Bible journaling, devotionals, spiritual

Strength for the Journey

I spent a lot more time in my Bible today. Some days, well, you just need more. I am going through Psalms in my daily readings and was in Psalm 84. Verse 5 really resonated with me as I feel like I’ve been going through my days relying on my own strength. Ugh…that gets so tiring!

Blessed are those who make You their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey.   From the Voice 

When we rely on our own strength, our own path, our own abilities, we grow weary. It’s hard to do it all alone. The thing is, we aren’t created to do it all alone. God gave Adam a helper, Eve. He Himself walked with them each day. We were not meant to live in isolation.

We have godly people all around us who can carry the weight for us. They can pray you through, encourage you to lean not on your own understand, and love on you to bring you peace.

We have God and His strength to lean on. When we can remove the burden of isolation. We can push off the load of having to be strong in our own right. We can enjoy the journey and treasure every step of it!

Are you leaning on God’s strength or taking it all on yourself?

Bible journaling, devotionals, spiritual

Is God Jealous?

We talk a lot about God’s love and his faithfulness. We talk about his goodness and compassion. But we don’t often bring up the fact that He gets jealous. Even angry.

We don’t like to talk about that kind of God, because then we would have to look into why He would ever be that way. What would make the God of love so angry?

In my reading of Psalm 78, I was asking God to speak, to show me the verse that He wanted me to dwell on. That is how I find scripture to journal and meditate on. But Psalm 78 is not an encouraging Psalm. There isn’t much in it that speaks of love, compassion, and encouragement.

After reading over it a few times, I kept coming back to verse 58.

“They angered him with their high places; 
they aroused his jealousy with their idols.”

They aroused his jealousy with their idols. We don’t have physical idols today – no stone monuments we pray to. But an idol can be anything we prioritize over God. The Oxford Dictionary says it like this:  “a person or thing that is greatly loved, admired, or revered.”

Sleep can be an idol when you keep hitting the snooze button instead of spending time with Him.

Sports can be an idol when you choose to stay home and watch a game over going to church to worship Him.

Work can be an idol when you give it priority over your relationship with God.

Anything can become an idol when it takes precedence over your love for God.

So while God is a God of love and compassion, He is also a jealous God. One not to ignore. He wants us to love Him above all else. He wants your heart, your love, and your time.

I’ve been guilty of making God jealous. Time and time again. It’s just a matter of getting my priorities back into focus….and focus on Him.

How are you doing with your priorities? Does He come first in your life?

Bible journaling, devotionals, spiritual

Open Your Ears to Hear

Stephen was a man full of grace and the Holy Spirit. He was not afraid of what man could do to him and was obedient to proclaim the good news of Jesus. In his last sermon before he was stoned for his faith, Stephen pleaded with the people to not be stiff-necked, but full of faith and the Holy Spirit.

We are to be open to what God has for us. We need to listen with our ears and our hearts to hear the words of Jesus and let Him be our teacher in this life.

Don’t resist the Holy Spirit as He whispers the ways of the Father and the Son. The wisdom of the world can lead us astray, but Jesus has the words of life…true life full of wisdom and grace.

How can you be open to the Spirit that gives life?

Bible journaling, spiritual

Sunday Morning Hush

The air was still and the sun was just peeking over the horizon, bathing the sky in a lavender hue. She heaved a heavy sigh as she hugged her sack of spices to her chest, its pungent scent filling the air as they walked the dusty path.

The women with her were silent, which was a relief to her weary heart. What more could be said? He was dead. Their hopes and dreams dashed as his life gave way to death.

How would life ever be the same? How could she go on without the one who gave her such hope?

She stifled the sob that threatened to undo her. She must be strong like the other women. Though silent, none of them were wallowing in grief as she wanted to do. She kept her head down, eyes on the path in front of her.

They neared the tomb and she finally looked up. The stone! Someone had rolled the stone away! Lurching ahead of the women, she ran to the tomb.

Who would steal her Lord? Who would dare?

Heart hammering in her chest, she stopped at the opening of the tomb, dust billowing all around her, making it hard to see. She stepped forward, then gasped.

He was gone, just as she feared.

She was jostled further in as the other women strained to see as well. Their cries of anguish filled her ears and she tried to make sense of the empty tomb.

A shift in the shadows to the right sent a shiver down her spine. She looked and suddenly a man in a white robe, gleaming in radiance appeared, sitting to the right of where the body should be.

They all cried out and sank to their knees in fear.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Just as suddenly as he appeared, the man disappeared from their sight. No one moved, and all was silent except for their labored breathing. She looked around at the faces of the women around her, their eyes wide, just as hers probably were.

He has risen!

A smile stole across her face. He has risen. She put her hands to her face, her grin unstoppable.

He was alive!

“Come on! Let’s go tell the disciples!” She grabbed the hand of one of the women, pulling her from the tomb. “What good news we have to share. He is alive!”

She laughed, her heart full. Her hope restored.

Jesus is alive, the Giver of hope, the Teacher of all wisdom, the Bestower of peace. 

Have a blessed Easter.

Bible journaling, spiritual, thrive

How to Thrive

Thrive is my One Word for 2017, but how do I go about thriving in all areas of my life? We all know how to make plants grow and thrive. Plant in soil, fertilize, water, and make sure the plants gets sunlight. But how do we make ourselves grow and thrive?

Psalm 1 from The Voice says:

God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:    when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes,When you avoid sin’s highway,    when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.    It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.You are like a tree,    planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.Your fruit ripens in its time;    your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.No matter what you do, you prosper.

In order to thrive, there is something to AVOID. We all know we should flee from temptation, but we usually think of that murder, adultery, stealing, etc. It is saying here avoid sin’s highway. Judgement and sarcasm. What? I have loved sarcasm because it uses irony and is a play on words, but really it is just a form of mockery and contempt. What about judgement? How many times do we talk bad about others, adding “Bless their heart” to make it sound like we are concerned for their best interest. It’s wrong. We need to avoid biting others with our words and even with our thoughts. Where our thoughts are, our tongues will follow.

In order to thrive, we need to plant ourselves near things that give life. Like the tree planted by water where its roots could grow deep and tap into the nourishment of the stream, we need to tap into things that nourishes us and helps us to grow strong and fruitful.

The prescription is for our focus to be on God’s word, from morning until night. Our focus is on Him and the love He has for the world. This transforming book permeates all areas of our lives. It gives wisdom. It gives hope. It gives grace and mercy.

So what does this look like for me as I seek to thrive this year? Well, here are some practical things I am putting into place to aid me in my quest.

GROW:

  • Read scripture every day and try to journal a truth that God points out to me in my new Journaling Bible.
  • Blog 2 times a week about what God is teaching me about thriving and how I am growing in different areas. 
  • Read 2 books a month, whether it is for spiritual growth, for knowledge about writing, or to refresh myself with fiction.
  • I joined Weight Watchers and am trying to eat healthier. Maybe exercise will come into play later, but if I try too much, then I will give up on everything. Yes, I know this all-too-well.
  • Have people over for a meal and fun once a month…or every other month. 
  • I started having my nails done every 3 weeks. I’ve never had them done before, so it is my “treat”.  I decided to gray naturally and not dye my hair, but I am going to have pretty nails. 
  • Try and get 8 hours of sleep every day. This is not always easy since I get up at 5 am, but I am going to try, as I find I tend to wear cranky pants if I am sleep deprived.
AVOID:
  • Grumbling and complaining. People don’t like being around “Debbie Downers”.
  • Bad company – this includes things I watch and things I read. 
  • Too many sweets. I know I will never be able to give them up, but I can limit them.
  • Laziness – I am not going to sit down when I get home from work until I have gotten my chores done. (Once I sit down after a long day at work, it is all over.)
  • Fear – fear that I am not doing enough; that I’m not good enough; that I am too old, etc
Part of me wants to erase everything I’ve just written. I’ve written down goals before and know the embarrassment and regret of not accomplishing those goals. But that is just fear of failure. I should keep trying. At least trying is doing something, right?
There you go: my plan on thriving. What is your plan for this year?

Bible journaling, One Little Word, one word, spiritual, thrive

Bringing In 2017 With A New WORD

After prayerful consideration, my Word for 2017 is THRIVE. Isn’t that great?

Dictionary.com has two definitions for thrive.
1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful
2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish

Though I would like to be successful, the first definition is not really what I am wanting. After last year’s word of SURRENDER, the word Thrive excites me. There is a sense of expectancy and action. Growth and potential. It is a word that can bring power, don’t you think?

I want to thrive in faith, in my relationships, in church, at work, in my art and in my writing. I want to grow and flourish in every area of my life.

I’ve been searching through scripture for verses that talk about thriving. I’ll be sharing more verses later, but here is the verse that says it the best.

John 8:12 in The Voice says:

“I am the light that shines through the cosmos. If you walk with me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness.” (Jesus speaking)

If we walk with Jesus, staying in step with Him through whatever situations we are in, we will thrive. There is action involved. We are to actively take the steps needed to stay in relationship with the One who is the light of the universe. We don’t just wait around and expect Jesus to hit us over the head with His will. We are to pursue Him…know Him better…see Him at work around us and join Him in that work.

Jesus says we will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life. Gives me chills just thinking about it. Just as the sun causes the plants of the ground to grow and flourish, Jesus…when we stay close to Him…gives us the nourishment we need to live…to thrive…in this world. We grow, becoming more like Him, and gain true life saturated by His light.

This how I really want to thrive this year. I want to grow wildly and abundantly in love with Jesus.

Do you have a Word for the year? Or are you more of a New Year Resolution kind of person? I’d love to hear!

Bible journaling, illustrated faith

Bible Journaling…Illustrated Faith

I bought a Journaling Bible with some Christmas money after seeing a blog post about Illustrated Faith. Since then, I have been having a blast making my favorite verses pretty. My word for the year is Brave, so I’ve looked for scripture about being brave…courageous. I love the theme of freedom and have lettered some of my favorite “free” verses. It is amazing how the Word comes alive while dwelling on the verse as I spend time making it pretty. Hopefully, one day I will have the Bible filled with color and can pass it on to my daughter as a keepsake of me and my faith.

Have a great day!