Sunday, May 17, 2015

Revision


Two years ago I wrote a blog post in response to some sweet friends on Instagram wanting to know how I study the Bible. It turned out to be my most popular post to date. If you are new here and haven't read the original post you can find it here

A little over a month ago I started feeling stagnant like something was missing from my journaling...and then it dawned on me...I was missing from my journaling. I had hidden my voice and response to the things the Lord had asked of me out of laziness.  Let me explain. 

Here is my what I wrote on Instagram on 4/23/15: "Confession Post #3001: Today I find myself feeling restless with my journaling. I'm going back to the drawing board, asking God to let me use my own words...not the words of commentators all the time...the reason I tend to read a lot of commentary is to gain a deeper understanding. I guess the missing piece is making it  more personal and letting go of what people might think of me. So there's my heart."

As soon as finished posting those words, I felt the Lord remind me of a book I bought on January 7, 2015 when I went on my Amazon binge with my Christmas money! So I flew down the stair to my office, starred at my bulging bookcase and there it was! 

I quickly raced back upstairs, picked up my ipad and began to give a praise report on Instagram. "And just like that the Lord who knows my heart and hears my prayers, just reminded me of a book I bought a few months ago. He knows the desires of my heart, my dream to teach, write and encourage others. And in the sweetest way He's helping me be ok with my own words. Lord, I love you!"

On April 26, 2015 I finished the book and I've not been the same since. I totally could have finished the book in one night but I was practicing self control and taking notes the entire way through, hence the delay. Smiley emoji here. 

During this time I also learned about the 7 Arrows of Bible Reading  and understanding that for myself has proven extremely beneficial, and I highly recommend that resource if you want to dig deeper in your personal study time. 

I have been preparing my heart to write this post for two weeks now, just trying to find the best word to describe this process. What I was doing before wasn't wrong; but I felt a tug in my spirit that there was a better way. And the Lord gave me this word: revision.

Revision: n.  a change or set of changes that corrects or improves something

The change that I'm making is going from allowing myself to jump to my study Bible and Biblical commentaries when I start to feel lost in Scripture. Lost is a feeling I don't like. 

Here is another excerpt from me processing the new information from Jen's book: "I told myself I wasn't a good student in school because I had average grades. My high school chemistry teacher told me she never met someone who worked so hard for average grades. I was afraid of going to college for fear of failure. I have almost completely relied on my study Bible and commentaries, telling myself that I need them to help me 'get it' instead of asking God to help me."

Fast forward to page 81 of Jen's book: "The problem is not with our study Bibles or commentaries; the problem is with out need for instant gratification and our dislike of feeling lost. Commentaries hold a valid place in the learning process, but that place is not at the beginning of the learning process, where they can diminish our sense of feeling lost- a feeling that is actually our friend." 

I didn't start out with commentaries at the beginning of my studying, but it sort of slipped in...that need for instant gratification. But God is faithful to meet me right in the midst of my feelings of being lost and dying to the need for instant gratification. Isn't He so good in every way?! 

The things that remain the same: 

The early morning hours. I still love them and crave that time because I'm a homeschool mama and am not without my boys so I need that alone time with Jesus. I light candles and still drink my piping hot cup of English Breakfast tea while Pandora quietly plays worship music in the background. 

My Disclaimer. I want to remind you again that it's so nice that people want to know how I study the Scriptures. But I am no Bible scholar. I just love Jesus, want to know Him in a super personal way and make Him known in every way I can. He means everything to me. 

Prayer. It needs no explanation, really....other than its necessary.

The things that changed:  Compliments of  The LORD, Jen Wilkin & 7 Arrows of Bible Reading

A printed copy of the text: double spaced with plenty of room for note taking, highlighting and definitions. This is totally my jam.

Background Information: Who wrote it? When? Why? Where? Themes?

Repetitive Reading: It is incredible what repetitive reading will do for personal understanding. Try it!

CIA:  This is not what you might think. C stands for comprehension: what does it say? I stands for interpretation: what does it mean? A stands for application: how should it change me? 

7 Arrows: What does this passage say? What did it mean to its original audience? What does this passage tell us about God? What does tell me about man? What does this passage demand of me? How does this passage change the way I relate to people? What does this passage prompt me to pray about?

If you are still reading, thank you. I am passionate about the Lord and spending time with Him on a daily basis. He still directs my heart with what I share about what He's teaching me. He inspires me and leads me through this beautiful journey of discovery.

Revision.

Yes, Lord.

For Your glory.

xo,
Melissa

PS: If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I'll work on answering them in a separate post. My next post will be about journaling prayers to keep proper focus. Love y'all!



She Reads Truth





















Wednesday, February 25, 2015

REFLECT

 New Life



Hello Loves!

I have been asked by my church to write a 40 Day Easter Devotional so that's where I'll be until Easter! You can follow along by texting the word REFLECT to 555888. Each morning at 6 AM you will receive the devotional or you can follow along by clicking here.

I am so thankful to the Lord for this opportunity!

Love y'all!

xo

Friday, February 13, 2015

Flies

*This is what I am sharing at my homeschool co-op today.

February: Welcome to the time of year when my homeschool related fears rush in. We passed the 100 day mark. It's almost convention time.  Cabin fever. You know what I mean. The blizzards: Juno, Marcus,  and Neptune. I can't. This would be a lovely time for me to try and provide some encouragement to weary and worn out moms. Riiiight. Thanks for volunteering me to share today, Michelle! P.S. The devotion scheduler is bossy! :)

Earlier this week as I began to ask the Lord what He would have me share, I kept recalling 1 John 4:18. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear...."

I have life fears. I'm sure we all do. Today though, I want to talk about fear as it relates to homeschooling. I know that I'm not alone in this. But just to be sure, I asked some fellow homeschool moms (online) to share some of their fears.  I will share some responses in a moment.

As it turns out, my fears are not unique to me.  Being responsible for our children's education is a daunting task.  My fears cause me to freak out and forget the Truth of the Scriptures for a minute. I sort of panic and tell myself that I can't do it... but my reactions don't bring glory to God.  Because the Truth is that He called me and has equipped me to do this even on my worst day of school.

These are the "flies" (fear/lies) I received and truth to replace them with:

...I fear opinions of family members...
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn, nor fear their insults. Isaiah 51:7 NLT

...I fear that I'm not a good enough teacher...
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 NIV

...I fear that I'm not capable of giving them the best education...
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NLT

...I fear they are missing out because of me...
But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. Psalm 33:18 NLT

....I fear that I'm not enough...
On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

...I fear that I'm not teaching them what they need to know...
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD--Isaiah 11:2

....I fear that I am failing them....
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

I'm so thankful to the Lord for this Truth:

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV

These slavish fears we at war with are not from God. They are lies straight from the pit . We need to take back our thoughts of fear and replace them with the Truth. We are loved by the Lord. He has equipped us to teach, train and encourage our children. The enemy wants nothing more than for us to get caught up in what we are not doing. We need to stop falling into his traps and believe what God's Word says.

We have to trust our lives, our souls, our interests, our reactions, our routines, our children and their education to the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, they belong to Him.

                                                                     Image: www.lysaterkeurst.com

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Word 2015

It all started with a simple text from me to my sister that went like this:

"What's the plan for 2015? Goals? Dreams?Let's talk!"

I knew I had a captive audience as she was traveling back home from Georgia. And I quickly received her response...and then she asked me:

"How about you?" 

I froze for a split second and then...

I quickly blurted out:

"Focus! I've been so distracted this year." (Insert 15,000 emojis) LOL

I began to wonder if maybe this was the Lord's way of telling me that would be my one word for 2015, but....

Last year, the Lord placed my one word on my heart in early November and here I was wondering on the last Saturday of 2014 what my word would be.

The Lord had been placing words like dream and faithful in my heart but I didn't have that familiar feeling of confirmation that I love. So,  I waited.

On Monday I got out my journal. I started copying down a few quotes I read on Jess Connolly's blog about dreaming and said this:

"Ask the Lord to be loud to you- and I dare you to believe that He might really desire for you to hear His voice, even more than you desire to hear His." 

Gulp.

So I prayed and asked Him to be loud to me. A few moments went by and I began searching the Scriptures. It's the place I go to for everything, really. And it was there, I saw a verse that pricked my heart.

"One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul." Acts 16:14

At first it was kind of funny. I was like, "cool, You want me to pay attention."  But as I continued to read the Scripture line by line, the word jumped off the page to my teary blue eyes.

Heart. 

I cried. Thank you Lord, from the bottom of my heart for showing me this Scripture that I have glanced over countless times before now.

Easton's Bible Dictionary provides this definition: "The heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. The heart must be changed, regenerated before a man can willingly obey God." 

In the Greek language #2588 it is translated "kardia- the effective center of our being; desire-producer that makes us tick; our desire-decisions that establish who we really are."

Whoa.

I had asked the Lord to help me focus. I asked Him to be loud. I asked Him to give me a word for 2015 that would mean something to me.

And He did that. He did all of it. And as an added bonus, He showed me this Scripture as a way of solidifying what He placed inside my heart:

"My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed:  I will sing and give praise." Psalm 57:7

Hear: to listen; give or pay attention to.
Ear: keen/sensitive perception of the differences of sounds
Art: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful


Heart.

I think Ann Voskamp said it best when she said: 

"All the heart really knows-is what it knows by heart."

And that's my prayer for this year. To know in my heart and believe all that The Lord has for me. And I want to know Him more by paying attention to His Word and fixing my heart on the Truth of His promises. Not just when things are going splendidly but when things are hard and I have to choke back tears. 

"For a fixed heart I must have a fixed determination, and not a mere fluctuating and soon broken intention. And I must have a continuous realization of my dependence upon God, and of God's sweet sufficiency, going with me all through the dusty day." Alexander MacLaren

Lord, for 2015, I want to know you by heart. Let it be so. Amen.

*PS: If you are still reading this wordy post, I wanted to say that I'll be participating in Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team this year.  I will memorize two Scriptures per month for each month in 2015. I've done this a few years now and this is the first year the Lord gave me all 24 verses before the year began and they are all on...you guessed it...the heart because what the heart really nows, is what it knows by heart. Join me? Scripture Memory Team

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Next Step

                                                                           She Reads Truth

This might not make sense to anyone but I feel compelled to share what The Lord placed on my heart earlier today...something I don't want to forget because when The Lord speaks, it is precious and must be cherished and remembered. Forever.

While I was reading the text for today's devotional, I became obsessed with the story of the ten lepers. It was a story that I've heard many times. A familiar story. But different in how only one of the ten returned to offer thanks.

I had to know more.

I studied and wrote things in my journal and when I went to write my journal page for the #shereadstruth online community, my mind went blank. I just kept praying and asking The Lord to help me see what He would have me to share.

Finally. He showed me the route to take.

It was what I was initially drawn to. I was to write about the one who noticed his healing and offered thanks. While I was handwriting the words, Jesus spoke so tenderly to me. I wrote it in my Bible and dated it November 18, 2014.

This is what I wrote on page 1993 of my ESV Study Bible right next to the subtitle: Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers -- "The day my life changed as a writer." 

Today is a significant day. My husband's beautiful God-fearing Grandmother would have been 97. This is her first birthday celebrating with the One she lived her whole life for. Before she passed away on July 4, 2014, (and we miss her everyday) she confirmed to me that the dreams I have for myself and family would come to pass. I will cherish forever those intimate moments we shared when she spoke truth and life into my spirit. I love that God would speak to me on her birthday. 

So I take what He gave me and I say Hallelujah, Amen and Thank You Lord.

I don't have to have it all figured out. All I have to do is say yes to taking the next step which is to start writing...however small it may be and for however long without people seeing the words. He wants me to be faithful in the little things of writing a little something each day. That's all I know so far.

And I respond and whisper a prayer:

Yes, Lord. I am willing to do what seems impossible (and is) on my own. I feel so ill-equipped to write. It's obvious that I will need You in ways like never before to share the words that in Your timing, You will give to me. 


It's kind of like homeschooling. I need You Jesus more than ever now that I'm a homeschooling mama. 


The enemy of my soul would like me to think that maybe I didn't hear you right; that maybe you spoke those words for someone else and that I'm the wrong girl. 


But then I remember, You are the LORD. And You shall reign...in the next step.

xo


Friday, October 10, 2014

Sweet 16










Dear Bryan,

From beginnin' to end, 365 days of the year
I want your same ole love, baby
And all I wanna do is share my life with you
I want your same ole love...

Thank you for 16 beautiful years of marriage. I didn't want to share my life with anyone but you. God gave me the desire of my heart when He gave you to me.

I look forward to our future with great joy.

Love, 
Melissa

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Small Beginnings


                                 Source                                            


The first few months of marriage.

Morning, midday and evening sickness.

Starting a budget/working on the debt snowball.

Establishing an exercise regimen or eating plan.

Praying for a loved one who desperately needs Jesus.

Beginning work at a new job.

Small beginnings. 

What I love about this Scripture:

"....for The Lord rejoices to see the work begin." 

Fifteen years and 364 days later we worked through those first few months of marriage and now, although, not perfect, it is more beautiful than that rainy night when we exchanged our vows.  He is faithful.

Seeing my boys beautiful faces when they were born made every time I could only eat Lucky Charms or Saltine crackers worth it. I didn't despise it, per se, I just wasn't a fan of the not being able to even look at food for a time. Homegirl loves to eat!  :) He is faithful.

I have to confess with budgeting, I can be all or nothing. I sometimes say, "why bother?" Like Dave Ramsey says, "All the money comes in and all the money goes out, only the names are changed to protect the innocent." But as the Lord provides extra sources of income, I remind myself that it will be worth it one day to be faithful now and work with what we have available.  He is faithful.

Oh the joy of when a loved one that you've been praying for tells you out of the blue they are reading your blog. You know what they say, people are watching and we may be the only 'Jesus' they see. He is faithful.

Small beginnings. I think I love you.

Seriously though, The Lord rejoices to see the work begin. Why? Because He made this day. And He wants us to just start somewhere.  To be faithful in the little and the big. To little by little move forward. 

"God's work always begins with little seeds." MacLaren

Think about it. Jesus is into small beginnings.

The tiny seed at conception. He takes His time to fashion us and form us in the depths; and at the perfect time, He releases us from the womb. 

The sparrow. He cares for and provides for it so gently and He knows where and when it falls. He takes great delight in His creation.

He is the Master Builder and the greatest mathematician of all time. I can't explain Jesus math but I do know its supernatural and He can make things multiply faster than the speed of light. He's always making something out of nothing. And that's a beautiful thing. 

"Satan does not despise the day of small things. Satan fears the day of small things in our life because he sees what great things God does in them and brings out of them." Guzik

God is always watching us. The Bible says His eyes are over the whole earth searching for those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. Whether we are just beginning something or nearing the end, His eyes are everywhere and He is watching to see if we will be faithful to Him. His eyes are on all our ways and nothing is hidden from Him.

This is how Jesus works. We have to be faithful in the little things before He will grant us more. Remember, this day, and every day is the day that He has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. We are to give thanks in all things because this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.

Don't believe the lie that bigger is better. Jesus values substance over size. Give all that you have to Him, commit your works (beginning, middle and end) to Jesus and watch Him respond to you.

"God often chooses weak instruments to bring about mighty things: and tho' the beginnings be small, He can make the latter end greatly to increase." Wesley

Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet. :)

Prayer:

Lord, help us to not despise these small beginnings especially now that we know you delight to see the work begin. Help us remember that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Grant us the grace to receive Your mercy to just begin. Help us even today, to move forward, knowing that You have great things ahead. We love you so much Jesus. Amen.