Memorizing Scripture

I have only been a Christian for about 5 years, so the Bible is still fairly new to me.  I’m currently in the midst of reading it front to back, but I’m not out of the Old Testament yet.  I’m in Ezekiel right now, but I’m moving along and our pastor is going to challenge us to read the entire New Testament from January to June 2010.    This fits perfectly with my plan, since I’m almost finished with the Old Testament.  I will have to get going so I can get through the rest by the end of December.  I love deadlines, they definitely motivate me.

In addition to reading the Bible from front to back, I have also been involved in a quite a few Bible studies.   Bible studies, of course, send you all through the Bible reading verses throughout the Old and New Testament.  About 4 years ago I started writing down my favorite verses in a little journal.  It has definitely come in handy.  On days I  need a good verse to give me hope, or send to a friend, or to give to my husband I flip through this journal.  I try to add to it every time I run across a verse that stands out.  However, I haven’t been adding them as frequently as I’ve been finding them lately. 

In addition to writing them down, I am now working towards memorizing these verses.  I’m in the middle of a Bible study right now that encourages us to memorize a Bible verse each week.  We then have to repeat it in front of the group before we begin our weekly study.  I’ve been doing good so far, in fact last week I memorized Ezekiel 36: 25-27.  It was one of the longest so far, but so worth it. 

The purpose of doing this is so that you can recall these verses at any time.  Whether you need them when helping others, or just for yourself.  Scripture is so powerful for fighting off negative and anxious thoughts.  If you can recall and recite scripture on a moments notice you will begin to see the positive effect this will have on you.  You should give it a try.  Maybe start with one a month, then move to one every two weeks and then to one weekly. 

This Christmas one of the presents I want to give  my family are little laminated cards with special verses that I know they can use throughout the year.  I will update these each year as situations change, but I hope they will find them helpful.  I will make them the size of a credit card and they can keep them in their wallets or in their backpacks, etc.  My hope is they will read them often, but more importantly have those verses memorized by the end of the year.

This week the verse I memorized was Psalm 139:23-24 which reads “Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way, everlasting.”   (I typed that from my memory I promise, I did not look it up so if it’s a word or two off you understand)  I will use this one a lot.  So often I get caught up in so many other things and forget to stop and ask God to help me with my anxious and negative thoughts.  I also want him to continually search my heart and help me get rid of anything that isn’t pleasing to Him.  These verses speak that to God and I intend on praying that to Him on regular (maybe even daily) basis.

How many verses do you have memorized and do you recall them on a daily basis?

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Priorities

I recently found this great blog called “Keeper of the Home”.  It is written by a Christian wife and mother (named Stephanie) whose tag line is “naturally inspired living for the Christian homemaker”.  She writes about being a Christian wife and mother and offers healthy alternatives to homemaking.  She has some great tips and a lot of interesting posts.  One that I really enjoyed recently was her post on the burdens we carry that we were never intended to.  That is something I think all of us need to take to heart.  There are many things in life that we do or want to do, that are not necessary to our main goals in life.  We get busy just being busy and we sort of lose track of where we are going and why we are going there.

Don’t get on the “busy” train when you do not need to be.   Then you’ll end up somewhere and someone you do not want to be!  

Read her post here  and take a look at the example of her “Priority List” that she took a picture of.  Her husband came up with this and I love it!  I want to start making one of those on a daily basis, it will be so freeing and will keep me on track.

Try to stay on track with your priorities and do not let yourself get “busy” doing things that do not really matter!

Thankfulness

In honor of Thanksgiving this week, I want to focus on being thankful all the time.  I’ve written before about a Gratitude Journal because I think it is important to be thankful on a daily basis.  We should rise in the morning with thankful hearts and go to sleep at night thanking God for the blessings of that day.  I, however, do not do this on a regular basis I’m sad to say. 

I am going to work on making this a habit, with God’s help.  Like everything else I need God’s help with my bad habits and with creating good habits.  I’m so thankful He is there for me!  I do thank Him every morning for just being there for me.  It is so comforting to know He is ALWAYS there. 

Here is a list of what else I’m thankful for today:

  1. My time with God every single day.
  2. My husband and our relationship with God and each other.
  3. My health.
  4. My kids, their health, their happiness, and their own relationships with God.
  5. The counseling opportunity that has come my way.
  6. My husband’s recent job interview and other opportunities.
  7. The lessons God has provided for me this year (as difficult as they sometimes are), because I know He is using them to shape me into who He intended me to be.
  8. My family and friends.
  9. Our pets (minus their shedding hair).
  10. The city we live in.

  What are you thankful for?

Being a Good Example

I cannot stress how important it is to be a good example for your kids.  You know the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”?   Well, that may sound good, but our kids hear what we say so much louder when we live it out.  

The best way to share your faith in Christ with your kids, and with others is through living an abundant life.  A life filled with the peace that comes from trusting in God and turning everything over to Him. 

Our biggest responsibility as Christian parents is to lead our kids to a relationship with God.  And one of the best ways to do that is show our love and commitment for God.  Here are some ways you can be a good example to your kids:

  1. Daily Bible Reading.  Let your kids see you reading the Bible and enjoying quiet time.  Also, maybe read a verse to them every morning and also when they go to bed.  Teach them that it is the best way to start and end your day.  Also, have a daily or weekly devotional with your kids to dive a little deeper into the Bible together.
  2. Memorize and Recall Bible Verses.  Currently I am trying to memorize a new Bible verse everyday.  I told my daughter the verse I was learning last week and she was memorizing it too.  I am going to start telling both of the kids the verse I’m memorizing and they can join in if they would like to.  One of the best reasons for memorizing scripture is so that during tough times you can recall the verse and repeat it back to yourself or out loud.  It is the best way to end any negative (and unneccessary) thinking.
  3. Work Hard.  Showing your kids how important it is to work hard will help them grow up with a healthy work ethic and they will understand that you cannot get by without hard work in life.  The Bible even tells us we must not be lazy and that we must work hard.  Living this out for your kids is a great example.
  4. Love Others Unconditionally.  It can be tempting to talk about other people at times, but this teaches your children it is okay to talk about and judge others.   Instead suggest that you pray for others, give money to the poor folks on the corner, and remind your kids that God loves ALL of us and we never know what someone else is going through.  Always show respect to others.  God commands us to “love others as we love ourselves”.  Show your kids what that looks like, it’s a very important lesson for all of us!
  5. Serve Others.  Get involved with some volunteer work and let your kids come along.  Showing them what serving others is like and letting them participate is a great example!  Make serving others a part of your routine and your kids will follow your example.  Afterwards talk about how it felt and why God commands us to serve others. 
  6. Tithe.  Tithing is a very important act of worship, it shows God where your treasure is, which in turn shows Him where your heart is.  Encourage your kids to tithe 10% of their Christmas money, Birthday money, or allowance and let them see you doing the same.
  7. Enjoy Fellowship.  Being involved with a Bible study or some other form of fellowship is essential to living a Christian life.  We all need the help and accountability of our Christian friends.  Encourage your kids to get involved in their own Bible study or youth group as it becomes available to them.  Host a life group in your own and involve your children.  Also encourage them to participate in Vacation Bible School at your church or any other youth activities.
  8. Share Your Faith With Others.  Whenever possible let your kids see you sharing your faith with others in any way you can.  Just a casual conversation with the store clerk or with a friend or neighbor.  I know these conversations are hard to come by for many of us, but whenever possible and appropriate let your children see you gently and lovingly sharing your faith.  You will only be teaching them to do what Christ calls each of us to do.
  9. Stand Up For What You Believe In.  Do not be afraid to stand up for what you believe in and not just go along with the crowd.  This helps your kids learn how to deal with peer pressure and turn from those things they know are wrong.
  10. Forgive.  Learning to forgive those that have hurt us is a very hard lesson to learn.  If you can show your kids how you forgive others without condoning what they have done you will be teaching them an invaluable lesson on letting go.

This list is not all-inclusive, but I think it is a good start.  I personally need to work harder in a lot of these areas, and I will commit to doing so because I know I have an audience that is paying attention to how I live my life, not just how I tell them to live theirs.

Meal Planning

I am always looking for ways to improve my meal planning.  Meal planning seems to be some sort of science.  The best meal planning utilizes one item for multiple dishes, includes items that are on sale or that you have a coupon for, and keeps everyone in your family happy, satisfied and healthy.  That’s a tall order.

My husband and I were married almost 2 years ago,  and ever since then my goal has been to come up with a “Favorite’s List” of dishes that we all enjoy, that are fairly easy to make, that do not use expensive ingredients, and that are pretty healthy.  We finally put together that list the other day.  I’ve tried all kinds of different dishes, a lot  that worked, and some that well….didn’t. 

We came up with a list of 31 dishes for our “Favorite’s List”.  I will use this list every month and rotate these dishes throughout the month.  I plan to make copies of the list and then cross off what I have made for the month and continue down the list.  It takes a lot of pressure off of me to try and come up with our weekly meals.  Now I can look at the grocery store flyer and at the coupons I have, and pick the dishes that best use those items.  I also do not have to think whether everyone will like the dishes or not because these are tried and true recipes that I have already cooked and they have already enjoyed!  Bonus.

I will of course throw one or two new dishes in there each month depending on ingredients and coupons.   I love this idea.  I will keep you updated on how well it is working, but so far so good!

I love making my life simpler ANY way I can!   In what ways do you make meal planning and grocery shopping simpler?

MercyMe and Tenth Avenue North

IMG_3969Our church was giving away tickets to the MercyMe concert that was here in Austin on Saturday night.  My husband was able to get two tickets for us free.  I was excited!   I love MercyMe and have not seen them live before.  It was a great show!  Tenth Avenue North opened for them, and they were really good as well.  

There was a great message throughout the night and it spoke directly to me and my husband.   Both bands talked about how God is always with us during our struggles and He uses those struggles to make us into who He intended for us to be, so that we can live out His will for our lives.   We never need to feel like He’s not there because He is…He is always with us.  Tenth Avenue North’s song “Love Is Here” was written to remind people that God is always here with us, and He always loves us!  I love that song.  They also have a song called “Hold My Heart” which has a message about reaching out to God for help.  It’s an inspirational song.

MercyMe has so many great songs, but the two that stuck out the most to me that night were “Bring the Rain” and “Hold Fast“.  My husband and I are going through a bit of rain storm now with jobs and decisions, but we are holding fast to our faith in God.  We know He is with us and can accomplish things we can’t even imagine….

CAN

You have probably seen stories about this father and son team, and you may have already seen this video.  If you have not, and even if you have, watching it will undoubtedly move you and inspire you.  What an incredible love this shows.  It is a reminder that with our Father we CAN do anything. 

Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite Bible verses.  It is printed on a magnet that we keep on our refrigerator door.  I need to see that on a regular basis.  That through Christ I CAN conquer anything life throws my way.

Checking Off To-Do’s

to-do-list-padIf you are like me, you have one or two tasks that you continuously put off and add to the next day or next week’s list.  You know what I’m talking about.  There are always a few items on our lists that we just do not want to do, but when we finally do them they usually only take a few minutes and we feel so much better!

I’m a pretty organized person, but even I put off stuff sometimes.  I have to push myself to get those tasks completed.  Here are some of my strategies in doing so:

  1.  Set Up A Tickler File.  A tickler file helps you to organize your to-do’s. Once you set up a system and can trust that you WILL look into the files each day, it is a great way to assign days to your to-do’s and then forget about them.
  2. Make Time.  You MUST make time to take care of your to-do’s.  It will be difficult, and there will be a million other  obligations,  but you must carve out time to take care of your tasks so that they do not pile up.  Set an appointment with yourself each day for 30 minutes to an hour and go through your daily to-do’s and do them one by one.  If you need a longer amount of time, then maybe schedule two times during your day where you complete your to-do’s.  Then stick to it like any other appointment.
  3. Write It Down.  I have to write everything down or I will forget it.  I save so many reminders in my phone it’s almost embarrassing.  You can ask my husband.  He hears my little reminder bell go off about 50 times a day.  Sorry honey, but I cannot function without reminders.  I sometimes get caught up in what I am doing and need a reminder to get me back on track.  I either write down what I need to do and then put it in my tickler, or I set a reminder in my calendar on my computer and phone.  This then allows me to forget it for the moment, knowing I will be reminded when I need to take care of it.  That helps relieve all those floating thoughts in my head that tend to stress me out.
  4. Break It Up.  If you have a large to-do, break it up into little to-do’s and then schedule those accordingly.  When you have a big project to do it can be very overwhelming. 
  5. Delegate and Scrutinize.  If you have to-do’s that others can help you with, by all means delegate.   I think there are plenty of us that tend to do more ourselves than we actually need to.  I am one of them.  I just do not think that it might be easier to ask my husband to stop by the cleaners on his way home.  I add it to my to-do list and try to fit it in.  From time to time you need to step back and take a look at your to-do’s and see what makes sense for you to do and what makes sense for someone else to help with.  We must also scrutinize our list to make sure everything that is on it is in fact important and needs to be accomplished.   I have found items on my list that were not worth my time.  Our time is valuable.  Remember that when you are creating your list.

I hope these help in some way.  Start today and work towards getting more of your list accomplished today instead of pushing it off until tomorrow.  These are the tools I use to help myself get through my to-do list.  But most of all, it all comes down to that famous tag line we all know…..Just Do It! 

THANKFUL THURSDAY:  Today I am thankful that most of my to-do’s are accomplished today.  I still have a few to do, but it is still early!  🙂

Come Near To God

IMG_3946I love the verse “Come near to God and He will come near to you…”  James 4:8.  I love it because it reminds me that all I have to do for God to come near to me, is to come near to Him.  He is always there…..waiting.  He is always there just waiting for us to come to Him.  Waiting for us to ask for His help.  All we have to do is ask for what we need.  Wisdom. Knowledge.  Patience. Understanding. Humility.  Whatever it is you are in need of, only He can provide you with it.

I think it’s important to remember how that verse reads.  It does not say that God comes near to you, so come near to Him.  You must make the first move.  You must come near to Him first.   He has given us choice and free will, so it is always our choice whether or not we go to God.  He is always there waiting, but it is up to us to make the first move. 

I find it very comforting knowing He is always there for me.  In fact, I thank Him for that every morning.  I thank Him simply for being there, for listening, for caring, for forgiving, and for loving me. What a great gift!

This morning I went for a run after my daughter left for school.  During my run I had a conversation with God.  I prayed, let Him know how thankful I am, what I want to work on today and how I need His help.  He gave me some to-do’s for the day and some things to focus on like He usually does, but today He gave me a little more.   When I was done with my run I was walking back to our house, and as I got to our house I noticed how the sun was coming through the trees just so and you could see the rays of light shining down to the ground.  (the picture above is one I took this morning from my yard)  It was so pretty and not something I usually see.  I immediately knew it was a little gift from God.  I felt He was telling me He enjoyed our talk, and He wanted to remind me that He is always there listening to me and loving me. 

What a great way to start your day!

Do The Right Thing, Because It’s The Right Thing…

…until it feels like the right thing. That is a phrase our pastor said about 3 years ago during a sermon. It has stuck with me, and I have referenced it and repeated it more times than I can count.

When you have a bad habit you are trying to break, or any other part of your life you know you need to change, this phrase can help. For instance, exercise. If you want to incorporate more exercise in your routine, but it’s difficult for you to do, say this phrase over and over to yourself. Make it your mantra.

Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing, until it FEELS like the right thing.

I promise it works. I’ve used it my own life and it has worked for me. There are a lot of things that are hard for us to do, and it doesn’t FEEL good to do them, or we just plain do not want to do them. However, we know we should do them. We just have to make the first step and DO THE HARD THING….because it’s the RIGHT thing. The more you do this, the more it will FEEL like the right thing.

What happens is, you are motivated to do it because you know it’s right. You keep pushing yourself to do it because you know it’s the right thing. After doing the right thing over and over for a few weeks, even months, it will begin to feel like the right thing.

One other phrase I heard once (I think in a movie) was “the hard thing and the right thing are usually the same thing”. That applies here too. Doing the right thing is usually the harder choice, but it is the one with the MUCH bigger rewards!

Let’s go back to the exercise example. If for a few months you exercise everyday because you know you should, you will begin to enjoy and need it as part of your day. It will become the new GOOD habit, replacing the old.

You can apply this to any bad habits (eating too much, drinking, smoking, gambling, etc), or any relationship issues you keep repeating (dating the wrong person and staying in destructive relationships) or even for good habits you want to start (daily Bible reading, setting up routines in your life, etc.). Whatever it is, its much easier to keep going by telling yourself you are doing the right thing, and knowing it will eventually FEEL like the right thing.

You will begin to miss your workout if you skip a few days, you will not want the bad greasy food you were unable to reist before, and you will see those bad relationships coming a mile away.

Just try it. Start today and take it one day at a time. Do the right thing because it’s what is best for you. Stop doing those things that FEEL good, but aren’t good for you! The more you do what is right, the better it will feel.

Remember to lean on God for strength during this time. The devil always tries his hardest to get to us when he knows we are trying to change. Be aware of that and be prayerful.

You can do it!