Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} Intimacy with Jesus

Our WSS is a bit different this week.  I believe to truly tuck Scripture within our hearts, we must be able to apply it and understand it.  We could just memorize the words, but I feel we get so much more from God's word when we truly know and understand what it means in our lives.  

Our memory verse and study this week is - 

1 John 2:3
This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him:  by keeping His commands.

As you dig deeper into this verse, you will learn how to develop and cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus.  You will see that intimacy with Jesus brings freedom, joy, and pure love for Him and His children.  

There truly is nothing as beautiful as sharing an intimate relationship with our King.  You will feel loved and beautiful.  You will know you are heard and have worth.

Oh, how my heart sings with joy and excitement knowing that you will go deeper with your Love this week and beyond!

Another thing I have added is the memory verse you can cut out and keep with you.  I have written the verse 4 times in larger font so that you can place it throughout your home.  Be sure and keep one in your purse so you will always have the verse with you when you are away from home.

As you grow more intimate with Jesus, you will feel His presence and hear His precious voice more and more.  Oh what joy you are about to encounter!

Loving you all-

Thursday, October 12, 2017

5 Ways to Avoid the Trap of Comparison

Comparison is an ugly game.  It creates feelings of superiority or failure.  Either are detrimental to our spiritual and mental health.  Comparison is the devil's game and his intention is to pull our focus off of God and onto ourselves. 

God created us in His image and with a purpose in mind.  He did not mess up on the day He created us. He knew perfectly well who we were to be.  And I can promise you this - we weren't meant to be like anyone else.   His ways are vast and way beyond our human thinking.  We are wonderfully made and He desires for us to know this well (Psalm 139:14).  

So with that in mind {and hopefully our hearts}, let's learn some sure fire ways to avoid falling for the enemy's ridiculous game.  He will rue the day he tried to tempt us to compare ourselves rather than celebrate who we are in Christ!

1.  Begin each morning with Jesus.
Each morning provides us a day to do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God.  We may never know how we are impacting others, but God surely does!  In order to be the good and faithful servant we desire to be, we must set our hearts and minds on Jesus.  When we do, we will be less likely to compare ourselves to others because we are filled with His love and mindset.  Beginning our days with Jesus not only prepares our mind and heart to combat comparison, but it shows the devil that you are not going to play is idiotic game.

Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark out, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place.  And He was praying there.

Jesus knew the importance of beginning His day with prayer.  Talking to His Father prepared Him for the day ahead.  If Jesus did it, then we surely should too!

2.  Keep a small spiral notebook with Scriptures that speak to your heart about God's love, your worth, and your purpose.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God's word is alive and active, sharper than any double edge sword.  Have you ever pictured that image in your sweet head?  A double edged sword is pretty powerful!  No matter what direction an enemy came at you, you would have protection and fight.  That is what God's word is.  It is powerful at fighting off the enemy and protecting us from his nasty schemes.  When we pack God's word into our hearts, we have power.  We are called to use His word to fight.  Fighting is not a passive event.  It requires strength, determination, and power.  When the enemy tries to defeat us with comparison, we can fight back with God's alive and active word.  He calls us to use His word against that nasty little tyrant!  Read from your tiny little notebook throughout the day.  When you feel compelled to enter the comparison arena, you can call to mind God's words and fight off the nasty thoughts.  Rise above them and be a mighty princess warrior shielded and protected with the beautiful double edged sword given to you by your loving Father.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow.  It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.

3.  When you feel comparison creep up on you, take it to God immediately.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive to obey Christ.  This means we are to make sure our thoughts and mindsets line up with the word of God.  Comparing ourselves to others does not line up with God's word or plan for our lives.  We are created in a unique way; each possessing gifts and talents that promote God's Kingdom.  We must ask the Holy Spirit to alert our hearts when we are falling victim to comparison so that we can turn our eyes back to Jesus and remember who we are in Him.  Jesus is ready and waiting to help us when we call on Him.  Ask Him to help you see your worth, talents, and gifts.  Ask Him to allow you to see yourself as He does - cherished, loved, and amazing.

Isaiah 65:24
Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

4.  Recognize your gifts and talents and embrace them.
As stated above, each of us has a specific talent that God has given us to serve His Kingdom.  YOU were created to make a difference for God.  We each have been entrusted and gifted.  Unfortunately, our gifts go unused when we look to others' gifts and wish we had theirs.  That, my friend, is just what the enemy is banking on.  When our talents go unused, we are not serving God and His Kingdom.  The devil thinks he is pretty snazzy when he sees us doing this.  Let's show him that we are daughters of the One and Only King and embrace our talents.  The devil can't have our gifts!  Let's be proud of our gifts and talents and use them to bear so much fruit that the enemy is disgusted and walks away with his head hanging down!

James 1:16-17
Don't be deceived, my dearly loved brothers (and sisters).  Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above.

5.  Limit your time scrolling through social media.
We all do it.  We aimlessly scroll through social media.  We may do it because we are bored or because we are curious.  Either way, it can lead to a big nasty case of comparison.  Let's be honest, people are posting their best selves.  Everyone's families are perfect, so screams social media.  We aren't privy to authenticity when we are peeking into others lives through social media.  This is a sure fire way to fall into the comparison pit.  We must limit our time viewing other's lives.  We must keep in check that we aren't seeing reality and be aware when our hearts are being pulled in an ugly direction.  Too often, social media takes the place of God.  Just because someone is posting Scripture alongside their perfect life, doesn't mean reading their posts is worshipping the Lord.  True worship comes from heart to heart time with God.  

2 Corinthians 10:12
For we don't dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.

Comparison is an ugly thing.  It pull our focus from Jesus onto ourselves every stinking time.  I can guarantee that!  We must always be aware because our enemy lurks around like a lion waiting to devour God's children.  He knows if he can make us feel badly about ourselves, we will not work for the beautiful Kingdom of God.  We must keep our hearts and minds on the One who gifted us.  

You've got this!  Each and every time you feel the pull, use this list to get your heart back on the One who loves you like crazy.  You are a beautiful creation with so much to offer.  YOU were created to impact the Kingdom and make a difference.  Let that sink into your  precious heart.  

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

I love you all with the most tender heart-

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joy of Security in God's Love

Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

This week, we are going to convince our souls of God's glorious truth.  There is nothing - nada - that can separate us from Jesus' love.  Period.  Nothing you have done or will do can cause Him  not to love you.

If you have traveled many self inflicted valleys as I have, you may be thinking, "yeah, but....".  The terrible, no good, very bad devil loves to convince us that we are unworthy and shamed.  He would love nothing more than to convince you that there is no way in - well, the devil's stomping ground - that God could possibly love you.  You are broken, dirty, and used up.  It would be impossible for God to love you, let alone use you for His glory.

The devil is a rotten and stinky liar.  He wants you to believe his hate filled lies so that you pull away from your Redeemer and live in pit after pit never trusting or living in freedom.  He is nothing but an awful and gross deceiver.  There is no truth in his words that he pokes you with on a sometimes daily basis.  

From here on out, we are speaking God's truth over our lives and into our hearts.  

Jesus loves us unconditionally, on purpose, without hesitation, in spite of, and forever and ever.

Be purposeful this week in memorizing this portion of Scripture.  Allow it to permeate the deepest parts of your heart.  Repeat it over and over until you cannot help but believe it.

You are loved in a mighty and powerful way.  Believe it, sweet friend, and go forward in truth and joy.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Joys of Obedience

We often hear that obedience to God is our ticket to living in freedom and joy.  I raise my hands to the heavens because I could go for a strong dose of freedom and joy over certain areas of my life.  If you are breathing, I'm confidant that you, too, could use some life changing freedom as well.

As I sat in prayer this morning, I realized that maybe I don't even truly know what obedience looks like.  I have a confession to make - I have really struggled with a pit of fear and worry.  I have made the pit part of my life and now it just shows up and thinks I've invited it in.  In reality, I guess I have.  I have allowed my mind to think upon the worry and play it out in my head a million times a day.  Oh how I wish I were exaggerating....

I pray daily for God to release me from this mindset.  I even beg for freedom some days.  Can you relate?  You may not be struggling with fear, but do you feel held captive by something in your life?  Captivity can seep into our marrow so deeply until we decorate it and call it normal.  Anything that prohibits us from pure joy and freedom is called captivity.  The definition of captivity is "the state or period of being held, imprisoned, enslaved, or confined".  (Dictionary.com)

Jesus came to set the captives free and give us a life of abundance.  I realized that I am the hold out, not Him.  He longs to give us the desires of our hearts when they line up with His will.  I truly believe Him when he says:

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.  I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.  John 10:10

That thief is none other than our enemy.  He wants to steal anything good that Jesus offers us.  His lies convince us to search for freedom outside of Jesus.  Every time we buy into his lies, we find ourselves in captivity.  In order to be set free, we must whole heartedly be obedient to God.  Period.

But what is obedience?  How can we truly be obedient to Christ and live the abundant life He offers us?

Hollman's Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines obedience as to hear God's word and act accordingly.

Sounds good, right?  But how do we implement this into our lives?  For years, I have heard that I needed to be obedient to Christ, but I don't think I ever sat and really examined what obedience looks like.  I assumed that if I was living as God instructed, I was being obedient.  After researching the definition and passages in the Bible, I believe it goes way deeper.

After dissecting the definition of obedience, I came up with 3 ways that we can become obedient children of God.

1.  Prayer

We must pray daily and consistently.  To pray, is to have conversation with God.  Just as we talk with loved ones, talk with Jesus.  It is not meant to be fancy.  In fact, He doesn't call for us to be theologians and use elaborate terms.  Jesus longs to hear from us right as we are.  Simply, prayer is just talking openly and honestly with God.  Nothing you say will shock Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray constantly

I believe that praying constantly means having our hearts set on Jesus.  He does not expect us to neglect our duties, our loves, and ourselves.  Having a mindset for Christ is essentially praying because we are doing everything for Him and through Him.  For example, when you prepare a meal for your family, you do it because you love them and want to offer nourishment in a delicious way.  Loving your family through cooking for them is having a heart for Jesus because He gave you your family and expects you to take care of them.  When you do so with a loving and kind heart, you are in the mindset of Christ.

As we pray (stay in the mindset of Jesus), we must recognize the ways He speaks to us.  He desires a relationship with us.  A relationship by definition is between two people.  Jesus speaks to us in so many ways.  Unfortunately, all too often we don't hear because we never slow our minds down enough to hear Him or recognize Him.  Jesus speaks to us through His written word, through others, through song, through that still small voice we hear - just to name a few.

Prayer is obedience to God because it causes us to think upon Him and His ways.  It creates a relationship and allows His love to richly flow into our lives.  When we seek Him and invite Him into our lives through prayer, He always shows up.

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.

2.  Trust Jesus in all things

Trust is giving our whole hearts to Jesus, no matter what.  Trust means relinquishing the idea of control and fully opening our hands and giving Him everything we are holding on to.  This can be a tough one because we are under the falsehood that we are best at orchestrating our lives.  Letting go of our need to be in control can be very scary.  What if we hand the reigns over and then life doesn't go the way we planned?  I have discovered in the areas of my life that I totally trust Jesus, I have perfect peace.  Believe me, those areas were far from peaceful before I decided to trust Him and allow Him to lead me.  I am in awe and amazed at the beautiful blessings He has given me because of my decision to let go and trust.

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my hearts TRUSTS in Him and I am helped.

Isaiah 40:31
Those who TRUST in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

Can I get an amen!?!  I love the Lord's promises.  I think we could all use some soaring on wings like eagles.  

3.  Surrender our lives to Jesus

To surrender means to give up control.  When we surrender to God, we set aside our plans and eagerly seek His.  We look to His ways and desires and align our thoughts, actions, and beliefs with Him.  We live to serve Him and know Him.  As we go about our days, we can't help but share His love with those we encounter.  We pray for discernment and hearts that will recognize our sinful ways.  When we completely surrender to Christ, our hearts will be filled with the joy of the Lord and we will find great strength through Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Surrendering takes effort and daily action.  Just saying we surrender will not do.  We must be proactive and mindful every single day.  Philippians 4:4-9 is a wonderful instruction manual for surrender.  We will be wise to write it on our hearts and walk in it daily.

Philippians 4:4-8
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your graciousness be know to everyone.  The Lord is near.  Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Growing in our obedience will take time.  Beautiful flowers do not overtake gardens over night.  They grow slowly and gracefully and before we know it, their radiance shines so brightly that we can't help but be attracted to them.  God sees our desires and efforts to be obedient children of His.  He knows our deepest hearts and longs to help us along our journey.  All we have to do is ask for His guidance, strength, and wisdom.  It may be difficult to become completely obedient, but I know it will be so worth it.  Nothing feels as good as freedom and joy in Christ.  

Won't you join me on my obedience journey?  Oh the joys that await us....

Loving each and every one of you beauties-


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joy of the Lord's Strength

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  Therefore, my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with song.

Ever feel like you are the last person standing on a dodgeball team against a team loaded with brutes?  Does it feel like the hits just keep coming and your strength is depleted?  You may not feel like this today or tomorrow, but you for sure have and will again.  

In those days, and everyday really, we need the strength of God to carry us.  We need a strong brute to surround us and fight off all the pesky dodgeballs flying our way.  Left to our own, we want to run and hide under the bleachers and hope that no one hears our gasping for breath and the sniffles that accompany the tears rolling down our sweet faces.  We need a hero to rush in and save us - to fight for us and help us wipe off our tears and battered clothes.

Your hero, and mine, is waiting for us to place our full and complete trust in Him.  He sits on the sidelines never taking His eyes off of us.  He patiently and lovingly waits for our attention and devotion.  He waits for us to put down our arm with the dodgeball we are about to hurl through the air and trust in His love, His protection, and His strength.

When we rid our hearts of the idols we have been trusting and rest in Jesus, He strengthens us.  He allows us to do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13).  He doesn't just place some strength in us and walk away.  He helps us and shields us.  He surrounds us and dares the enemy closer so He can show him who you belong to - who has your back.  

Can you imagine all of the things and people the Lord has shielded you from when you are completely trusting in Him?  Yeah, me neither.  I'm certain the list is quite long.  I'd love to see it when I arrive in heaven.  You too?

The last portion of this verse illuminates what happens to our hearts and souls when we are filled with the Lord's strength - when we trust that we are protected by our Great Shield.  We can't help but rejoice with song.  I can recall many occasions when my heart was overwhelmed by the Lord's strength.  I knew without a doubt that it was not I who had strength, but the Lord.  Left on my own, I would have been a crying heap in a corner with a blanket over my body.  I bet you have fond memories of your songs of rejoice too.  With complete trust, we can sing those songs often and rejoice in the Lord's strength and protection.

Oh, how I pray for you as you study and memorize Psalm 28:7.  Jesus sees your heart and He is rejoicing over you, sweet one.

Loving you forward in Jesus,

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Joys of a Prayer Journal

My prayer journal has become so dear to me.  As I sit with it each morning, I am aware of Jesus' presence and our ongoing relationship.  There is no better way to start my day!  As I write, my mind becomes centered on Him and my heart lines up with His ways, His love, and His will for me.  Another benefit is that my mind stays focused on my prayers rather than being distracted by incoming thoughts.  Prior to writing in my prayer journal, my mind was notorious for going in all different directions during my morning prayer time.

Before I sit with my journal, I make a delicious, piping hot matcha latte.  Once it's made, I snuggle into a quiet area and open my journal.  If the weather is nice, I like to sit on our back patio.  This is actually my favorite spot because I get to witness the rising sun and listen to the birds sing their good morning songs. 

I created my own prayer journal.  I have tried various others and they each possessed great things.  However, I was never in love with one so I decided to pick and choose what I liked about each and make my own.  

My journal is divided into 8 sections -
  • Memory verse
  • Praise
  • Thanksgiving
  • Confession
  • Personal prayers
  • Prayers for Others
  • Answered prayers
  • Dreams

To create my prayer journal, I gathered...
  • a 3 ring binder
  • dividers
  • notebook paper
  • washi tape for decorating the dividers

In the front pocket of the binder, I wrote:

Psalm 143:8

Let me experience your faithful love in the morning,
for I trust in You.
Reveal to me the way I should go
because I long for you.

Each section is based on a specific Scripture.  In doing this, it helps me focus on the why of each section and reminds me that Jesus cares deeply about every aspect of my life.  There is nothing that He doesn't want to hear about.  He wants us to openly pour our hearts out without any shame.  We might as well bear our souls - He knows anyway!  And - when we do, we always feel so much better.  Talking heals the soul - especially with Jesus!

1.  Memory verse

Psalm 119:11
I have treasured Your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against You.

In this section, I write a verse that I feel I need to focus on for the day.  I don't write in this section on a daily basis, but I always read through each verse.  As I do, I am able to see God's over the top love for me and often remember what a specific verse did for my day.

2.  Praise

Psalm 100:4
Enter His courts with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

I give God praise in this section and it is based on His word.  For example, I may write you lead me along the right paths and this is based on Psalm 23.  I write at least 5 praises, although, there are many days when I write a ton more than 5.  I love beginning this way because my heart always thrills when I see how God's words impact my life.  

3.  Thanksgiving

Psalm 107:8-9
Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His faithful love and His wonderful
works for all of humanity.
For He has satisfied the thirsty 
and filled the hungry with good things.

This is the section where I get to thank Jesus for all He does for me, my family, and beyond.  Often times, I forget ALL that He did the previous day. However, when I start writing I am thankful for so much and my soul pours out my pen on the paper.  

4.  Confession

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to 
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is a tricky section.  There are some confessions that are between me and God only and I wouldn't want wandering eyes to see them.  If that is the case, I write in very general terms or not at all.  I still confess, but it might not be put on paper.  For example, if I was disappointed in one of my children unnecessarily I wouldn't want that in ink.  I would hate for one of my loves to read it and feel badly.  On the other hand, I often have to confess my lack of trust in the Lord.  I don't have any qualms about pouring my heart out on paper with this confession.

5.  Personal prayers

Matthew 7:7
Keep asking and it will be given to you.
Keep searching, and you will find.  
Keep knocking and the door will be opened to you.

I pour my heart out to Jesus in this section.  I ask Him for all of the things that are on my heart. He already knows our hearts and what our needs and desires are, so to hold back would be plain silly.  We show our trust by asking Him for all things and then truly believing Him for them.  

6.  Prayers for others

1 Timothy 2:1-2
I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings
be made for everyone, for kings and all those
who are in authority so that we may lead a tranquil and 
quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

I am so grateful that God calls us to pray for others!  In this section, I pray for anyone and everyone on my heart.  I always pray for safety and protection for our family, as well as discernment for our children.  There are times that prayers for others are confidential.  When this is the case, I simply write their names.  

7.  Answered prayers

Isaiah 65:24
Even before they call, I will answer;  while they
are still speaking, I will hear.

This section is lovely because it allows me to see how God works in my life and answers my prayers.  I love writing this section because it shows my ever wondering heart that He hears me and loves me.  Looking back at answered prayers is so reassuring and calming!

8.  Dreams

Ephesians 3:20
Now to Him who is able to do ABOVE and BEYOND
all that we ask or think according to the power
that works in us.

God wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  The amazing thing is that He goes above and beyond in blessing us with our desires.  No dream is too big for God.  Don't you think He thrills to show us His love and majesty through blessing us?  I sure do!  In this section, I list the dreams of my heart.  I get excited as I list them because I am giddy waiting to see how He will make it work out.  

I encourage you to create your own prayer journal.  It will bless you and cause you to look forward to your time with Jesus.  Make it your own.  Personalize it in any way you'd like.  I'd love for you to use my method.  It has blessed me so much that my cup overflows and my relationship with Jesus is so much stronger.  

Sending love to all of you beauties-


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joy of Rest

I love this week's Scripture study.  We are busy people who often overextend ourselves.  We don't do it on purpose, but we do it.  There are many causes for our over active days and calendars.
  • We have a lot going on. 
  • We can't say no. 
  • We feel lazy if we aren't booked solid.
  • We believe the societal lie that if we are resting, we are missing out.
  • We feel guilty for taking care of ourselves with rest time.
Notice the first portion of Psalm 23:2.  God LETS us lie down in green pastures.  He wants us to rest our sweet souls.  God calls us to the pastures - a place of solitude and quiet - and allows us to plop down, slow down, and relax.  I don't know about you, but that blesses my heart!  God does not expect what society expects.  He does not see us as lazy and unfruitful because we curl up in our peaceful pastures and recharge.  In fact, if we live by societal measures we will never find our pasture and we will be stuck in congested freeway traffic full of exhaust.  When in exhaust mode, our hearts and minds are not clear to receive the love and words of Christ.  Seek your pasture, loves of Christ, and bask in the beautiful brightness of His light.

Once we have reached our pastures and given ourselves to rest, God then leads us beside quiet waters.  He cannot lead us if we are not willing.  (Actually, He can do anything He wants.  But why would He lead us beside quiet waters if we aren't even aware of His presence and the peace and stillness?) 

Imagine all God has in store for you when you in rest mode.  He longs to bless you with peace and His presence.  Without rest, we won't fully grasp His presence and blessings.  Oh but with it, our hearts will overflow with joy and love.  He waits for you, won't you take His hand and walk beside Him and enjoy His wonderful presence and love?

I am so excited for you to tuck this verse deep within your soul.  As you study it this week and work to memorize it, recognize the busy areas of your life that you can eliminate and replace with heaven ordained rest.  May you walk beside quiet waters with your beautiful Jesus.