Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lastest Bible Studies

If you have read my blog for any amount of time you know that I love doing Bible study. I even have a post here with a long list of different studies that I would recommend if you are looking to start one. This summer I have done two studies, Children of the Day: 1 & 2 Thessalonians by Beth Moore and Missing Pieces by Jennifer Rothschild.

I thought I would start with Missing Pieces, but when I picked it up I just couldn't get started on it. Why? I am not sure, but it may have to do with the fact that it was hitting too close to home.  I needed time before I delved into it. So I started with Beth Moore's Children of the Day.

I love Beth's studies, but I don't love them all equally. Children of the Day ended up being good, but not one that I would say I would go back and do again (which I have done with several of her other studies). One reason is that I prefer topical studies. This one goes through I and II Thessalonians so the topics jump all over the place as you move through the books. Her other study, James: Mercy Triumphs, does that too, but I seemed to connect with James more for some reason. That being said, I still gleaned some great concepts out of Children of the Day. Her lesson on hindrances, mending us in order to equip us, and on how cynics function in a church really hit home for me. So in the long run, I felt that it was well-worth the effort to go through it. I think that we are all at different places in life so a certain Bible study will hit us one way while hitting a friend in a totally different area.

Here is a quote or two from the study:

God mends our pasts to tend to our futures.

Joy in hardship is weird...People who retain delight while walking through demoralizing circumstances are not normal.

The irony is that inactive hands often spark overactive tongues... and ... cynics tend to run in packs.

Missing Pieces was the Bible study I thought I wasn't going to like after I bought it. Boy, was I wrong! It is just what I needed. I think I rejected it because it was exactly what I needed. Jennifer Rothschild focuses in on God and how we view Him when we are going through suffering. There are six weeks of study each asking a different question...

God, do you care?
God, are you fair?
God, are you there?
God, are you aware?
God, do you hear prayer?
God, do you err?

Jennifer asks the hard questions that we tend to push to the back of our minds because they are just too scary. Through the study she discusses God's compassion, justice, omnipresence, and omniscience. I have gotten so much peace from this study because I have been able to realize that God's love has followed me even through the hard times.

Here are a few quotes from the study...

Your pain is what God uses to expose the reality that you've been granted and sustained by mercy all along.

If we really want to experience our own wholeness, we must take God in His wholeness.

The Bible gives us if/then scenarios we can count on.

I would recommend her study if you are in a season of struggling!

Monday, July 21, 2014

On the Road to Gratitude

No one escapes unscathed. We all walk broken roads. Smooth paths are not always offered as we travel. The broken pieces become blessed pieces in our eyes if we will just give thanks no matter the traveling conditions. Gratitude takes the rough road and smooths our souls so that we can keep pressing on.

So I continue to give gratitude to my Travel Guide for all that He does in my life.


-Road trips
-Moose sightings
-Pizza places
-Working on school schedules for the boys

-Baked goods in the freezer
-Sharing what I bake
-Writing cards of encouragement
-Summer breezes
-Sharing from my garden
-Friends that help out
-Scheduling Spanish for the year and having some of it fall into place
-A good night of sleep after insomnia
-Reading Mark Twain
-Puppy snuggles in the morning

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's All in What You Wear

A few weeks back I listened to a sermon entitled, Who told you that you were naked?. Seriously! The topic was shame, and it got me to thinking about the shame that I have lived with for a long time.  The shame of broken relationships. The shame of not being worthy. Not being worthy to be treated with kindness. Not being worthy to state my feelings and be accepted, but "worthy enough" for several to make the effort of making critical judgments over my life. I have wondered for awhile...how can I measure up enough to be worthy?

Shame entered the world when sin did. It is that sinking feeling that we don't measure up. Sin and you don't measure up. Be sinned against? Another sign you don't measure up. Associating with another sinner? Do that and the world says you don't measure up.  Basically, when it comes down to it we are unworthy. Adam and Eve knew this as soon as they sinned. No one needed to tell them they were naked. They knew in an instant that they were exposed and needed some kind of covering.

Shame tries to hide the unworthiness whether it be with fig leaves or lies. Or maybe we use self-righteousness or self-protection. Whatever is employed won't work. Shame is one big giant cover-up because we don't measure up, and frankly, there aren't enough fig leaves in your closet or mine to make us worthy.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and the like the wind our sins sweep us away.  Isaiah 64:6

So if we can't measure up by covering up, what do we do? How can we get rid of the shame that haunts us? How can we even hold our heads up when deep inside we feel the unworthiness? A change of wardrobe. We can't cover ourselves enough to be enough. It won't work. There is only one Person who is worthy, and He one day decided to make Himself nothing so that we could become something. Christ is our covering. He is the one that makes us measure up.

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness...Isaiah 61:10

These days I look to the real Fashion Designer...the only one who can cover my unworthiness. He is the one that gives us worth...

Dealing with shame? Check out this post with more links for these series.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Getting Past What You'll Never Get Over

It has been said, "Time heals all wounds." I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers with scar tissue, and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.
{Rose Kennedy}

There are some events in life that I will never get over. I still marvel that I walked through them. I can't believe that they actually happened. They cut deep, and I will never be the same. But I can move on from them. Get past them through forgiveness. Go forward because I have released the heaviness of the event into God's hands.

In John Westfall's book, Getting Past What You'll Never Get Over: Help for Dealing with Life's Hurts, there exists compassion and advice for anyone that is struggling with hurt. Maybe you are the one that hurts or maybe your hurt yourself by hurting another.  Whatever the case, Westfall offers hope and encouragement. There are chapters on fear, regret, guilt, anger, and bitterness. He intertwines stories {some of his own} with advice on how to move forward. My favorite part of the book is at the end, "Steps for the Journey: The ABC's of Self-Care".  This list literally goes through the alphabet and gives you ideas on how to move forward after something devastating has happened.  I love that many of the ideas are extremely practical! Many of them I have employed as I move towards healing.

If you are struggling with a "new normal" and feel like life will never be the same, I highly recommend this book!  I will leave you with a few quotes...

"Regrets are the bungee cords of our hearts."

"I believe that breakthroughs comes when we finally let go of wanting to change the past. A sense of closure comes when we finally allow ourselves to accept the reality that what was done is done, and nothing will bring back the past or undo the damage."

"Unleashed anger can leave a path of destruction that would make tornadoes jealous. Countless relationships have been damaged and destroyed by inappropriate expressions of anger."

"Renewal is going back to God's original dream for us."

Monday, July 14, 2014

All Things Great and Small

No thing is too small to give thanks for. To only give thanks for the big events in our life that went our way limits our view of God. Look closely so as not to miss those little things He does.


-The small things like a butterfly landing on an iris
-The big things like a mama moose and her baby

-Beauty on a picnic bench

-A missed opportunity that turned into a blessing
-A God that knows exactly what we need at the right time

-A new Bible study speaking to my heart
-Friends that help out
-Tomato plants gone wild
-Dutch oven pizza
-Invites to breakfast {even if it ended up I couldn't make it}
-Time with friends on the deck
-Neon blue dragonflies
-Fish hopping out of the pond
-A salad with homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers
-A friend loaning me her curriculum
-Visiting with my best friend's mom and daughter

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Understanding Shame

I glance across the room and see her eyes. I smile and wave. Yes, she waves back, but her eyes...they look haunted and look away as fast as they can. I know why. Convicted of a crime. It is shame that is seeping through her eyes, and she can't hold my gaze. Maybe in the hope that I won't see it. Shame can always spot shame...I am not concerned about her past because I only feel for her. I get shame, because I live with my own.

No, I haven't committed a crime, but shame lives inside and seeps through when I least expect it. You can see it when I have a hard time meeting your gaze. I am afraid to connect. So many of my connections {friendships} turned out poorly in the end. A person like me begins to wonder what is wrong with her. I am ashamed of my past like she is. I was not the perpetrator but rather the victim. The shame is there regardless. The shame of not being accepted...of not being worthy of love. Shame is no respecter of persons and it has no favorites. If you have sinned against someone or you have been sinned against or you are associated with anyone wearing some type of "scarlet letter" then you know shame. You spot it because you LIVE it.

We all seep shame.

Since the garden, man has had a relationship with it. It showed up first in the form of fig leaves sewn together in an effort to hide. But God was not caught unaware. He always had a plan to eradicate shame. Regardless of how we feel about ourselves, God gazes at us and lures us out of hiding. Because fig leaves won't do. Our efforts to hide our misery always fail. There is only one solution to shame, and it lies in a Savior.

Join me over the next several Thursdays as I explore the very thing we wish we could hide...

The Heart of Shame {July 24}

{Note: Links won't work until the posts go live.}

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A God that Doesn't Count

According to Romans, God is not in the business of working on His math skills. He is God after all, right? Who needs to practice math when you invented it?  He is the God that doesn't count...

I would rather have God as my judge than any other person.  I know. It sounds crazy. A Perfect Person in judgment over an imperfect one sounds like a raw deal. There is no way you could measure up in a situation like that. Perfect always has the advantage. The problem with a judge in human form? That judge isn't perfect either!  For many years I experienced the lack of grace from others. Condemning words. Hateful looks. Frankly, it hurt. BAD. But now I realize what God was up to.  He was teaching me about His grace. He was teaching me to crave Him as judge and jury because unlike people He doesn't keep a record of wrongs. He doesn't judge us even when He knows our hearts unlike a human being who judges the hearts they can't see.

We have a God that doesn't count. He doesn't count our sins against us. He knows our complete heart. He knows our weaknesses. He knows how we struggle. And He puts that aside to dole out grace. Do we deserve it? Hardly. Can we earn it? No. He loves us "as is" as He moves us along to become what we should be.

Have you totally messed up? Take it to Him. You'll find He isn't in the counting business. His economy is based on grace.  Something we can't earn and don't deserve.  Something we crave. Something He is more than willing to give.

My Word of the Year is COUNT.  Come count with me.

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