Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

September Scripture Writing Plan: Grace

 Happy almost September sweet friends! 

The scripture writing plan topic this month is over something we all need: 

GRACE

I love lists and really LOVE checking things off lists. Sadly, we Christians often set up some crazy lists for ourselves though and think that if we don’t do all those things, we are not deserving of God’s love and grace. Thank goodness that is NOT true. Living a life for Christ does not include a list of things to do that we are required to complete in order for us to receive God’s love. Time and time again in His word, God reminds us that even though we did nothing to deserve His grace and love, He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. We didn’t earn it and we definitely don’t deserve it, but He gave it to us out of His great love for us. Because of this amazing gift, we no longer have to live a life in our own strength, but can surrender completely and fully to HIM.

2 Corinthians 12: 9 says:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

What is grace? Gracious, the Hebrew word chanan, in its verb form, means to be considerate or to show favor. That God is gracious would mean that he is favorably inclined toward us. That he wants to show favor to us. To do what is best for us- always.

Many of us struggle with the lie that Satan tries to get us to believe-  that we must EARN God’s grace, and that unless we live a perfect life, God will withhold His mercy and grace on us because we are undeserving. But y’all- nothing is further from the Truth of God's Word. No one can ever earn God’s favor at any time, for any reason. NO ONE. EVER. His mercy and grace to us renews each and every single morning (Praise the LORD!). God’s grace and mercy are not a one-and-done thing- it’s given to us every single day, every single hour.

My prayer is that this month, as we focus on what God’s word says about grace, that we are able to acknowledge God’s sweet gifts of love and forgiveness and grace and stop trying to live life in our own strength, but instead leaning fully on Him. My we cement in our hearts the truth that His grace covers us.

 

FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Be Not Afraid



I'm a fixer by nature. If there's a problem and things seem out of control, I want to find a solution. ASAP. Stat. Immediately. And sometimes that can be a good thing. Have a technology issue or task you are trying to accomplish? I'm your girl. Have a party you want to plan and need some creative, inexpensive ideas? I'm your girl. Have a care package you want to send and need some fun theme for it? I'm your girl. But other times, when the battle is NOT mine? That tendency? It's not so good. (#ugh).

2 Chronicles 20:15 says...
Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.

Many times I get frustrated trying to fix things (and people!) and fight battles that are not mine to fight. To meddle in things that God is working in and through. To allow Him to work in His mighty and powerful ways. I love this verse so because it's a beautiful reminder that Jesus has already won victory over EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that this life and world can throw at us. He has fought and WON against everything- marriage difficulties, financial struggles, cancer- EVERYTHING.

Today as I read I continued on reading and loved verse 17 which says...
"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

Just like the verses above say, all we have to do is trust Him, take our positions, and stand firm in His promises, His plan, His almighty power. And then just stand and watch. The battle is His and my job is to trust and believe in His promises- even in the fact of hopelessness and what seems impossible. Because nothing is impossible for Him! My prayer for us today is that we are able to hold fast to this promise. To trust Him, rest in Him, and reject the lies that Satan tries to get us to believe. To sit still and expectant- knowing He will fight for us.

I made this little printable and I put one on my desk as a reminder to myself. To remind myself to allow God to fight the battles and for me to stand firm in His promises. (If you'd like to print your own copy, you can get one at the link here: https://goo.gl/7d1K3n )



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

August Scripture Writing Plan: God is My Strength

Happy almost August sweet friends! 

The scripture plan topic this month is over something
I think everyone needs to be reminded of right now:
The reminder that 
GOD IS MY STRENGTH.

(If this plan looks familiar, it's because it's a refresh of a plan from 3 years ago- 
I felt strongly led to do this topic this month so I updated it!)

A few years ago I started taking yoga (which I love!) and because I only have half of my balance nerves (my right side balance nerves were severed during my brain surgery so I’m kind of like a weeble- I wobble but don’t usually fall down) there are some poses, like tree pose, that are extremely difficult and challenging for me. The first time I did tree pose I literally almost fell over. What I have had to learn over the past few years is that I must lean on my supports while doing poses like the tree pose- at least initially. It’s not an option, it’s something I must do or I WILL fall down. I must lean in and steady myself with something that is unchangeable and that I know I can count on- like the wall or bar. Doing so turns my super wobbly pose into a solid, secure one and eventually I can let go.

One day as I stood in tree pose in class I thought about what a perfect analogy my tree pose in yoga is for how I am in life. I go along and try to do all sorts of things in my own strength- only to get super weary and wobbly and ultimately, I fall down. But, when I stop and am reminded that God is my strength and that He is steady and secure, and I can lean on Him- then I am rock solid strong.

Isaiah 40: 28-31 reminds us of this where it says….
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” NIV

These verses are full of reminders that:
  1. God is in control. He is. Not us. He is all seeing, all knowing, all powerful and has NO limits. Isaiah doesn’t start in these verses immediately talking about what needs to be done. He stops and says….Hey, don’t you remember who God is? He is God who loves us with an always and forever love. We can count on it and rest in it- even in (and especially when) life is crazy around us.
  2. God is everlasting.
  3. God is the creator of the ends of the earth.
  4. God is infinite in His energy. He is ALWAYS working and NEVER tires or gets weary.
  5. God is unchangeable. Even when life makes no sense to us, God’s not ever confused or perplexed or overwhelmed.
  6. God is strong. Always.
  7. God is generous. He isn’t just powerful, He wants US to walk in power with Him. He meets our weakness with His strength.

When we seek it, God gives us an ample supply of HIS strength. I don’t know about you but for that I am so crazy thankful. He has his eyes on me and holds me in the palm of His mighty hand. When I start to fall (and I WILL fall) in my own strength, He will catch me.

My prayer is that we are able to spend this month reading what He has to say about strength in His word and that we are able to fix our focus on the changeless reality that is Him- regardless of our circumstances. That we are able to lean into His mighty strength and draw from His power when we feel weak.



FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.



Thursday, July 23, 2020

Obedience, not Ability


My biggest enemy says awful, terrible things to me every single day. Things like…..”You are such a slacker. You are a big fat fraud and a disappointment to everyone around you. The things you are don’t matter. You are a horrible example for the Lord. You are so not equipped to do what God has called you to do. You are absolutely destined to fail. Everyone around you is doing so much more for the Lord. In comparison, you suck. Why do you even bother?”

My biggest enemy is Satan and the things he says in my head. Those words in my head are truly the biggest obstacle to my doing the things God has called me to do. Isn’t that ridiculous? But that’s how the enemy works- he is sneaky and oh so crafty. He makes me question my ability and God’s ability to work through me. He causes me to focus on my lack of ability and makes me think I have to figure it out on my own which is a big fat lie. When he speaks loudly to me (some days it seems like he’s screaming at the top of his lungs) I must turn to God’s word to remind me what a liar he is and be obedient- no matter how I feel. 

Exodus 19:5 reminds me of this truth: Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.

Friends, God has created us for His glory. He has apportioned to each of us our very own assignments. We each have a field- an assignment God has given to us and to us alone. We each have a unique group of people to love and minister to. And if we don’t, they will miss out. How awful would that be? Thankfully we don’t have to fulfill those purposes in our own strength or figure out how to accomplish them on our own, because He promises that He will equip us to fulfill those purposes. We must trust that when He says he will give us the ability to do it- He will.

My prayer today is that we are reminded that we are created uniquely for a purpose ONLY we can fulfill. That God is all powerful and not limited by our current state and weaknesses- praise the Lord! That when we are tempted to listen to the enemy’s lies that we can’t fulfill those purposes, we turn to God’s word and the truth. That although we doubt ourselves, we never doubt Him. That we are reminded that although we are imperfect, He perfectly equips us to do the assignments He has given to us. #notesinmybible


Monday, June 29, 2020

July Scripture Writing Plan: Forgiveness

Happy almost July sweet friends! 

The scripture plan topic this month is over something I think everyone struggles with,
FORGIVENESS.


Forgiveness is hard y'all. Super stinky hard.

Sometimes I think even harder than forgiving others-it's harder even to forgive ourselves. To forgive ourselves the way God repeatedly forgives us over and over and over again. To give ourselves grace and mercy just as we give grace and mercy to those we love.

We torment ourselves thinking about what we could have done, should have done and although we know God forgives us, we can't (or won't) forgive ourselves. I think for me it often boils down to the fact that it's the unrealistic expectations I have of myself and put on myself that is at the root of this inability to forgive myself. I want to believe that I am better than I am- but the reality is, I'm not. I am a sinful, imperfect mess that is saved only by the grace and mercy of Christ.

God calls us to forgive- no matter how hard it is.

Isaiah 44:22 says...
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Psalm 103:12 says...As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
We all have sinned and fallen short of His glory. All of us- every single one. 
Thankfully He will pick us up when we call out to Him and repent. There is no wrong- seriously NONE- that can keep God from redeeming you. His word is full of reminders of people who made mistakes and were given a new start by God and He will do the same for you and for me. How awesome and amazing is that?

Let's spend the next month focusing on what God's word says about forgiveness. My prayer is that during the month we are able to let go of any guilt we are clinging to and trust God to work out whatever went wrong and to thank Him for His mercy that endures for ever and ever and ever. 

FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

New Happy Notes

Back in 2013 when I started going to MD Anderson I created some little notes to post in bathrooms. I originally created them before my surgery because I prepared a little list of RAOK for my daughter Madison and her sweet friends who spent my surgery day with her to do. I loved thinking of them performing acts of kindness at MD Anderson instead of just sitting and worrying about me.


Ever since then I've kept some of the notes in my purse along with some 
washi tape and I put them up each time I visit MDA for follow up visits.
I always stop at every bathroom I pass and seek out bathrooms 
in all areas of the building on the way to my appointments.
My prayer as I hang each one is that God would bring the person 
who needs to see it and be reminded that they are strong and loved 
and brave to that specific bathroom stall. 


Before my trip this week I decided to make some new notes to post. 
If you'd like to print some out yourself, 
you can find all of these notes in the folder HERE
and many others in the folder HERE

Saturday, May 30, 2020

June Scripture Writing Plan: Praise and Worship

Happy almost June sweet friends! 
The scripture plan topic this month is one of my favorite things: 
Praise and Worship

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised.

And His greatness is unsearchable. 
Psalm 145:3

Y'all- there is such great power in praising and worshiping the Lord. 
Praising the Lord takes our eyes off of our lives and pain and issues and our worries
and puts them squarely on what's truly important, HIM. 

So what exactly is praise? 
To me praise...

-acknowledges God as Lord and King of our lives
-gives thanks to Him for who He is and what He does in our lives
-is confessing exactly who God is


Praising God helps us to more fully understand and comprehend who He is and in turn, who we are. It reminds us of his amazing, great, almighty, all knowing power and 
humbles us to realize that we so desperately need Him to love us and to save us. 

I think often people think that praising the Lord is something we only do while at church singing in a worship but the truth is every single one of our days should be filled with praise. 

Here are ten reasons I think praise is so important in our lives:
  1. He is GREAT and deserves our praise
  2. It puts Him where He belongs in our lives- as the most important thing, as the joy and the delight of our lives
  3. It causes us to think about the millions of reasons we have to worship Him
  4. It gives us the right perspective and keeps our focus on what is truly important- HIM- instead of the craziness of our world
  5. It reminds us of the truth of His word
  6. It points us to the truth of His love for us
  7. It helps us focus on and learn about His character
  8. It reminds us that He is with us always- in the beauty and in the hard
  9. It reminds us of His faithfulness in the past (and present and future!)
  10. It points other to Him

You'll notice that many of the verses in the plan this month are in the book of Psalms 
and that is because that's what a psalm is- a praise! Did you ever notice that Psalm is the longest book of the Bible? It is and the fact that the longest book is a book devoted to praise tells us that it's vital that we spend lots of time in praise. 

Let's spend this month praising our Lord. 
My prayer is that these verses help you to focus on our great Lord and Savior and the many, many, many reasons we have to praise and worship Him!



FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.


TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Graduate Personalized Scripture Cards

God’s word was written as a love letter to us, His precious children. Because of that I absolutely love personalizing scripture. My first set of personalized scripture cards came out right before Christmas and were a general set of verses. And then before Valentine’s Day, I added a second set of all verses that are a reminder of God’s LOVE for us or a reminder that we are to love others.
As graduation approaches, I thought I’d add a set specifically for graduates of any age in school colors. The set includes 20 verses, personalized with any name, in a color for any high school or college (you just enter the school or 1-2 school colors in the comments) and are a digital download (you’ll receive the file to print yourself via Etsy in 1-2 days or less) for only $5 a set. All verses are focused on graduates and the next steps in their life. These are a great gift for anyone in your life that is graduating or just as a special little treat!

Verses included:
• 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
• 1 Timothy 4:12
• Colossians 3:23
• Deuteronomy 31:8
• Isaiah 26:3-4
• Isaiah 40:28
• Isaiah 40:30-31
• Jeremiah 29:11
• Jeremiah 29:13
• Joshua 1:7
• Lamentations 3:22-23
• Mark 12:30
• Numbers 6:24-26
• Proverbs 4:26-27
• Proverbs 16:3
• Psalm 16:7-8
• Psalm 27:14
• Psalm 91:1-2
• Psalm 105:4
• Psalm 119: 105-106
• Romans 8:28

To order just click the link below! 


Use the code SWEETFRIENDS for 25% off your order!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

May Scripture Writing Plan: Kindness

Happy almost May sweet friends! 
The scripture plan topic this month is one of my favorite things: 
Kindness

It's so easy to feel bombarded by all of the bad, the evil, the sadness in this world we live in- especially right now when things are so scary and so uncertain. It's easy to feel discouraged and completely down and depressed by it all. The one thing that has stood out to me above everything else during this dark time in our world isn't bad or negative though, it is the crazy lavish kindness I have seen displayed. 

Because the news is so full of unknowns and terrible statistics and frightening predictions, it is so refreshing and encouraging and lovely to read and watch stories that show you the good that is still in this world. You know the stories I am talking about- they are the ones at the very end of the broadcast (Why just one I always wonder? I wish the news was full of those stories!). The kind of stories that make you want to be better, to do more, to be the good in the world. 

I love that God's word is full of reminders to us that we are called to be kind and loving to others- regardless of our circumstances. Even when we don't want to. Even if we don't feel like it. Even when we have lots on our plates and on our minds. God repeats those things He wants us to remember and kindness and love is definitely a theme we see repeated over and over and over again in His word. God's love and mercy to me helps keep me mindful of why I love Him so much, and why I should let Him show others that same love through me.

So this month let's focus on what God's word says about kindness and pray for God to help us live in a way that reflects His nature to others! As a bonus challenge- as you write the verses this month, ask God to bring someone to mind that you could show some extra love and kindness to! 


FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

God is Sovereign

We are all grieving something- the loss of people we love, the loss of a job, the loss of income, the loss of a business we put our heart and soul into, the loss of a relationship, the loss of time with friends and family, the loss of events we were looking forward to- just to name a few. This quote sums up how I feel about the things we are grieving today.

"Sometimes we must grieve a different ending. A different ending doesn’t mean God has changed his mind about you. God is sovereign, even in our disappointment. Life doesn’t always pan out the way we hope or envision. It’s okay to grieve an unexpected ending to a season, a situation, a day, a moment that didn’t end in the way we hope or plan."
-Shelly Miller, The Sabbath Society

I am thankful for a sweet Lord that is sovereign, even in our disappointments. I am thankful that it's okay for us to grieve and be sad- as long as we don't wallow in that grief forever.

If you are grieving something today, know this:
1. It stinks and I am sorry.
2. You are not alone.
3. It's okay to grieve the things that you are missing.

4. God is still sovereign and loves you so!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

God Plans

I don’t know about you but the uncertainty of this time in our world is what I think is the hardest on me. I have often said over the past few weeks that I would be okay if I just knew WHEN this insanity would end because everything feels so scary and uncertain and I’m not a fan of either scary or uncertain. Of course that’s not possible but in the midst of all this unknown, I have some GOOD news for you: No matter what happens today (or tomorrow or the next day or the next) or how stinky it may be (because some of this is super stinky), it's just a single day and God’s plan for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day (or this time). God is the only thing we can count on 100% and He promises that HE will carry you, sustain you, and rescue you!

Isaiah 46:3-4 The Message:
I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old. I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray. I’ve done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you.” 

Monday, March 30, 2020

April Scripture Writing Plan: But God

Happy almost April friends! 

Want to know what my two favorite words are in the Bible? 

But God.

Why? Because I know that when I read those words, something amazing and wonderful and powerful- something only God can do, is about to happen. 

If you notice, the words But God are almost always said when:

• A situation seems hopeless and there seems to be no way out of it
• Someone is lost and completely unable to save themselves
• There is literally NO way and God makes a way

They are words that are always followed by the gracious and compassionate and loving intervention of God. When we read But God, we know something awesome and amazing is about to happen. I love these words because they remind me of the hope that I can only find in God.

My prayer is that during this scary time of so many unknowns and so many impossible situations, that no matter what this next month brings, we are able to focus on the But God verses in the Bible. That we are able to rest in the fact that God is a redeemer and when all seems hopeless, God is there!



FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

March Scripture Writing Plan: Perseverance



Happy almost March friends! 
The scripture writing plan topic this month is
Perseverance


Perseverance: persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

When walking through something difficult or hard or scary in our lives we have a choice. A choice to pull away from the Lord and give up or to press onward and cling to the Lord. The good news is that if we choose to persevere while clinging to God, He will hold our hand while we wait. He is with us and for us and cheering us in as we wait and persevere. When we persevere in God’s calling and plan for our lives, blessings WILL come, in His timing, not ours.


Thankfully God loves us so much that His word has lots to say about perseverance (probably because He knew we would struggle with it) and that’s what the plan this month focuses on. I pray that as you write these verse you are reminded that God’s promises are bigger and better than the promises you think you should have. I pray that you are reminded to cling to Him. I pray that you are reminded of God’s command to wait and instead of being irritated by it, are comforted by it. I pray that you are reminded that your waiting is so often needed and restores your strength. I pray that you are reminded that when you persevere, it invites you to see that God’s strength is far greater than any strength you could ever muster on my own. I pray that you are reminded that your persevering helps you to see that God is ALWAYS at work revealing His love and grace and that He never waste your patience and your waiting.




FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.




Monday, January 27, 2020

February Scripture Writing Plan: Love

Happy almost February friends! 

The scripture plan this month is over a topic so appropriate for this month: 
LOVE

When I was little I had a dog stuff animal. He was a big white dog with a red shirt that said “Puppy Love”. I loved that stuffed dog so dearly and took him absolutely everywhere. I loved him so much that he grew dirty from being carried around everywhere I went and being slept & played with year after year. He eventually lost an eye and part of his nose- but my love for him did not wane, I loved him still.. After years of being loved hard, he was no longer beautiful to anyone. His fur was grayish, his shirt faded and his features scraggly. If you saw him (he is actually in my attic!), you definitely wouldn’t think of him as beautiful- you’d probably only see his flaws. However, if I looked at him, I’d tell you he was beautiful and wonderful. Not because he is actually outwardly beautiful today. Not because he does anything to deserve that love. I love him because I see him as he was created. In my eyes, he is perfect because I loved him so.


Thankfully that’s how God loves us. He doesn’t love us because we necessarily are beautiful- inside or out. He loves us when we are good and when we are not so good. He loves us when we make mistakes and screw up (no matter how big those mistakes may be). His love is what makes us beautiful. He loves us despite all of our inadequacies and flaws. He loves us- flaws and all- simply because we are His children. 


Think about how a grandmother loves a grandchild. In her eyes, her grandchild is the absolute best of the best. She has their pictures plastered all over her house, on her refrigerator, and carries around photos of them to show to anyone and everyone willing to look at them- friend, neighbor, pastor, postman, check out guy at the grocery store- literally anyone! She brags about that grandchild, sharing their accomplishments (no matter how small or insignificant) and overlooking their flaws because of her great love for them. She lavishes love and gifts and kisses and hugs on that child every single chance she gets. That’s how God feels about us- a grandma’s love multiplied by millions and millions. He set his love on us- not because we earned it, but because He delights in us. 

Ephesians 3: 17b-19 says…
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.

Did you notice those verses didn’t have a single stipulation on His love. It doesn’t say…..”and deep is the love of Christ IF you do ____ or act _____”. His love is. It’s a fact and there is nothing- not a single thing you can do to change or erase it. NOTHING. When you feel ugly or less than or unloved, God says: You are beautiful because you are mine and I love you. 

No matter what you have done or said, no matter what flaws you have, no matter how big your mistakes- He loves you still. His love is the single thing that you can count on. His love is irrevocable. He will always love you. My prayer as you write the verses this month is that you are reminded that God loves you more than you can ever begin to imagine!


FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Digging Ditches

Have you ever dug a ditch? I have and I dig them quite often- but probably not the kind you are thinking of. (If you know me, you are probably thinking right now, REALLY? YOU dug a ditch? HA!) I was reading in 2 Kings 3 this week and a story struck me and stayed with me that was all about digging ditches. 

A little back story before we get to the ditches. At this point in 2 Kings, the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom have gathered together and want to fight the Moabites. The problem is that they are stuck in the desert and they have absolutely no water. Zero. No water means they are weak and miserable and not in shape to fight anyone. They send for the prophet Elisha to tell them what they should do. At first, he says no (because he expects they are just like their parents- wicked and don’t believe in God) but finally agrees after they tell him they know his God is THE God. He arrives and tells them that God wants them to dig ditches and that when they do, He (God) would then fill them with water- but NOT from rain. 

Here’s what it says in 2 Kings 3:16-19: 
“This is what the LORD says: I will fill this valley with pools of water.  For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.  This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.”

Ok so imagine that for a minute. He’s telling these miserable, thirsty, dying, hot people to dig ditches- in the desert. Can you imagine how they reacted? They were probably like...Are you kidding me? Why in the world would we do that? It’s hot and we are weak and at the end of it, you aren’t even going to make it rain! They had to be thinking, this is completely nuts. Digging ditches anytime is hard work, but digging ditches when you are hot, dying of thirst and completely miserable would be truly horrible!

This story is such a reminder to me that God sometimes wants us to prepare for His blessing and sometimes that preparation is hard and yucky and painful. He wants to bless us, but we must first listen, be obedient and then get to work! Those things He calls us to do, even hard things like digging ditches, will prepare us for what He will do in the future. He is no doubt going to do His part, but we must do our part! 

Thankfully the people listened, dug the ditches and guess what? They filled with water! God is so gracious and doesn’t just give them a little bit of water- he literally fills the land with it! God often moves us to do things that may not make sense- in the moment or to others- but if we trust Him and follow Him, he will bless us abundantly. 

I kept thinking as I read this story, what if they had been lazy and just dug tiny small ditches? I think in their circumstances I’d have been likely to dig the shallowest ditch ever but when you think about it, the bigger the ditch they dug, the bigger the blessing they would receive. Their obedience brought a larger amount of what they needed- water? Of course, the ditches they dug meant nothing without God’s blessing. We must always seek Him, spend time in His word each day in order to know Him truly and hear when He calls us to dig ditches. 

My question for you today is…what ditch is God asking you to dig today? Whatever it is, get digging friends!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

First-hand Faith

The God who created the universe has written your name on the palms of His hands. It’s a permanent tattoo, engraved, not written in pen- it’s carved into His palms.(Isaiah 49;16) He knows your name. He knows every thought in your head and every desire in your heart. He knows your deepest secrets, your biggest fears and every dream in your heart. He knows every hurt in your heart and every scar in your soul. He is crazy about you and He wants to know you- personally and intimately. He wants a deep and real relationship with you. And the only way for that to happen is for you to read the book He wrote just for you- the Bible. To know Him, you must spend time with Him and in His word, to get to know him personally and intimately. The Bible is a book by God about God. It clearly reveals who God is on every single page from Genesis to Revelation. We must shift from studying the Bible to learn about ourselves and what we should do and instead read it learn who God is.

First hand: from the original source or personal experience; direct.
Second hand: owned or used in the past by someone else: learned or heard about from someone else rather than directly from the person involved. 

Your faith can’t be second hand. Your faith can't belong to your pastor. Your spouse. Your friends. Your parents. Your Bible study teacher. Your Church. It must be yours and yours alone. Instead of imitating others, we must own and believe our own faith.

What has radically changed my faith and made it my own is the process of reading God's word chronologically as it is written and doing so with a group of fellow believers to discuss it with. My sweet friend Christy Jordan (from the awesome Southernplate.com) has a group that I started back in October that does just that. My post recently about 2nd hand faith received more comments and messages on my blog, Instagram and Facebook than any I can ever remember. Clearly there are many of you who long to make your faith first hand and get to intimately know our heavenly Father. After getting Christy's blessing and praying about it, I've decided to start my own Bible reading group, First-hand Faith on Facebook.

How will First-hand Faith work? 
New members will be added with membership for the year closing at the end of month. A new plan will be posted prior to the beginning of a new month. Each morning I will  post with the reading for the day along with some of my notes and links to the reading online as well as a few other resources. Members will do the reading each day and then share their thoughts, questions and ah-ha's for the reading in the comments of the daily post. Once (or more) a week I'll post a Live video with some of my thoughts about our readings for the week. I'll also post all the plans on my blog here:
http://www.swtblessings.com/p/first-hand-faith.html

How do I join First-hand Faith? 
If you are interested, just go to First-hand Faith on Facebook, answer the three short questions asked and apply to join the group. Once I've approved you, you'll be in the group where I'll start adding information, helpful hints and details over the next few days.

When does the Bible Reading Plan start? The first day of reading will be next Saturday, January 11, 2020.

What do I need to join First-hand Faith? 
A willing heart that is seeking to know the Lord first-hand, a Bible and the commitment to spend time with Him daily is all that you need. We make time for what is important to us so although it may be difficult at first, it's a daily practice you'll ultimately grow to love and wish you had more time for each day. We have every moment of time we need to do all that God is calling us to do. So if God is calling you to commit to this, you'll find the time in your day!

Are the readings EVERY single day? 
Yep. No days off because honestly, do you want God to take a day off loving and caring for you? I sure don't so we will read every single day. If you get behind, not worries, just start again. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

2nd Hand is Not How God Wants Us to Experience His Word

I have a confession to make. For many years I got the majority of my knowledge about the Bible second hand. I read devotionals, did Bible studies, read blogs, listened to sermons and podcasts all about the Bible but all from other people. In the last year God clearly and specifically reminded me that His word was written to and for me and I needed to be reading and studying it myself.

I was also convicted last year that I wasn't consistent about studying God's word for an extended period of time each day. Now I read God's word but it was when I had time instead of making it a priority and putting it first. I was getting the majority of my Bible and knowledge of God's word second hand and that is NOT how God intends it. He wrote the Bible for us and our job is to read it and study it and learn it and live it. And if I'm getting it second hand from someone else- that's not ok. If I'm getting it from Bible study leaders, devotional writers, pastors and podcast hosts- even wise ones- it's still second hand and that's not how God intends.
2nd hand is not how God wants us to experience His word
So many times I had been simply reading a devotional each day including the verse listed without cracking my Bible open and considering that time in God's word. Never reading the verses in context and truly studying it- instead just reading the words someone else wrote in a book other than the Bible. I love devotionals and think they have a place but they (nor anything else) should not replace our time in God's word.

Spending time in God's word helps your know Him intimately. You learn His voice. You see His hand. You wouldn't get to know a friend by ONLY hearing about them from someone else would you. NOPE. That's ridiculous. You must experience that for yourself and take time building that relationship. To get close to someone you must spend time with them and cry and laugh and pray and live life with them. Why don't we think of God the same way? Why are we so often content to learn about our precious Lord and Savior solely from other people? It's truly crazy when you think about it.

I  have a suggestion for you. If you do one thing differently in 2020 do this:
Commit to spending time in God's word every single day- just you and Him and your Bible
Make time every day to spend in God's word- whenever and however that looks in your life. For me I get up earlier than normal so that I have 1 1/2 to 2 hours to spend studying God's word using a chronological plan. It's not easy and is something you definitely have to commit to and make a priority. But truthfully friends, we make time for what is important to us. Sometimes it just means cutting out something else in our lives. Spending time in God's word is the best investment you can make. Second hand is NOT how God wants you to experience His word. Learning it first hand can and will radically change your life!