Monday, January 26, 2015

What I Want You to Know

I adore you! Gratitude overflows for all the ways you encourage and lift me up. My cup runneth over.

More so than the ways I love and adore you, you are loved by Him. And nothing you do can separate you from His love.  “But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us.” ~ Romans 8:37 (Voice)

^^^ truth worth reminding ourselves of daily.

If you are feeling weary, like me, spend time reflecting on His promises. Jennifer Dukes Lee shares 15 Amazing Promises from God to You and features a promise from the Bible for each day of the year.

Let’s consider the rest of this post somewhat of a “State of My Blog Address.” Actually, I like the way Kristen Strong says it in her post What You Can Expect to Find at This Corner of the Internet.

The New Year has brought a realization of the need to strengthen my walk with Him. I need to be secure in His promises. For me to be secure in His promises, I must have roots deep in His Word.

With that being said, at this corner of the Internet you can expect to find fewer posts. Instead, I am practicing the spiritual disciplines of studying scripture, prayer, fellowship, and observing a Sabbath day to nurture my soul and strengthen me for whatever lies ahead.

Like many Christian bloggers, for the fourth year in a row I have chosen One Word to focus on instead of the commonly known practice of setting New Year’s Resolutions. Previous year’s words have been BELIEVE, LOVE, EMBRACE and JOY, respectively. Except for quick mentions here and there in posts, I have not written about my word for 2015.

My word is SELFLESS. It fits well with my new life verse from John 3:30.

Image created by Traci Michele Designs

It has proven to be a challenging word to date. I sense God will use it to bring much needed growth.

I'm learning God has given me this word not only because of the ways I can be selfish but more so for the ways I allow self-focused thoughts to hinder my walk with Christ. These thoughts are a stumbling block in claiming the victory found at the cross and also in my relationships with others.

Instead of being wrapped in thoughts of being un-worthy and not- enough, I want to wrap my whole self in who God says I am.

Therefore, practice of the spiritual discipline of taking “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and being "transformed by the renewing of [my] mind” (Romans 12:2) is a must.

“As long as I daily make the choice to be guided by His truth, He replaces my hollowness with a wholeness of love that has no gaps.” ~ Lysa Terkurst

More of my time will also be focused on my husband. After spending ten months apart from him I do not plan to take present and future moments with him for granted.

I intend to practice the art of selflessness on my husband. My goal is to imitate the humility of Christ in my marriage.

"That is what we signed up for. We have told God that we no longer want to live for ourselves. We want Him to take over." ~ Francis Chan, You and Me Forever

Watch week three from the seven week video series on the book "You and Me Forever" by Francis and Lisa Chan // This expresses the hopes and desires for my marriage. It's may be 16:44 in length but it's worth your time.

I do hope you can expect to find me posting on this corner of the Internet at least once a week. And because community remains on my heart, there will be more engagement through comments, both here at my corner and at yours (if you are a blogger). I am giving Twitter more of a try too. It’s where I love to share what inspires me with others.

As for what you can expect to read on this corner . . . how about we let God decide? It could be random. I promise it will be God inspired. It might have more to do with making disciples, which seems risky and crazy. But God never promises what He has planned for us will be easy.

Because I am posting less frequently, I would love for you to subscribe to receive my posts via email. You can subscribe here.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How I'm Saying Yes to Risk

As writers must of us, if not all of us, have asked the question: "Do my words matter?"

A writing friend took that question to an even deeper level by asking, “Am I legitimate in minimizing the reach my words have or am I constraining God by doubting His ability to use my words to further his kingdom?” Of course I know our words matter; especially if God asks us to write them. Obedience to God is rather important in our walk with Him.

Yet, I often find myself asking if the words I write matter.  My words are simple; not eloquent or poetic. In a sea of many voices mine feel less than. I allow doubt to rule my heart instead of sharing from my heart. I am learning that what the reader wants is authentic hearts, our own voice, not our view of perfection.

I may still wrestle with finding my worth in a wearied world of words but I can be confident of this, “He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6)

We matter. We matter to Him. Every breath we take and every word we speak or write matters to Him.

What if instead we ask God if we are still using our words in the way He intends? Like the changing of seasons, His mission for us could also change. I consider this question as I ponder these words from Jesus in Matthew.

 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There are two words I have zeroed in on from this passage: Make disciples.

While one aspect of being a writer requires a trust in God to bring our words to those who need to read them, particularly non-believers or those who have turned away from God, I cannot help but to wonder how writing fits into Jesus’ command to make disciples.

Image by Cindee Snider Re

Please join me over at Outside the City Gate where I am sharing as a regular contributor today. You can read the rest of my post here.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Scattering of Love :: Batch 5 [Cultivate a Thriving Marriage]

Ever since my husband returned home from his ten month deployment we have taken advantage of the opportunity God has given us to refresh our marriage.

With a conscious attempt to cultivate a thriving marriage, I have found many resources to assist us.

I highly recommend the book You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. It will give you a new outlook on marriage and your relationship with God. The seven videos Francis and Lisa created to go along with the book will challenge you in mighty ways. You can even download a PDF of the book for FREE here. If you can afford to purchase a copy 100% of the net proceeds go towards various ministries.

My husband is not much of a reader but every two or three days we watch one of the videos together. As for me . . . my Kindle format of the book has become very colorful.

With my husband's deployment (thankfully now over), he is required to attend several Yellow Ribbon events. The events are held pre-deployment and post-deployment. The spouse is encouraged to attend too. At these events, educational sessions and resources are provided to help the service member and family through each phase of a deployment.

We attended our first post-deployment Yellow Ribbon event this past weekend. (I am much happier to be in the post-deployment phase.)

One of the break-out sessions was called “Making Relationships Work.” The session was based off of the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work written by John Gottman. In the book Gottman speaks to how positive relationships invest an extra five hours each week in their marriages. He refers to this as the “Magic Five Hours.”

Hubs and I are trying out Gottman’s approach and so far it has proven to add some fun to our days. I thought I would take a moment to share how you too can work the “magic five hours” into your marriage or relationship.

1) Try a six-second kiss at the beginning of the day and learn something interesting about your spouse (Math: 2 minutes x 5 days = 10 minutes)

2) Give another six-second kiss at the end of the day and have a conversation about your day. (Math: 20 minutes x 5 days = 1 hour and 40 minutes)

3) Find ways to compliment your spouse (i.e. use "I admire" or "I appreciate" statements). (Math: 5 minutes x 7 days = 35 minutes)

4) Show physical affection for your spouse, whatever you define this to be, and learn your partner's love language. (Math: 5 minutes x 7 days = 35 minutes)

5)  Set a date night once a week to connect, dream, plan and enjoy each other's company. (Math: 2 hours per week)

These small things can allow for significant changes and growth in your marriage. Why not give them a try? Oh my goodness, holding a kiss for six seconds is pure delight!

Note: I have not read the book by Gottman so this is simply me passing along wisdom from the seminar we attended.

They best way to cultivate a thriving marriage . . . read the Bible together. You could even use Bible Gateway to have a narrator read to you. These ten minutes with my husband every morning (almost every morning) have become my favorite time of the day.

What ways do you cultivate a thriving marriage?

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Every Writer's Dream :: The Book I Dream About

I do not mention it here often. Actually, I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned it here before. But a dream does dwell in my heart to write a book. Not shocking for someone who calls herself a writer, right?

There's a better chance you have heard me say I have no desire to write a book.

The process of writing a book does not appeal to me at all. It sounds more appealing to sit down with a "real" writer to tell them our story and have them write our book.

On occasion my husband will ask about "the book." However, when he brings up the topic he refers to it as my book and not our book. I give him the same response every time: It's our story; our book. He still says: "It's your book; our story."

Please do not misunderstand me. My husband supports telling our story. His point of view is simply that I am the writer, which makes it my book. My hope rests on his willingness to contribute his words too. In my opinion, the story would be incomplete without a contribution from him. The way he saw events matters to the whole of the story.

Only God knows if there will be a book. Maybe it's my desire and not His.

The topic of "the book" came up again last weekend. We were celebrating the New Year and our dating anniversary with an evening out on the town (downtown Chicago). For his Christmas present, I booked us a hotel room at the very place where he proposed to me. His proposal happened twenty-five years ago on December 16, 1989.

What a journey the twenty-five years have been. We have quite the story; a story I believe would make for a compelling book.

My husband asked me, as we waited to be seated at our table for dinner, if I had a title for my book.

Our book, my love.

There's no title. I am not even sure how one begins to write a book. It's only a dream.

He says to me, "You know writing a book means reliving those hard moments? Are you ready to go there? Do you remember everything? Do you remember . . .?"

He retells events he remembers while tears welled up in his eyes. There was forgiveness but the events have not been removed from his memory.

Our story includes two separations. Both separations were my decision. The first separation lasted a full year. We were separated the year of 1999. It's a year I would rather forget. The year holds lots of painful memories. Shameful memories. I was at my lowest.

A writing friend reminds us "when we let go of our yuck, God will replace it with a crown of beauty."

I reached over to my husband and placed my hand on his. My response to his tears was similar to my friends.

We have a But God story. Because of God, and with God, we overcame.  God used our mistakes to show us a new and better way. God gave us a new story. 

Julie Ackerman Link writes in January 6th of Our Daily Bread devotional, "Instead of magnifying every mistake, we can turn them into beautiful acts of forgiveness, healing, and redemption." She ends her post with these words: "Jesus longs to turn our mistakes into amazing examples of His grace."

And all God’s people said, Amen!

Our story, my love, is a But God story. He took our shattered pieces and made something beautiful instead.

“God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes, To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow, to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness.” Isaiah 61:3 (Voice)

Our book (if this dream comes to be) will share the mistakes made but it will not magnify them. It will be hard to look back on those mistakes. In the end, God’s beauty will be seen in both the sharing of our mistakes and in the redemption found through Him. Our But God story is one filled with "beautiful acts of forgiveness, healing and redemption" (Our Daily Bread). It's in our telling that others will discover His Kingdom is truly all about His grace and healing.

Maybe the title of our book should be: But God. They are my two favorite words in the Bible for they are always followed by good news.

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