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Finished…at last!

For the past few years, Greg and I have been trying to get more intentional about spending time together in God’s Word. Sometimes we have used a daily devotional with Bible readings and one time we even used a book dealing with depression and anxiety. Written from a Christian perspective, it had plenty of scripture along with suggested application of those verses.

We take turns reading out loud followed by joining hands for a time of prayer.

Beginning in January 2016, we decided to embark on a 61-day reading plan we downloaded from Bible Gateway. I’m happy to report we finally finished that 61-day plan…on June 19 THIS YEAR! Hmm, that’s 18 months, not 61 days.

What happened? Well, it turns out most of the days had up to 8 chapters assigned to them which we quickly discovered was simply too much. So, we worked at our own pace, allowing for the many interruptions life so readily provides. We even put it aside for a while and went back to reading a daily devotional.

But about a month ago we decided to hunker down and complete the task. At times, I was convinced it would be better to quit and find a new reading plan, yet somehow that didn’t seem right. So, we made the decision to finish strong and that’s just what we did. But I have to say, it sure felt good when we completed the task last night.

Over the years I’ve canvassed many fellow believers, especially married couples, as to how they delved into God’s Word. And the answers were as varied as the people. Dissatisfied with my own efforts, I think I was looking for one magic plan, thinking that whatever method most people used must surely be the right one.

What I discovered is that it doesn’t really matter how you spend time with in God’s Word, it’s just important that you do. Armed with that realization I could relax my efforts to “do it right” and instead enjoy time with my hubby and my Lord. We found what works for us and it’s been so enjoyable.

What’s next? We’re still figuring that out. We may do an organized Bible study or go back to a daily devotional. But until we decide, we’ll continue to hold hands and pray for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors and friends, and our country. Together we’ll seek God to continue His work in us as He changes us into His image.

Maybe you’re like we were: floundering, unsure what the perfect method is, shy about reading or praying out loud with your spouse or someone else. My encouragement to you is to let all that go. Ask God to direct you and then enjoy the discovery process as you research various methods of study.

In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to visit this website and listen in on the God Speaking series with Anne Graham Lotz.

She has several 10-day series consisting of 40-minute lightly dramatized Bible readings. You can listen in each day for the entire 40 minutes or split it up like Greg and I did, taking about 15 days to complete it. I must say, it was excellent. The dramatized version was so engaging that we found ourselves hanging on every word as it was read.

Perhaps you have found other methods that work for you. If so, please hit reply and leave a comment. What you share just may be what someone else will connect with.

Love to all.

Mimi

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It truly was a Good Friday.

I’m sharing a copy of a BC comic strip I saw on Facebook this morning. It was fantastic. And illustrated the truth beautifully.

I have to admit the other day I was wondering why we call the Friday before Resurrection Day, “Good Friday.” Then I saw this comic strip and went “Ah…that’s why.” See what you think.

There’s generally lots of fuss about Easter/Resurrection Day. For weeks the stores have been full of spring-type items and all things related to Easter: plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies, baskets, artificial grass, small toys, new clothing, etc. And though Easter is definitely a religious holiday the stores treat it like a commercial entity designed to bring in more business. Can’t blame them really. But it surely misses the point.

But Good Friday, now that day is almost entirely passed over. I don’t even think that many churches observe it anymore. But we found one near us that did, Quest Church in Ocoee. And I’m so glad we discovered it.

When we arrived last night, we entered into the sanctuary adorned with soft lighting and lots of candles. Soft, contemplative Christian piano music was playing and the chairs were arranged in a circular fashion so the stage area was in the middle. It was very intimate. Very personal.

The format of the presentation was contemplation as four different Bible figures took turns describing their own experiences with The Christ: Peter, Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross, Mary Magdalen, and the Centurion. In between their recitations two woman sang some amazing songs that depicted what was taking part in the crucifixion and in the events leading up to it.

I wasn’t the only one dabbing my eyes.

At the end, we partook in communion then quietly left the sanctuary. From inside the foyer we could see that 50 or more luminaries had been lit up to light our way back to our cars. It was very moving indeed.

But before walking the lighted path, as we exited the building the four actors stood by the doors and placed a red dot in the middle of one of our palms…a reminder of what Good Friday was all about.

It’s quite visible—as I gesture, when I pick up something, when I look at it on purpose, and it most definitely serves its purpose as it truly does remind me of the great sacrifice made by my Savior for me.

So today I’m grateful for that reminder; and I’m grateful for the truth in the BC comic strip. Jesus took my place. He paid for my sin. And His sacrifice made it possible for me to enter into God’s family. So yes, it truly was a Good Friday.

Mimi

Fixing the broken pieces of our lives.

img_5881Getting mail in December is a lot of fun. But getting a thick envelope or package is an extra delight.

I recently received a thick envelope from our Ohio family. Eagerly tearing the paper, anticipating what I would find inside, my face lit up with a big smile when I saw the Lenox angel ornament. But within seconds I also noticed the angel had broken in transit.

No worries. A little hot glue and voila! The angel is good to go and now hanging on my tree. And the ornament now serves as a beautiful reminder that God heals the brokenhearted and bandages up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).

We all endure wounds that often leave scars. Scars of hurt, scars of betrayal, scars of loss. Yet those scars tell the story of our lives and the glories of the One who intervenes and heals. “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT).

Interestingly, if you look at the angel on the left (you may need to zoom in), you can barely see the scars of hot glue while on the right they are clearly visible. Another reminder that while scars may remain, they often fade and become less noticeable over time. There is indeed hope that our own scars will eventually be less painful, too.

Bearing scars dear friend? Be encouraged and don’t be ashamed for they are producing a glory in you that points to God and His redemptive love and healing.

Mimi

A fresh start.

Recently, daughter Kate sent me a photo of a little project she completed and her caption was “Never throw away that which can be repurposed.” Immediately I could imagine our Lord saying this about us. He never gives up on us and always views us with the eyes of Someone who knows what we are becoming or what we are capable of becoming. And He sees beyond what’s currently there and looks instead on the potential to come.

Old to NewJust look at the photo. What was once a very old metal kitchen colander that most would throw away has been transformed by Kate because she saw its potential. A coat of primer followed by a fresh new topcoat and that colander has become a beautiful, purposeful planter.

We are reminded in Scripture that this is exactly what God does with His kids. He doesn’t see us as cast-offs without a future. Instead He repurposes our lives for His purposes.

Reminder from 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT): This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Feeling rusty? Feeling like a has-been? Feeling a bit tossed aside and useless? Cheer up, my friend. God isn’t finished with you. And a new life has indeed begun!

Mimi

If you look for it, you can always find J-O-Y in any journey.

JO-U-R-N-E-Y

Joy

whatjoyismine.net

So the other week I thought I was so clever. For some reason I was thinking about the word JOY and wham! It thunked in my “thunker” that the word JOURNEY contains the word JOY. And being a mostly optimistic person, I immediately began pondering on how joy really can be found in just about every journey in life.

Of course, as days have marched on I now realize my brilliant observation no doubt has been used many times by others. But even though it’s not a completely original concept, the concept DOES contain truth.

So let’s look at what joy is not and also at what joy is.

Joy is not:

  • A smile or a laugh
  • The absence of trouble or problems
  • A surface emotion

Joy is:

  • A deep conviction of contentment
  • A sense of well-being despite circumstances
  • A state of mind and orientation of the heart

By looking at what joy is, we can begin understanding how it can indeed be part of every journey. In the midst of trouble when we feel peace and well-being…that is joy. When unsure what the future holds yet we experience contentment…that is joy, too. And when we decide to trust and rely on God, when we find His peace, and when we set our hearts on Him despite what’s going on around us…that is also joy.

Joy is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. (John Piper, Quest: Joy, Found: Christ!)

I’m not saying it’s easy or that it comes naturally but I do believe joy is a by-product of an ever deepening relationship with God. So my prayer for this year is that next January, when I look back on 2016, I will see that my own journey has become more joy-filled as I’ve grown closer to the One who holds me in His arms and directs my steps.

Reminder from James 1:2 (NLT): Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

May we all find great joy in 2016.

Mimi

 

Addison and Zoe: that’s love from A to Z!!!

GirlsOver Christmas we visited with our son and his sweet family. Each time we arrive at their house we announce ourselves with a text in case the youngest one is sleeping or the doorbell might upset the dog. Texting our arrival also means that as we get out of the car the front door is opening with two little girls (Addison and Zoe) running out to greet us with squeals of delight. There just isn’t anything better than to hear “Mimi, Pop Pop” shouted joyfully while we open wide our arms to receive two excited little girls jumping into them to be hugged and kissed all over.

It’s actually quite hard to put into words what that feeling is like…to be so loved, so wanted, so anticipated, so welcomed, so valued. That feeling chases away pressing concerns and worries. It makes fear fade away. It turns every ugly thing that has tried to rob your joy turn into a huge failure. Because truly, that kind of love makes everything else unimportant and powerless.

And this is exactly the kind of love our heavenly Father has for each one of us.

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. . . My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. (1 John 3 1-2 [in part] The Voice)

My hope for you this year? It comes right from Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT):

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Mimi

Ignore the noise and listen to God’s voice instead.

09-29-15 listenHubby and I got to enjoy time with friends the other day, dinner out at a local sports bar. I’m not exactly a sports fan or a sports bar type of person but our friends had a gift certificate they wanted to use so off we went.

Delicious food – really and truly good. But the place is one large, open room with prominent bar and each wall covered with large screen TV’s. The Florida game was on and the diners were fans because the noise level was out of sight. I immediately knew conversation was going to be tough and indeed it was. We had to lean in to talk and then speak loudly. Even with that, it was difficult to hear. By the end of the night our voices were rough from overuse. And while I would certainly want to return for their yummy food, that’s just not going to happen because of the noise.

Interestingly enough, one of the TVs near us had the Florida-Tennessee game on and since my daughter and her hubby met at Florida and are huge fans, if I’m going to cheer for any team, it will be them. They were losing the entire game and at the 3:48 mark were down by six. On the fourth down they had no option but to play it out rather than try for a field goal. Wouldn’t you know it, they scored to tie the game. The place went nuts and I found myself cheering aloud as well. The icing on the cake was they scored the extra point and won the game.

Like the noise at the restaurant, the noise of the world can often interfere with our lives. Vendors clamor for our attention to sell us their goods. Bosses at work speak to us about working harder and longer and producing more. Family and friends can at times make demands on your time that you don’t know how to meet and you find yourself trying to be all things for all people. You even add to the noise with your own expectations for yourself and then berate yourself when you fail to meet them all.

What’s the answer? There’s no easy one for sure. All the things mentioned are good and important but truth be told, we can’t do it all. And we need to stop listening to the noise long enough to hear the voice of the One who really does matter. The One who knew and loved us before we were formed. The One who calls us to a life of purpose. The One who gave up everything for you so you could know and love Him.

It’s His voice we need to listen for. His voice that will be found when we turn a deaf ear to everything and everyone else that clamors for our attention. Here are seven reasons (out of many) why we need to listen to God’s voice:

  1. For direction: If you go the wrong way—to the right or to the left—you will hear a voice behind you saying, “this is the right way. You should go this way.” Isaiah 30:21 NCV
  2. To increase your faith: So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 NKJV
  3. To give you life: The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. John 6:63 NIV
  4. For correction and training: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
  5. To find wisdom: But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you. James 1:5 NCV
  6. For peace: I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. Psalm 85:8a NLT
  7. To experience God’s everlasting covenant and unfailing love: Listen and come to me. Pay attention to me. Then you will live. I will make a covenant with you that will last forever. I will give you my faithful love. Isaiah 55:3 NIRV

Mimi