Category Archives: Spiritual growth

Discipline and Grace

I’ll be honest, I’ve been sorta avoiding blogging for the last couple days and weeks out of fear and frustration and pride. I have not been keeping up with my bible reading every day as I had hoped and planned. I obviously haven’t been keeping up my daily reflection posts either! 

If I haven’t already made it clear on here (or you might have guessed yourself), I am one who struggles with an “all-or-nothing” mentality when it comes to most things in life. I either do something really well, or I don’t want to do it at all. I usually do very well at those things that are required of me (like school or work), but I’m otherwise pretty lazy. I’ve learned that the motivation behind this attitude is most often rooted in pride. Sure, God calls us to be excellent in all things. We shouldn’t be okay with being lukewarm, especially with our relationship with the Lord. God says in Revelations that those who are lukewarm he will spit out. Not a comforting verse, but oh so needed.

But… we (preaching to myself) also need to be humble enough to keep pressing on, even if that means not doing something to our own expectations. God is not displeased with our best efforts.  And it’s not ourselves (or others!) that we are out to please, but God.  Am I willing to keep working hard, day after day, swallowing my pride (not the most biblical phrase, but you get my point) with this reading through the Bible chronologically, even if it doesn’t measure up to how I want to be or how I want others to think I am? Or am I going to just run away and hide and never allow myself to get to know the Lord better?  

I, along with everyone else (but maybe more so me), struggle with discipline and with keeping routines, and I can easily list off more excuses than you’d ever want to hear (working night shift being the main biggie). But God has been really teaching me lately to persevere, humble myself, and also have some grace for myself. I really can’t expect perfection from myself, and that’s okay.  But I know I need to also challenge myself and not be okay with just okay. Especially when it comes to something as important as reading the Word. It’s a fine balance, and I need to be in prayer about this every day. (The book “The Discipline of Grace” by Jerry Bridges is really helpful with fleshing this out.)

So after all that explanation… here I am, asking you to please be praying for me to persevere and to humbly submit myself to this goal that the Lord has placed on my heart for this year. I don’t want this to be about me and my pretty neat always up-to-date and wise sounding blog. It’s about getting to know the Lord through his Word… and that needs to be my greatest passion in all things. Thanks for those of you who have been praying and checking up with me… God has been still working to keep me reading most days. I’m only about 10 days behind right now (Leviticus and Numbers are difficult to get through!). Gotta keep pressing on!

{On a side note, some exciting happenings that have been brewing over the last couple weeks that will hopefully help me (to some extent!) with my reading and blogging-  I am about 99% sure (not official yet) that I will be getting a day/evening shift nursing position at my current hospital (but different unit) starting in May! I have been working the night shift for about 2 1/2 years now, and it’s been really wearing on me lately, and I’m tired of using my night shift job (and the after effects of never-ending tiredness) as an excuse to my struggle with not only my Bible reading, but things like exercising, eating well, serving others, etc. If I’m working regular hours, I will no longer have others feeling sorry for me all the time and will hopefully be able to start some routines. Praise God!! :) Also, a huge praise is that my hubby has recently been offered a full-time position at a triathlon store/fitness-center. He will be a bike mechanic and a personal trainer, along with heading up their “tri-club”. So exciting… and all glory goes to God for providing these opportunities, ones we have been praying and asking for over the last few years!}


Marriage Retreat

This past weekend, my husband and I had the privilege to attend the annual (though our first time) marriage retreat through Bethlehem Baptist Church…

Can I just say WOW! God blessed this retreat! It was amazingly full of truth, grace, wisdom, and conviction.

The speakers this year were Gary and Betsy Ricucci, authors of the book Love That Lasts. We had read this book almost four years ago now when we were engaged as part of our pre-marital class through BBC. Hearing them in person was such a rich experience! The Ricucci’s were simply amazing at pointing us to the cross and keeping us focused on the LORD always, even amidst the many topics and issues surrounding marriage, like communication, conflict resolution, and romance.

Though I am still slightly overwhelmed with all the great nuggets of wisdom I heard, we were encouraged again and again to remember that even taking away ONE thing from this retreat is enough and will be helpful to our marriage. We don’t swallow an entire meal at once, we have to take it a bite at a time and really chew on it.

The one big takeaway for me, which seemed to encompass every topic discussed this weekend, comes from James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This simple yet profound truth alone is not really new to me, but God really seemed to be hammering this into my heart and mind. John and I both really have sensed God convicting us about the root of SO many of our issues is our pride…. but praise God that when we humble ourselves, he gives us GRACE! That is all we need, and we really do need his grace to conquer anything and everything in our relationships and in this life.

Well, I could go on and on, but really any of you who are reading this who are married, you must read their book. We have an extra copy if you ever want to borrow it! :)

Eventually I do want to type up this amazing list they provided for us of promises that we can believe and cling to that all start with “Because of the gospel…” It’s just amazing truth that really pierces your heart, and I hope to share that with you sometime tomorrow.

And… I plan to get back at blogging about my Bible reading in Exodus soon, too! It’s been a busy and full weekend and I also wound up getting a nasty cold last week. Now I can get back at it! :)


New Blog Name

You may have noticed the new name of my blog… or maybe not? :)

I decided that even though I liked the old title, it was kinda odd looking and just didn’t seem like a phrase to use for a blog title… If that makes any sense.

Since starting this year and getting into the Word more again, I have come to learn afresh how sweet and satisfying and rewarding it is to feast on the Word. I read through Psalm 119, the biggie psalm that talks so very much about God’s law, commandments, precepts, words, instructions, etc, and came across the verse in Psalm 119:103.

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

It is truly my prayer that the Word of God will continue to be sweet to my taste… the stirrings and feelings and needs of my soul… and that I would yearn for it more than I would for all the “sweets” in this world. More than comfort, money, friendships, beauty, acceptance, good health, love, companionship, joy, laughter, yummy food, wisdom, success, travel, pretty house, perfect children… you name it.

Did you also know how honey, much more than its sweet and tasty qualities, is also very healthy and healing to the body?  It has amazing anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and even anti-cancer properties, along with the ability to help heal wounds and burns and sooth the skin. The Word also so healing and protective for our souls. This next verse has to be one of my favorites about the Word:

The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever!    Isaiah 40:8

Do you have a favorite verse about the Word? There are so many!

 

 

 

 


Book List 2011

For my own accountability, I’ve added a long list of books to a page linked above these posts that I’m hoping and praying to get through in 2011. I know I won’t probably get through them all, especially since I’ll be spending much more time in the Word, but it’s my prayer to keep my mind focused on the Lord, and one of those ways is to saturate my mind with encouraging, convicting, and wise godly teachings. In order to do this, I’m going to be seriously limiting my time on other things like facebook, twitter, reading blogs, etc. Although I’ve finally dwindled down my blog subscriptions to only the ones that are really going to encourage and strengthen my faith and my family life, I still find myself spending probably up to couple hours a day (usually this is at work… eek!) reading blogs and social networking. Not good! Plus, another goal of my husband and I’s for the future is to spend more time with actual real life people, not virtual people!

I’m hoping to do little mini reviews and/or updates throughout the year on the books I’ve read, but since I do work full time and am going to be doing all this reading, I don’t want to set any big unreachable goals with doing this. We’ll see how it goes!

I gotta say, this is all kinda making me feel like I’m back in college, and I’m getting a wee bit stressed just thinking about it! But I know that this is something that will ultimately strengthen me and point me to Christ through being in God’s Word and learning from other believers! I find that when I’m not reading such things, I tend to go down paths that only lead to discouragement, depression, and destruction.

So please, if you could, I would be so very thankful for you to be praying for me as I prepare for an exciting year that will, Lord willing, be like no other!


2011… Challenging myself!

I’ve never really been one who sets goals and actually follows through with them. Great at planning, but not at the follow through. Laziness, is what they call that! With some goals, I give myself grace and just keep trying again and praying for discipline. But, for the last couple years I have tried (and “failed”) at reading through the entire Bible in a year. This has been pretty discouraging, only because I have so strongly desired to do this to grow my in my knowledge of the Lord and to “abide in Him.” I know I don’t need to accomplish this to be a true Christian, but I want to know the Word!

So this next year, as you can probably guess, my goal is to use this blog as a sort of journal for what I hope to be a very enriching and life changing experience… finally reading through the entire Bible!

I plan to do this using the chronological Bible in the New Living Translation. I usually read the English Standard Translation, since that’s what our church has used the last couple years (and so does our new church) and since I think it’s one of the most literal AND readable translations available. But, when I found this site, through Proverbs 31 Ministries, I decided to go with the translation they’re using. I’ve always liked NLT since it is much easier to understand, and for my first ever time through the entire Bible, I’m excited to have a little “ease” helping me out :) I’m also hoping to have some encouragement from anyone still reading this or who stumbles upon my blog. I plan to use this blog to journal my responses for what I’ve learned from each day’s passage- something old, something new, and then something I can do.

You might want to check out the site I found, wendypope.org . She does a video blog every weekday with what she has gleaned from the reading. I happen to love her southern accent, since one of my best friends is from the south! Makes me miss her and her family!

I have many other goals for 2011 that perhaps I’ll share on here (like John and I finally becoming debt free, Lord willing!!)… but this goal, of reading through the entire Bible, is definitely my top priority for the year!

Have you thought of any big (or small) goals for 2011?


Proverbs: Wisdom month by month

Lately I’ve been trying to read the chapter from Proverbs that corresponds to that day of the month. Works great since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs! :) I’m always convicted by many of the simple yet powerful nuggets of wisdom and knowledge and instruction laid out in this book of the bible.

I thought I would share with you just a couple proverbs from yesterday the 17th that really stood out for me this time around, to help write this in my memory and to hopefully encourage and help others as well.

Proverbs 17:2
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:29
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Definitely teaches me again to keep my soul hoping, trusting in, and praising the Lord for true lasting joy that I can’t get anywhere or from anyone else! To remember that my joy is not only for myself, but to help and love others. And when joy is shared… isn’t it so much sweeter?

And I’m slowly — yes, very very slowly at times! — learning to restrain my quick tongue (oh so quick!!) to only say that which is encouraging and loving to others, building them up. Ephesians 4:29 fits right in here: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

I plan to memorize Eph 4:29 so it can be written on my heart and the Holy Spirit can remind me of it, to help me in my time of struggle to practice loving others by building them up (not tearing them down, which I seem to be so good at with my husband!).

I’m so thankful for God’s word today, for providing us with such simple yet soul-penetrating words of wisdom!


Turning my eyes to what matters most!

Well well, it sure has been awhile since I’m come on here! I almost forgot my username to log into wordpress. Yikes!

The last couple months have been busy and full, and honestly, blogging has just not even been on my radar. As I’ve said countless times, I struggle with writing since it is really not my gifting.. but, I do hope to keep this blog afloat despite this, as I do enjoy blogging from time to time!

Without going into too much detail, I will just say that the LORD has been so good to me and has really been working on refining me these last couple months. My stubborn and prideful self has been lovingly humbled time and time again by our merciful Father. Although it’s been difficult and even quite painful at times, I have seen the glory of God with new eyes and have learned so much about myself and the Lord in the process.  He is SO good and provides all that we need and more! Beyond just basic daily life needs, he has given me joy and peace that is beyond my understanding through what he has accomplished for me (and for HIS glory!) in the work of Jesus Christ. I couldn’t ask for more and I couldn’t be more filled with pure contentment and joy!  Still a struggle to fight against that nasty sin of pride every single hour of every day…

so between humbling myself and praising God for all he is and does for me, I’ve kept busy!  I hope and pray your lives have been rich with God’s love and mercy and joy and peace, which perfectly sustains us like nothing else in this world can!

[If you’re really THAT curious what I’ve been up to these past few months, here’s a couple quick words: started attending a new church-plant in a town close by that we are LOVING…. discovered the joy of the local library and have probably checked out 20 books already!…. canned or froze 20 lbs of cucumbers (pickles!), 20lbs of tomatoes (salsa and tomato sauce!), 20lbs of peaches (just chopped and froze), and 20lbs of apples (apple sauce and apple pie filling!) and learned that I way overdid it for my first time canning/preserving… ran a 5K race with my hubby and watched my sister, brother, and brother-in-law run the half-marathon (which I had originally set out to do but am glad I changed it to the 5K!)… learned to make sourdough english muffins and crackers (fun and yum!)… switched to 8 hour shifts at work rather than 12 hr shifts (but yep, still nights!) and so far am loving it!…. and….. yep,  I think that’s enough :) ]