Monday, August 31, 2020

Hello Monday linkup

Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with Tanya from The Other Side of the Road for this blog post. 

This seems to be my newest catch phrase, I realize that, but I can't seem to get into the routine of regular blog posts again. I start off good, then it just dwindles down again. Here's to hoping this week is different.

I celebrated my mom's birthday with a dinner for her on Thursday night. 


Isn't she pretty? This is her with my nephew Tyler back at Christmas. We were talking about him Saturday night, and how photogenic he is. Also, he gives the best hugs of anyone I know.

For the life of me, I cannot remember what we did Friday night. I know we were home, though. I had leftovers for dinner and Todd had Taco Bell. 

He bought a new radio for my car, and while I was gone on Saturday, that's what he did. We both had to be at the church early that morning, he for a meeting and me for a special choir rehearsal, then I stayed until noon and he came on home. I love the new radio! It's very fancy, but it's pretty easy to work. 

Later on that day, he went axe throwing with a friend and I went to Mom's for dinner. 

I was at church early again for praise team rehearsal Sunday morning, then home for the rest of the day while he went to work. It was a very low key weekend, and I was perfectly happy with that. I watched a stupid amount of movies this past week, taking a break from reading for the week. 

I loved the Saturday rehearsal for choir. It was very much needed and appreciated. Our church hired a worship "consultant" to come and assess our needs to help us find a worship leader. We've been without one since the end of February, which sounds like forever, but when the world halted the way it did, the man who was filling in temporarily just kept filling in. He still is, and he is doing a great job! I'm so appreciative of him, because this kind of thing isn't his normal job. Ray Jones was there to encourage us, though and to lead us and teach us. We've become smaller in size since starting back with rehearsals in August and he taught us to sound much bigger than what our numbers say we are.

I did come home feeling encouraged and feeling very sorry for all who missed out being there in person—especially because we had major technical difficulties (several states did, in fact). Online church is not a replacement for the real deal. We are meant for fellowship and time with others and we are made for worship! It's hard to worship when you're at home and some of you may do that, but I would guess the majority do not. I know I didn't when I was at home for those weeks with no church. 

All in all, it was a good weekend. I watched another movie Sunday night and caught up on laundry and some other housekeeping things. This week will be a little busier for me than normal because I'm sharing my car and because Bible study starts back this week. I'm looking forward to that and to seeing one of my best friends that I haven't seen since the start of summer. 

Thanks for reading along! Love to all. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

What's Up Wednesday


Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm winning at this week and remembered in time that today is What's Up Wednesday linkup day. I never ever remember this day, so you see why I'm winning at the week, right? I'm linking up with Shay from Mix & Match Mama and her friend Sheaffer for this Wednesday blog post. 

I'll jump right in and begin!

What I'm eating this week:

On Monday night I made spaghetti and garlic bread. I figured Drew and Noah would be ready for a good meal at home, and they were! I added the turkey meatballs from Trader Joe's to the spaghetti and because a couple of my pickier eaters weren't home, I combined in all in one pot. It was so good! I haven't had spaghetti in ages and it was so delicious topped with parmesan cheese.

Tuesday we had salmon, rice and crowder peas and the other nights I'm still unsure about. 

What I'm reminiscing about:

Normal life, life without masks, hugging, not having my temperature taken when I eat out, people being nice—you know, the usual.

What I'm loving:

I still love our new kitchen table set. Because there is no longer a restricted view out those windows, it opened up the whole kitchen and makes our small space feel large. I love the updated look!

What we've been up to:

We are ALL all over the place. One thing I've recently begun doing is attending a Monday night Bible study for high school students at my friend's house. I'm there to lend a hand if needed, but I also help out with the meal each week. Last night I didn't stay, but I made the fixings for a taco bar, set it all up at her house and then left to come back home to spend time with my family that have been out of town. I love it, and I love that the students are hungry for the Word of God. I've never seen anything quite like it, actually, and I helped lead a high school community group for five years on each Sunday night. They are serious about studying, and I am loving getting to know some new faces. They're the sweetest students I've ever been around, and they're all very welcoming to my new self.

About this: God clearly called me out of youth ministry a few years ago and planted me more solidly with women in the body of Christ. That doesn't mean I don't need to show up sometimes, though. Over the summer, the Lord kept putting younger ladies in my life for me to get to know: one I met with once and the other we only talked via texting. Especially in this day and age, we need to always be willing to say yes to whatever God is calling us to do. A lot of younger people are anxious and because of that, they're in need of older women who are solid in their faith in Jesus. Just like Isaiah just showed up when the Lord asked him who would go, that is what my goal is to keep doing: showing up for anyone who may need me. 

Being a consistent presence each week will help build a relationship, that way if anyone ever needs anything, they will know they can reach out to me and trust me. 

What I'm dreading:

Honestly? The rest of 2020, especially as we get closer to November and also whatever comes after the new year. I don't think all this is going to just mysteriously go away, this pandemic we're in the middle of, the question is more of how long we're going to let it rule us? Surely at some point in time, things will resume back to normal. Then again, maybe not. 

About November of 2020, I always dread the nasty that comes from a Presidential election year. It's on every side.

What I'm excited about:

I have a fun sisters trip coming up mid-October that I'm forward to; Trish and I are going to Colorado to see our sisters. I can't wait! I haven't been in ages.

What I'm watching/reading:

Don't laugh, but I'm rewatching all the Twilight movies because I want to read the latest new book in the series. I have forgotten so much, so I want to be able to remember when I decide to read it soon. 

I'm on book eight of the Glenbrooke series by my favorite author, Robin Jones Gunn. I have one last book in the series after this one, and then I'll move on to my other favorite author and series, The Yada Yada Prayer Group series by Neta Jackson. I'm excited about reading them!

What I'm listening to:

Ben Rector on Spotify, JJ Heller and worship music by Elevation Worship. It's all so good! 

What I'm wearing:

One of these plain neutral colored shirts that I recently bought. I can rotate them with white jeans, blue jeans, boyfriend style jeans, black pants or shorts. I love easy and versatile. 

What I'm doing this weekend:

I have plans the majority of Saturday and Saturday night and church on Sunday. I'm hoping to celebrate my mom's birthday with her on Thursday night. I have no idea what we'll eat, but it'll be good.

What I'm looking forward to next month:

I always put out my fall decorations on September one. I can't wait! They'll stay put until Thanksgiving night, when we put up all the Christmas decorations.

What else is new:

I'm in the studying and writing process again! I'm working on our new Spring 2021 Bible study with the writing team at my church. I'm hours in and two verses down. It's a slow starting point, but once it gets going, the words seem to fly. If you think of me during this process, will you pray for the five of us writing? I can't disclose the book yet, but it's a new testament book! It's a big responsibility, putting out Bible study curriculum and the weight we carry with it is burdensome. We could easily cause someone to stumble with our words, so how we handle the Word of God is so very important. It's a process that is steeped in prayer. 

This is another random thing I did Tuesday: Do you ever watch videos on YouTube? My friend Andrea turned me on to this girl who puts out great content about cleaning and decluttering her house, so I watched a ten minute video and then jumped up and cleaned the downstairs bath, my kitchen and I ended with vacuuming. I'll dust in the living and dining rooms tomorrow and I'll probably mop the floors, then I'll work on the upstairs Thursday. It helps having a routine with cleaning, so I like to come up with a plan to try and stick with. Things I do every day include vacuuming (hello dogs who shed), wiping down the bathroom counters and cleaning in my kitchen. It's easy to keep those areas clean and I am the type gal who cleans as I cook. And I can't cook until my kitchen is clean! It may sound weird, but I need fresh and open spaces because I don't have a ton of room in my kitchen and on the counters. The girl on YouTube is Love Meg. She motivates me like no other! 

How do you go about this? I'd love to hear!

Thanks for reading along! Love to all. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

being a woman of the Word of God

I have to confess something. Sometimes I write something or say something as a way of kind of tossing around a phrase that sounds good, but then I won't take the same advice for myself. Isn't that terrible? This little saying , women in the Word—it's catchy, but do I take it literally for myself? Most times, yes. But not always, apparently.

I love to share with people how the Lord drew me to Him through the reading of His Word and tell people often how important a quiet time with Him is every single day. What I don't share is that I sometimes struggle in this myself, like right now when I've neglected my chronological reading plan the past few weeks. I am smack dab in the middle of the prophesy books in the Old Testament and they are hard for me. So much so that I just had to put it down a few weeks ago when we first began in Jeremiah. I'm still reading each day, here and there, but I have no formal plan and the enemy has been messing with me as a result.

It's connected, you know, how when we don't read the Word of God consistently, we allow the enemy a spot he can slip in quietly and undetected. 

I know this about our enemy and am not immune to his sneaky ways. I always have to stop and give thanks to God when He shows me a glimpse of this in my own life; I love something I once heard Priscilla Shirer say about this subject of spiritual warfare—we don't need to give the enemy TOO much credit, but most of us don't give him enough. Meaning that we need the reminder of the fact that in Ephesians 6, Paul tells us that our enemy isn't against flesh and blood; it's against the dark unseen spiritual realm all around us.

That being said, it seems the Lord keeps showing me things like this reminder about our enemy being unseen and not flesh and blood, and He keeps reminding me that I can trust Him. He's given me opportunities to trust Him with just this week alone—I don't mind sharing one with you so that you can help me pray. My son is in nursing school, most of you know that; it's online this semester, which we expected. The part we didn't expect was for his clinicals to be online. I'm not sure how all of that is going to play out, because it all has to take place via a SEVEN HOUR LONG Zoom call. He doesn't know how it's going to work out, either. Will you please help me pray for him in this? I know that I can trust the Lord with all of this and none of it is taking Him by surprise. I know if this is God's will for Drew, that He will help him through all of this. But can you imagine having to be in his shoes? I cannot. He could use all the prayers he can get. Thanks in advance for helping me pray, not only for him but also for other students like him who are trying to function during this crazy time.

Needless to say, these verses below are so very comforting to me right now and I have to remind myself of them often.

Thanks for reading my blog and thanks in advance for helping me pray. Love to all. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Hello Monday/Life Lately


Happy Monday, Friends! I'm linking up with Tanya from The Other Side of the Road for this weekly (and lately, only) blog post.

Life has been busy lately. That is my excuse for not blogging much lately. I've been lazy at night and have stopped writing these posts before the morning comes, so that makes a huge difference. For myself, I want to be better at this as a goal for my week. I really do miss being on here when I don't make the time to write.. 

Here's a little catching up from last week and some of what went on this weekend. Spoiler alert: it wasn't much.

All my sons are back home under one roof, which is always a relief. Drew, Noah and their friend Jarrett spent last week in Daytona Beach, Florida. They had a great time, but I was relieved when they made it back home safely yesterday afternoon. (I took this picture last week as they were leaving.) They were all here for thirty minutes, then most of them left for a wedding. (Yes, they have friends getting married now~weird.)

While they were gone, I watched two movies. Todd was working, so I was here alone. I watched a cheesy movie on Prime TV called Home Sweet Home and then another cheesy movie from twelve years ago, Twilight. Don't make fun, but I'm watching them all again this week. I need a refresh, because I read the books when they came out years ago and after a decade, there is a brand new one to the collection. Laugh all you want, go ahead, but you'd be surprised at how good they are.

This was pretty much how the dogs spent the weekend and all of last week: on the couch instead of their new beds. What a life they live.

I drove Jonah out to a muffler shop one day last week, and this was the picture I shared that day on social media. Drew is always bringing home trinkets his kids make for him where he works at a Christian daycare and I think it's the sweetest thing ever. Speaking of Drew, will you pray for him? He starts nursing school again this week and all of it is online, even his clinicals. We expected the classes to be online, but clinicals? How is that going to work? I don't know the answer, but this is one of those times when the Lord is showing me an opportunity that I can use this time to trust Him and His plan.

(I drove Drew's truck that day I took this picture and this hangs on his mirror.)

Jonah and Noah also begin their senior year this week, but there probably won't be pictures. 

Meanwhile, this is me anxiously awaiting September, when I pull out all of the fall decor. Look at all these cute pumpkins from Hobby Lobby! I didn't buy any, but I do love some fall decorations.

I'm so ready for fall weather! Look at all these yummy colors of shirts I bought last week. Give me all the neutrals this year! Leopard, olive green, cognac, navy, muted camouflage...I love all these earthy colors right now. (I do have one jade green thrown in this mix.)

I bought one shirt in every color I could find. Do you do that? I don't love shopping for clothes, so this works well for me.

My dad came over on Friday, and we had the best day together. We were cracking up when I took this picture. Some days we just laugh a lot and this was definitely that day.

I don't have proof in a picture, but for the first time since late February, my husband and I went out to dinner at a restaurant. We've done take-out, but this weekend we went to Osaka for hibachi, and it was SO GOOD.

I read a lot this weekend, I went to church yesterday, then I ended the weekend with the movies I watched last night. That will be on repeat this week, since my husband is busy every night this week. I plan on making movies my thing this week so I can read that book I mentioned. I am busy every day with something just about, except for maybe one day this week~Thursday. It seems this is the season of life right now for this, but it does come and go in spurts. The rest of my week will include making dinner for the high school Bible study I've been a part of in recent weeks, helping a friend out with stuff at her house, writing some (hopefully!), updating this blog, cleaning and going through some things here at home (I've been lazy), and aiming to do better with healthy eating. I'm still eating mostly healthy stuff, but I've been more prone to "cheating" than I have been in past weeks. 

Well, thanks for reading! Love to all. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

catching up from last week and Hello Monday linkup


Happy Monday, friends. I'm linking up with Tanya from The Other Side of the Road for this blog post.

Well. I never meant to let a full week go by without posting here, but sometimes that happens. My week felt "off" all week long and I'm not sure why. All I can say to try to explain is that sometimes I am extremely inconsistent in my routines and I can't seem to get my act together to pull out of that. Usually when I feel this way, which happens every couple of months or so, I stay quiet on the blog and I try to work through all my thoughts. This continued from Sunday of last week all the way until yesterday. I can't really explain it any other way as to why I go through moments in time like this. It may be hormonal, it may be that I'm struggling with something (which is what I think my problem was last week), or it may be that I'm busy. 

That being said, here's to hoping for a different kind of week. I'm writing this on Saturday, so fingers crossed that it's a more productive week.

Here are some things I kept wanting to talk about from last week.

We did a thing last weekend. After almost seventeen years of us using that table in the first picture, we replaced it with a brand new set! I love it so much and believe it or not, it's the first dining set we've ever purchased in our almost 24 years of marriage. Our dining room table belonged to my mom and our kitchen table set came from the previous owners of our houses. I asked them to leave it for us because we needed a second table. I love the bench along the back and how it no longer obstructs the window view. 

My friend Amy brought by our new Bible study on Thursday. There is something really surreal about seeing my name on the outside cover of this Bible study! It was a labor of love and it feels a bit as if a whole bunch of people are going to be handling our "baby". It's exciting! Also, pertaining to this, on Monday five of us who wrote this met at our church for an interview video that we recorded. That will be posted on social media and maybe sent out in a mass email this coming week. It was different, that whole experience, but it was fun. We did it once and then had to start all the way over, so it was also slightly nerve-wracking.

I've not been loving where I'm reading in my Bible reading plan lately, so I've been reading in other places and using this resource in my morning quiet time each day. What I read on Friday really helped me gain a bit of perspective and was something I needed to read at that exact moment.

Last, but not least in pictures, is what I did Friday night. My friend Missy and I celebrated our friend Teresa's birthday with her that night by introducing her to Pancho's.

Pancho's is an iconic Memphis restaurant and now she is a Memphian. (She is from Miami.)

We were going to shop after this, but everything closes early these days, so we found ourselves at an international farmer's market.

Where we got into all kinds of fun things. We laughed ourselves silly and browsed all the aisles and I only almost fell once. (I'm graceful like that.)

It was SUCH a fun night, and one that I needed. We all needed it, actually. We ended by eating frozen custard.  

Also this week I watched a lot of Netflix. I go in spurts as far as my level of productivity, and this week was slow. I watched a great book-turned-movie on Netflix called The Lost Husband (written by Katherine Center with the same title) and I stayed home. I did get out a few times, but other than that I stayed put. I did the same thing on Saturday, when I sent off two of my sons for a week long beach vacation.

Drew, Noah and their friend Jarrett left Saturday for Daytona Beach, Florida. This is a first for all of them, I think, this trip on their own. They took my car and Drew and Noah are sharing in the driving. Noah drove to get them started and they stopped in Valdosta, Georgia for the night and finished the drive into Daytona Beach on Sunday. I look forward to seeing all their pictures this week and know they'll have a blast. I'd love for you to help me pray for them all and their safety all week and as they come home next Sunday.

I laid low the rest of the weekend. I read, I did laundry, I did some blog things, I went to church and choir practice on Sunday and that was about all. It was nice. Thanks for reading! Love to all. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals for this blog post. 

From last Friday night until today, here are some favorite things and memories from the week. First up on the list is going out to Mom's last Friday night. The sunset was beautiful! It felt so good outside, too, which is making me want fall weather. This week the weather has been incredible and several nights have found me outside on the deck.

Their neighbors were out of town and asked them to take care of their vegetable garden for them, so look at all the beauties I came home with. I've gotten more since then and they are delicious. 

Saturday was glorious because I finished reading two books. One book I was about a fourth of the way through, but I stayed up way too late that night to finish the second one. I've been buying books from a gem of a website I found called Thrift Books. They have books for sale for under $5, and even under $4. I've been reading like a crazy woman all week.

Robin Jones Gunn is my favorite author! These books are SO GOOD. I cannot put them down once I start one. I love reading books like this, and these just take me back to the days when I was young and staying up too late reading. Lately when I stay up, I watch Netflix, but I've read in bed almost every night this week.
Some of my favorite moments in life are when the Lord brings me across a verse I need at just the right moment. This verse above was one such moment this week, from Haggai 2:9. I needed to read these words that day when I saw this. This page is the beginning of the book of Haggai in my Bible, which is also my favorite Bible of all time. I'm linking it here, in case you're interested in seeing it yourself.

It's the She Reads Truth website, and you can shop and compare for the best price.

While I'm on the topic of Bibles, this is my giant study Bible that I use when I'm starting a writing project. I pull this out when I write certain blog posts or magazine articles, but on Monday I pulled this out to begin studying for our next women's Bible study that we'll be taking as a group of women in January of 2021. I can't say which book we're writing on yet, but I'm excited! I spent an hour and a half looking at three verses and taking tons of notes, so I had to make myself walk away on this day to get dinner started.

Writing is my favorite.
Wednesday night was beautiful. I took my book and sat outside to read for about an hour until all the mosquitoes started coming out. Todd joined me at some point; it made us both long for the cooler weather that's coming with fall! Fall is our favorite season. Give me cool nights, the warm scents that I love to smell that are associated with baking and the holidays, cozy clothes and blankets, bonfires and nights when the sun starts setting a little earlier. I know people have strong opinions on summer being over, but we have strong opinions about fall hurrying up to get here! This fall we will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. We're hoping to get away for a couple of nights to somewhere fun and we'll be dreaming and discussing what we'll be doing next year when we celebrate our big 25th! That's exciting to think about.
On Friday, I exercised my right to vote in the Tennessee primary elections. I posted this picture on social media to remind people to get out and vote in case they'd forgotten. I took this picture from my favorite spot on the deck.

Other favorites from the week include things like coming across old pictures like this one below. Some of these kids graduated this year and the rest of them are graduating next year, with the exception of one or two that are younger siblings. My Jonah and Noah were both there on this day, but Noah's not pictured; Jonah is on the far left standing under the arm of the birthday boy. They're still friends today.
I love this picture below that I came across on my memories this week. This reminds me of Hebrews 4:12, about the living and active Word of God. My Pastor says that as we read the Word of God, the Word of God is reading us. That's what that means; that it's able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our heart. Isn't that amazing? 
I bought my first mangoes this week! They're my new favorite fruit. It's a pain to cut and dice so I don't know how many I'll be buying again, but they were delicious. For two days this week, that was what both Drew and I had for lunch.
This is little Chip, one of my favorite dogs. My other favorite dogs are Crash and Callie and my sister Debi's dog, Cowboy. Cowboy LOVES Auntie Jen and throws himself across me like he's a little lap dog—he's not, he's a golden retriever.
If you know me, you know that I love handwritten letters and messages, or even just inscriptions like this one below. My dad's handwriting in my Bibles is one of my favorite things and I know I will cherish this always. Poor thing, he's legally blind, so this was a labor of love for him to sign this for me. 💙
Oh, my husband. Do you see him way up there in this picture below? He was replacing a piece of siding that came off and he made me have anxiety by being on this crazy tall ladder. You'll be glad to know he's fine, but this is more proof as to why men die before their wives. It's stunts like this.
He told me later on, after I expressed my concern, "Imagine being up that high and staring a wasp nest with wasps on it in the face." 

I died. Jonah was running back and forth and sending things up to him by a rope Todd had with him, like wasp spray and his power drill. 

It was a good week! I hope you had a good one. Thanks for reading! Love to all.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

for anyone who is a new homeschooler

Are you a brand new homeschooling family? If so, this post is for you. 

I know you're feeling overwhelmed right now; I well remember that feeling myself, when I looked at the kids and the task before me and wondered what on earth I had done. I get it, sister, and my heart is with you and I am praying for you. It's one thing to come to realization that you want to homeschool your kids; it's a whole other ballpark if it is something you're forced to do all of a sudden.

May I encourage you?

First, take a deep breath. The Lord is not surprised by any of this. He knows that you're being forced to do this right now, at this very moment, and He is with you. He goes before you, beside you, behind you and He is within you, if you know Him. Do you know Jesus? 

Second, I came across this page in my Bible on Monday and it almost took my breath away.

This is Haggai 2:9. I'm not usually one to handpick a verse here and there and take it out of context, but this thought recently occurred to me: all of the Bible is God's divine love letter to us. It's all there to encourage us and to uplift us. It's also all about Him and I don't want to negate that, but sometimes it's okay to take a verse as literally as what it says on the page and when I saw this on Monday, it was like God Himself breathed it out to me. I was anxious about something and of course He would have me see this. 

It was a kiss from the King.

God will provide peace for your home. He will equip you with what you need to get the job done. It may not be done perfectly, but you just give it your all and He will help you. I am sure you've heard this saying that God never gives you beyond what you can handle. That is WRONG. He ALWAYS gives us what we cannot handle! However, if we look to Him and depend upon Him to help us through each step, His power is made perfect in our weakness. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? Read 2 Corinthians 12:9 below in the New Living Translation.

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

I cannot say this enough: the Lord will help you to get through all of this. You do not have to be the perfect wife, mom, homeschooling parent. Just do your best and lean in close to the Lord. He will help you, He will help you, He will help you. 

Thirdly, pray. I know it sounds simple, but that is because it is simple. Pray each and every day. Commit each day to the Lord; He will hear every word that you say. Ask for wisdom and guidance for your kids as they do this new thing; ask Him to help them remain faithful and committed to their job for this first semester and trust that He will hear and answer. Check in with them often, be close by as much you are able to be. It's okay if they forget or don't understand; communicate clearly with the people you need to communicate with and I know they'll do everything they can to help you. I'm thinking of my friends with middle and high schoolers that will be having remote learning three days a week this first semester. If you don't have that support system and need help or advice or just a listening ear, reach out out to me. I may not know the answer, but I can listen and I can pray.

When you're frustrated, and you will be I promise, walk away. Get alone with Jesus and just cry out to Him. When you're mad, do the same. Ask Him to put a guard over your mouth so that you don't say unwholesome things to them. (Ephesians 4:29.) If you're grumpy in the morning, and you will be at some point, ask the Lord to restore to you the joy of your salvation. Give your kids breaks and give yourself a break. Take a bath, read a lighthearted book, watch a show on Netflix. Recharge your batteries often, but before you do any of those things I just listed, make sure you've spent time with Jesus that day. Pray and read His Word daily! It's okay to skip a day here and there, but I find I often become grumpy when I skip my quiet time. I depend on this time with Jesus every morning of my life and I've lately taken to never leaving home without my Bible.

I know it sounds too simple; I promise you that He hears your prayers and He will answer when you pray His Word. I love reading the Word and turning it into my prayer. His Word is His will and He will always answer accordingly. He is faithful, He is the Provider of peace both in the home and in the heart, and He is good. He takes good care of His beloved and if you're a believer and follower of Jesus, that is what you are to Him. 

I pray you're encouraged by these words. Love to all. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

showing up for opportunities the Lord brings

I shared some pictures on social media that led to a few questions for more details, so I thought I'd share it here with anyone who is interested—it's so much easier just to address it on my teeny tiny phone. (My eyes are getting worse, can you tell?!)

I love to write, most people know that about me, and ever since I started this blog fourteen years ago, people keep telling me that I need to write a book. I don't say that to brag, I'm just sharing what they've said to me over the years. My answer to that is always the same: If the Lord gives me an idea for a whole book to write, than I'd be glad to write one. If not, then I'll keep on doing this. Nothing has stood out in my mind in these years regarding that, so I've kept up at writing on my blog. A few years ago, I began to pray specifically for God to give me opportunities to write for Him. Again, nothing seemed to come from that prayer, so I had to just trust the Lord in His timing and on whether or not that was His will.

Fast forward a year or so, in talking with a friend at church, she mentioned someday wanting to have a writing team in place at our church. Of course, my ears perked up, but I had no idea when that would happen. Another year or so went by before it actually happened...and I don't remember how it all got started exactly, but as I sat in on that meeting, I was amazed at how God had orchestrated it all. Our first meeting was over four hours, and most of it was spent getting to know one another. There were six of us in a room and we had lunch together, then prayed and decided our first study would be on the book of Hosea.

That is now written and is in the process of being published and printed. Each of us had at least two chapters of the book to write the study guide on, and two of the ladies had three chapters each. It was very intimidating, writing on that prophetic and symbollic book in the Old Testament, but the Lord was gracious as always, and helped us all through our portions. Here is what it will look like once the book is out and check out the title.

Hosea: Beyond Any Love Story You Could Ever Imagine. We'll start taking this as a women's group on September 2. There will be a Wednesday morning and a Wednesday evening option on campus, and there will also be an online option for those who are still staying mostly at home.

Just yesterday our newest assignments were handed out. It looks like there are five of us on the team this time (one had to temporarily take a step back) and our writing time is up by the end of September. It shouldn't be too hard, but that allows us plenty of time to read it all, take it all, let the team members read it and to revise and make edits. We have a professional editor who is so wonderful at his job. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him through our women's ministry leader Amy and loved all of his comments and suggestions. I feel like I learned a lot through that process and look forward to working on this project with what he taught me under my belt, so to speak.

Yesterday, I pulled out my trusty study companions.

I asked for this Bible for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's the nicest Bible I have ever had! My dad bought it for me for my birthday and Christmas and it's genuine leather. It's a key word study Bible with a Strong's dictionary in the back. You know when I pull this big boy out that I'm about to really dig in to start studying. I spent an hour looking at three verses within my assigned portion yesterday and had to force myself to put it down, because I needed to start dinner and let my eyes have a break. 

We will finish the writing portion by the end of September, then we will hand it all off to be edited. It'll be published and printed by the first week or so of January, Lord willing. And we will take this as a group of women for the spring semester of 2021. 

In addition to helping write these Bible studies, the Lord has also given me the opportunity to write a few times a month for an online magazine called Tirzah. Google it and read a few of the articles, they are all so good! I'm not saying that because I'm one of the writers, I'm saying it because more people should read from the talented group of women who contribute monthly. I write from home and share it with the editors of the magazine as a Google document. (Oddly enough, that's also how I'm going to start writing for our Bible studies, because you can write, edit, highlight and make notes on it and the others can see it with you. It's very handy.) 

I was reading Isaiah recently, when a portion of a verse jumped out to me. It's Isaiah 6:8, which I'll write out for you below.

Then I heard the voice of the LORD asking: Who should I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me.

I am not a missionary living in a dangerous place, and right now I have no plans to travel to one such place to help spread the Gospel of Jesus to any of those type places. If the Lord wants me to go, I will certainly go and I would trust that He would provide the way for that to happen. But what I am doing every single day of my life is spending time on social media. If you haven't noticed, our world is a crazy mess of a place right now; more than ever before, people all around us need some good news. I have some to share—His name is Jesus. I just want to keep my heart and my eyes fixed upon Him and I want to keep showing up for the opportunities that He brings to me. The Lord keeps bringing me opportunities to write, so I'm keeping up at my love and talent of writing. I ask Him to give me the words He wants me to say and to lead me in this, and every single time, the Lord has been faithful to answer that request. 

He also keeps bringing me opportunities to pour into the lives of others after a time of stagnancy. I've only met once with one young lady and the other young lady I've only had the oportunity to pray for her and text her, but we're getting to know each other over that way of communication and I'm okay with that. I've asked her to meet with me and so far she hasn't had the time, but she knows I am here for her when she's ready. The Lord also set up a divine appointment with a friend I've known about for years, but just a few weeks ago we talked for hours on the phone and met a couple of weeks after that for lunch and talked another two hours almost. I was at her house last night for a Bible study for young people and I plan on going back next week. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but I plan to keep showing up. I'm here and I'm ready for the Lord to use any way He sees fit.

Just a couple more things and I'll wrap this up: we are living in a very different time and people are mean and hard to live with. More than ever before, we need to be looking for opportunities to serve other people as believers in and followers of Jesus. We need to be digging into the Word of God on our own so much that when we're squeezed by the pressures of this world, Jesus is what the world sees in us. That statement is not my own, but one a wise young man said last night at Bible study. We don't need another opinion or another statement about how wrong or right you think everyone is, we need Jesus. We need to trust in Him and to remember that if He can care for the birds of the air or the flowers of the field, how much more will He take care of us? (That comes from one of my favorite passages in the Bible: Matthew 6:25-34. You should go there and read it for yourself, it's so good!) 

I pray that this inspires you to be on the lookout for opportunities to serve the Lord and to serve others around you. All of us can do something. It can be as simple as making eye contact and smiling with your eyes behind your facemask—greet the cashier by name and ask about her day. Be encouraging! Don't be a downer all the time on social media, be an uplifting encourager. If you have a song you love or watch a video that is precious, share it with everyone; I love seeing things like that. Pray for others and tell them or don't tell them. Pray Scripture over those you know personally. Set aside a special time for this; I've been doing this since the first of July and let me tell you that I have since seen the hand of God upon the lives of those I know and love. I've been amazed at how much my prayer life has changed since setting aside that specific time one day each week. 

If you need something lighthearted to help you through, pick up a great series of books by a Christian author and read some fictional fluffy stories. I'm currently making my way through my third series of books since the middle of March. 

Share what you love with other people. I have books that I love to read and I share them with my best friends. I know it's brought them joy to read them like they did for me, and it's given us something to talk about together. 

When you look for opportunities, they're all around; if you need some inspiration, ask the Lord for some ideas. I promise, He will give you some ideas. 

Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all. 

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...