Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This is what I seek...

Final memory verse for 2009! What an interesting journey this has been. It's funny, I was having a hard time choosing my "final" verse for 2009, then realized I don't have to stop memorizing Scripture! (I'm slow, but I get there.) So, finishing up 2009 with Psalm 27:4:

"One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple."

We're finishing up as a Scripture memory team over on the Living Proof blog where we were told this is Beth Moore's favorite verse - seemed like a good one to end 2009!

Once again, the Amplified Bible gives more insight into the verse:

"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and insistently require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord (in His presence) all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty (the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness) of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple."

And I love how The Message ends the verse:

"I'll contemplate his beauty; I'll study at his feet."

I strongly encourage anyone interested in a life-changing exercise to make a commitment to memorize two Scriptures per month during 2010. Throughout 2009, I chose a few individual verses and several passages. I just added them up and (if my math is right) I've memorized 43 verses this year! In all honesty, I had a couple of stumbles and sputters along the way, but -- to the praise and glory of HIS name alone - I think I now have them all imprinted on my heart and mind!

Contemplate His beauty - study at His feet! You will be blessed and have the opportunity to bless others with His word! Christmas blessings to you and yours and praying for a wonderful 2010!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To us a child is born...

"The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this."

Isaiah 9:2-7

Monday, November 30, 2009

A simple Christmas...

I'm feeling a tug towards a simple Christmas...I want there to be plenty of room in our Christmas for contemplating THE Gift; the Presence, not the presents.

God, wrapped in infant flesh, came and dwelt among us. How do we celebrate that?


I want to focus on His Word this season - the beautiful prophecies, the fulfillment of promises, the enduring comfort, encouragement and challenges entrusted to us.


I plan to focus on family and home...not a whirlwind of shopping, events and general craziness. I want to make time to drink gingerbread spice tea, sing Christmas songs and make cookies for my neighbor kids. I will enjoy admiring my tree - especially the hand-traced angels, paper gingerbread men and popsicle stick reindeer of years gone by.

I will be deliberate in giving the gift of encouragement, affirmation and affection to those around me - in my home, my neighborhood, my church - and the grocery store.


"O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago."
Isaiah 25:1




Christmas blessings, from our family to yours!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Precious beyond telling...

I'm sticking with a "thankful" theme in Scripture memory for November - because I am all about the Thanksgiving this month!

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
2 Cor. 9:15

I've been familiar with this verse, but never really studied it in context. Chapter 9 is a timely study for me - it's focused on giving generously, cheerfully - it even references seed, sowing and harvest! This season has found us so blessed -- and this chapter stresses that God has made us "rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (v. 11)

I love that it all comes back to HIM. We love, because He first loved us. We give, because He has given to us. Our giving is not about us, but about reflecting His faithfulness - His indescribable gift!

The Amplified Bible beautifully expands the language of the verse:

"Now thanks be to God for His Gift, precious beyond telling, His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Compassion...

The Compassion bloggers are on the road again! They're in El Salvador this week and I encourage you to take a minute to follow them as they share their experiences with a wonderful organization and the children who are being reached, touched, loved - all in Jesus' Name. I "followed" a group of bloggers who traveled to India earlier this year and it completely wrecked me - and inspired me to sponsor a child - sweet little Sruthi! Check them out - if you DARE!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

He longs to be gracious to you...

It's November! Where has the year gone? And the holidays are upon us? Whew!

Okay, I'm taking deep breaths now and resolving to savor what remains of 2009. And, in accordance with a resolution made at the beginning of the year, I'm continuing this
Scripture memory journey with a verse I just LOVE:

"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Isaiah 30:18

He longs to be gracious to you - how does that make you feel? Other translations use the words like waiting, earnestly waits, expecting, looking, longing. What a beautiful picture of God's love for us. He is longing to show us His graciousness, His mercy.

Why do we doubt this? Why do we find it easier to believe that God is waiting to pounce, to punish, to judge? That somehow when He looks at us, He's disappointed, rolling his eyes, shaking His head and making tsk-tsk noises with His tongue? The Bible says He LONGS to be gracious to us - RISES to show us compassion!

So let us wait -- look, expectantly, longingly -- for Him -- His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship. (Amplified Bible)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The unforced rhythms of grace...

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

For Scripture memory for the first two weeks of October I wanted to memorize something in red letters - something Jesus himself said while walking on this earth. And for some reason I was drawn to this familiar passage. I'm committing it to memory in the NIV translation, but check out The Message:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?

Come to me. Get away with me
and you'll recover your life.

I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

The unforced rhythms of grace...sounds like something I'd like to learn. I also love the idea that the yoke is not ill-fitting. The Amplified Bible offers more insight:

"Come to Me, all you who labor
and are heavy-laden and overburdened,
and I will cause you to rest.
[I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me,
for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart,
and you will find rest
(relief and ease and refreshment

and recreation and blessed quiet)
for your souls.

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good--
not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing,
but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant),
and My burden is light and easy to be borne."

My pastor preached on this passage a while back and he suggested that if our yoke is burdensome, uncomfortable and ill-fitting, chances are it's not the one Jesus has placed upon us.

One commentator offers this: "Jesus' yoke is not lighter because he demands less, but because he bears more of the load with us."

His yoke is easy...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Numbering our days...

I'm a little late posting a memory verse for the second half of September...pondering the subject of "time" lately, so I chose one I sort of already know - also because I feel a need to spend a couple of weeks reviewing and cementing a few earlier passages! So, here's the memory verse for the rest of the month:

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

I decided to break out a couple of words for closer inspection -
Number - as a verb - count, assess or estimate the quantity of something...
Aright - correctly, properly...
Gain - secure something desired, favorable, profitable; reach a desired destination...

I think we can all agree that "a heart of wisdom" is something desirable...something to be secured...a destination worth reaching. And attaining that has something to do with how we "number our days;" how we view, live in and respond to time itself.

I just finished up "When the Heart Waits" by Sue Monk Kidd and she concluded with a discussion of some "gifts of the soul" that come to those who've trusted in God as they wait. These gifts include delight, enjoying the gift of creation, God's nurturing heart, authenticity and compassion. Also numbered among the gifts was "attunement" - learning to be genuinely present in life, in the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. She writes:

"Time isn't a straight line along which we travel.
It's a deep dot in which we dwell."

In "numbering my days aright" I want to dwell deeply in the present - the gift of this day God has given - and make the most of every moment - every opportunity to drink in beauty and delight in God; to share love and compassion; to live authentically.

Teach me, Lord.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Disturb Us, Lord...

I read this poem on the LPM blog a few minutes ago and wanted to pass it along.
Man.


Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.


Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.


Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
---Sir Francis Drake

Friday, September 4, 2009

Caught off guard by grace...

I'm reading a really good book, but it's taking me a long time to get through it. It's called "When the Heart Waits - Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions" by Sue Monk Kidd and it's one of those books where I have to read a little then think a lot. The book itself (as the title suggests) is about the lost spiritual art of waiting, so maybe my pace is appropriate.

I feel like the book is a tea bag and I'm a cup of hot water, and sometimes it just takes a while for the flavor to gain full strength and permeate my feeble mind and heart. (Sorry, I'm not that great at metaphors.)

Anyway, there were a few passages recently that have rolled around in my head and I thought I'd share them. One passage talks about being "caught off guard" by so many things about God...

"The immense, unreasonable love for us, the outrageous insistence that in the weak and broken there is divine Presence, the indomitable faith in us as children of hope, to mention a few. But most of all, I'm caught off guard by God's grace-fulness, by a grace-ful universe, by the grace of the ordinary. We've underestimated the presence of grace among us. We've built up a callus over it with our cynicism and the religious certainties that render us incapable of being surprised. If we are to wait, we must relearn the extravagance of grace."
----
She also quotes Eugene Peterson (author, Presbyterian minister and translator of The Message) in talking about the motivation behind "waiting prayer":

"The assumption of spirituality is that always God is doing something before I know it. So the task is not to get God to do something I think needs to be done, but to become aware of what God is doing so that I can respond to it and participate and take delight in it."
------
And in contemplating the posture of Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, she writes:

"What has happened to the experience of sacred adoration, of sitting and delighting in God's presence in the fiery place of the heart? God created us in order to share the delight of being alive with us, in order to love us and taste our love, to delight in us and enjoy our delight. God wants our hearts..."

Steeping...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Delight...

It's September...and it actually feels like fall (my favorite season!). As I was thinking about a memory verse for the first two weeks of September, I kept coming back to Psalm 37:3-4. God kept bringing it before me, in a variety of ways, and last night it was the passage chosen for the sermon at the back-to-school rally I chaperoned. (Okay, I get it! You don't have to hit me over the head - well, sometimes He does.)
So here it is:


Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4

I'm doing my memory work in the New International Version, but I loved a couple of other translations of these verses. For example, the English Standard Version says, "dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness." Befriend faithfulness. Hmmm.

And the New King James Version says "dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness." Consume it, take it in, savor it.

And here's the passage in the Amplified Bible:

"Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart."

I plan to focus on delighting in the Lord in the coming days. I want to take my greatest pleasure in Him - His creation, His Word, His children -- all that He is, not just what He does for me.

Delight yourself in the Lord...

Monday, August 24, 2009

I LOVE a parade!

I got tickled reviewing my memory verse for the end of August...

"But thanks be to God,
who always leads us
in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of him."
2 Cor. 2:14

What had me laughing is the fact that I originally chose the verse because I was drawn to the idea of emanating the "fragrance of knowing Him." I still love that challenge. But somehow I kind of skimmed over the whole part about God leading us in "triumphal procession in Christ." How could I have ignored that?

I have always been a huge fan of parades - particularly when I get to be part of the "triumphal procession." Those who know me will not be surprised by this. Some of my fondest childhood memories involved our annual participation in Baton Rouge's downtown Christmas parade. My dad was an active Jaycee, the men's group that sponsored the parade, so we were always drafted to ride floats. (Me? The center of attention in a costume on a float riding before hundreds of people? Oh, twist my arm!)

Mom usually made costumes to coordinate with the theme of the float we were riding. One year we were dressed as ice skaters in little felt skirts on a float with a frozen "pond" and (inexplicably) a huge bell. It was freezing and rainy that night, so instead of gliding on the pretend icy pond in our cute skirts, we huddled for warmth beneath the bell - a good plan until a huge gust of wind blew the bell and showered us in icy cold water.

But my favorite parade was the year my dad was president of the Jaycees. He got to ride in a shiny convertible and his family accompanied him. I think my brother and sister thought it was boring, but I was thrilled! Mom made us girls matching capes - faux camel hair lined in faux leopard (like I have to specify "faux" anything!) I arranged mine just so, with the front folded back a touch so the leopard lining was showing. I'm pretty sure gloves were part of the ensemble, and we perched on the back of that navy blue convertible and I waved regally as though everyone was there to see me.

I was raised with no shortage of love and praise. Yet, I seemed to have an insatiable appetite for attention and admiration. Maybe I was just a dreamy little girl who longed to be a princess, or beauty queen or famous. As much as it hurts to admit it, I've spent much of my adult life in a struggle with that desire for fame and admiration - I just learned to cloak it beneath something more substantial than a faux fur cape.

In the past few years, God has been gently prodding me in this area - revealing that weakness of pride and giving me a growing distaste for anything false or pretentious in my own heart and mind. It hasn't always been pleasant, but it's been a necessary part of my journey toward Christlikeness - and Christ-centeredness. A few years ago, Isaiah 26:8 became my theme:

"Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts."

When HIS name, HIS fame become our desire, then HE will lead us in triumphal procession in Christ - so we can spread HIS fragrance. Now, that's a parade I want to be part of.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fragrance...

"But thanks be to God,
who always leads us
in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of him."

2 Cor. 2:14

Is that a weird choice for a memory verse? For some reason, I feel called to "smell" more like Jesus. As I'm moving through the day, I wonder what kind of aroma surrounds me. Some days, I'm pretty sure I'm like Pig Pen, the old Peanuts character, with a cloud of dust (complaints, worries, anxiety) that threatens to overwhelm anyone in my path. Other days, I'm probably like an overly made-up old woman with a cloying, heavy scent of self-centeredness -- (eau de me, me, me!!!)

By definition, fragrance is "a pleasant, sweet smell." Those who belong to Christ should be redolent of love, mercy, compassion, joy -- the kind of scents that draw people closer and make them want to breathe deeply.

"...the fragrance of the knowledge of him..."

Mmmm. Can you smell it?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The wisdom that comes from heaven...

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."

James 3:17

This is the scripture I'm memorizing for the first two weeks of August. I don't know what it is with me and lists, but I've noticed a lot of the verses or passages I've chosen this year include lists - with lots of adjectives. I've always been a classic "over-writer" - very fond of layers of descriptive words. But I don't think God could be accused of "over-writing" anything, and He uses repetitive, descriptive words to get His point across. Maybe that's not a bad thing!

Anyway - I love this description of the wisdom that comes from heaven - wisdom we can only get from God, from walking in step with Him. The Amplified Bible offers even more layers of words:

"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity)."

I love the juxtaposition of peace-loving and considerate with wholehearted and straightforward. It's all about balance - with a healthy dose of purity and sincerity!

Here's The Message translation of verses 17 and 18:

"Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."


Thursday, July 30, 2009

What I learned at camp...

...I learned 7th and 8th grade girls are smart...and curious.

One of my favorite moments (this, in a week jam-packed with fun, with spiritual challenge and insight, with intense community and sweet fellowship) came in the middle of teaching 22 7th and 8th grade girls about the Beatitudes. The girls were focused, engaged, writing down Scripture references, participating in discussion.

Then a girl raised her hand, looked me straight in the eyes and asked in a clear voice without a hint of self-consciousness:

"How do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?"


Wow. How, indeed?

I told her she was on the right track because she was asking the right questions. I told her to ask God to give her an appetite for righteousness. I told her to feed her heart and mind with Scripture, to spend time in prayer.

I think I gave an acceptable answer, but the truth is, I just felt like bursting into tears. I was overwhelmed with emotion that a young girl really wanted the answer to that question. I also felt completely convicted and utterly inadequate.

Do I hunger and thirst for righteousness? Do I really?

Almost two weeks later, I still see that little girl's face and I'm still wrestling with lessons learned from girls with seeking hearts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blessed...


I'm gearing up for Cross Camp '09, so I've decided to devote the month of July to memorizing our theme verses from Matthew 5 - The Beatitudes. As I've been preparing to teach these truths to 7th and 8th grade girls at camp I've been struck by how radical Jesus was - and is.
Blessed -- happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous; with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions -- are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed -- with a happiness produced by the experience of God's favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace -- are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed -- happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous, with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions -- are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
You get the idea (definitions of "blessed" courtesy of the Amplified Bible). Life-joy, satisfaction, happiness, favor - regardless of outward condition. I want that. I'm just not always anxious to embrace my poverty of spirit, to mourn, to be meek.
Please pray for me as I prepare to teach and interact with kids who need to grasp these truths! I'm anxious about imparting truth without apology, but also with compassion, passion and clarity!
So here's my scripture passage for the month of July:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are tbe merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted
because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you
and falsely say all kinds of evil against you
because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way
they persecuted the prophets before you.

Matthew 5:3-12


Friday, June 19, 2009

Immeasurably more...

My heart is so full! I'm a little behind posting a memory verse for the second half of June, and I've decided to just continue to commit to memory one of my very favorite all-time passages. Here it is in it's entirety:

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Ephesians 3:17-21

I worked on the first half earlier this month, and as I work on this second half, I'm struck by how well it describes my feelings of overwhelming love and gratitude - yes, He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine - and He chooses to do it! Not only that, He does this magnificent, immeasurable work "according to His power that is at work within us!" He can do what He wills, and He chooses to exercise His power within our lives - that's amazing to me!

I love how The Message puts it:

"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us."

What an amazing God!

Well, this has been a full month - to put it mildly! My firstborn, my daughter, is now a married woman! If you don't believe me, check here for photographic evidence! The whole experience was beautiful and I'm eternally grateful to God for His work in her life and the life of her wonderful husband Joe, and in the lives of our family and friends.

I'm also prepping to teach 7th and 8th grade girls Bible study for a week of Cross Camp - so please pray for me! I'm immersing myself in the Beatitudes and feel completely humbled to have the opportunity to share these truths with these girls!

Meanwhile, some women are going to journey with me through the book "Me, Myself and Lies" as part of a summer Bible study orchestrated by the one and only Beth Moore - we'd love for you to join us! Check it all out here.

And, things on the farm are WIDE OPEN! Cotton, soybeans and corn are growing and we're watering around the clock until God decides to bless us with some rain!

So, that's the crazy month of June around my place! What's up with you?


Monday, June 1, 2009

It's June!

June.
My baby girl is getting married in just a few days.
It's hard to put my feelings into words.
Gratitude.
Love.
Excitement.
And just the slightest twinge of sadness.
I read something the other day that made me pause - "Raising a child is the only relationship you have where, if you do it right, it will end in separation."
I'm genuinely happy and thrilled for my daughter, and our family, and trusting that we'll navigate this new season with some grace. (Lord, let it be!)
So, my scripture memory project for the first two weeks in June is an old favorite passage which I've never completely committed to memory. It's my prayer for our family - and yours!


"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19

I love The Message translation of these verses also:

"And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
"

Reach out and grasp the love of Christ!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Compelled by love...

For Christ's love compels us,
because we are convinced that one died for all,
and therefore all died.
2 Corinthians 5:14

This verse became very meaningful to me last summer as I was preparing to teach Bible study during Cross Camp, our summer camp for students. I wanted then, as I want now, to be motivated, driven, compelled, controlled by Christ's love!
(Memory verse for second half of May!)


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growth...

This is a beautiful time to be on the farm...
things change so quickly...
Here's the corn in April...



and now in May...



April...

and in May...


My favorite turnrow in late March...


...and just the other day...


Yep...it's beautiful. And I'm thankful...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dearly loved...

These are interesting days. We've been busy on the farm all week, rolling irrigation pipe across our corn fields in anticipation of dry days ahead. My part of the work is fairly simple - drive a tractor approximately 1.2 miles per hour across bumpy rows while the guys guide the plastic polypipe into the trenches dug by the tractor, securing it in place with clods of dirt. (I admit it - sometimes I sing the "Green Acres" theme song at the top of my lungs while doing this!) But, for the most part, my mind has time to freely roam - and roam it has!

I've been completely obsessed this week with the Compassion Bloggers - a team of fantastic writers who are in India to love on children and families and increase awareness of the fantastic work of Compassion International. I've cried over each post - these stories are heartbreaking, life-affirming, perspective-shifting - you name it! If you dare, check out my new friend
Pete Wilson, or catch up with Angie or Melissa. Warning - you will be moved!

Meanwhile - it's MAY 1st!!! Which means it's time for a new Scripture to memorize! Here's mine for the next two weeks:

Therefore, as God's chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

I'm praying for a deepened understanding of the love of God - the love He's poured into my life and how I am to love Him, and how that is supposed to affect the way I love others. And as we race forward toward my daughter's wedding day (June 13th!) I want to be less concerned with things like a "mother of the bride" dress and more concerned with clothing myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience! Lord, please! Make it so!

And, just because I think they are so wonderful and adorable, let me share a link to just a few fantastic photos of the happy couple!
God bless!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Compassion Bloggers Trip...

I've been totally enthralled by this trip!
I encourage you to follow along
on this adventure and pray for the travelers
and those they will touch and love in God's name!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Anthem...

I absolutely love Jon Acuff's blog, Stuff Christians Like. I thoroughly enjoy his posts, and his commenters never fail to make me laugh - and think. Today, he asked folks to share their life anthems, and a commenter named Elena (all of 18 years old) shared something that just blew me away. She said her youth minister taught it to her and she memorized it and repeats it often. I asked her if I could pass it along and she encouraged me to do so:

I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
The die has been cast.
The decision has been made.
I have stepped over the line.
I'm His disciple.
I won't look back, let up, slow down,
back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense
and my future is secure.
I'm finished and done with low living, sight-walking,
small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions,
mundane talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position,
promotions, plaudits or popularity.
I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized,
praised, regarded or rewarded.
I now live by faith, lean on His presence,
love with patience,
live by prayer and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven,
my road is narrow, my way is rough,
my companions are few,
my Guide is reliable and my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured,
lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice,
hesitate in the presence of adversity,
negotiate at the table of the enemy,
ponder at the pool of popularity,
or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up or slow up
until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up
and spoken up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop,
preach till all know and work till He stops me.
And when He comes for His own,
He will have no problem recognizing me.
My banner is clear.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Refuge...

Scripture memory for the second half of April...

My salvation and my honor depend on God;

he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Selah
Psalm 62:7-8

I'm finishing up the passage I began on April 1st. I love looking at Beth's blog to see what other sisters are memorizing. I actually have a little word document on my desktop where I cut and paste Scriptures for potential future memorization (I know, how dorky can I be, right?).
Anyway, I've enjoyed learning, and reviewing, the verses I've learned so far in 2009. God has used them to encourage me and given multiple opportunities for me to use them to bless others. If you're working on Scripture memory, or just want to say "hello," hit comment and share!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I will not be shaken...

As I was contemplating my memory verses (I'm working on Psalm 62:5-6 the first part of April, then 7-8 the last part - see below), I was intrigued by the word "shaken."
"He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken."
Shaken suggests to be moved roughly, to and fro; often the picture is of someone being shaken in anger, or in attempt to get them to wake up. But looking further in the definition is the key to this verse, I think: to weaken or impair confidence in, especially by shocking or disturbing; to cause a change of mood or attitude by shocking or disturbing.
When God ALONE is our rock, our fortress, our salvation, we won't be easily shaken - shocked, disturbed, blown about by circumstances or people into a weakened state of belief. (Interestingly, as I've worked on repeating this verse, I keep forgetting the word "alone" in verse 7. Hmmm. This could explain my tendency to be shaken!)
One more quick "word study" note: while fortress can suggest a walled, fortified city, the word used in many places in the Psalms describes any place of hiding or refuge. That reminded me of Psalm 91:1 -
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
So, anyone out there working on Scripture memorization?
Click the comment button and share!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone...



Scripture memory for April...

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Selah
Psalm 62:5-8

I love it when the writer of the Psalms talks to himself:
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone…”
That’s kind of the idea behind memorizing Scripture:
– to speak truth to ourselves;
– to speak encouragement to our own souls;
– to remind ourselves of God’s love and faithfulness.


I love the way The Message translation phrases part of this:


“He's solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul.”

Anyone need a little breathing room for your soul?
I know I do.


And I know my salvation depends on God, but my pathetic, prideful heart needs the reminder that my honor depends on him, too.

Find rest…O my soul, in God alone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Inhabiting our praise...

Someone said something in prayer Sunday night that I've heard before, but you know how sometimes it's as though you're hearing something for the first time?

Let me back up:

Sunday night was the annual "Spring Sing" at Temple Baptist Church in Winnsboro, a gathering of choirs from throughout the parish who each sing a couple of songs then we all get together for a song at the end. Our choir has jokingly referred to it as "Battle of the Choirs," but, of course, it is NOT a competition! Our choir also usually complains about anything that requires any kind of extra practice or preparation. Choirs are large and small, young and old, with songs in just about every kind of style - some styles, honestly, I prefer to others.

So Sunday night, one of the pastors (I'm so sorry, I can't remember who it was - update: my friend Jimmy says it was Prentis Gandy - thanks, Jimmy!) prayed the opening prayer, mentioning that God "inhabits the praises of His people."

Wow.

God Himself inhabits the praises of His people.

I've heard it before, but found myself wondering if it was scripture, or just a saying - yep, it's in the Bible - the King James Version:

But thou art holy,

O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3

How amazing is that? I found myself moved by each selection, offered sincerely in praise, which God Himself favored with His presence.

Want God to draw near?

Praise Him!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Overwhelmed...

I encourage anyone reading this to click on Beth Moore's blog (there's a link just down and to the right of this post--->) and take a few minutes to watch the short videos on the life of a minister's wife. I sat on my little worn corner of the couch and bawled after reading these raw, honest statements from some amazing, called, Godly women. I immediately turned off my computer, found Loretta, my minister's wife, and just about scared her to death by collapsing into tears while trying to express how much I love and appreciate her! I am crazy about that girl and I don't tell her enough! Seriously, she is amazing, beautiful, funny, super-talented, devoted...and she has really great hair!

When's the last time you let your minister's wife know what she means to you? Or lifted a prayer on her behalf? I encourage you to do it today and I'm pledging anew to pray for and love on my preacher's wife (who also, happily, happens to be my back-door neighbor and dear friend)!


I LOVE YOU, LORETTA!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Devoted...

Sticking with a "love" theme, here's my new memory verse for the last two weeks in March:

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves."
Romans 12:10

The combination of a call to love with the concept of honoring others above myself drew me to this verse. In our study of Esther, we've been looking at the villain's insatiable craving for honor and, honestly, that's made me pretty uncomfortable. I've spent a lot of my life seeking the approval of others - desiring to be hon
ored, admired, held in high esteem. I'm sick of it. I want to seek the approval of God - and be free to honor others -- above, always above, myself.
I love how this verse appears in a couple of other translations:

The Message (v. 9-10):

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.


New Living Translation:

Love each other with genuine affection,
and take delight in honoring each other.


English Standard Version:

Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.


I love the way the message says "practice playing second fiddle" and the New Living says to "take delight in honoring each other." But my favorite might be the ESV - "outdo one another in showing honor" hits all my over-achiever buttons!

Are you memorizing/meditating on a particular scripture? Hit the comment button and share!





Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The divine nature...


Something from our homework in last week's Bible study has been rolling around in my head all week and I thought I'd share it. (We're just over halfway through with "Esther - It's Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore)

"Discontent with selfishness and weary of ego, we finally become willing to lose ourselves in something greater. In doing so, we find Christ as we've never known Him and, there, pooled in the reflection of His eyes, startle to discover that a part of ourselves resembles Him. That, Beloved One, is what happens when human flesh and blood - with all its frailty - participates in the divine nature."


Friday, March 6, 2009

All...


I just noticed something. I've been choosing Scripture to memorize on varying themes -- gentleness, anxiety, coping, and love, to name a few. But there's a common thread through most of them...the repetition of the word "all." Hmmm.

All.

Completely. Fully. Entirely.
Wholly. Absolutely. Utterly.
In every respect. Without reservation.
Without exception.

All grace, all things, all times, to all, transcends all,
all your heart, all your understanding,
all your strength...all.


I think I'm being called out to something here...
and I'm not special or unique.
We're ALL called...
to give ALL,

to accept and give ALL grace,
to love ALL with ALL...

I'm just sayin' is all.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To love...


"To love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding
and with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is more important than all burnt offerings
and sacrifices."

Mark 12:33

I've chosen this verse to memorize for the first two weeks of March. I was drawn to Scripture about love for this month, and looked at a lot of them before settling on this one (I love www.biblegateway.com for some key word look-ups!) This particular verse struck me because of the reference to burnt offerings and sacrifices. It reminded me of another verse I've been pondering these days, Galatians 5:6 (from The Message):

"For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion
nor disregard of religion amounts to anything.
What matters is something far more interior:
faith expressed in love."


Many times in my spiritual journey, I think I've substituted activity, religion, "burnt offerings and sacrifices" for love - heartfelt, deep, all-in love. That's how I want to express my faith - in love!

Soften this old, distracted, anxious heart, Lord.
Fill me with Your love!


If you're interested in joining in Scripture memory, click on the comment button and let me know what you're learning! (And if you haven't checked out Beth Moore's blog lately, click on the link at right - LPM Blog - there are around 2000 women memorizing all kinds of Scripture in 2009!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In ALL things, at ALL times...


Here's my memory verse for the last two weeks in February:

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work."

2 Cor. 9:8

I love how The Message puts it (in verses 8-11)

"God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God."

I love it when Scripture references farming...we're watching wheat grow on our farm right now...it's beautiful; from seed to beautiful lush green, to golden wheat, then bread -- a promise of future growth! What scripture are you memorizing?
Fallen behind? Jump back in!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Time for a new verse!

It's not too late for anyone interested in memorizing some Scripture for 2009! If you want to participate, post your scripture here by clicking on the comment button below! The verses I've learned so far have been put to good use in my life! Hope it's the same for you. Continuing on a theme of humility, gentleness, battling anxiety and promoting peace, here's my next passage:


Be completely humble and gentle;

be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit

through the bond of peace.

Epehesians 4:2-3 (NIV)

Monday, January 26, 2009

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy...

The final two words describing things we should fix our minds on (Phil. 4:8) are "excellent" and "praiseworthy." These underscore other words on the list - excellent is defined as "extremely good, outstanding" and praiseworthy as "deserving approval or admiration." Taken as a whole, these words paint a picture of a mind focused in such a positive direction - true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy.

I have contemplated these things and studied these words and still find the natural leaning of my mind to be nowhere near this ideal. I'm more inclined (still) to worry, to stew, to think negative thoughts (mostly about myself, which makes me just as self-absorbed as a conceited person).

But in the learning, in the meditation, I can see some progress - a growing awareness of the need to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corintians 2:5). When the worry crops up, if nothing else I can repeat Phil. 4:6-7, present my requests to God - with thanksgiving - and expect His peace, which is beyond my understanding. When a negative thought comes up, I can remind myself to think instead about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

Ultimately, success in this area has less to do with my "ability" to focus my mind and everything to do with the worthiness of the One on whom my mind is fixed.

"You will guard him and keep him
in perfect and constant peace
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he commits himself to You,
leans on You, and hopes confidently in You."
Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified Bible)


Think about such things...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's tough being a woman...

We interrupt this exhaustive look at Philippians 4:8 to bring you an important message:

Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman
the new Bible study by Beth Moore
will begin this Monday, 6:30 p.m.,
at FBC Wisner in the choir room.


Any and all women are invited, but only if you sometimes have a hard time coping with life, if you're interested in learning your destiny, if you need to know God is there when He's not obvious, if you feel overwhelmed, underprepared, overworked, underappreciated...well, you get the drift. It's for YOU!

Those blog visitors who can't participate in the study can still help out. I'm conducting an informal survey in conjunction with the study and I'm DYING for your input. If you would (and please do), click the comment button below then click on the box below "leave your comment" and jot down three reasons why it's tough being a woman. If you want to remain anonymous, feel free. I plan to share some responses during the course of our study. So come on, express yourself! Get it off your chest! (And please refrain from man-bashing!)

You'll be glad to learn you're not alone!
I love being a woman (tough as it is) and I love YOU!

Whatever is admirable...

Thinking about whatever is admirable..."arousing or deserving respect or approval." Basically, it means thinking about things that are worth thinking about. Synonyms: commendable, praiseworthy, laudable, estimable, exemplary, honorable, worthy, deserving, respectable, worthwhile, good, fine, great...
Many of the things we're admonished by Paul to "think about" have overlapping meanings. The recurrence of the word "good" in either the definition or synonyms of the words reminded me of something Jesse told me when we were dating. I, of course, was a journalism major and word fanatic. Jesse told me farmers had two adjectives: "good" and "very good." We've laughed about that through the years, but really, the more I think about it, good is, well, good. Simple, but profound.
Good.
Think about such things...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Whatever is lovely...

In the continuing saga of filling my mind with all things of a Philippians 4:8 nature, I looked up definitions/synonyms of the word lovely...
Lovely: exquisitely beautiful; (informal) pleasant or enjoyable, delightful.
Synonyms include beautiful, attractive, appealing, adorable, exquisite, sweet, charming, enchanting, engaging.
As I contemplated "thinking about such things," it made me wonder. Why is it so easy to replay scenes in our minds that are embarrassing, sad, anger-inducing or mortifying? I know I've relived some of my klutziest moments hundreds of times, along with those (too frequent) instances when I've stuck my entire foot inside my big mouth. Why not work to replay the pleasant memories, the exquisitely beautiful moments we all experience?
Think about such things...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Whatever is pure...

More thoughts on our thought life (Phil. 4:8)
The definition of pure includes the following: not mixed with any other substance or material; without extraneous and unnecessary elements; free of any contamination; wholesome, untainted by immorality; perfectly in tune and with a clear tone.
Synonyms include: uncontaminated, undiluted, unalloyed, sterling, solid, refined, clarified, clear, flawless, perfect, genuine, clean, sparkling, wholesome, natural, healthy, uninfected, virtuous, moral, ethical, good, righteous, honorable, reputable, exemplary, irreproachable, chaste, decent, worthy, noble, blameless, guiltless, guileless, spotless, uncorrupted, undefiled.
For some reason, "guileless" caught my attention. "Guile" is sly or cunning intelligence and it makes me uncomfortable to think about the times I've used God-given intelligence in a sly or deceitful way - to get out of something, to make myself look better than I really am. Yuck. I am sick of that game. I'm trying to keep my feet firmly planted on a path to a completely authentic life - and that has everything to do with the things I fill my mind with. I want my mind to be pure - perfectly in tune, clean, genuine and good.
Think about such things...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Whatever is right...

More thoughts from Philippians 4:8...
Right: morally good, justified, acceptable; true or correct as fact; according to what is correct for a particular situation or thing ("the right way home"); the best or most suitable of a number of possible choices (hmmm).
Also, denoting the side of a person's body which is toward the east when they are facing north. (I'm sorry, this made me laugh out loud! As a directionally-challenged person who often confuses left and right, much less north and south, this cracked me up! I get that this is the most accurate description of "right" vs. "left," but it's just easier for me to check to see what hand my wedding ring is on!)
Correctly, morally just, honorable; goodness, righteousness, virtue; integrity, morality, truth, honesty; honor, justice, fairness.
In the verb tense: to remedy, repair, rectify or mend.
And synonyms: just, fair, proper, good, upright, righteous, virtuous, moral, ethical, honorable, honest, lawful, legal, correct, accurate, exact, precise, proper, valid, suitable, appropriate, fitting, balanced, healthy...
Think about such things...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Whatever is noble...

Continuing on the Philippians 4:8 theme, here are a few definitions and synonyms for noble:
Having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals; imposing or magnificent size or appearance; of excellent or superior quality; a person of noble rank or birth.
Synonyms include aristocratic, high-born, virtuous, good, honorable, upright, decent, worthy, moral, ethical, reputable, magnanimous, unselfish, generous, magnificent, spendid, grand, stately, imposing, dignified, proud, striking, impressive, majestic, awesome, glorious, monumental, statuesque.
I thought it was interesting that a lot of these words suggest something high and lofty. Applied to our thought life, it seems to be an exhortation to take the high road; to avoid descending into negative, base and ugly thoughts. After all, by virtue of our spiritual adoption into God's family, we are of noble rank -- daughters of the King! Our minds should be dedicated to the highest principles and ideals, to all things good!
Think about such things...