F. A. T. Girls Bible Study

F. A. T. Girls Bible Study

Last December my pastor challenged me…

I don’t think he knew the impact his words would have on my heart,  and I don’t believe he realized he was indeed placing a challenge before me.

But…

sitting in a committee meeting (awww…those glorious church committee meetings), his comment became a prayer point and a question I would lay before the Father over the next few weeks. After much prayer and a lengthy conversation with Justin and Chelsea, the idea of F. A. T. Girls Bible studies began.

Now… the F. A. T. (Faithful. Available. Teachable) tag is not unique to me. It was not my brain child, but it was something Chelsea mentioned she had heard about.

In my heart and mind, God birthed this idea of teaching women of all ages how to study the Bible for themselves. It’s a small idea with big…kingdom… repercussions. I hope.

As followers of Christ… Bible-believing followers, we are surrounded by Christian bookstores which pedal a myriad of books on everything from devotionals and topical Christian nonfiction to workbook-based Bible studies covering specific topics relating to women and some individual books of the Bible.

Some of them…many of them, in all honesty, are fluffy. They seek to find girl-friend status on your bookshelves. They make Bible study and “knowing God” a soft place…comfortable. It’s not.

In truth,  after spending most of my adult life not only participating in these types of women’s studies, but also teaching them, I found myself starving for real encounters with the Word of God and yes…even God Himself. I realized there was a ridiculous amount of commentary… personal stories… girl-friend mentality pandering even… to these studies.

And while the studies were and are not bad, they left me with a mountain of questions and a horrible sense of inadequacy with regard to the study of God’s Word.

I needed something more, and my conversations with more seasoned believers led me to a couple of tools, people, and places.

Beginnings…

I took my first Precept Bible study class at a sister-church in town. Precept Bible Studies are the life-long project of Kay Arthur. Honestly, the Precept classes taught me to dig in God’s Word. Repetitive readings and marking the Scripture were an essential part of my growth in these studies. The Covenant study was my first Precept class, and it was life changing.

I began teaching  an adult Sunday School class without a quarterly, but focusing on a book of the Bible, digging and preparing  by completing the Precept class prior to teaching. The gift of a trip to Israel and the blessing of an opportunity to attend seminary changed my life and rewired my heart and my mind. I became a woman passionate about teaching others to study God’s Word for themselves…to know God’s Word bone marrow-deep.

Over the past few years, I began to read the writings of other Godly teachers,  Jen Wilkin and Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth, just to name two. I began to listen to and follow theology-based  podcasts. I completed many of Jen Wilkin’s free online studies through her Flower Mound studies. I read a crazy amount of books on how to study the Bible, looking at what worked for others, but mining the strategies that worked best for me. I invested in a solid Bible Dictionary and an Exhaustive Concordance. Prayerfully, I listened to and read the Bible deeply, asking for wisdom and discernment, hungry to know truth, but more importantly, trusting that daily I was growing bit by bit in the knowledge of the God who made me and wired my fickle heart.

Hungry…yes.

Hungry was and is the way I describe myself, which is why the mnemonic use of F. A. T.  appealed to me.  I believe that we must come to the study of God’s Word hungry to know Him, faithful in our approach, making ourselves available to Him and the study, and most definitely teachable and open to the Holy Spirit.

And so…

last January, I posted a random question about women who were hungry to study God’s Word, and a Bible study was born.

No workbooks, no famous women speaking on videos…

Just prayer, God’s Word, time spent pouring of the text, repetitive readings, marking  the text and asking  deep questions…

The most precious group of women came and became absorbed in amazing conversations surrounding the study of Scripture and how we flesh it out in our everyday lives…

Our Thursday night group became the sweetest gift to me. Thank you, Jesus!

F. A. T. Girls Bible study is easily one of the greatest adventures God has ordained in my life.

So now, we are adding another group,  and I am going to use my blog and Facebook presence to continue what God has started.

Beginning this week, I will share our study with those who follow this blog in hopes of encouraging more women to DIG deep in the study of the Bible, but more importantly, in their desire to know God through His Word.

Join us as we begin the study of 1 Samuel.

P.S. Thank you, Randy Darnell… my pastor and friend.

 

 

 

 

A Marvelous Summer Indeed!

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How does one measure a marvelous summer?

“Some” task-oriented individuals create a list of summer goals to accomplish…

Yes. I. Did…

(That’s a little sad, isn’t it?) Even I was type this, I recognize that it seems rigid. Just a tad…

The very idea of summer break should be frivolity with days of sand, sun, fun and play.  However, I have found that if I do not plan for “play,” I have a tendency to waste my days.

And… while Hallmark movies and an endless TBR book stack are great things, I miss out on other experiences. (Not to mention the fact, that my inactivity and my nibbling sabotage any semblance of weight loss I achieved during the school year.)

A list-maker and goal-setter by nature, my summer list pleases me greatly.

Checking things off fills me with an indescribable joy…

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In complete transparency, the one goal I will not meet is my reading goal of twenty-five books. I have read ALL summer, but much of my reading cannot be measured in completed books,  necessarily.  There have been several books I have given myself permission to close after the first forty pages, a task I still find difficult as an adult.

I am not a quitter.

But…life is too short to waste on boring books. Truth…Amen.

So now I am at one week.

One fleeting week…

My summer is ebbing like the ocean tide, and I feel like a child with scant change and one ride ticket  left in my pocket near the end of a wildly wonderful  day at an amusement park.

The need to cram  just a few more activities into my waning  break is nagging at  me today.

Is this what a Philippians 4:8 life looks like? a check list?

Probably not, but I seem to want to wrangle and corral most of my life onto a tamed, controlled list.

It doesn’t always fit.  Honestly, it rarely fits…ever,

and at the end of the day, that’s fine.

When I think about my marvelous summer,

it will be remembered because it was spectacularly about my family and my friends.

They were not specific items on my list, but they were there.

There was a beach trip…

with Hadasah, and it WAS spectacular! We had our  little princess all to ourselves for several days. No words can fully describe what  Bear and I experienced as we swam and played in the waves, the sand and the sun with our grand-joy! This time with her is something we had dreamed about while they lived in South Korea. What an amazing gift! We are thankful grands…

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There was a glorious trip to Colorado…

a week of exploration and mountain beauty with our youngest son, Josh. And it WAS an  unbelievable week. I will carry memories made during that week to my last breath…exquisite beauty in nature and some of the sweetest  moments we have ever had with our youngest man-cub.

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There were days spent with friends in the mountains… where we  talked for hours, rambled through quaint towns with cute little shops and tasted local faire… relaxing…

This was my summer.

However, there were other moments not on my paper list…

My pre-dawn hours of quiet time, prayer and Bible study  that ground and equip me…

Random last minute excursions with Bear…

Late night summer suppers and the aroma of grill smoke.

Weathering summer thunderstorms on the back porch sofa with a chocolate lab in my lap and my sweet man by my side…

The joy of watching  lightning bugs and experiencing a symphony of crickets and frogs with twinkle lights overhead…

No…these may not be goal or list worthy exploits, but these little snippets of days make my journey…our journeys worth taking and sharing with others.

Let’s be intentional with our play…

Life is fast, furious and all together unfair at times. Exhaustion and heartache are far too common for each of us.

So… when we are able…

let’s choose to be  deliberate with our  Philippians 4:8 “whatevers”…

Let’s build lives that look for and desire the lovely, the admirable, and the praiseworthy, not only in the way we live, but  in the way we live with others.

If we are not intentional in our days and with our people, it is painfully easy to be swept up in all that is hard and ugly in our day-to-day…

I want to fill the cracks of my days and my life with the lovely “whatevers”…

“Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admiriable…

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy…

Think about (set your hearts on… be deliberate with…)

Such things.”

How have you filled the cracks of your summer?

 

 

 

It’s Been A While…

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I stopped writing for a year.

Not that anyone else would notice, but I did.

My heart did.

I really think our hearts notice when we are silent, but we slog on.

This year has been

A wild adventure…

A school teacher-kind-of-crazy existence…

A following hard after Jesus path…

A nail-biting, waking-up-anxious-some-days kind of journey.

Tears, disappointments,  and frustrations have knocked me around,

And in true transparency, my heart doesn’t always ride the waves well…

It’s been  a season of knowing the hand to hold

And His Word abiding deep in the marrow of my bones.

Some days have been  sweeter than others.

Some days were  just hard…

Some days I chose to laugh when the tears were close…

BUT I have learned to be intentional with my time this year.

Intentional with my days…

With this gift called life…

I want to fill every crack and crevice of my journey

With the beautiful “whatevers”  of Philippines 4:8.

Whatever is…Honorable…

Just…

Pure…

Lovely…

Commendable…

Excellent…

Praiseworthy…

I am looking for life in the midst of these things…

Rose colored glasses?  Hmmm?

No… how about Jesus-tinted lenses?

That’s what I hope you find here.

So I have picked up my pen and stuck my journal in my bag…

I am ready to play with my words again.

Join me…

National Go Barefoot Day

 

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Oh Sweet Friendlies…

Today is National Go Barefoot Day as well as National Nail Polish Day! Be still my summer-lovin’  heart!

Nothing ignites this fabulous season like naked tootsies and a fresh pedicure.

I shout…”Welcome SUMMER!”

I am a long-time barefoot diva. My memories of childhood summers rarely included shoes and never socks. Stubbed and splintered, but rarely discouraged, my toes marked those long hot days of summers past.

“A long far ago…” (as my younger Josh would have whispered), before the days of posted signs on business windows reminding patrons of their “No shoes, no service” policy, I wandered far and free from the worries of shoes…

Yes, sometimes bloody, often bruised, occasionally blistered,  and once or twice broken, these toes have traveled…naked and free. I have sweet memories of the hot pavement outside the library in heady contrast to its cool tiled floors. Wandering barefoot, searching shelves for books during those warm humid afternoons.

Have. Mercy. Yes!

What is it about going barefoot that speaks to our inner child? Freedom, a sense of the carefree… I am not sure. It’s soul-filling though. It. Just. Is.

 

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I am a little embarrassed to admit I apparently have taken A LOT of pictures of my own feet…Not sure what this means. I sincerely hope this does not speak of a deeper psychological issue…but it may…oops.

However, I do consider my feet (as well as my shoulders and my eyes) to be part of my more attractive physical attributes.

Just being honest, I have cute toes…sorry.

One should always maximize one’s personal strengths. That’s just how my mind works. Welcome…

My well-proportioned size 11s are part of my firm foundation and my wide stance on this Philippians 4:8 journey of mine. I do not apologize for such. My God was good to me…I just have great tootsie genes.

Rarely a fashionista of footwear, I go for comfort…always.

Bless. My. Heart. And. My. Tootsies.

Sassy and sexy shoes are not part of my wardrobe. I believe this is why being barefoot is my shoe of choice.

What about you?

Are you a timid tenderfoot…

OR…

Are you bodacious in your  “barefooted-ness?”

Come on…walk on the WILD side today.

Go LOUD.

Go PROUD.

Go BAREFOOT!

Happy National Go Barefoot Day!

 

Holiness: My One Word 2017

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As I finished my Chronological Bible reading for 2016 with the book of Revelation this morning, I was overwhelmed by God’s holiness and perfect orchestration of His majesty.  Over the past few months I have struggled with this nagging concern that I miss the bigger picture of God’s holiness. The book of Revelation drove this bone marrow deep.

After my reading this morning, I knew My One Word project  for 2017 would center on “holiness.

Learning, searching His Word, praying… yes…I want to know more of His holiness this year.

The My One Word Project by Ashcroft and Olsen

What does it mean to choose a word for a new year?  I prayerfully select a  word that I feel the Lord is drawing my attention toward. Maybe it’s an area of my life or my heart in which He wants to prune or shape. Maybe it’s a need He wants me to recognize and He desires to fill with Himself. It may be something about Himself He wants to reveal to me.

The Lord and I choose a word, and I toss the list of  New Year’s resolutions away. I want God to form my character at a deeper level, a sustainable level this year.

I doodle the word…I pray over the word…

I search Scripture for the word. When is the word used? Where is it used in the Bible?  How is it used?  Who is uses it? Why is it used in the context it is?

Word studies…Hebrew and Greek…

Selecting a word demands greater focus for me. It requires intentionality.

The word “holiness” will become the lens through which I examine my heart and my life for an entire year. The book My One Word by Ashcroft and Olsen has been a tremendous tool over the last couple of years. The goal of the My One Word project is ultimately a transformed heart.

My One Word journey this year is holiness.

According to Ashcroft and Olsen, “The aim is for you to use your one word to get into a focused posture and remain there while you depend on Christ. Change is possible. Focus is required.” I am focussing on God’s ability to do in me what I cannot do for myself.

Holiness… In Hebrew, quadosh… Greek, haigos

The following quote from Art Lindsley  sits on my heart as I think about the Lord placing this word before me this year. “One of the most important attributes for understanding God and ourselves is God’s holiness. When we catch a vision of God’s holiness, we can regard many things in our lives as holy. When we lose a sense of God’s holiness (as many have), then we lose the realization that anything is holy or unholy. In this latter case, we also lose a sense of our own sinfulness, our need for God’s grace, and the desperate plight of our culture.” 

My prayer is for a greater realization of what is holy and what is unholy. My prayer is for a deeper need for Him in my day, in my life…and wisdom.

Did you have a word for 2016? My word this year was JOY!

What is your 2017 word?

 

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My ONE Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen

1 Corinthians 13: Christmas Style by Sharon Jaynes

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Sharon Jaynes is one of my favorite Christian authors. Her words are Holy Spirit inspired and honest. She possesses a love of God’s Word that compels others to dig in deep. I had the great joy of being on the book launch team for her book Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe in 2013, and  I have been a devoted reader of hers since. I wanted to share something of hers with my Christmas readers today…This is Sharon Jaynes at her best! Visit this post  in its entirety at Crosswalk.com … “One Thing God Wants You to Know  This Christmas.” 

Slow down…enjoy His presence…Share His love…

1 Corinthians 13: Christmas Style

“If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, on that starry night in Bethlehem. I am still amazed at Your great love for me. May I never lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas, but celebrate Jesus’ birth with joy! Help me to give as You gave—with love.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.”

Merry Christmas!

Prince of Peace

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December 24

It’s Christmas Eve and this night above all other nights of the year speaks of the hope and promise of peace like no other. And yet for many, peace is elusive. This year has been a horribly divisive year for our communities and our country.

All one has to do is scroll through Facebook to see that the “hope” and “promise” of a presidential election did not bring peace for many.

Disease strangles families and threatens any semblance of peace.

Cities with names like Aleppo, Mosul, Berlin, Orlando, and Paris fervently, continue in their search for healing and peace.

The increased suicide rate in our country reminds us that many search for some peace but many never find it.

 

   “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

   And the government will rest on His shoulders;
   And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus promised people peace but not as the world offers it. This peace only He can give. He came to restore not just peace that ends hostility, but the restoration of relationship between God and his much loved children. Physical safety and political harmony do not necessarily reflect what our  Prince of Peace offers.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” John 14:27

Peace is a person. His name is Jesus, and He came to be peace for us all.

Heavenly Father, stir up the good news of Christmas in hearts today. Pierce the world’s darkness with the Christmas story, our salvation story. Never have we needed Your joy and peace more than now. Thank You for the gift of Jesus, our Immanuel, the Word made flesh. Forgive us for forgetting that Your love never changes, never fades, and that You will never abandon the purpose for which You came. You came to restore! You came to save us from our sinful condition, and to give us eternal life, the joy of relationship with a holy God. Your birth—and Your death—sealed Your promise to us forever. Amen.

 

 

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