Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Study Ends, but Our Journey with God Continues

Chapters 8 and 9 complete our study of Lysa TerKeurst’s What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.

For me, the past weeks have been emotional, eye-opening, soul-searching, and exciting. I’ve spent time in thought and prayer on how to apply what I’ve read to my life. There is so much from this book I want to absorb and remember, but I don’t think one read-through is enough. After a period of time I want to read and study it again. I wonder if I’ll have the same a-ha moments or be struck with new ones.

If you read and studied this book with me I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and heard God speaking to you.

If you are still working through the book, I encourage you to continue. You will still be able to access the blog posts at your leisure by clicking on the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God label on the right hand side of my blog.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts...

In Christ,
Laura

Monday, June 27, 2011

God Uses Even the Mundane

Once again author Lysa TerKeurst prompted me to think more about something I hadn’t thought much about before.

In Chapter 7 of What Happens When Women Say Yes to God she tells the story from Luke 5:1-11. After a night of fishing, and catching nothing, Jesus tells Simon Peter to go out and try again. Because the directive came from Jesus, Simon Peter does go out and lets the nets down again. This time so many fish are caught help is needed to bring them all in.

I love what Lysa writes after telling the story…
“We have to remember that Simon Peter didn’t know that something as mundane as lowering his net into the water would change his life—but it did! And that’s how it can be for us.” (Lysa TerKeurst, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God)

I don’t know about you, but as a wife and mother I sometimes feel like I do the same things over, and over, and over…laundry…cleaning…grocery shopping…having the same conversation about why the answer is no…you get the idea. Even in my work in church ministry there are tasks that seem mundane.

So the thought that God might use my ordinary everyday acts to change my life or the life of another—that’s exciting! It makes everyday seem like a possible adventure.

Only God knows when a change will occur, and if the change will be visible in my life or someone else’s life. I may never see how God used me, but just to have God work on me, or through me...either way is a privilege.

And suddenly it makes the mundane seem not so ordinary anymore.

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God - Week 4

Wow! It’s the last week of our study already! Below you will find the reading schedule for this week, including an extra chapter to finish the book.

Have a blessed week!
In Christ,
Laura

Week 4  June 26-July 2, 2011 
Monday & Tuesday
  • Read Chapter 7 “Keeping Our Vision Clear” and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter. Underline or highlight in your book any points you want to remember.

  • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the beginning of the week post, and comment with your thoughts from the reading.

  • Something to remember from Chapter 7: “Our life will follow where we focus our vision.”  
Wednesday & Thursday
  • Read Chapter 8 “Giving Up What Was Never Ours.” Take notes or highlight in your book any points you want to remember. Complete the Bible Study at the end of Chapter 8.


  • Something to remember from Chapter 8: "We are managers, not owners, of God's resources."
Friday & Saturday
  • Read Chapter 9 “Radically Blessed.” Underline, highlight, or take notes of any points to remember.

  • Complete the Bible Study at the end of Chapter 9. Which of these verses speak the most to you after having read this book?

    • Something to remember from Chapter 9: “The blessings of radical obedience are unending.”

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Perspective

    I’ve been thinking about perspective lately and how it causes me to react in different situations. After reading Chapter 6 in What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, I was reminded again how Satan can use our perspective and reactions against us.

    I'm keeping my thoughts short and sweet today and opening the blog up to you. In a word or a sentence, what is this book encouraging you to think about more than you have before? Or simply comment to say whether or not you like the book. (If you are new to commenting, see the step-by-step at the end of this post.)

    perspective – a way of regarding situations and judging their relative importance (World English Dictionary, www.dictionary.com)

    There have been times in my life when I have been so deeply involved in a situation that I can only see it from one perspective—my own. My perspective is shaped by what I see happening right then, by past experiences, and by my emotions. No matter where I look it’s all I can see. From my perspective, a situation can seem hopeless.

    God has a bigger and better perspective on every situation. Our all-knowing Lord weaves the past, present, and future together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) God’s perspective is full of hope.

    What a blessing that life does not depend on my perspective! What I can see is limited, but what God sees is endless. Even on those days when my perspective has me feeling overwhelmed and stuck in a hopeless situation, I can know and trust without a doubt that God has a plan.

    New to commenting? Simply click on the word "comments" at the end of this post. In the new screen, type in your comment and choose an identity - Name (skip URL) or Anonymous. Click Preview to see how your comment will look, then click Publish.

    God Bless,
    Laura

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    What Almost Kept Me From Saying Yes to God

    What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst — Chapter 5 “What Keeps Us From Saying Yes to God”

    What almost kept me from saying yes to God? I lost my focus.

    Earlier this year, God laid it on my heart to start an online Bible study. I’d been praying for His guidance, asking Him what I should be doing, and He answered. My mind raced with ideas and possibilities! But the excitement soon turned to uneasiness. I didn’t know how to start, and social media was outside of my comfort zone. I wanted confirmation from others, but didn’t want to tell anyone for fear that I would have to follow through. The more I thought about it, the less I could see a way it would work. I started to doubt it came from God at all, but instead my over-active imagination.

    God gave the direction, but I didn’t ask Him how to get there. I quickly grew discouraged and decided I wasn’t going to do it.

    I asked God for help, received it, and then told Him no. It’s no wonder I felt like I was no longer hearing from Him. It was not a good place to be in.

    I turned to God in prayer and after pouring out my heart to Him, I felt Him tell me, “Focus on Me.”

    I thought of when Jesus walked on water and Peter walked toward Him. (Matthew 14:22-33) When Peter’s focus was on Jesus, he could walk on water. But as soon as Peter lost his focus, he began to sink.

    It was a clear message that my focus should be on Christ, and not on what was going on around me or what I felt I couldn’t do.

    Later that same day I was led to Deuteronomy 31:8: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

    I immediately felt it was God’s instruction to me, not only for the online study, but in other areas of my life as well.

    God was guiding and directing me…and still one more incredible thing happened that day.

    God led me to an online Bible study though Proverbs 31 Ministries. The study was to begin in four days. Although I was on the Proverbs 31 Web site often, I had not seen anything about the study until the perfect timing of that day. God led me to the study of a book that was a blessing in my life, and He showed me an example of how an online study could work.

    What almost kept me from saying yes to God? I took my focus off of Jesus and I started to sink.

    So much of this chapter spoke to me! What stood out for you?

    Have a blessed week!

    In Christ,
    Laura

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    What Happens When Women Say Yes to God – Week 3

    It's hard to believe we are half way through our study already! I hope you are enjoying What Happens When Women Say Yes to God as much as I am. As I read each chapter, I feel like God is really working on me and making changes in my life.

    If you are wondering if there will be another study after this one, the answer is YES! We will take a break of a few weeks and then begin It's No Secret by Rachel Olsen. If you would like to continue with the online Bible study, I'd love to have you join us! Exact dates and more information will be coming soon.

    In the meantime, here's the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God reading schedule for week 3.

    Have a blessed week!
    In Christ,
    Laura

    Week 3  June 19-June 25, 2011 

    Monday & Tuesday
    • Read Chapter 5 “What Keeps Us From Saying Yes to God.” Take notes on anything you want to remember in your book or in a journal. Complete the Bible Study at the end of Chapter 5.

    • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the beginning of the week post. Leave a comment with your thoughts from the reading.

    • Something to remember from Chapter 5: “Whatever we worship, we will obey.”
                                       
    Wednesday & Thursday
    • Read Chapter 6 “If It Were Easy, It Wouldn’t Be Worth Doing,” and take notes. Complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter.


    • Something to remember from Chapter 6: “Radical obedience is born out of delight, not duty.”

    Friday
    • Spend some personal time with God and reflect on this week’s reading. Use this day to catch up if you got behind in the reading.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Controlling My Reactions

    “Satan wants to catch us off guard and use our reactions against us.”

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the enemy will do anything to ruin God’s plans for me. Satan tempts me, confuses me, makes me doubt, and lies to me. But until I read this quote from Lysa TerKeurst I never thought about how my reactions to people and situations can play right into the enemy’s hands.

    After reading it, it stuck with me for the rest of the day, but I was truly surprised when I was convicted the next morning.

    There I sat in a meeting that would last all day. I knew from past experience the facilitator could sometimes talk to the point of distraction, and it was frustrating. After he repeatedly interrupted and talked over me and other team members, I lost my patience. I was fuming and wanted to say something to him during the next break.

    Lysa’s words came to mind in a personal way…Satan wants to use my reactions against me.

    I began to see the situation in a different way. Breaking the facilitator’s stride by pulling him aside was unfair. I knew I didn’t want to do that.

    I looked at myself—arms crossed, tense, and ready to mentally check out of the meeting.

    …use my reactions against me.

    Would I really honor God by tuning out of the meeting? Wouldn’t I instead be a hindrance to the team and cheat myself out of the day’s experience?

    I wish I could say that because I realized how I was reacting the day improved dramatically and the team made great strides. No, the day was long and draining, but I learned something. I can feel angry, upset, or hurt, but do I want my reactions to make God’s day or the enemy’s? When I realized that, my anger started to fade.

    I have not been able to stop thinking about this. I’ve been asking myself…
    Do my reactions control my actions, and lead to regrets?
    Do my reactions get the best of me?
    Do I allow my reactions to determine the rest of my day?

    I’ve heard before that we shouldn’t let someone else’s behaviors have control over us. I’ve never been able to conquer that. I let others ruin my day, and I let my reactions ruin my day. What never occurred to me is that my ruined day is a good day for the enemy.

    I have so much of Chapter 4, “You Never Know How God Will Use You Until You Let Him” underlined!  Is there a particular point that stuck with you? Will you share it with us?

    God Bless,
    Laura

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Trust and Obedience

    What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst (Chapter 3)

    Lately I feel like God has been questioning me…Do you trust Me? Even when life is not going the way you would like it to, do you trust Me? Do you trust that I know what’s best for you even when you don’t understand or like the answer? Will you be obedient even when you don’t understand My plans?

    I’ll be honest. If it’s a test, I’m not sure I’m passing.

    I know I trust God and I thought I was being obedient. But as I read Chapter 3, “When Obedience Becomes Radical,” I started to wonder…do I give God my entire heart or just the part I’m willing to let go of? Do I desire God above all and everyone else? I want to, but if I’m not already, how do I do that?

    I read this chapter about three times, and each time I was intrigued by a different section. From what we might miss in life because of our disobedience, to being refined by the heat in life, to the image of curling up next to God and letting Him fill the emptiness inside.

    I’m still processing what I’ve read and what it means in my life. But what my mind keeps landing on is this…I know I trust God and I know He won’t steer me wrong. So, if I remember that and focus on Him, I have nothing to fear. Obedience to God should become a natural reaction, something I won’t have to think twice about, but something I want to do.

    When I get interested in a topic I tend to research and look for more to read on it. Below are links to a devotion and blog by Renee Swope, author and Proverbs 31 speaker.

    God Bless,
    Laura

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    What Happens When Women Say Yes to God – Week 2

    What an incredible first week we’ve had! It’s been amazing to see God bring women together for this study. Our group is now 25 women from 4 states! God’s plans are truly bigger and better than anything I can imagine!

    I have heard from many of you through comments on the blog and through e-mail. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to be open in sharing. I have been in awe this week of what God is doing here!

    To God be the glory!
    Laura

    Week 2  June 12-June 18, 2011 
    As you read each chapter, underline or highlight in your book any points you want to remember. You may also want to take notes in your book or purchase a journal to use for this study.

    Monday & Tuesday
    • Read Chapter 3 “When Obedience Becomes Radical” and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter.

    • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the beginning of the week post. Leave a comment to the post with your thoughts from the reading.

    • Something to remember from Chapter 3: “God wants us to be willing to obey with our whole heart.”
                                     
    Wednesday & Thursday
    • Read Chapter 4 “You Never Know How God Will Use You Until You Let Him” and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter.

    • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the mid-week post. Share your thoughts from the reading by leaving a comment to the post.

    • Something to remember from Chapter 4: “God must be Lord of all if He is our Lord at all.”

    Friday
    Spend some personal time with God and reflect on this week’s reading. This day can also be a catch up day if you got behind in the reading.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    God Speaks

    I believe God speaks to each of us in ways He knows we will understand. Sometimes He needs to get our attention, while other times He knows we’re listening for Him. I’ve been asking you to share your God moments. Today I’d like to share one of mine with you.

    For days I’ve been contemplating what to write for today’s blog. I knew what I wanted to say, but how to say it was not coming together. Sunday morning I sat down ready for another attempt and decided I needed to start in prayer. Even as I had a focus in mind, I wondered what God wanted me to say.

    As I prayed, Jeremiah 29:11 immediately came to mind in a very loud and clear way…
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT)

    It was not a verse I was thinking of in relation to what I wanted to write. Yet, this is the verse God showed me…in a different way than I’d ever seen before.

    I’ve always read this verse and thought “big picture”—God knows His plans for my life, where I’ll be, who I’ll be with, what I’ll be doing, etc.

    That morning, the verse took on new meaning as a direct relationship between God and me. It read…
    “For I know the plans I have for you [Laura], [to grow closer to Me as you learn to listen to Me and follow My direction]” says the Lord. “They are plans for good [I will fill the emptiness you feel] and not for disaster, to give you a future [I will show you more of Me] and a hope [you will know that when you call to Me, I am there.]”

    It was a wonderful and powerful moment for me…a personal conversation with my Heavenly Father.

    What did you think of chapter 2? Has there been a time in your life when you felt like you were being led toward something, but you weren’t sure if it was from God? Would the five questions have helped you to know?

    For a little more reading on hearing God’s voice, here is a link to a blog posted by author Lysa TerKeurst on her Website: The Slightest Trickle.

    What do you hope to remember from this chapter? Please share your thoughts by posting a comment.

    God Bless,
    Laura

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Outside My Comfort Zone

    Welcome! If you are participating in the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God online Bible study, we are on chapter 1, “A Soul That Longs for More.” I love the subtitle, “Whatever God says do, do it!”

    Have you ever felt God prompting you to do something that never occurred to you before? Has God laid something on your heart and you thought…what?

    What did you think when God told Lysa TerKeurst to give her Bible away to a stranger? I’ll be honest, one of my first thoughts was “I don’t want to give my Bible away. I hope God doesn’t tell me to do that.” And then I started to wonder…could I do it if He did tell me to?

    God knows what each of us can do, even when we don’t know ourselves. He knows where our comfort zone is, and where and when we’re ready to step outside of it. This is where He leads us to do something we normally would not do, something we think we can’t do, or something we might never think of on our own.

    For each of us, He will lead us in ways He knows we are ready for. I think it’s safe to say that we might not agree with Him! But He knows us better than we know ourselves. If He says we’re ready, then we must be ready.

    I remember the first time I felt God tell me to pray for someone I did not feel like praying for at the moment. As we argued, harsh words were spoken and feelings of hopelessness had been expressed. I was angry and frustrated, and I was not in the mood to pray! Praying for someone I was upset with did not come naturally for me. But God’s direction at that moment was clear and urgent. I was to pray for this person, so I did. Over time, praying for someone who had hurt or angered me became more natural, something I didn’t have to force myself to do.

    Think about it—as we grow in Him and learn to trust Him, what seemed outside our comfort zone yesterday is not as hard today. What scared us then, doesn’t scare us now. What we were sure we could not do, we are now accomplishing.

    As the boundaries of our comfort zone expand, God continues to move us outside of them…moving us to where He wants us to be. We squirm, we question, we feel uncomfortable, but not for long. When we get comfortable, He stretches us again, knowing the change and growth in us He wants to see.

    So, for Lysa TerKeurst, God led her to give away the Bible she loved. Someone else might be led to pray in a way that does not come easy for her. One woman might feel God leading her to join a Bible study, something she has never done before. And for another woman (me) God might lay on her heart to lead an online Bible study—something she never pictured herself doing. But something she finds she can do, and is excited to do, as long as she keeps her focus on Him.

    What did you think of chapter 1? Is there a particular section that spoke to you? Something you underlined or highlighted because you don’t want to forget?

    On page 14 Lysa TerKeurst shares a prayer. For more reading on that, I’m including a link to a blog she posted on April 14, 2011. Lysa TerKeurst – My Jesus in 5 days

    Please share your thoughts by posting a comment.

    God Bless,
    Laura

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    What Happens When Women Say Yes to God – Week 1

    I am so excited to begin our study today! We are a group of 19 women from 3 states!  God is at work!

    Below is the suggested reading schedule for this week. I will be posting thoughts on the reading twice a week on my blog. I encourage you to comment to share your thoughts and feelings on the reading and how God is working in your life. 

    This study has already been a blessing in my life, from the planning, to the book, to watching God bring women together. Wherever you are in your faith life, my prayer is that this study will be a blessing to you as well. 

    God Bless,
    Laura

    Week 1  June 5-June 11, 2011 
    As you read each chapter, underline or highlight in your book any points you want to remember. You may also want to take notes in your book or purchase a journal to use for this study.

    Monday & Tuesday
    • Read Chapter 1 “A Soul That Longs for More,” and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter. 
    • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the beginning of the week post. If you feel led to do so, leave a comment to the post with your thoughts from the reading. 
    • Something to remember from Chapter 1: “Whatever God says do, do it.”                                   
    Wednesday & Thursday
    • Read Chapter 2 “Hearing God’s Voice,” and complete the Bible Study at the end of the chapter. 
    • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the mid-week post. Share your thoughts from the reading by leaving a comment to the post. 
    • Something to remember from Chapter 2: “God wants us to live in expectation of hearing from Him.” 
    Friday
    • Spend some personal time with God and reflect on this week’s reading. This day can also be a catch up day if you got behind in the reading.