Thursday, December 5, 2013

Why Worry? Verse Mapping Psalm 139:5

I LOVE Psalm 139:5!!!  When I read what the verse of the week was for our OBS Week 7, I got super excited!  Each translation of this verse reveals so much about the wonderful ways God gives us to rid ourselves of worry.
The NLT version of Psalm 139:5 reads: "You go before me and follow me.  You place Your hand of blessing on my head."  This made me think of how soothing it feels to have someone place their hands on your head, especially if they are rubbing your scalp or stroking your hair.  Getting my hair cut is one of my favorite things to do simply for the washing and conditioning of the hair - the scalp rub is the best part!  It is also very relaxing as the stylist brushes and styles your hair.  Whenever I am blessed with the time to get a massage, I request that they spend a fair amount of time massaging my scalp.

There is something very calming and pacifying about hands on the head, and the fact that God places His hand of blessing on our heads is incredibly soothing!  We have access to this calmness and reassurance at all times - we just have to seek Him.  It also amazes me to think of how blessed we are that our wonderful and incredible God would take the time to remember us and to comfort us - not only by placing His hand on us, but by giving us blessings as well!

The NIV translation of Psalm 139:5 reads: "You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me."  "Hemmed in" - this sounds just like getting tucked in a nice warm, comfortable, and safe bed by God.  When we are aware of His presence, we can have that feeling of safe warmth all throughout our day!  Usually I am very claustrophobic (sleeping bags are NOT an option for me!), but the thought of being hemmed in by God sounds wonderful - being trapped in by God's blessings and security actually frees us from worry, fear, anxiety, shame, and other negative emotions, which leaves us free to enjoy His many blessings.  We have no need to worry when He is always with us, keeping us hemmed in with Him!

Psalm 139:50 in The Message reads:  "I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too - your reassuring presence, coming and going."  God is behind us in everything we do; and He is also ahead of us, preparing the way for our future!  Jeremiah 29:11 also reminds us that He is preparing the way for us: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" (NIV)

The Message version also makes me think of this Prayer of St. Patrick:

As I arise today, 
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.

May the eye of God look before me, 
the ear of God hear me,
The word of God speak for me.

May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today. 

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, 
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, 
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, 
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, 
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.


I love this prayer, and I love the idea of God and Christ surrounding us, protecting us, and reassuring us.  When we consciously focus on seeking God throughout the day, he will calm our fears and anxieties.  We have no need or room for worry when we make God the sole focus of our lives - He is surrounding us to protect and bless us, and is preparing our future for us too!  I pray you are able to seek Him throughout all your days, and that you are able to experience His blessings and peace.  God bless! :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fear and Doubt - Verse Mapping Luke 24:38

For Week 3 of our OBS, I chose to dive into our scripture for the week - Luke 24:38: "'Why are you frightened?' he asked.  'Why are your hearts filled with doubt?'" (NLT) 

Frightened is defined by Google as "afraid or anxious."  Luke 24:38 details the disciple's reaction after Christ was resurrected from the dead.  Even after all the miracles that Jesus performed prior to the crucifixion, the disciples still did not believe that he was truly standing there - they were not believing the miracle of the resurrection!  Not only did they not believe, they were anxious and afraid.  Two other translations of Luke 24:38 read: 
  • "And he said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?'"  (NIV).
  • "He continued with them, 'Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over.'" (MSG)  
God does not want us to be troubled, anxious, or afraid; and he especially does not want doubts taking over our lives.  How many of us are consumed with worry, anxiety, doubts for our lives?  Most of us are, but the good news is that we do not have to be filled with these any longer!  Jesus taught the disciples multiple times during his journey to not be troubled, anxious, or afraid (Luke 12:22-28, Matthew 6:25-34), yet they still were anxious and doubtful.  As disciples of Christ, we must learn to turn our concerns, worries, fears, anxieties, and doubts over to God.  Not only does He ask that we do so, he wants us to do so!  He desires for us to talk to him, and to turn everything over to him.  How incredible is it that we have such a loving God, who wants us to live free of anxiety and doubts?!?  All we have to do is believe, and trust in Him.  

Doubt is a word I use on almost a daily basis.  If I do not say it out loud (i.e. "I doubt we can make that work...I doubt I will have time for that"), then I say it internally (i.e. "I doubt I can do that...I doubt that he/she will do what they are supposed to").  Merriam-Webster defines doubt as "To be uncertain about (something); to believe that (something) may not be true or is unlikely; to have no confidence in (someone or something)."  

WOW!  That completely changes the way I think of using "doubt!"  When I say something such as "I doubt that we can make that work," I am saying "I do not believe that we can do this."  Not only does that mean I do not believe in myself, but that I do not believe in others - which is not true!  I have decided to become intentional about restructuring my thoughts, so that I can restructure the words I say!  I will begin thinking better thoughts (i.e. "I will do my best to accomplish this...I believe that they will do their job well"), so that I can say better statements (i.e. "We will do our best to make this work...If there is time, we will take care of that").  What a change that could be for my own life, and for the lives of those around me!  

By turning over our doubts to Him, we are removing all our dis-belief from our lives, which allows us to believe in ourselves and in others.  This is life-changing!  Imagine living your life believing that you can accomplish everything you need to and want to, and believing that those around you can live up to their full potential as well.  This brings glory and honor to God, and it also makes our lives so much more enjoyable!  While it is not always easy to turn everything over to God, we will find true peace and joy once we are able to fully surrender to Him.  

I pray you are able to turn your doubts over, find freedom, joy, peace, and blessings in Christ, and begin #movingforward!  God bless :)  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Money and the Meaning of Life

Last week's sermon by Adam Hamilton was incredible (as usual!).  The topic was concerning money and the true meaning of life.  If you would like to view it, here is the link:  Money and the Meaning of Life.  Here are my notes from the sermon, along with the notes from the daily scripture readings:

  • Scripture reference:  Ecclesiastes 2:3-11, selected verses:  I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.  I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them...I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.  I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings of provinces...I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me...I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure...Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  
  • Sometimes we are not committed to God with our whole heart (i.e. Solomon). 
  • The real meaning in life is not having more, but sharing more.  Gladness begets generosity, and generosity begets gladness!  
  • Giving is an act of worship and devotion; is an antidote to materialism; and is investing in God's work.  It is showing that God is truly first in your life, and that you are being obedient to Him.  
  • When you remember your true purpose in life (bringing glory to God), you find true joy.  
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6 - Sowing and reaping: make giving the daily rhythm of your life.  Always think of ways to bless and encourage others, or surprise someone.  
  • 1 Timothy 6:9, 18-19 - My desire in life is to be rich in good deeds!  At the end of my life, I want people to say "her life was defined by generosity!"  
  • Matthew 6:19-24 - There can only be one main focus and main goal in life, and Jesus urges us to choose God and the values of God's unseen kingdom.  
  • Philippians 2:1-11 - An attitude like Jesus: Jesus pursued goals that were different than much of his (and our) culture.  He did so with dignity, strength, and resolve.  Paul urges his readers to guide our lives by Jesus' values.  
  • Philippians 4:6-13 - Learning the secret of being content: Paul writes that prayer, hope, a focus on the good, and contentment build one deep trust in God were the basis for his world-changing life.  
My thoughts and reflections from the sermon: 
  • Why be committed to anything or anyone BUT God?  He is the only one who will never fail you or let you down, regardless of what you do or have!  
  • I want to use my life and assets to bless and encourage others, so that they may come to see and know Jesus!  
  • As we know, choosing to serve only God is easy - it's the execution that is not always easy!  I have unsubscribed from all emails from stores that tempt me to go shopping, and have started using Dave Ramsey's "cash envelope" system.  While sometimes I still struggle with choosing Starbucks or shopping over giving, this has greatly helped me see the good that can be done when we put our focus on Jesus!   

Monday, October 21, 2013

When I Can't, Then He Can!

For our OBS this week (which I HIGHLY recommend - this is another GREAT study), I chose to write some of my own "when-then" statements.  When we feel any negative emotions such as emptiness or uncertainty, we can use these statements to help us turn our focus back to Jesus.  These are my "when-then" statements, accompanied by scriptures that help me to remember them:   

  • When I can't figure out what to do in regards to a tough relationship, then I will seek God's guidance and thank Him for giving me wisdom to guide my steps and actions.  
  • When I feel as though I will never be able to make payments on my student loans, then I will thank God for always providing, and remember that all things are possible with Him.  
  • When I feel lonely, and as though I will be alone forever, then I will thank God for always being with me, and for never leaving me.
  • When I feel as though I'll never have control over my eating habits, then I will thank God that he is transforming me, and that I can do all things through His strength.
  • When work becomes overwhelming and I want to quit, then I will thank God for allowing me to have a job to work for Him, and for his peace and strength.  
  • When I feel unsuccessful by the world's standards, then I will thank God for all the things He has helped me accomplished, for the blessed life He has given me, and for His grace that determines my real value in Him.  
  • When I am worried that I have made a wrong decision or feel fearful for the future, then I will thank God for His will and for guiding me. 
Statements Renee Swope included in her book A Confident Heart
  • When I start to measure my value by how well I am doing as a _____ (employee, citizen, friend, daughter, sister, woman, etc), then I will thank God for the gift of my roles and for the gift of His unconditional love that determines my worth. 
  • When I feel insecure about my position at work, church, or somewhere else, then I will thank God for the high or low position I have on earth and for my position on Christ that secures my significance forever.  
  • When I feel an aching emptiness that I'm tempted to fill with food, television, or anything other than God, then I will thank God for being the strength of my heart and my portion forever - and remember that He is the One who satisfies the hunger and thirst of my soul.  
I hope some of these bless you as well!  If you have any "when-then" statements, please post them in the comments - I would love to read them!!!  Thank you for reading, and God bless!  :)  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

For a Reason

Along with my "Favorite Scriptures" post, this one will be a work in progress too - a collection of inspiring and motivational quotes for when times get tough, lonely, or things are confusing :)  

Lysa TerKeurst:

  • "Whatever God says do, DO IT!!!"  
  • "Being a woman who says yes to God means making the choice to trust Him even when you can't understand why He requires some of the things He does.  It also means that once you've said yes to God, you refuse to turn back even when things get hard."  
  • "When you give up what's not yours, when you listen and respond to God, the blessings will be more radical and more amazing than you ever imagined!

  • "You can only attract what you already are.  So if you want it, become it!"
  • "When you are on the rise, some people are going to be left behind.  Not everyone's meant to go where you're going." 
  • "Beautiful is the woman who knows herself, loves herself, and accepts herself...just as the way she is."  
  • "Sometimes you have to move on without certain people.  If they're meant to be in your life, they'll catch up."  
  • What Does Letting Go Look Like?  
Other great quotes, etc:
  • "God knows change can make your life richer.  Live for today but hold your hands open to tomorrow.  Anticipate the future and its changes with joy.  There is a seed of God's love in every even, every circumstance, every unpleasant situation in which you may find yourself.  Don't get stuck in a rut or hung up on an outdated blessing.  You serve a God of change!"  ~Barbara Johnson
  • "Let go of the old, so you can completely take hold of the new."  Joyce Meyer 
  • Embrace the Wait 
  • Deuteronomy 2:3 - "You have circled this mountain long enough.  Now turn North."  
  • Romans 5:3-4 - "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  
  • Collection of scriptures for "Moving On"  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Testimony :)

This fall, I have the blessing of being a confirmation mentor for a group of high school girls at my church. I am so looking forward to working with them! One of the first things we have to do as a leader is share our testimony - a great thing, but yikes! Being transparent is scary enough, plus I've never actually thought much about why I believe or how I got to the point of having a strong faith. So I finally sat down and thought/prayed about it, and am ready to share it!

I have always believed in God. There is so much to marvel at in our world, from the miracle of human life to the mysteries of our universe that have always led me to think that there is something great orchestrating it all. Raised in a Baptist church, I made the decision to make my faith public and be baptized as a young teenager.

While baptism is good and He does want us to believe in Him, God does not call us to just believe – He’s called us to follow Him so that we can live the joyful, abundant life He wants to gift to us. It was easy to make the decision to profess my faith that I believed in God, but fully committing my life to God? I had far too many other plans of my own! So I continued to purse everything I thought I wanted.

Fast forward fifteen years. He found me broken, lost, and hopeless after crushed dreams: failed businesses, financial struggles, difficult and failed relationships, eating disorders, and other struggles. All those seemingly wonderful plans of my own had only brought me pain and suffering. He had called out to me many times before, but something stirred within me this time when He asked, “Will you pick up your cross and follow me to the abundant life I have waiting for you?” I finally made the decision to say yes Jesus, I will follow you.

Since then I have completely fallen in love with God as He has filled to overflowing the empty spaces within me. While I still have struggles, I enjoy my life so much more when I am focused on following Jesus. I make sure to read the Bible and pray daily, attend worship weekly, and stay active within the church (Bible studies, serving, etc). As I have studied, learned, and tried to emulate the life of Jesus, I have found true healing, joy, happiness, and contentment. Instead of waking up every morning trying to face the day for mere survival, I wake up knowing I have a purpose in this world – to glorify God in everything I do. It is not always easy to say “Yes God, where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, whatever you want me to do I will follow you,” but I know that His ways are best for my life!

I can look back now and see all that I have learned through my struggles, and have seen how He has used everything for His glory. I am not at all where I thought I would be today, and I still fail Him often, but I am living an abundant life! In the ways of the world it may not seem like I have abundance, but I feel abundantly blessed – an amazing, healthy, wonderful family who I can’t spend enough time with; an incredible church; wonderful, supportive friends who inspire me and bless me more than they know; a cat that I absolutely adore (she is so great, I swear!); two jobs that I enjoy on most days  with co-workers who are good people; good health; food, clothing, shelter, and transportation; and so much more.

I am also incredibly blessed that He has put so many people in my life to guide me and strengthen me along the way, and who have helped grow my faith in ways they may not even know.  Whether it’s an act of service, replying to a tweet, getting to know them, or a simple smile, you never know how much something can have a huge impact on someone else’s life. I am so thankful and blessed – praise Jesus!!! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Proverbs 3:5-6 Life Application

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."  ~Proverbs 3:5-6

While we want to fully trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, it is so much easier said than done.  Emotions cloud our minds and judgments, and the ways of the world make it easy to think that it's okay to do things our way once in awhile.  To live a life of abundance, which He wants to give us, we must trust and submit to Him completely!  

But how???

The Life Application Study Bible says this about Proverbs 3:5-6: 

"Leaning has the sense of putting your whole weight on something, resting on and trusting in that person or thing.  When we have an important decision to make, we sometimes feel that we can't trust anyone - not even God.  But God knows what is best for us.  He is a better judge of what we want than even we are!  We must trust Him completely in every choice we make.  We should not omit careful thinking or belittle our God-given ability to reason; but we should not trust our own ideas to the exclusion of all others.  We must not be wise in our own eyes.  We should always be willing to listen and be corrected by God's Word and wise counselors.  Bring your decisions to God in prayer; use the Bible as your guide; and then follow God's leading.  He will make your paths straight by both guiding and protecting you."  

"To receive god's guidance, said Solomon, we must acknowledge God in all our ways.  This means turning every area of life over to Him  About a thousand years later, Jesus emphasized this same truth (Matthew 6:33).  Look at your values and priorities.  What is important to you?  In what areas have you not acknowledged Him?  What is His advice?  In many areas of your life you may already acknowledge God, but it is the areas where you attempt to restrict or ignore His influence that will cause you grief.  Make Him a vital part of everything you do; then He will guide you because you will be working to accomplish His purposes."  

We must make seeking Him in every area of our life a priority!  Once we do this, we open our lives up to the abundant blessings He has for us!  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wholly Committed

Is God calling you to a deeper level of commitment?  

When I first read this question, my immediate answer in my head was "No!  There is no way I could possibly BE more committed to God!  I read the Bible every morning, pray daily, attend church and Bible study regularly, and love Him more than anything else!"  

Of course, that was when I felt the twinge in my heart.  The small twinge, accompanied by a thought: Am I really completely and deeply committed to God, all day every day?  

Then I knew what I would be reflecting upon and blogging about this week :) Once I realized God is calling me to be more committed, I have contemplated how to grow deeper in my relationship with God.  Various scriptures popped into my head throughout the week:  
  • Philippians 4:8 - "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (NIV)  Could I categorize every thought I have into one of these categories?  If not, am I able to quickly change my thought to fit in one of these categories?  
  • Colossians 3:23 - "And don't just do the minimum that will get you by.  Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance.  Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ." (MSG)  Am I always doing my best for God?  Am I more worried about my work as a means to collect a paycheck, or as a means to glorify God and serve others?  
  • Colossians 1:10 - "...So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God..." (NIV)  Am I growing in my knowledge of God?  I think many times I do not try to "get to know him" better, or learn more about Him.  Instead, I tend to be focused on how His Word and how my prayers can improve my life, or the lives of those around me, while neglecting to get to know Him more.  
Another thing I need to improve upon is responding to Him whenever he calls me (immediately say YES GOD!).  Sometimes I just need to make a choice to walk away from gossiping, trust Him with situations that are making me anxious, or many other things I try to handle myself.  I feel like I need God to put one of these little signs in front of me when I am in these situations, but I need to learn to recognize them for myself! 

Other times, I feel a gentle nudging that makes me think I should share my faith with the person I am conversing with, talk to a stranger, or some other "random" act that is out of my comfort zone.  I want to get better at immediately recognizing that it is God nudging me, and respond cheerfully and without fear!  

I also want to focus on constantly loving others, even when I am do not feel like it.  I found this list (I love lists!) that has some good points and scripture references that I can focus on, as I know that loving and serving others will help me grow in Christ!  

And now I need your help - I can definitely use some more ideas on how to become wholly committed to God, and to grow deeper in my relationship with Him!  How have you been able to achieve a deeper level of commitment with God?  How have you been able to get to know Him better?  I pray you are always able to grow more with Him! God bless :)  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Radical Obedience

Addicted - Physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects; enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity.  

This week in our online Bible study, we were asked, "Is there something God is asking you to give up?  What specific steps do you need to take to fulfill this obedience?"  

While it feels and seems silly to me, I struggle immensely with sugar.  Sweet, delicious, wonderful sugar.  What is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable treat is something I am truly addicted to. As I tend to eat quite a bit of sugar on a regular basis, I do feel physically and mentally dependent on it.  If it has been a few hours since consuming some sugar, I "crash" and feel irritable and jittery.  This in turn makes me want more sugary substances, and I become consumed with acquiring it.  Examples: 

  • Cookies brought to our office by a patient - My focus on the tasks at hand becomes disrupted as my brain shifts to an immense desire to go eat the cookies.  Sadly, the desire is not to just have one, but all of them - even at the expense of not leaving any for others.  
  • Spending time with friends and family - Many people enjoy having treats around their home, as they have some level of self-control.  When I go to visit, if I detect any sweets, my focus shifts from enjoying the company to getting some (ok, all!) of treats.  After I eat all the treats, I am miserable and feel both mentally and physically ill, and my focus is still not on the great company!  
Instead of appreciating the kindness of a patient, enjoying time with friends and family, or enjoying any other experiences, I lose out on this precious time because I am consumed with filling my body with a chemical that is destructive.  I am also not being obedient to what God is asking me to do, as when I do not feel well I do not serve Him well.  

The worst part, however is that this is a sin - gluttony.      

All throughout grad school, we were taught all the negative effects processed sugars have on the body:  

And yet I continue to consume this horrible substance in mass quantities.  We also learned the physiology behind the effects of sugar and negative effects:  

This chart reminds me of a chart of anything that can become an idol (defined by Priscilla Shirer as anything in the visible, created realm that begins to operate in a role that should be reserved for God) in our lives.  We start with something in this world that gives us pleasure and happiness due to increased serotonin and endorphins.  When we are without it for an amount of time, we begin to go through withdrawals.  In order to combat the withdrawals, we seek out more of it to give ourselves that sense of satisfaction again.  We may call them obsessions or bad habits; however, they are still idols!  For me, sugary treats give me comfort and pleasure when I am stressed or lonely.   Unfortunately, God should be the One we turn to when we are stressed, lonely, or struggling with temptation.  

I have no doubt that giving up sugar is something God wants me to do for my health and for my happiness. While He may not require I give it up forever, I know He does want me to give it up for a season.  I have felt this urging in my heart for a long time now, but while reading "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" I realized it is something I must do NOW, if I want to truly be obedient to Him!  In order to become obedient, I have several "steps" I am taking:  
  • Surrounding myself with scripture - This is the best tool EVER!  Some scriptures I have committed to memory and have posted all around my apartment and at the office include: 
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:4 - "Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God." (MSG)  
    • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - "Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?  Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?  The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you.  God owns the whole works.  So let people see God in and through your body."  (MSG)  
    • Here are some other great self-control scriptures!  
  • Prayer - Praying for help and strength is crucial to any success in life.  I have let God know I am ready for this mission, and will seek Him constantly for strength. 
  • Friends and family - I have let them know of my goals and my mission, and I am so blessed that they are more than happy to help! 
  • Food - I am only keeping healthy foods in my apartment, and I have enlisted the help of my mom to go to the grocery store with me so I am not tempted to purchase sugary treats.   
  • Practicing mindful eating - Taking the time to thank the Lord for the good food he has blessed me with, and slowing down to truly enjoy what I am eating.  
  • Sleep - I know adequate sleep is essential to feeling my best so I have the strength to make good choices.  When I want to stay up late, I must remember my commitment to obedience and hit the hay!  
  • Exercise - Raising the endorphins without sugar!  When I exercise, I feel better, and less prone to eating sugar.  
  • List of health benefits - I have a list (via Evernote, this is a great app that keeps me super organized, and you can access it via phone, computer, or tablet) that I reference when I am feeling a craving coming on.  It is a list of the benefits of not eating sugar - strengthened immunity, better skin, more energy, hormonal balance, etc.  
I truly hope I can combat this demon, and give all the glory to God.  I know through His strength and help, I can do anything!  :)  I pray you have strength in whatever struggles you are facing too!  Thank you for reading about my "silly" addiction, and God bless!!!  :)  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Soul Longing For More

YAY for Online Bible Studies!!!  We are back in session :)

In Chapter 1 of her book "What Happens When Women Say Yes To God," Lysa TerKeurst talks about how we've become "so familiar with God yet so unaware."  One of our blog topics is to address what are some action steps we can take each day to become more away of God's presence, and how we can intentionally pursue God even in the middle of "life's mundane activities."

One of the best ways I have been able to become more aware of God throughout my daily life is to post scriptures wherever I spend a lot of time: on my bathroom mirror, on my desk at work, by my computer, and on my fridge.  I try to rotate them out weekly, but there are some favorites that I use over and over again!  This really helps me continually turn back to God throughout my day!  (Note: This is something I learned in the previous online Bible study, "Stressed-Less Living," and it has been one of the biggest blessings I took away from that study!)

I was excited to see this topic, because I recently finished Priscilla Shirer's "Gideon" Bible Study, in which she address this exact topic!  Priscilla writes the following:

  • "God often comes to us in our 'boring' days, veiled in the most ordinary of circumstances.  In fact, 'ordinary' is often the disguise of the divine.  If we are constantly anticipating a grandiose event to accompany the times when we encounter Him or hear His voice, we will miss out on many intimate moments in our relationship with God.  The mundane, the routine, the commonplace - these are often the contexts in which He will reveal Himself to humanity."  
  • "Having your spiritual radar up in consistent anticipation of His presence - even in the midst of the joyful chaos and regular rhythms of your everyday living - is paramount in hearing God, because sometimes the place and manner you find Him is the lease spectacular you'd expect."  
  • "Knowing God's purpose requires first being aware of God's presence."  
  • "Most of our days are filled with routine duties required for life to continue with any sort of sanity.  But if we take the time to look closely, we might discover that God is using these normal activities to prepare us for future tasks, each duty pointing to His blessings in our lives."
  • "If we'll look around, we might also find Him preparing us as He works through our daily lives.  Today's tasks - even the most mundane of them - are often preparation for tomorrow's calling.  They can carry clues to what He is leading us to learn and accomplish as we faithfully serve Him.  While it might seem comical to find spiritual principles in washing dishes or answering phones at your desk job, God is teaching you faithfulness, diligence, and integrity through every task."  
As someone who answers the phone many times during the days at work, this helped me realize that everything we do is important in the kingdom of God!  Now whenever I hear the phone ring, it reminds me of Christ, and I quickly make sure I am ready to help whoever is on the other end in a very caring and compassionate way, so that they may hear the light of God through me (even if they don't realize it!).  Whenever I go to get the mail at work and there is a huge stack to go through, instead of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated I turn back to God and thank Him that the practice I work in is thriving.  Whenever I go to get my personal mail and there are bills, I thank God that I have a place to live.  Whenever I see the scripture on my fridge, I am reminded that I am blessed beyond measure to have healthy foods to prepare and consume - sometimes I am even blessed enough to prepare meals to share with other people!  :)  

We are so blessed, and I pray that we can all be continually reminded of His good works, and do everything to the glory of the One who made us!  Love this song by Steven Curtis Chapman, it is a wonderful reminder that everything we do matters!

I am always reminded of all my blessings when I run across this:  
Dear Lord,
Thank you for this sink of dirty dishes; we have plenty of food to eat.
Thank you for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry; we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.
And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds; they were so warm and comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.
My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mess, soggy, grimy towels and the dirty lavatory; they are all so convenient.
Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly; it has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for two or three meals.
Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today; it has baked so many things over the years.
The whole family is grateful for that tall grass that needs mowing and lawn that needs raking; we all enjoy the yard.
Thank you, Lord, even for that slamming screen door. My kids are healthy and able to run and play. Many children cannot.
Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says You have richly blessed my family. I shall do them cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully.
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings… Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible…Thank you, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising…Thank you, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic with socks that are lost, toast that is burned, tempers that are short, and my children that are so loud…Thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times not balanced…Thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.
Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous…Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who are jobless.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest…Thank you, Lord, for life.
~Author Unknown 
Thank you for reading, and God bless!!!  :)  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Favorite Scriptures - Work in Progress!

I've decided to make a post where I can continuously add scriptures that I love as I run across them.  I have so many favorites and ones that I need to remember, so having them collected in one place will be helpful!!!  :)  Different versions also help me to understand His Word better as well.  In no particular order: 

  • Philippians 4:13
    • Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally.  I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.  I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.  I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.  Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.  (MSG, v. 11-13) 
    • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (NKJV) 
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  (NIV)  
    • Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure everything out on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.  (MSG)  
  • Philippians 4:6-7 
    • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (NIV) 
    • Don't fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before your know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  (MSG)  
  • Philippians 4:8 
    • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.  (NIV) 

  • Colossians 3:23
    • Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for human masters.  (NIV)  
    • And don't just do the minimum that will get you by.  Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance.  Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ.  (MSG) 
  • Isaiah 26:3-4: You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (NIV) 
  • Isaiah 41:10 
    • Don't panic.  I'm with you.  There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength.  I'll help you.  I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.  (MSG) 
  • Isaiah 43:2 
    • When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  
  • Isaiah 43:18-19 
    • Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.  (NIV)
    • Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I'm about to do something brand-new.  It's bursting out!  Don't you see it?  There it is!  I'm making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.  (MSG)  
  • John 15:1-8 
    • I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  (NIV) 
  • John 3:30 
    • He must become greater; I must become less.  (NIV) 
    • That's why my cup is running over.  This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines. (MSG)  

  • 1 John 4:18 
    • There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  (NIV)  
    • There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgement - is one not yet fully formed in love.  (MSG)  
  • Romans 8:6 - The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.  (NIV)
  • Romans 12:9-13 
    • Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it.  Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.  Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.  Don't burn out, keep yourselves fueled and aflame.  Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.  Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.  (MSG)  
    • Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord's people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  (NIV)  
  • All of Matthew 5 
    • Matthew 5:44 

  • Matthew 6:33 
  • Psalms
    • 34:10
    • 37:4 
    • 40:4
    • 46:10 
    • 105:4 - Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. (NIV) 
  • Proverbs
    • 4:23 
    • 16:3 
  • Nehemiah 8:10 
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 
  • Ephesians 3:17 
  • Ephesians 4:26-27
  • Ephesians 4:32 
  • Galatians 5:22-23 
  • Jeremiah 29:11 
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 

  • Joshua 1:9 
    • Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  (NIV)  
    • Haven't I commanded you?  Strength!  Courage!  Don't be timid; don't get discouraged.  God, your God, is with you every step you take.  (MSG) 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

5 + 2 = More Than Enough

I absolutely love it when something "clicks" when I am reading the Bible, a devotional, or praying.  Like when a light-bulb literally explodes in your head because you have a revelation that is life-changing, in a positive way!  I was reading Priscilla Shirer's "Gideon," and it was as if God Himself reached down, grabbed my shoulders, and said "LISTEN UP - THIS IS FOR YOU!"  And I am so glad I listened!

"Too Many Mouths to Feed" is the section where I was reading, pertaining to the story in Luke 9:12-17 where Jesus feeds the 5000.  The problem was that the disciples did not have enough food to feed everyone there, so they proposed two solutions: send the people away to a neighboring town, or go and buy food.  Jesus, of course, said give them something to eat - then with five loaves of bread and two fish was able to feed everyone - and have a multitude left over!  

How many times in our lives do we propose this same solution for our problems - send the problem away, or remove ourselves from the problem?  I realized this morning as Priscilla asked those questions that I do both of these on a regular basis.  In relationships, I tend to try to "send the problem away."  With jobs, I try to get myself away from the problem.  In both aspects, I try to run away from both, and find new relationships or a new job.  

When things get tough in relationships and at work, I tend to only focus on the negative and problematic parts, and I think I need to get rid of it.  Priscilla writes, "The disciples decided that the best way to achieve success was to send them all away.  Problem solved.  But Jesus wouldn't allow that...They, like Gideon, felt outnumbered and beyond their abilities for the same reason: they were looking at the wrong thing.  Their eyes lingered on their scarce resources and their looming problem - instead of concentrating on the fact that Jesus was with them...A change in focus changes everything."  

I learned today that, like the doubting disciples, I need to be reminded of God's available resources.  As Priscilla says, "Don't concentrate on the disparity between the problem and your resources.  Look to Me, and watch five loaves plus two fish equal more than enough."  If we constantly run away from our problems, we will miss God's strength working in our weaknesses, and we will miss His miracles being performed!  

This is one of my favorite songs by Jeremy Camp - "Enough."  I hope you listen to it and are blessed!  :)  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Updated Blessings! :)

I wanted to take a minute and list out all my blessings, as this always helps me to love my life and God more, and remember to thank Him!

Newly realized blessings!  
  • This day - It is beautiful and the sun is shining!!!  I love the warmth of summer heat!  :)  
  • Answered prayers:
    • My dad and brother have both recently received new jobs!  These are long awaited, wonderful answers to many prayers!  The wait was worth it, as they both love their new jobs :) 
    • One of my close friends (from my small group) underwent surgery for endometrial cancer.  They had suspected she would have a long recovery and need chemo and/or radiation, but they were able to do the surgery with minimal recovery time, and she will not need follow-up treatments!  
  • Online Bible Study - "Stressed-Less Living" is such a blessing to me!  I learned a lot through the book, Melissa's blog, and the blogs of others.  I felt so encouraged and inspired by reading posts and interacting with amazing women, and having people comment on my blog - this helped me get through some difficult moments in the past few weeks!  Proverbs 31 Ministries is amazing (their daily devotionals are wonderful too)!!!  
  • Recent vacation - I got to spend a week with one of my best friends, relaxing and having an adventure in Cabo!  
I am so thankful to the Lord that I got to take a week away from the office, relax, get to the beach, explore a new place, and try out some new and exciting things!  The best part was waking up in the morning and reading my Bible and praying while listening to the waves crash on the beach.  

        Seeing His wonders in nature help me feel very close and connected to            
  • Office - we have a policy manual and have been starting reviews - things are shaping up, and I have great hope for the practice!  
  • Gideon Bible Study - I have started a new Bible study with two ladies from work.  In one week I have already learned more new and incredible things.  I am always amazed at how we can always be growing with the Lord, and how much closer we can get to Him.  Priscilla Shirer is an amazing woman and author!  
  • Eating well - This is something I struggle with!  Whenever I am focused on God, I find I can resist eating the whole bag of Oreos, and reaching for something healthier instead.  When I am not focused on God, my eating (and everything in my world) goes awry!  
  • The wait - I have felt as though the majority of my adult life I have been waiting.  Waiting for what exactly, I am not sure.  Just waiting for something more in my life, something bigger, something that made me feel more important in the world.  I have finally realized recently that we can always be waiting for something, or for more of something, but this is our life RIGHT NOW!  I've seen it before and it never really clicked, but life is not a destination, it is a journey.  This journey is my daily life - waking up and spending time with God and His Word, going to work and interacting with coworkers and patients (and attempting to be a blessing to them), spending time with friends and family, etc - this IS life!  And as I go through this journey with God, I have become who I am today.  If God had given me a big career that I had to spend many hours a week on, or a husband and a family of my own, I doubt I would be as close to Him as I am today, because I would not have had the time for building my relationship with Him; and would not be nearly as happy and peaceful as I am today!  I am so thankful that I have found contentment in Him :)   
Previously mentioned, and still wonderful blessings I like to reflect on:  
  • A wonderful, loving, amazing, powerful God!  
  • My awesome family 
  • Great friends 
  • Q-bert - my cat! Also my little yoga buddy (see below) :)  
  • All my needs are met! 
  • My two jobs 
  • My co-workers 
  • My health
  • My church
  • My small group 

Thank you for reading!  Peace to all, and God bless!!!  :)