Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Whispering the Word to YOUR soul.... by being exposed to the Word.

My life has changed a lot since I started this blog. I moved from 3 children to 4.  Each arriving in our home 4 years apart, but the most recent arrived as a walking, talking 5 year old spirited boy who won our hearts with his candor, charm, and fun loving personality.    I'm no longer teaching part time future educators. I'm no longer directing our Children's Ministry.  We aren't serving at camp in the same capacity, and I only occasionally teach a kids Sunday school class.  I probably end up home from church or significantly late 1 in 4 times, maybe more.

The goal of this blog is to encourage each of us to learn ways that we can Whisper the Word to children that enter our lives, because they live with us, because we teach them, because we are in their lives regularly, or even in passing moments.   But I haven't had the time to regularly share the ways I whisper the Word to others, and I've ended up doing a lot of book launches/reviews.

I'd like to share today- how we need to be whispering the Word to ourselves and taking care of our own hearts and souls before we can share it with another.  The principle of putting your oxygen maks on in a crisis so you can help your children get their masks on.  The older I've gotten, the more I've recognized that I am a broken, sinful, vulnerable person.  Parenting pointed out to me just how big a sinner I am, and how selfish my heart can be. It's been the most sanctifying dimension of my walk with the Lord.  I've needed to be sure I make time daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute, or second by second to seek the Lord, ask the Holy Spirit to rule my heart, words, and decisions.  As on my own, I fall apart, I yell or even scream in frustration (I know it surprised me too, how calm I've been as a professional educator in many settings, yet how different it is in your own home.)   So I need heart checks. I need wisdom. I need hope. I need joy. I need faith.  I need to live with power only made possible by God's grace, in salvation through His Son, dying for us, rising again, and delivering to us the power through the Holy Spirit, to turn away from sin and darkness, and walk in the Word of God.  And as Ann Voskamp says often, how quickly we all get soul amnesia.

This is one tip that is already reflected on the blog- in part.... I read-- I read nonfiction christian books, often what I consider a testimony of another woman (or man) who loves God and has shared her own discoveries, strategies, and scriptures to walk through in her day to day life, and draw close to Him.  Other times it's books directed at kids or at a specific population that needs touches of knowledge blended with prayers, struggles, and a fierce example of seeing God at work in the struggles or challenges of life in family, community, or with special needs.  Often the authors share their thinking and what's in their heads as they seek the Lord, and how to make it work in mundane days of mothering or ministering to those around them.

I've always known that reading is self-care, and self-care is really important.  But I've had to learn to make time for it in life, no matter what tasks or aspects of the do list, don't get down.   If you are going to help others, that takes your tank being full enough to have something to give.  That's where I'm living, finding a balance in caring for my 4 amazing, yet needy and vulnerable children, my husband, my parents, a grandparent, and myself, while being prepared for the chaos, flexibility, and unpredictability that our family situation brings.

But when I find moments in the day- to seek the Word in my Bible, in a devotional (my current favorite is Paul Tripps New Morning Mercies), $2.99 on kindle at the moment,  or in a non fiction book or testimony of someone I can identify with, I think, I pray, and I process so much better in those stressful moments of life.  In other words, my brokenness and sin, when I have heard God's voice, His Word, or a testimony of hope, fades a little bit, and I might not be as embarrassed about my parenting moments in the next few moments.

So how do I do it?  Some tips that I'm using now:

Keep a devotional in the bathroom.  This one is my current favorite, really short blurbs, but scripture, truth, and great impact are there every day!   Corrie Ten Boom's 365 days 

Keep the Word on my Phone. I use YouVersion app.  I love to compare translations and it's really easy on this app.

Start each day with a verse from the Word. Often I read the SOAP verses from Love God Greatly, and less and less these days, share thoughts in a facebook group.  I often try to look at something before I'm even out of bed.  More often these days it's been learning the habit of adoration by looking at Who God is- through the lens of scripture. Sara Hagerty teaches adults how she does this, and shares how she teaches her children adoration as well.  Her instagram is easily checked each day for today's adoration.

Teach Sunday School, or mentor those who are teaching Sunday School, and think about the lesson, it's applications, what key vocabulary words need to be taught, and how you'd share it with a preschooler or elementary student at their level.  This is one of my biggest connection opportunities, trying to make it something a 5 or 11 year old will grasp and be able to apply.  Children Desiring God curriculum, my friend considers like a theology class for the teacher preparing- one focused on Who God is and how His character, worth, and greatness guide our lives.   For me the repetition of truths, still amazes me that I have so much more to understand myself so I can help others teach, or teach myself.

Women's Bible Study- either an in person regular group, an online group (did you know how many free online options there are? I'm still learning!)

Lifeway Online Studies
a live group study is almost always going on.  But they have some posted for anytime, and they have archives as well of recent studies, of the videos that go along with books and study guides of many great authors.

Faith Gateway runs one study at a time with a facebook group, free access to the videos, you can purchase a book and/or study guide often to go alongside.

Shereadstruth is one I want to try sometime. They study book by book the Bible with an app, and a bible study book to purchase.  I've head great things about these studies.

Audiobooks- I've found recently that in mundane tasks I have time and energy to listen to a book or sermons as I'm driving around, or folding laundry, dishes, etc.

A journal- I put in scriptures that encouraged me or challenged me.  I add quotes from books that I'm reading- often a mindset or mantra that is worth repeating in my heart regularly.  I do word and scripture study notes. Sermon notes, create graphic representations in my notes, etc.

Scripture coloring books- meditate as you color an image of a scripture text.

Books- like The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, Daring to Hope by Katie Major, Unseen by Sara Hagerty, also are my soul self care. Women sharing their passion to be in the the Word and how they wonder about who God is in the busyness of life, ministry, and children.  These authors work for me as Moms who've adopted, have large families (all have larger families than me), and have found ways to see who God is second by second, so that they can be growing better each day as a person.  There are many great authors out there- these are my three favorite at the moment.  They are my kindred spirits who have similar struggles, sorrows, and joys that I can identify with, and they are well versed and submerge themselves in the Word, and encourage me that I can too.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Review: Daring to Hope Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful

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Releasing October 3, 2017

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Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful is a wonderful book that testifies to wrestling with God in a season that no one would hope for, a time of wonder, grief, death, and struggle, and yet a time where God is present, near, seeing and providing all that is needed, so much that this season could be viewed as a gift and a blessing. 

I love the 'feeble words' and stories of Katie Major's daily life parenting 13 girls, helping those who stay with her for a season with medical needs, or resources, and how she learns that hungering for God in her weakness is a blessing and provision to claim in the joy and the grief. Her life as a single parent missionary in Uganda to a group of girls, creating a ministry to serve the under resourced, and living with an open door policy in a world of poverty and need is pretty unique to us. But the struggles are the same as I have in the comfort of a first world country, with food, medical insurance and resources, and living as one who seeks to serve the Lord where He has me today. 

Katie Majors has become more of a stay at home mom, one who turns away a suitor, as she feels with all her girls, it would be too much to ask, thankfully the Lord had other plans, and way into the book you hear how she met and courted her husband Benji Majors. She wrestles with what the Lord is calling her to do from her home, how to serve Him and her family. But she learns and shares how to find gratitude in the struggle, how the Lord provides and guides someone's life in the hard and grief stricken seasons, as well as in the happy joyous ones, and how all seasons with His strength can be grateful joyous times. 

Katie Majors shares how her heart wonders about God's goodness, and how she claims scriptures & gratitude on post it notes, all over the kitchen to remind herself that God is near. The Lord will provide, that God loves us, that we can be Prisoners of Hope, experiencing the love, grace, kindness, and strength of a God who is here rescuing us. She shares the passages and verses that she finds in the struggle and in her deep relationship with God- of discovering every bitter thing is sweet, that a shoot can grow out of a dead stump and that she should choose to be captive to a King who gives us His promises to focus on, instead of focusing on our sin, our worry, our pain, there is beauty and His splendor in all things. 

Her perspective, her wonders, her questions could be things that I'm asking in my head, but her learning, responses, and integration of the Word of God in her heart and her very being, are inspiring, are testimony of the true influence of the Holy Spirit, and those too I may claim, and learn to live as she has a prisoner of Hope, seeking a coming King, and trusting that His way, even if it breaks me, empties me, and makes me weak is one that will lead me to depend on Him, and live in His strength each day. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It fits well with Sara Hagerty's Unseen book released in August 2017, it pairs with Ann Voskamp's book The Broken Way, and these authors mentor my heart and help me grasp the Words of scripture lived out in all the moments of life. It's my pleasure to launch this book, and I was surprised at the full message and depth in this book, but it's my opinion that this book would be useful to anyone whose hands it falls into, and I will work to help it be in many people's hands. Thank you Multnomah for the joy of launching this book!