study on the church of Laodicia. It is a practical study that engages your heart and helps you flesh out what it means to have a red hot faith. I came away with a new understanding of what it means to be hot or cold for Jesus Christ. It’s not what I thought it meant all these years!

Okay, so I have an extra copy of her Bible Study to give away. All you have to do is leave a comment about how awesome I am, tweet it, instagram it, retweet it, snapchat it, take a picture of you eating a red pepper AND stand on your head. That’s it people! And you could be the winner.

Kidding. Although it would crack me up to see some of you standing on your heads.

Just leave a comment below and way to contact you so that when we do the old school drawing ie: all the names go in a hat and the chilrens draw a name, I can contact you for further address information.

If you don’t win this drawing and would like to order Red Hot Faith hop on over here to order yours.

A lie we might be believing

It was early and still dark outside but I felt the tugging of the Spirit dragging my sleepy self out of bed. I turned in my Bible and read some, prayed and recalled the amazing events of the night before. God called a friend of mine to Himself through salvation. It was such a precious thing to witness. I still was on a high from it all and soaking up everything God was doing. He clearly had been working a long time. He just allowed me the opportunity to be there to witness his amazing pursuit of his new daughter. I journaled out my prayers and soon I heard the pitter patter of the seven year old making her way downstairs.

She comes over all sleepy eyed and tells me she is going to read her Bible. She told me she read in Revelation the day before. I questioned the validity of this and asked her what she read about. She said, “About coming out of her and not sharing in her sins that are piled up to heaven.” I was like, “Say huh?” And she repeats it almost word for word. I decide to turn there and sure enough she was recalling scripture from Revelation 18. Don’t ask me what it means. I haven’t a clue. I said, “Soph, honey, have you considered reading a story about Jesus in like Matthew, Mark or Luke perhaps?” She said, “Nope, I’m going to read in the book of Revelation again if I can find it.”  At least I knew where to tell her to turn. Last book of the Bible sweetie. She tells me there’s a lot about horses in the book of Revelation and that’s exciting. I fought the urge to tell her this was a hard book to understand. That she should read somewhere else. That it was just too hard for her understanding and mine for that matter. So there she sat reading the book of Revelation while I hung out in Colossians where I felt safe.

And I was reminded of the lie that many of us women are believing today – that God’s Word is too hard to understand. That we must rely on finding a good preacher to explain scripture on a Sunday morning or a good Bible Study teacher. Honestly, I fight this in a way because I tend to stay away from the Old Testament. I feel like it’s easier to understand the New Testament so that’s where I dwell usually. I guess it boils down to fear of what I presume to be complicated and unknown. Satan loves this tactic because if he can get God’s girls to be afraid to read the Bible for themselves then we will never gain the strength and the power that comes from the word being alive and active inside of us.

Studying God’s word is life changing. It is freeing and liberating. It sets our course of life and has to power to impact those around us. It’s the words of the One who gave up his life for us. And because he loves us and wants us to understand and love Him more He gives us the ability to understand his word through the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean we open up the Bible and are smacked in the head with a complete understanding of everything we read just because it’s the Bible. No, there will be questions and passages where we’re like, “Okayyyyy, and what am I to do with that today?” or “that just doesn’t even seem fair!” or “wow, they felt that way too?” or “oh my goodness that melts my heart.”  So many responses and emotions will come from reading God’s word. Do not be afraid of them. Don’t let your questions or your doubts or your lack of fully understanding keep you from reading God’s word. Be okay with the fact that you might get bored on some of your Bible reading days. It’s not going to be a mountain top experience every time you open God’s word. And that’s okay.

Reading God’s word pays dividends we can’t even imagine. And even when we think we’re not getting a thing out of it the Holy Spirit promises that his word won’t return void. Meaning it will have an impact on our lives at some point. It might be a few weeks later that we get clarity on something we read before but didn’t understand.

Don’t buy into the lie that the Bible is too hard to understand. Ask God to give you understanding and then pick up your Bible and start reading.

I have three suggestions for Bible reading.

1) Start in Matthew, Mark or Luke and read for the sole purpose of getting to know Jesus. Look at how he responded to people: poor people, prostitutes, religious people, criminals, etc. Ask yourself what this tells you about Jesus. Journal some of the things you learn.

2) I am also loving this book that a lady in our church told me about. I’m doing this for my daily devotions and have given it to three friends and about to send a copy to my Mom. I LOVE this book and am learning so much about the Old Testament and it makes so much sense to me. There is a chapter at the end of each day’s devotion you can read and that really gives an even greater understanding. Oh, it’s good stuff. check it out here…..

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3)  The last thing I would recommend is getting involved in a ladies Bible Study. The accountability is great and there are some wonderful Bible Study teachers out there that are bringing home God’s word. Many of them have workbooks that help you learn to study your Bible through daily homework. So it’s like a guided self study. Good stuff. Our church is about to do a study by Priscilla Shirer on Gideon. If your church doesn’t offer a ladies study and you’re interested in attending one just pick up your phone and start calling local churches to see what’s offered in your area. They would love to have you join their group. And it be worth working through the potential awkwardness of being the newbie for what you would gain through the study.