Sunday, October 30, 2016

Brave is Hoping Again


Lately, I’ve been thinking about bravery. What makes us brave? Do we do brave things every day, or is bravery reserved for the big, scary things?

Certainly, bravery and courage are needed for the step-out-in-faith, outcome-not-certain, actions. Perhaps that’s changing jobs, starting your own business, or deciding to leave your job to be a full-time homeschool parent.

Brave is even for the times of doing something outside of your comfort zone—leading a Bible study, speaking to your new neighbor, or volunteering in a place that’s uncomfortable.

But, then, brave took on a new look for me.

As I sat in another waiting room with my loved one, I stared out the window. I watched cars go by and people walking to where they needed to be. I felt numb and I thought again about what brave is.

I felt it in my soul before it became clear in my mind.


Sometimes brave isn’t a physical act, but rather an emotional and spiritual one.

Brave is allowing yourself to hope again. {Tweet this}

Honestly, I hadn’t fully recognized that I was losing hope. I think I sensed it, but didn’t want to admit it. Until that moment. And then, as I sat there blinking back tears, I knew.

To fully hope again would take bravery and courage.

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24 NKJV 

I know it—to hope and wait on God. But when my heart gets weary with disappointment and discouragement, waiting patiently is so much harder. And hope feels so out of reach.

I guess I didn’t realize just how tired and weary my heart had become, but God knew. He always looks at the heart. And I was losing heart.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14 NKJV

I can’t strengthen my own heart, but God can…and He will.

How can we keep disappointment and discouragement from draining our hope and our hearts?

Believe you will see God.

In the craziness of our days, sometimes all we can see is what is right in front of us—the to-do list and the problems we have to solve. We scroll through social media throughout the day, knowing we’ll see what everyone else is doing.

But, how often do we look around to see what God is doing?

That might mean walking away from media devices and giving our minds time to clear. Look for Him. God is at work and when we’re expecting Him, we will see Him. {Tweet this}

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

Wait on God.

We don’t like having to wait. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, waiting feels like an inconvenience and a hassle. We are an instant gratification society with the internet bringing everything to us with barely the lift of a finger.

But, God does not work on our time. Knowing that allows us to take a comforted breath. When something doesn’t happen right away, it doesn’t mean God has left us. When the waiting goes on for years and years, it does not mean God has walked away.

God waits patiently for us. Waiting on Him should not make us lose hope.

This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:3 NLT

Be courageous.

Unlike courage that we draw from ourselves, God’s courage in never ending. He’s never drained at the end of the day. He doesn’t need to recharge His battery. Drawing from His courage strengthens us in ways we can’t explain, and often don’t even know about.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NLT

God promises to always be with us. We can be courageous, not because of ourselves, but through Him.

When the wait is long and weary, bravely allow God to strengthen your heart.

Bravely expect to see God at work.

Bravely wait patiently on Him.

And, bravely let yourself hope again.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Monday, October 24, 2016

God’s Word Brings Light


I wasn’t going to write another post about Scripture journaling, but then I opened my Bible this morning to this verse. 
Every word you give me is a miracle word—how could I help but obey? Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning. Psalm 119:129-130 MSG (bold mine) 
And how could I not write about it? First in my journal, and then here to share.

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of women about journaling.

I said, “When we don’t make time to be with God in His Word, we miss His comfort, wisdom, strength, understanding, and rest. We can’t understand Scripture if we don’t spend time reading it, but it is God who enables us to understand His Word.

God’s Word provides hope, comfort, perspective, guidance, and instruction. His Word gives us Light. The Light to guide our way.

If we don’t read or hear Scripture, we won’t know what it can do for us…but without God, we can’t understand the full meaning.

God gives discernment and enables ordinary people like you and me to comprehend His Word.

God gives us the ability to feel His Word—and let it change our hearts.

Understanding doesn’t come all at one time. His Word is too great for us to ever completely understand it as He does. He knows how much we can take in each time we meet with Him.

He may lead us to a new verse, or to the same verse over and over, revealing a new layer of depth each time.

This morning, I opened to Psalm 119, and He led me to the above verses and to verse 125. 
I’m your servant—help me understand what that means, the inner meaning of your instructions. Psalm 119:125 MSG 
Each time He leads us to a particular verse, He’s speaking to us. It may be clear at the time why He led us there, like an a-ha moment. Other times, it’s only the beginning, and He will continue to reveal meaning in His time and His way. 
Dear Lord, every Word you give us brings Light into our lives. Light to guide us. Light to give us hope and perspective in this world we live in. You’ve called us, ordinary people, to be Your servants. Please show us what that means and how to live that out for Your glory and Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. 
In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Monday, October 17, 2016

Journal to Grow

As I’ve been preparing a Bible study on journaling to share at an event this month, I’ve been sharing portions of the study here as well. Click here to read more in this series.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7 NLT (bold mine)
Remember the grade school science project of getting a seed to grow roots? I remember my daughter bringing home a little cup with a tiny little sprout. In class, she learned the seed needed light and water so it could grow roots, and she had carefully nurtured that little seed until it poked through the dirt.

The same is true for the roots of our faith. In order to grow, they need to be cared for and nurtured by spending time with God. They need Light and Living Water. And they need the nutrients from God’s Word.

Unlike the seed’s roots, the roots of faith aren’t always visible, and yet as they grow, they can be seen in different ways—how we trust and depend on God, how we love others, how we act and react in difficult situations.

As our roots grow, it changes us. With God, change always starts on the inside—in our hearts. Over time, it shows on the outside, where others can see it. {Tweet this}
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. Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT
Where does journaling come in? It’s a way of processing what God is showing us in His Word as we spend time alone with Him.

I love looking back through my journal and notes in my Bible. I can see where I was, what He’s walked me through, and where I am now. It’s written proof of how I’ve learned to listen for Him and how my relationship with Him has grown deeper.

Journaling is a way of spending time with God, not only praying and talking to Him, but listening for His voice. When I hear from Him, I want to remember the moment—what He said and how I felt.

In the Old Testament, God told the prophets to write down everything He told them. (Jeremiah 30:2, Isaiah 30:8-9

Perhaps He’s asking us to do the same.
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8 NLT 
Laura 


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Journal to Remember


A Scripture journal is different from a personal journal, and yet, Scripture journaling is very personal.

It’s personal because when we dig into God’s Word with Him, He reveals to us who He is. He opens our hearts and minds to what He wants to teach us. He might direct us to a particular verse we need at that moment. It could be a new verse He wants us to discover, or a deeper understanding of a verse we’ve read many times.

Individual one-to-one time spent with our creator is special and timeless. Just as you might take pictures to remember time spent with a loved one, Scripture journaling records time spent with God. It creates a memory of time spent together.

Throughout the Bible, God’s people were instructed to remember the times God was with them.

He told the Israelites to commit themselves to His commandments—to repeat them to their children, to talk about them while traveling and at home, to write them down and keep the writings with them. (Deuteronomy 6, 11)
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIV (bold mine)
Journaling Scripture fixes God’s Word in our hearts and minds. As we read Scripture and reflect on it through journaling, we learn. As we learn, we are able to share and teach. {Tweet this}

God directed memorials to be built to remember His miracles, and to teach future generations of His power and love. (Joshua 4)
We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:6-7 NLT (bold mine)
Someday, my journal, filled with Scripture and personal prayers, will be a memorial for my daughter. In it, she’ll be able to read the prayers I prayed for her, where my heart was when I cried out to God, and the research and notes I made as I dug deep into God’s Word. She’ll be able to read what I learned about God and what I learned about myself. And she’ll be able to share it with her children, teaching them what I tried to teach her.

Do you journal Scripture? What’s your preference—journaling through artwork or written word?

If you’d like to try Scripture journaling, but you’re not sure how to start, click here to download the free Scripture Journaling Worksheets I’ve created. 

Each sheet starts with a place to write the verse you’re studying, followed by word prompts, and extra space for notes, a prayer, or artwork. It eliminates the intimidating blank page, but also allows you to use the page as you choose so you can discover what works for you.


In Christ,
Laura


Monday, October 10, 2016

After the Dream


You’ve been dreaming. You’ve been praying. You’ve been planning and following God’s lead. And finally, after the wait and the work, you experience your God-sized dream.

Now what?

It’s not a let-down, per se. It’s just that the dream has been your focus for quite a while, and now that you’ve been fortunate enough to experience it, there’s a bit of a void. Maybe you even feel a little lost and not sure what to do next. I get it—I know the feeling.

When we’ve worked toward one focus for a period of time, that’s what we’ve grown used to. It’s the goal we’ve been looking forward to—the God-sized dream that God may or may not bring to pass. When we don’t experience it, it’s still out there in the “maybe someday” category. When we do experience it, we relish in the awesome experience. And then…the question…what’s next?


This is where I’d love to tell you I have the answer, but I don’t. In fact, I’m right there with you in wondering what’s next? But what I can share are three thoughts I’m keeping in front of me.

I'm happy to be sharing at God-sized Dreams today. I hope you'll join me there to continue reading After the Dream

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Friday, October 7, 2016

Scripture Journaling {and a Free Printable}


I didn’t used to journal. Any time I tried it, I was too particular. It took time to find a journal that was just right. My hand writing had to be perfect in blue or black ink, and a misspelling or a word crossed out drove me nuts. Because of the restraints I placed on myself, my journaling experience was more stressful than relaxing.

Over the years, although I’m not sure how it happened, I’ve gotten past all of that. I love my personal journal now. It’s filled with Scripture, thoughts, feelings, prayers, and notes and research on particular verses. I can go back to the studies I’ve done on my One Word for each year and remember where my heart was when I cried out to God through written word.

I also have several other journals which I use for taking notes on book studies. I have my own system now, which is more relaxed and enjoyable than I ever thought possible. I no longer worry about perfection and having it all planned out ahead of time.

I can’t fully explain what a blessing journaling has been for me. 

I know artistic journaling is super popular now, but for me, the written word is still my love language. No matter what your creative choice may be, journaling is something I recommend. It encourages quiet time spent with God alone and helps with remembering what you’ve read and studied. {Tweet this}

I also know how intimating a blank page can be when you’re not used to journaling. What do I write (or draw)? What Scripture verse do I start with? Are there rules or guidelines to follow?

Here’s what I do…
  • I read God’s Word.
  • I pay attention to any words that jump out of a verse.
  • I discern how a verse makes me feel and what my first thoughts are.
  • I read any study notes pertaining to the verse in my Bible and think about what that verse means for me. What is God showing me? It may be a promise He’s reminding me of or something in my life that needs to change.
  • From there, I might look for related Bible verses and write those down, or I may use a little bit of artwork. (For me, that means something simple like hearts or stars.)

God invites us to join Him in His Word. He opens our eyes, hearts, and minds to understand His Word, and reveals what He wants us to see or learn at the moment He chooses. {Tweet this}
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45 NLT
To see what God wants to show us in His Word, we have to spend time with Him reading and studying Scripture. 

Take notes in your Bible. Use your favorite journal or treat yourself to a new one. Even a spiral notebook can be a useful journal.


I’ve also created Scripture Journaling Worksheets you can download and print.

Each page starts with a place to write the verse(s) you are studying, followed by word prompts to get you started, with extra room for notes, a prayer, or artwork.

It eliminates the intimidating blank page, but also allows you to use the page as you choose. Discover what works for you.

What’s been your journaling experience? If journaling Scripture is new to you, are you ready to give it a try? What’s holding you back? Click here to try the worsheets I've created.

In Christ,
Laura