Posts Tagged ‘Bible Study’

C is for Catching Up! (Multitude Mondays #111-125)

Catching up on many things.  I wrote yesterday (okay, really today) about balancing blogging with the rest of life.  I’ve had several big decisions and other dilemmas dominating my thoughts for the last few months.  I’m fairly sure some of those will come out for the D post tomorrow.  In the midst of all of that, I have not kept up with this blog as much as I’d like to.  The one part of the blog that I do want to keep up with… which has been in place in various ways since this blog started… is a gratitude journal.  It is a way for me to consider blessings when it seems life is in chaos… and to be connected with others who are doing the same.

I’ll talk some more about the practice of gratitude and my experience of it in a few days… but for today I’m just continuing counting gifts with Ann and the Gratitude Community

#111 – a sweet note I received from a friend with much potential to be a much better friend… which is something I could use right now!
#112 – my 5 year old’s enthusiasm for reading his new Bible (his prayer tonight — Dear God, thank you for making Mommy read me the Bible every night. Theology of viewing God as being his wish-granter aside, I thought that was pretty great!)
#113 – finally getting meds for my cat (who had a huge health scare last fall and was finally diagnosed with an enlarged heart which is very treatable)
#114 – being offered the opportunity to serve at a fundraising event last weekend… and realizing how much I miss it (though I have to admit it is much more fun when the “service opportunity” is not a mandantory add-on to already overwhelming responsibilities associated with working full time)
#115 – flowers everywhere!  I have pink azaleas blooming, yellow buttercups and dandelions in the yard, and random purple wildflowers.  They are all even better when presented from my favorite 5 year old.
#116- no cavities at the dentist for the 5 year old *and* me a few weeks ago!  Having dental insurance that covers routine checkups and access to good dental care is a blessing that I don’t take for granted.
#117 – hope
#118 – 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, New International Version, ©2011) — the verse which has been in my head for the last few weeks — and what a blessing is the ability to approach God… with confidence that he is good and merciful and understanding of our frailties and fears.
#119 – An afternoon spent with a good friend and her little boy making pretzels (yum!)
#120 – Rain percussion (and a storm that thankfully just provided us with some outdoor music and a lot of rain… lots of damage a few miles away from my house but all is okay here)
#121 – A working dishwasher 🙂 It has been not working for a while… finally called a repairman and it worked for him! Glad he just charged us the fee to come out and wishing the same thing would happen when we get around to getting the car fixed…
#122 – Birds chirping outside
#123 – Free dinner @ Chipotle in honor of their Grand Opening tomorrow — nice not to cook *and* to get free food!
#124 – Storytimes, complete with books and activities, presented by my 5 year old librarian-in-residence at my house for his stuffed animals and any grownups who care to participate
#125 – The realization today… when I finally cleaned house a little after a few weeks of not feeling well (ironically, from asthma/allergies triggered by cleaning house!)… that there really can be pleasure in slowly turning a house into a home… (even when it seems it will never get there)… and that it is okay if it is a process (even when I feel like everyone else has long ago reached the finish line!).

Interested in counting the everyday and not-so-everyday gifts in your life? Feel free to join in!


Multitudes of Blessings and Book Club (#56-75)

Linking up a day late… but only because I was in the midst of much to be thankful for!

After missing out on last month’s meeting, I was glad to be able to rejoin my book club last night.  Our meeting is about more than books… and leaves me with much to be thankful for.  So many in the group are older than myself, and socialize with each other more than just during this meeting.  It is a blessing to me to be able to watch them interact, get some perspective from a few years or decades away, and get reminders of how quickly this time of having children at home to love (and hopefully have more of an influence on) will pass.  Some days I need reminders to enjoy the journey.

Last night I listened to a heart-felt prayer from one member, which in part pleaded intercession for another member who has been battling cancer.  David Crowder’s How He Loves Us, played in the background.  (Go ahead, click the link, listen while you are reading the rest of this post!)  A double blessing for the ears.

We talked, laughed, settled down to attempt to discuss the book… which, as is typical, several of us had yet to finish.  Oh, well… we never have time to discuss the entire book anyways.

And so I am thankful for…

56)  Opportunities to remember the blessings of the time of life I am in now

57)That Mary said “yes”

58) And Joseph, too.

59) The ability to own a Bible (actually, many Bibles… I was searching for one to take with me and realized that although the one I typically use is temporarily missing — which probably means under a coat in my car — I still had an abundance to choose from)

60) And the freedom to read from it and study it… as an American and as a woman.

61) The freedom to discuss my ideas

62) Having the opportunity to be with a group of women (and in a church) that is open to new ideas… to taking in new information and evaluating it to see if traditions or opinions need to be changed.

63) Gena’s prayers

64) Nancy’s faith…. how is it that I can read journal entries from someone fighting cancer… and yet I am the one who walks away encouraged?

65) … and reminders (from the book) that sometimes faith is not being sure… but just committing to try to believe even when we can’t figure out what God (or Jesus, for Mary) is doing and how this fits into what we thought was the plan.

66) Shirley’s hospitality

67) Goodnight hugs & kisses from my favorite 4 year old… who didn’t get them before I left the house but came running down the stairs yelling, “Mommy’s home!” and requesting goodnight hugs & kisses as soon as I walked through the door… WAY past his bedtime…

68) … and the fact that my husband has never, *ever* referred to staying at home while I am out as “babysitting”

69) In a week where I’ve heard of several marriages being torn apart, I am grateful for having a husband who has stayed with me and will stay with me through it all.  Although at times I’ve wondered if the reason we are still together is that we are both too stubborn to be the one who walks away… the reality is stubbornness (and commitment) through tough times leads to still being together when life is better again.  Marriage takes its own brand of faith.

70) Central heat

71) and my space heater, which I have spent much time curled up in front of this week (it’s COLD!)

72) Having a nice (and warm) winter coat

73) Washing dishes by hand (which I know from experience can grow old fast… but is nice sporadically!)

74) Warm clothes straight from the dryer

75) And that Epson ships refill printer ink for free… because it always seems to take me a week to get to the store to buy it (and then I forget which one to buy!)

What are you thankful for this week?

He will quiet you with his love and rejoice over you with singing…

I came across this verse on another blog this week… on a day I was feeling very much in turmoil and needed the reminder and impression of peace and comfort this verse gives.

Today I read it in the context of Zephaniah 3.  I really don’t know much about the minor prophets… or the book of Zephaniah.  But basically I get the impression of a people who did not trust God… who wanted things their own way (how often do I do the same?).  And yet… when even a few trusted… God relented.  He did not punish.  He did not give the consequences they deserved.  (If you have read the Bible, this should be sounding really familiar… God has done this over and over again).

The impression I get is of a parent dealing with a child who is upset, overwrought, in a tantrum.  Who won’t listen to what their parent has to say… even if that is what is best.  And yet, God swoops down… accepts the anger without condoning it… and offers comfort, a refuge, a lullaby… a reminder that child is loved.

That’s all.  I could muse a bit on how I am that child at times.  Or on how I am not that kind of parent as often as I should be.  Maybe another time.  This week, I just needed the reminder that I can be irrational, unreasonable, overwhelmed… and still be loved.  And I’m offering what has blessed me in hopes it will do the same for you.

WFW is not about books, authors, artists.. it’s about God and HIS WORD ONLY. WFW is about celebrating the gift of creativity through God’s Word.

Join myself and others as we share at Word Filled Wednesday:

Also, visit Mom’s Mustard Seeds to connect with more women learning and living in the Word

Multitude Monday: One Thousand Gifts

holy experience

Linking up with Ann Voskamp and The Gratitude Community today to officially begin listing what I am grateful for today.  It it so, so easy for me to be ungrateful and discouraged (see yesterday’s post!)… and I am striving to be more grateful.  I have been seeing these 1000 Gifts posts around the Internet and finally decided to investigate today.  I was amazed and astounded by what I found.  I fell in love with the idea, with Ann’s writing style, with the community she has founded.  I have no doubt participating in this community will change my life.  If you are interested or intrigued, please join me.  If you think you have nothing to be thankful for… I can assure you that you will find something.  Even through the brief periods I have practiced gratitude, I have become much more aware of blessings in my life.  Starting today with as many as I can name… and because I am who I am, I am sure I’ll feel obligated to give commentary and not just a list.

Today I am thankful for…

1) Grace.  Grace from God, grace from my family (especially the little boy who constantly teaches me about grace and forgiveness), grace from my friends who put up with me all too often when I don’t stay in touch, spend too much time complaining, and feel like I ask so much more than I give.

2) Space for God — the book which first introduced me to the practice of gratitude and being thankful for the small blessings of life — and my friend Sheila who introduced it to me.

3) Music.  I am always thankful for music.  Listening to the music from Ann’s blog at the moment.  Music triggers so much emotion…and often peace… in my life.  I don’t know what I would do without it.

4) Books and being able to read.  Another thing that I don’t know what I would do without.

5) This verse: 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.  — Philippians 4:6-7.  Why?  Because I discovered it during a time in my life when anxiety reigned, life was nowhere near plan… and somehow, inexplicably, I found peace in the midst of chaos.  It has become the verse I cling to whenever life does not go according to my plan… which is most of the time.

6) Getting mail or packages, especially around the holidays.  Yes, a UPS package was just dropped off at my door.  It likely contains Christmas presents for my little boy, who is excited that a package came as well.  Isn’t it a great feeling to open up a personal letter or package and know someone thought of you?

7) Hot chocolate.  There is just something about curling up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate, or coming in from the cold to enjoy a cup.  Coffee just isn’t the same.  Though I am also grateful for…

8 ) Coffee.  I’m grateful for coffee because, as an adult, it reminds me of time spent with friends over coffee.  A few years ago, a life-long friend and I spent time over mochas every week discussing our lives (yes, she is another who has extended numerous times of grace to me… especially since I have done horribly at staying in touch since we no longer live in the same town).  Last week I had the privilege of spending several nights with groups of mom-friends drinking coffee and just sharing life.

9) The friend I ran into over the weekend… with her 7 year old and infant in tow… who reminded me I’m not the only one out there who will have a sizable age gap between kids… who reminded me that plenty of people aren’t giving up hope of having kids after 35… or 40… or later.

10) My cats.  They offer unconditional love, warmth for cold feet, a listening ear, and an endless source of amusement at times.

11) Grief.  Last week I spent several hours concerned I was going to have to say good-bye to one of my cats.  It reminded me of too many other times I’ve had to say goodbye over the last few years… or of the times I spent grieving what was never there to lose… maybe lost expectations?  I have grown so much through times of grief… even though it is one of those experiences that often only brings gratitude once you are through it to a certain extent.

12) Autumn leaves.  The roads bordered by trees have burst into color over the past week.  I spent several days driving up and down the streets of Memphis amazed by their beauty.

13) Gifts.  I am grateful for gifts… not that I have received, but that I am able to give.  I have loved starting Christmas shopping for my family and watching my little boy be so excited over giving to others.

14) An unexpected “date night” with my husband last night while our little boy enjoyed children’s activities at church.  It ended up being a quick dinner and filling out an application for a part-time job… but it was still nice to get a few minutes alone.

15) The strawberries and nutella crepe I had during that date night… how can something so good be not-too-bad for you?  Yum!

16) Watercolor paintings from my growing artist-in-residence.

17) Candles and candlelight.

18) The simple beauty of a clean room.

19) Homemade soup waiting in the crock pot after a long day.

20) This post — a 10 point manifesto of joyful parenting.  Time to try to put it into action. 🙂

Wrapping up for today… but planning to make this a regular Monday thing.  Well… planning to make this a daily thing but only blog about it on Mondays.  I hope you will join me.

In all things GOD works for the Good…

Not that everything is Good… but that God can bring Good out of and fulfill his Purposes through using all things and all events…

Linking up with Internet Cafe Devotions for this Word-Filled Wednesday.


Fear. Despite reading and loving Fearless, I spend too much time enveloped by fear. I tend to go to one of two extremes… either I become overwhelmed by fear and anxiety or I attempt to ignore it. Of course, Fear will not be ignored. It will arise at inopportune moments in an attempt to strangle dreams, quash hope, steamroller joy. Fear shackles me to the past and tries to convince me that there can be no different future. Fear looks at future hopes and reasons that my present path cannot lead to future dreams. Fear discourages me from having future dreams at all. Fear burdens me, weighs me down, limits my vision.

Instead of having extreme reactions, I need to embrace Fear and courageously act in response to it.  I need to remind Fear that it is a part of me but it will not master me. I need to embrace fears… look and see which are realistic… and take action where I can. After doing what I can to guard against reasonable fears, I need to discourage irrational fears from overtaking my mind. And I need to remember that I have a God who reminds me that, no matter what, he is beside me; he will help me carry burdens and surmount life-storms; he will take life-pressures away from me and send peace “that transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:6-7) to make them as if they are weightless.

This is a blog post in response to Three Word Wednesday writing prompts and part of Word Filled Wednesday.  Feel free to join in!

Power of a Praying Wife

If you are looking for my actual “P” post from the Tossing it Out A-Z challenge, read it here.  Then come read this one!

Okay, then.

I came across the link to this from Carol’s blog on the A-Z challenge.  I wanted to help spread the word — On May 1, Halle is starting an online study of the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O’Martian.  I certainly plan on reading along.  I read this book… oh, maybe 7-8 years ago as part of a Bible study.  It is time to read it again.  I even picked it up and dusted it off a few weeks ago in preparation to do that.  Unfortunately, I only got a chapter or two in before abandoning it again.  I think this is perhaps the reminder that I need to finish reading it?

I’d love for you to join us!  Visit here for details!


I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly — John 10:10, NASB

Today is Maundy Thursday.  At first glance, it seems a bit ironic to reflect on abundant life  on this day commemorating one of the last days of Christ’s life.  And yet… wasn’t his life a life lived to the full?  His life was focused completely on his priorities — God’s priorities.   Jesus’s life here on this earth was not abundant because it was easy.   It was not abundant because he was materially rich.  It was not abundant because he was liked by everyone he met.  No… his life was often difficult, he had little to call his own, and he was often misunderstood even by those who were closest to him.

Living life to the full has nothing to do with having plenty of money.  It has nothing to do with having lots of friends.  An abundant life comes with recognizing each day for what it adds to life.  Even the really tough ones… the ones where we are at a crossroads of what to do with a relationship, the ones where we feel abandoned by everyone, the ones where we wonder if God still cares.  An abundant life is a life focused on goals that sometimes take pain to get to.  An abundant life is a life focused on connecting with other people to enrich their lives instead of ours.  An abundant life is one spent doing as Jesus did — getting to know people, really know people; reaching out in love; crying with them through the tough times, and reaching out for support on those dark nights when we need companions.  An abundant life is one where we may be scared of the dark times or the valleys of life… and yet we realize that God has a purpose in them.  An abundant life is a life lived in community, preferably with other people but always with God.  With God… not in fear of God… not worrying if we stuck a toe over the wrong line… but a life knowing how loved we are.  How amazing is that?

Maybe this day where we remember Jesus through communion is appropriate after all to reflect on his example of a life lived abundantly — a life where he was not only a teacher who spoke truth but also a human who lived through dark and bright times, and a life where he was, most importantly, aware of his status of the Beloved as God’s beloved Son.

Peace and abundance be yours today…

So about that Lent Bible study…

So apparently right now I am doing well to get through readings… much less blog about them. I think I am the sort of person who has to take much smaller doses of reading (Bible reading, that is, or anything else that requires thought!). Then I have time to think about them and reflect… and while I think that reading larger portions of Scripture has its place (especially to get the context, figure out the storyline, etc.), I am at the point right now where I’m familiar with the general and need to concentrate on the particulars and application of what I am reading. Thus… no blogs. I may still have some up about this Holy Week… and next time I’ll make sure that I am up for a challenge before inviting others to join me! Or maybe part of journeying together is helping each other along…

Reflections on Matthew 1-3

Motherhood has radically changed my view of the gospel.  I both welcome and am overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking my beliefs and sharing them on a 4-year-old level.  I also find that some passages which I never thought much of before leave me wondering how and why when viewed through a mother’s eyes.

I have a New Year’s baby, and one of my favorite pregnancy moments was attending a midnight Christmas Eve service during which Andrew woke up and danced 🙂 the whole time.  (I should have known then he was a music lover too!)  Anyway,  I spent that Christmas season before he was born thinking of Mary and her journey to (and then through) motherhood.  The more beloved “Christmas story” comes from Luke, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it when we get there… but today I am wondering about those 2 years or so between the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2.  Chapter 2 opens with Joseph, Mary and toddler Jesus living in a home… and it is there they are visited by the wise men (sorry, nativity set manufacturers).  I wonder of those years between Jesus’s birth and the relative stability of having a house & home in Chapter 2.  Joseph was from Bethlehem… did he still have family there or were Joseph and Mary left alone to cope with the first few years of parenthood?  What were those years of transition like?  Were they accepted or ostracized by the town (because somehow I am sure gossip spread even in 1st century times!)?  Did they expect these wise men to arrive… and what did they make of their gifts?  What was it like being visited by angels so often after centuries of silence? If Mary were a friend of mine, would I have believed her story?  (I’d like to think so…)  And, although I know that Matthew’s Jewish readers wanted to hear of fulfilled prophecy… why oh why is Herod’s murder of babies necessary?

18″A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

I marvel when I see women who have come through to the other side of child loss. Not that they have “gotten over it”, but that they have accepted it as part of their life and part of how God is working and has worked in their life.   I know that it is surmountable… I know that humans can get through unthinkable tragedy with intact (and stronger) faith… but I struggle with passages like this one.  Moses’s birth… Jesus’s birth… both accompanied by such tragedy.  It just hit me that two of God’s greatest works have that parallel.. and yet I wonder about all of those parents in both instances who lost all of those children… (no answers here… just questions!)

Matthew 3 opens with a reminder for me that confrontation can be a good thing!  I wonder how taken aback Matthew’s Jewish audience was with his depiction of John the Baptist and even more so with John’s assertion that the “children of Abraham”… God’s chosen people… were perhaps not quite as irreplaceable as they believed.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the Israelites (and Jews of today) are very close to God’s heart… it just strikes me here that John points out to them that their salvation and forgiveness is not found in being children of Abraham but in doing God’s will… and foreshadows early Christians’ outreach to the Gentiles later on.

Just some musings for the day… 🙂