Thursday, May 26, 2016

Writing The Word

A disclaimer here before we start: What I am going to share here is just something that has worked for me, I can almost guarantee that it will not work for everyone. Just so you know.

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The struggle to spend time in God's Word is real to many of us, I'm not sure why we tend to think we are alone. A common reason given for the struggle is finding the time. We are busy people with many responsibilities; we are moms of littles, with scarcely a quiet moment. I am sure many of us identify with that problem!

If I'm honest, finding the time to read God's Word has not been my problem. Face it, I find time to do the things I like to do. I didn't like to read the Bible.

Reading the Bible was stale and boring for me. It was a chore. Doing it was almost totally for the purpose of being able to say "At least I did it". After all, I'd been told that just the discipline of doing it was a good thing, and if I just did it it would grow on me somehow... Or I got that idea somewhere.

Well, it didn't grow.

I would have said just forget the whole idea and be done with it, except I knew some people who genuinely loved reading their Bible. People who enjoyed it; looked forward to it; liked it. How did one get to that place? How?

One day a link my friend had shared on Facebook caught my eye, "Will you join us May 1st as we write and pray our way through Galatians?" It made me curious, so I checked it out.

What I found was the blog His Mercy Is New, written by Candace, a home schooling mother of three, who lives in Tenessee. Here was a woman who obviously loved to read God's Word! I was immediately intrigued.

The day I checked out her blog, she was introducing a new Write the Word schedule for Galatians. I didn't know what that meant but my interest grew as I read on....

"Take a quick moment and think about the things you write down throughout your day. Now, you may be more digital than I am, but I still WRITE in an actual paper planner, I write down my grocery list, notes to my kids, in my prayer journal…you get the idea.
But, why do we write things down? 

We write things down that we want to remember.

Why wouldn’t we want to write down the most important Words there are?"

She went on to share her schedule for Galatians and I felt the first stirring of excitement in my heart. They were cautious stirrings, I'd tried new ideas way too many times before to be really excited but something clicked inside of me.

It should have come as no surprise, really. Writing has always been my go to -- I can't plan anything without a list, I get less done if I don't use my daily planner, I forget things unless I write them down, I untangle my thoughts best by writing them out..... Why would it not make sense that writing the Word would be the key for me??


I've used her schedule for Galatians for the past month and I have just been amazed! I want to read the Word; I look forward to reading it.

I used to read through a section of verses and when I got done I had no idea what I read. Writing it out makes me concentrate on every word and punctuation. It makes me pause and ponder. To be honest, I think partly it just works with my "writing wired" brain.

Some of you are not wired like me and I hope you aren't too disappointed. That's why I started with the disclaimer. I'm not trying to say that this is The Way and everyone should do it but maybe some of you are like me and will benefit from this idea like I have.

I haven't strictly done this daily. Some days are busier than others and if I don't get it done, I don't stress over it. Other days I have more time, and I might write out the verses for two or three days. I think God is more interested in my relationship with Him than a rigid schedule and, for me, enjoying my time in the Word is what I have longed for and what I've been finding in writing the Word.

I'm curious now if this idea resonates more with certain people and if part of enjoying Bible reading is finding what works for each type of person? What do you think?

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If you check out Candace's blog, you will find numerous other schedules for writing out the Word. I've considered sharing them here once a month if some of you would be interested?






Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Relationship With God

I've always struggled with daily Bible reading; always, always, as far back as I can remember. I wrote about it here and was a little amazed at the response I got, not only in the comments but some personal emails.

Clearly, I am not alone.

The '10 Minutes With God' idea is not something I have kept up on a daily basis. I still use it sometimes, and I think it has been a helpful exercise in growing my relationship with God. But I have a confession to make: I still find myself grasping desperately for the Holy Grail of daily, personal devotions.

It's been a frustrating struggle over the years. I've struggled with wondering what is wrong with me? Why do others seem to drink deeply from the Word and my attempts end up being more like trying to down dry crackers with no drink available? How does one get to the place where reading the Word is a thing to be looked forward to, not just something to say "At least I did it"? If I am not achieving that Holy Grail am I even a Christian? Is it better to be able to say "At least I did it" than to not do it at all?

I think one of the best things my 10 Minutes With God assignment did was this: it freed me to realize that what God wants the most is a deep, personal relationship with me, and that maybe daily Bible reading isn't the only possible way to have that relationship. I discovered that the relationship was the most important thing, not the specific way I cultivated that relationship. That, just maybe, not doing it at all is actually better than being able to say "At least I did it".

Still the struggle didn't go away completely. After all, if the Bible is God's word it would seem logical to conclude that anyone in a close relationship with Him would enjoy reading what He has to say, wouldn't it?

I think I may have discovered an answer for me. I think. Maybe.

I have purposely held off writing this post for the very reason that I secretly didn't expect my answer to be a lasting one. Even now, one month into my new experience, I'm leery of claiming any sort of lasting victory. Then again, any good relationship is constantly growing and changing. What is special and fresh now might not be next year but that doesn't mean it isn't worth being excited about.

So, I will share my experience with you.

Tomorrow.

And, unlike the poem, I do actually mean tomorrow, May 26. :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Extravagant Love

Oh Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder


Consider all the world's 
Thy hands have made...


Could we with ink
The ocean fill,
And were the skies
Of parchment made,


Were every stalk
On earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade, 


To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky...


Then sings my soul
My Saviour God to thee


How great thou art


How great thou art!



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Friday morning Chris and I got up at 5:30 a.m. to watch the sunrise over the ocean. It was absolutely spectacular. I wished for a choir of hundreds of voices to lift their's with mine in singing praise and adoration to the God who created such majestic beauty! 

He didn't have to. 
He could have made our world drab, colorless and all the same. But He didn't. He absolutely didn't. That spells Love to me -- beautiful, glorious, extravagant Love.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Anniversary Trip


We spent five marvelous days 
away from it all,
celebrating our 15th Anniversary
which is coming up on June 2.

It was lovely.


I am tempted to leave it at that.

For a couple who has held pretty strictly  to their motto of --
"The closer you live to reality, 
even in your special moments, 
the better off you will be."
Five days away
was quite an extravagance.

Or maybe I should be painfully honest here: It was really just the wife. And she very nearly ruined every lovely detail of the trip on the front end by her guilt and fear and selfishness.

I could give you gory details
but it's complicated.
I have a secret suspicion that many of you wives and mothers would understand but the fact is, I'd just as soon leave what's in the past in the past.


We spent two nights with friends in Virginia Beach and the rest of our time in Ocean City, Maryland.

It was absolutely lovely.

The beauty of the ocean, the sightseeing and the relaxing, the talking and the remembering and the need to only think of each other and no one else, the complete enjoyment of each other and what God has done in our lives these past 15 plus years.

Lovely.

I still belief the truth of our motto
but I also believe that, while not essential to happiness, occasionally it can be good for one's heart, soul and relationship to do something completely removed from reality.


And now, on to reality with a vengeance she said, looking at the piles of laundry and messy suitcases and general clutter and the chattering, busy children and the clock, whose hands march relentlessly on toward time to leave for the school picnic........

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Where Have You Been?

Bethany, Bethany,
Where have you been?


I've been to Arkansas
To be with family.

Bethany, Bethany,
What did you there?


I sorted through memories
And treasures and more,


And packed box 
Upon box


And heard stories galore.

****

Bethany, Bethany,
Where have you been?


I've been to the Zoo
On a school field trip.

Bethany, Bethany,
What did you there?


I walked and I walked
And I walked some more....


I looked at animals,


I rode the train,

And I came home sunburned
And with legs quite sore.

****

Bethany, Bethany,
Where are you going next?

I'm going with my husband
To celebrate 15 years.

Bethany, Bethany,
What will you do there?

I'll sleep and I'll sleep
And just lounge on a chair!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dear Mom

Two years ago the phone call came that changed our lives forever. Last year we made it past the one year mark and now, here we are, two years removed from that early morning phone call.

My family has never been the kind to make a big deal out of these sorts of anniversaries. Everyone is different, and I won't attempt to say that one way is better than another. For myself, I prefer not making a big deal but I am finding that it is also beneficial to take the time to look back and feel some feelings.

We have an amazing God who created us with the ability to go on living in the face of loss and grief. Think about it, the sun keeps coming up every morning, the flowers bloom, the children say funny things, new babies are born, people get married, we celebrate anniversaries... Life goes on, and even though sometimes we wish it would stop, God was wise to make it work that way.

This morning I am taking a moment to look back and remember... I feel again the raw grief and numbness of two years ago. The pain and the stumbling through the motions of things. The tears and the loss and the ache.

And then, I am remembering last year, and the 'new pink skin' and the growth and the realization that amongst the memories and the loss and the sadness, there is healing and new life.

Today, I pause to look around me and remember. The tears that come with the remembering are healing but equally so is the evidence of all that the Lord has done in the last two years.

Life has gone on. We are still here and we have grown. The sun is still rising every morning, the flowers are blooming again, people are getting married...two special people on July 30...and the children are still saying funny things.

God is good.

The memories will always be there, and I am blessed to have them. Today I pause to remember, to heal, to live.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Unsolicited Dating Advice

I'm not exactly sure 'which wall' this post came off of but late one night it came spilling out, so here you go. I am no authority on the subject of dating ...... then again, I dated once and am happily married, so maybe I am?

I've been keeping this post in my draft folder for quite some time now but today, just for anyhow, here are 10 little tid bits of free dating advice.

1) Take your time. A solid foundation is not built in a day. 

2) Focus on becoming best of friends. Romance is great but friendship is what will stand the test of time.

3) Call me old fashioned but I believe the old 'Hands Off' policy is best. It is extremely difficult to focus on building a strong foundation and becoming best of friends when you are busily stoking the fires of love and romance with physical contact. Trust me, those fires are easily stoked without any extra help. I am not of the persuasion that all physical touch before marriage is sin but in my opinion, if you are choosing the best, you choose Hands Off. 

4) Be real. Best of friends don't do things just to win approval or make a good impression. If it is something you don't plan to do if you get married, don't do it while you're dating - opening her car door, bringing him his coffee, helping her wash dishes, allowing him to open doors.....

5) Don't be a clique. You are dating and you like to spend time together, of course. But someday you will need those other people in your lives, don't cut them off now. Do things with the whole group, be on opposite volleyball teams sometimes, let people ride with you when you go somewhere..... Best of friends don't have to be exclusive. They know the friendship is solid and will always be there. That's the kind of friendship that will see you through a lifetime; cultivate it. People will love to be around you.

6) Begin now to share all your secrets with each other. Best of friends know everything about each other and the only way to get there is to share. Ask each other questions about important issues and beliefs. Sometimes good old fashioned pen and paper are the best way to do questions and answers.

7) Play games together or some other form of relaxing recreation. In order to focus on becoming best of friends, it is important to not live in the 'romance trench' all the time. Do things together that allow you to have fun and get to know each other on a friendship level.

8) Allow each other the time needed to grow in your relationship. Sometimes you might find yourselves with differing levels of excitement about dating. Take your time, go back to focusing on being best of friends. The deepest love is the kind that grows slowly and pushes down it's roots.

9) Be spontaneous and keep it simple. A date doesn't always have to be in a fancy place with lighted candles. The closer you live to reality, the better off you will be.

10) If you truly do become best of friends, you will discover the flaws and irritations in each other. Point out and discuss as many of these as possible. Someday, when you marry your best friend, you will discover very few surprises and your journey into happily ever after will benefit greatly.

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Chris read this and grinned, "In other words, be just like us?" Well. Yes, of course! I mean, didn't we do everything just about perfectly? 😊

In all honesty, I know that no one mold fits every couple and relationship. These are ten things I see as beneficial to a dating relationship, I wonder what you think of?