the struggle.

real

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the struggle is real, y’all. and sometimes when i open my bible instead of throwing a temper tantrum like my nineteen month old, i realize it is the way it’s supposed to be. recently, i’ve been settling into the book of romans and am learning about the struggle of the oh so wise, paul. he calls himself a servant, and recognizes that means he is to embrace the struggle.

i hate the struggle. i get depressed by it. i get beat down by it. and i think to myself, in all my righteousness and complete darkness, if i am doing the right thing- things will shake out in my favor. sometimes they do turn out the way i have planned. but sometimes, they don’t, even when i’ve prayed, and prayed hard.

i am learning that paul prayed hard, he lived out a life worthy of the gospel. he was always ready to preach, serve, and suffer. he probably was the first one to raise his hand when the church hosted a clean up saturday. he probably put a post-it note on his bathroom mirror to remind him to pray for his preacher, and actually did it… and paul, beyond that, he was ready to die. because that’s what being a servant of jesus christ looks like sometimes. it’s not always a fun time. sometimes it’s really, really hard.

recently, while reading a commentary on romans one using blue letter bible, i read a truth that wrecked me…charles surgeon in his great wisdom said: ” i do not suppose that paul guessed that he would be sent there {rome} at the government expense, but he was. the roman empire had to find a ship for him, and a fit escort for him, and he entered he city as an ssador in bonds. when our hearts are set on a thing, and we pray for it. God may grant us the blessing; but, it may be, in a way that we never looked for. you shall go to rome, paul; but you shall go in chains.”

i’ve read these words a 100 times now and i can’t help but put myself in paul’s shoes. if i had known the stakes, would i have been so eager to follow Christ? i would have pitched a fit and said, “but, look at what i’ve done. i don’t deserve this. ” i’ve been a christian for over 20 years (by the way, they think paul had been a christian for that long when he wrote romans) and i haven’t learned to live like paul. i still feel entitled to an easier road.

i don’t deserve the easy road. and i am learning through the words of paul that i am to embrace the struggle- whatever that looks like. if i am pursuing a life worthy of the gospel- a life for Him- i have to commit to a life free from grumbling and be satisfied with the truth that He is in the struggle seeing me through regardless of the outcome.

Maximize Your Devotion Time

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I am a very structured person (sometimes more in theory than reality!) and enjoy organizing my thoughts and processes. Historically, when I would carve out the time to read my Bible or dig into the word, my mind would wander and I would not necessarily retain the information I had read, etc. However, that process changed dramatically when I read about a way to journal during devotional time. 
In efforts to maximize my devotion time, I do a couple of things that have proven to be really helpful. I now feel more organized and am able to recall specific prayers, feelings of gratitude and lessons with ease. When I need to recall a recent scripture I’ve read, it’s there… When I need to be reminded of how blessed I am, it’s there… You get the picture…
Here’s the process— it is a two part thing but only takes about 10 minutes to complete.
Part I: Gratitude
The objective in this portion of the entry is simply list making ( I love lists!). 
I jot down five things I’m grateful for during that day. 
My list normally looks something like this:
1. My husband making me coffee
2. The smell of a rose
3. Dinner with my best friend
4. A dependable vehicle
5. Milo playing with the other dogs.
This section was originally inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.
I have found that simply being thankful each day has helped me re-frame my thoughts and become a more content and grateful individual.
Part II: SOAP
The objective in this portion of the entry is to outline what I’ve read and how it applies to my life. 
SOAP is an acronym that stands for: (S) scripture, (O) observation, (A) Application, (P) Prayer.
Right now I am reading the book of Nehemiah one chapter at a time (However, I think this processes could also be used while reading or during a Bible study.) and my entry could possibly look like this:
S: Nehemiah 2
O: Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the wall.
A: If we rely and trust in God, any “wall” in our life can be rebuilt.
< At this point, I’ll usually insert something about my personal walk with the Lord. >
P: Lord, I’ve been struggling to rebuild ____ and I need your help. I know that you are mighty and orchestrate all things for your good. Please help me be patient during this time of waiting and learn to rely on you. In your heavenly name, Amen.
This section was originally inspired by Dashing Dish’s blog post on the SOAP method. 
I have found that summarizing the information I just read is really helpful. I retain more, I apply it to my life and am more prayerful about my circumstances.  
Journaling has changed my walk with Christ because it has helped me become more aware of how alive the scriptures are and reminded me to be grateful in all circumstances (this sister can get negative in about half a second— I CAN GO THERE!). Also, I have found that since I am getting more out of the word, I am more inclined to sit down and read it! It’s a beautiful thing!

I’d love to hear from you—how do you maximize your devotion time? Do you think that a more structured approach is the way to go?

Brave

Hi Y’all! I am a well intentioned woman but often super scatter brained so I apologize for not blogging recently. I’ve missed babbling on about my world and catching up on yours! During my absence, I’ve been doing some really fun things. One of them includes attending a Bible Study at my church on Wednesday nights. I love spending time with my girl friends this way because it is really precious to have sisters that can lift you up in the Lord!

The Bible Study has been teaching us how to be Brave! The women of my church have been on a really fun yet challenging journey during the last couple of weeks. Brave, the Bible Study, written by Angela Thomas is basically a study that examines many struggles that women face each day.  Each week we join together, watch a video segment and chat amongst one another about our personal issues related to being Brave!

Angela tackles hard topics such as: I am worn out, I am suffering a thorn, I am undisciplined, I am trembling inside, I am invisible and I am broken. She presents these topics each week in the sweetest most loving way (and she’s Southern so I’m really into that!) and challenges women to surrender their lives in efforts to live the life that God intended.

We are currently in week three of the journey, I am undisciplined and I am learning so much! I love this study so much because it has been teaching me a couple of things: (1) the importance of getting into my Bible regularly (2) a reminder that in order to live a more fulfilled life, I have to seek His will for my life (3) the realization that he is the refresher of my soul (not my bed, exercise or ladies night!).

This study would be great for independent study or a small group. I highly recommend it. It will rock your world. Also, if you would like me to pray for you on any of the topics that I have mentioned, please comment here or e-mail me. I’d be honored to pray over your circumstance and stand alongside you as you seek a richness in life that only comes from our sweet Father!

Be Brave, Girlfriend!