If Bibles could talk…

What would your Bible say about you? I have three Bibles. Well, technically, I have like 10 Bibles, but I have three Bibles that I have used for studying. These Bibles have been really special to me and each one has a different story. I started thinking about the story that goes with each Bible, which made me think, “If my Bible could talk, what would it say about me?” Here’s what I think they would say:

Bible #1:

NIV-Thinline-Navy Blue (Given as a gift from my parents the Christmas after I became a Christian, Dec. 1996)

You have spent many hours studying me. I have loved your passion for learning the word. I can see you’re an artist at heart because you drew lots of doodles and used your highlighter all throughout my pages. You devoured the word as if you were literally hungry! You wrote notes and underlined important words and you even stuck stickers in the front of me. You were so young and so excited. I loved seeing your zeal for the Lord and the excitement you had learning new scripture. You had a hard time understanding a lot of the scripture and you never really went beyond the surface of what my words held for you. You were really good at scratching the surface, but never quite figured out how to dig deeper. It’s OK though, because these years were your formative years. You were learning how to use me correctly, learning how to find different books, different verses and how to share them with others. You also learned how to have quiet times and how to write in a journal. I could tell you were having a great time because the binding actually fell apart on me. These years were crucial for your foundation in the Lord and I am so glad I was chosen to be at the beginning of this journey for you. You lost a little interest in me in college and it made me sad, but I know that in your heart you still believed the truth I was sharing. I could tell you still loved the words I offered because when times were really tough for you in college, you still pulled me out. It was kind of heartbreaking when you put me on a shelf with all of the other books and didn’t keep me by your bedside anymore, but I understood. You were confused and although I served as a great foundation for you, your inability to dig beyond the surface was catching up to you as the worldly experiences of college were influencing you. After college, you picked me up a few times and that felt really good, but I could tell that my time with you was coming to an end and that a new journey was waiting for you.

Bible #2:

NIV-The Quest Bible (Given as a gift from my husband for Easter)

You asked your husband to give me to you as a gift because you had a lot of questions about your faith. When you first opened me, you didn’t even really know where to start. You didn’t highlight me too much, or underline many of my words, but you did read close to every question that was listed in the margins. It’s OK that you didn’t use me too much because I served a very important role in your life. I kept you afloat when you weren’t sure where you stood in your faith. I reminded you that the word of God is true and I helped you wrestle with some really tough questions. You were pretty inconsistent with reading me, but I could tell that you were trying and I could tell that your heart was doing some honest soul-searching.   Your cries out to the Lord were heard and your fast flipping through my pages and slow reading of my words showed how much finding your faith meant to you. I’m glad that I was there for you when you needed the most stability in your journey and though you didn’t really open me as much as I would have liked, I know that I served my purpose.

Bible #3:

NIV-Thinline-Bloom Edition (A gift from myself for this new journey in Christ)

I don’t know you too well yet, in fact, we just met this past week, but I can already tell I like you. You carefully read over my words and choose wisely what you underline. I can tell by the way you stay on the same page for a long period of time that you know how to read me and apply me to your life. I can see your smile when you pick me up and I can tell how much peace you feel when you touch my pages. I believe that I am going to be around for you for a while and I believe that you will be digging a very deep well within my words. If I could see your heart, I would guess you’re in a place of reconciliation and that whatever doubts or questions you may have had in the past have now been resolved. I am happy to partake in this journey with you and look forward to many highlighting, underlining and margin note taking moments with you.

Each of these Bibles have represented a specific time in my life in my walk with Christ. They will be my legacy to pass down to my children and they will always be a reference and a reminder of where I have come from. I love all three of these Bibles for different reasons and am so grateful to have each of them at the times I have had them. I may or may not have more study Bibles in the future, but as the seasons of my life change, I find that the way I read and apply scripture changes too and because of that I am so thankful that God’s word is never unchanging.

Do you have multiple study Bibles? Have you ever thought about how your Bible might reflect a certain time in your life? What do you think your Bible would say about you?

Photobucket

What is Love?

“Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more.” Ok, that was my lame attempt at a throwback reference to Night at the Roxbury. But seriously, what is love? Did you know that the question “What is Love?” was the number one Googled question in 2011? Crazy, right? Out of all of the questions that could possibly be Googled in any given year, this question was number one! So here we are, wondering “what is love?” I’m asking too and yet, I know the answer, but do I really know the answer?

Scripture is full of the word love. In fact, depending on what Bible you read, the word love appears approximately 500 times. (Check out this cool chart breaking it down) The simple church answer to this question is obvious, God. God is love, but what is love in the way that we express ourselves to others? How do we show love? How do we know love? What exactly is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? An action? God makes it very clear to us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

How many times have you seen this verse and never gave a second thought? I’m pretty sure this is the first verse you learn when you’re a new Christian and it’s a verse we read over and over and yet, it wasn’t until recently that God really showed me what this verse was about. I have a wonderful mentor in my life and she recently told me that when I am frustrated or feeling defeated or feeling impatient to think about this verse, but instead of using the word love, replace it with my name or with I.

I am patient, I am kind, I do not envy, I do not boast, I am not proud. I do not dishonor others, I am not self-seeking, I am not easily angered, I keep no records of wrongs. I do not delight in evil, but I rejoice with the truth. I always protect, I always trust, I always hope and I always persevere.

Wow…I was speechless when she told me to do that. I’m still speechless sometimes when I think about this. This was a total game changer and completely, 100% convicting. How can I truly say I love someone when I am rarely patient when I need to be, I struggle with kindness, I envy “the easy life” that others have, I boast about my accomplishments, I’m proud when I do something that I think deserves attention. I dishonor others when I gossip or when I overstep my boundaries. I’m completely self-seeking, especially when it comes to my household responsibilities. I’m easily angered, especially when I’m tired, and I totally keep records of wrongs. Honestly, I’m the Library of Congress when it comes to keeping records of wrongs. I could tell you everything bad anyone has ever done to me over the past 30 years of my life. Seriously, it really annoys those around me because I can recall just about every wrong thing that they have done to me. It’s terrible. How can I say I love, when I have never truly applied this verse to my life?

So, people of the Internet, you ask, “What is love?” Love is God and God is love and love is being patient and kind and all of the above. Love is having a merciful God who showers us in grace and understands that we are not perfect, we are sinners and that we can’t quite figure this love thing out even when it’s right in front of us.

This week, I challenge you to replace the word love with your own name and remind yourself that when you love those around you, you should be practicing 1 Corinthians 13. I am so thankful that my mentor told me to do this. It was so life changing for me and I hope that you get as much out of it as I did.

Are you like me and you struggle to express love in the way God asks us to? Is God tugging at your heart to get you to love those around you unconditionally, the way he loves us?  My prayer for all of us is that we can truly love those around us and that God will help us have a clear understanding of What love really is!

5 Ways to Change Someone’s Attitude

My husband was in a crabby mood recently when he got home from work. I’m not really sure what made him upset, but he was very short tempered and obviously tired and/or irritated. As most humans, I feed off of the emotions of those around me. This is very important to keep in mind as a teacher. I always knew that whatever I was feeling in the classroom, my students were feeling it from me. Whenever my husband is in a icky mood, it always makes me feel upset, mean, frustrated, angry, you name it and I feel it. It’s amazing how much his mood sets off my mood, which in turn sets off our daughter’s mood. It seems no matter how many times I tell him that his mood affects everyone around him, he still doesn’t change.

God has made it very clear to me that it is not my responsibility to change my husband or anyone for that matter. God is responsible for changing, not me. So, what do we do when people around us make us feel bad, especially when they are people we love? Well, the straight answer is, we continue to love them, but to help you along in these situations, I’ve come up with 5 ways to change someone’s attitude:

1. PRAY:  This seems the most obvious thing to do, but if you’re anything like me, it’s not the first thing I think of doing. Usually, I’m so frustrated that the person around me is in a bad mood that the last thing I want to do is pray, but God calls us to humble ourselves and pray in all situations. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18) Yikes! Did you see that? “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Do you know what that means? That means that if we refuse to pray continually, then we are not living the will of God, which means, uh-oh, we’re being disobedient. Given this command, I think it’s important that we make sure we pray. Not sure what to pray in these situations? Try a simple prayer like this: 

God, I want to praise you right now for this situation. It is hard for me to pray right now because I’m frustrated, but you said that it is your will for me to pray continually. I pray that you soften my heart towards this person and this situation and I pray that the joy in my heart to follow your will, Lord, will shine so bright that the person near me will absorb your spirit instead of a spirit of moodiness. Thank you for your spirit of peace, joy and kindness. Amen

2. REMAIN SILENT: Hmm… This.is.hard! I’m a strong willed woman. I always have been and I’ve been blessed with a strong willed daughter (more on this some other day). I was raised to speak my mind and stand up for myself. I also was grounded a lot as a child for talking back to my parents and I may or may not have always had to have the last words in an argument. God has taught me and is STILL teaching me how to tame my tongue. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) Ugh, this one gets me every time. It is so hard to remain silent, but I need to remain silent in order to let God work in the situation. Remaining silent not only gives us time to evaluate the situations and to observe what is really going on, but it also gives us a chance to practice self-control on our own emotions and mood. Remaining silent is a way to catch our breath and not say something sharp to the other person

3. USE ENCOURAGING WORDS/STAY POSITIVE: Think about a time when you felt really bad, sad, mad, tired, angry or any other negative feeling. Has anyone ever said anything positive to you during that time? If so, it probably made you feel a little better. Our job in this situation is to say something positive. It could be something as simple as, “you look great today,” or “I know you’re probably tired, thank you for working such long hours for our family.” Maybe it’s a friend’s attitude that’s got you in a tizzy, you could stay positive by bringing up a funny memory with that person. “Hey, remember the time when…” We are called to encourage one another, so it is essential that we do this in all situations, but even more so in these situations. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thes. 5:11)

4. EXPRESS CONCERN: Politely ask your spouse, friend, whomever, if something might be bothering them. Tell them that you noticed they might seem a little on edge and you were wondering if everything was OK? This is not always my first reaction. My first reaction tends to be a snappy, “what’s your problem?” kind of response, which ultimately leads to a much heated argument. When we give attitude back to the person who is already grumpy, we are just adding fuel to the flame. It is important that we have genuine concern for the person and take an interest in finding out what really is wrong. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephs. 4:32) Ouch, another zinger! Be compassionate and forgiving just as God forgave me. Talk about conviction! Expressing concern makes the situation all about the other person and not about us and not about how offended we are by their actions or how “unjust” it is that the other person is upset and taking it out on us. When we love someone, then we should not be selfish, for love is not self-seeking. (1 Corinth 13:5)

5. OFFER HELP: Finally, offer help. “Do you need me to help you somehow so that you can relax?” or “How about you go ahead and spend some time enjoying a TV show or a cup of tea and I’ll take care of everything else tonight.” A simple gesture that could make all the difference in that person’s day. It is our calling to carry the burdens of our family and friends and anyone else. God’s will is for us to care for one another and help each other in all situations. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)

So there you have it, how to change someone’s attitude. If you haven’t caught on by now, the person’s attitude you’re changing isn’t someone else, but rather your own. If we change our attitude towards other people, ultimately, we may find that their attitude changes too. This has been a real struggle for me to realize and God has been telling me over and over how I need to change. I always like to say, “but that isn’t fair, ” at which point God reminds me that he is a fair and just God and that he knows more than I do and more than I ever will.

I encourage you this week to change your attitude towards someone else and see what blessings God will bring.

Are you like me and find it hard to change your attitude when you feel it’s the other person who needs changing?

God’s Timing is Perfect

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few months ago, or maybe it was a year ago, I met a young mom to be at a small group through our church. She was pregnant and I had just had my baby a couple months prior. We chatted for a few minutes and exchanged names, which happened to be the same, and then we moved on. A few days later, I reconnected with her on Facebook, but we never met in person. We commented on each other’s posts and pictures and occasionally sent private messages to one another. She had her baby and we kept in touch, but we never met up with one another. It was a rather odd situation because I felt like I knew her and that we were friends, even though we spent no time together. Months had past and God finally gave us the chance to meet in person.

We met up just a couple of weeks ago and within 30 minutes of seeing one another we were in deep conversations about the state of our marriages, where we were on our spiritual walks and what we thought or didn’t think God was doing in our lives. How funny! Honestly, we really didn’t know one another and here we were sharing our deepest confessions. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is really what it means to be a sister in Christ.” When we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we know one another in a very different way than we would a non-believer. We should be able to confess, share, and trust our siblings in Christ because we are of the same family. After God revealed this to me, He went on to reveal even more. Prior to this meeting, my friend and I kept trying to make plans to get together, but somehow the opportunity never arose. When we finally managed to match our schedules, the timing could not have been more perfect. My friend and I were in very similar places in our marriages and we were able to talk and connect with one another so intimately as a result. Had we met prior to that day, we would not have had the same connection. All of those failed attempts at getting together was a way for God to build our character, take us deeper in our journeys, and intersect our lives at exactly the right time.

God is so good. Had none of this happened, I would not have even considered writing a blog about encouraging women in the Lord. I felt so refreshed and so inspired by the date with my friend that I dug deeper into scripture and found that God was really laying Titus 2: 3-5 heavily on my heart. I can’t get this verse out of my mind because I can’t believe after 16 years of being a Christian that I never took this verse to heart. God needed me to be in a place in my life to really understand this verse and really apply it and so here I am sharing it with you and allowing God to use this blog to inspire my sisters in Christ.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-5

I’d love to hear how God has revealed his perfect timing in your life?