Jesse Tree Advent Study-Day 1

I debated about what picture I needed to include with this post to introduce our Jesse Tree study.

Should I go with some beautifully staged seasonal shot or a canned online photo? No… I wanted to be honest about what this study time looks like for me. This is it.

What is your study time going to look like?

I am praying for you as I type this. I want this time to be tender and sweet for you as you pull in, slow down, and savor our Bethlehem Savior…

Journey with me… to a stable…in Bethlehem.

Let’s listen as the Great I AM whispers through Old Testament passages.

Wait with me… for the promised One… the One who shatters the darkness…

Our Emmanuel… God with Us who heals the brokenhearted.

Take my hand…this walk should never be made alone. It’s always sweeter when we make it with friends.

This Advent let’s journey with the single purpose of seeing the promise of Jesus through Old Testament prophecies fulfilled, and let’s ponder the beauty of a family line that was full of messy, stubborn, broken humans.

Let’s sit with these Old Testament passages.

We need fresh eyes and hungry hearts.

Thirty days… I am so ready for Christmas…

DAY 1 – Jesse Tree – Isaiah 11:1-2

Context: In this passage in Isaiah, the children of Israel have been broken. They wandered from God. They had suffered under slavery and exile. Battered, weary, broken under the weight of their own sin, and surrounded by a wicked world, they were cut down. “A shoot will come out from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots…”

BUT God…

The promise of One…

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

Out of the stump of Jesse’s family came One tender root… our Jesus.

When the world seems terribly unfair, when all hope seems lost, and it feels as though evil is winning our daily battles, hold on.

Hold on. When the forest is felled, Christ remains.

God, you have a plan for redeeming all things… Renew my hope. Give me the faith to keep trusting you. Strengthen me this Advent, through the study of your Word, and water my dry heart with your daily presence.

I love you…

A Summer in Psalms

Hey you! Lovely one…

I am so happy you are on this journey with me. I am excited to share this summer with you as we travel through the book of Psalms. I am praying this is a much needed exhale for you and that you will create pockets of time each day to pull in close and sit with our heavenly Father during this study.

The book of Psalms is rich with emotion (and I mean your favorite cheesecake kind of rich). These songs, prayers, and laments are exquisite! Truly! They are the cries from broken hearts, the whispers of peace, the begging of those in need, and the songs of worship from hearts bursting with praise… These are our emotions, and in the psalms we see ourselves.

What do you need for this study? Well,  consider the following…

  • A Bible 📖- whatever translation is your favorite (I use ESV and NIV predominantly, but I pull in the Message when I need a little devotional thought.) We will talk about Bible translations later this summer. Consider a study Bible  or Download a Bible app on your phone… something with a variety of translations AND the AUDIO option!!! Listening to the psalms may be your best way to find time to study Scripture. Uhhh… Audible has become my new best friend, but I still want  paper pages in my hands. ❤️
  • A Journal  📓- I write… therefore, I think everyone in the universe should write. BUT seriously, consider using a journal/composition book/notebook. My journal becomes a big part of my dialog with Jesus throughout my Bible studies. I write out my prayers, verses that stand out to me, verses I want to memorize and my notes/thoughts  about what a passage means.
  • Pens, lots of marvelous pens or pencils… I write in my Bible as well as in my journal. ✍️
  • TIME… ⏰ set aside pockets of time  during your week, daily if possible. Create the habit of a daily quiet time. The summer is a great time to start!

Our Summer Reading Schedule

Below you will find a schedule for the chapters we will focus on each week. Again, this is a summer study, and you have the luxury of taking it slower.

May 27th – June 2nd –  Chapters 1 – 14

June 3rd – June 9th –   Chapters 15 -24

June 10th – June 16th –  Chapters 25 – 36

June 17th – June 23rd – Chapters 37 – 48

June 24th – June 30th – Chapters 49 – 58

July 1st – July 7th –  Chapters 59 – 70

July 8th – July 14th – Chapters 71 – 82

July 15th – July 21st –  Chapters 83 – 95

July 22nd – July 28th –  Chapters 96 – 106

July 29th – August 4th – Chapters 107 – 118

August 5th – August 11th – Chapters 119 – 134  — My personal favorites:119 and the Psalms of Ascent (120 – 134)

August 12th – August 19th Chapters 135 – 150

Summering in Psalms – F.A.T. Girls Style

Beginning Monday, May 27th, join us as we spend our summer in the book of Psalms.

Why in the world should you spend your summer reading  Psalms with us? Well…

Music and poetry often seem to be the only way to express the wide gamut of emotions we all experience throughout our lives. Happiness, anxiety, frustration, despair, peacefulness, joy and anger are difficult to script because our human emotions are complicated. The book of Psalms speaks  to this part of our human experience through the poetic expressions of people who offered their feelings and their circumstances to God.

My hope and prayer is that we will use this season to exhale… to pull in close to the Father, to see beautiful glimpses of Jesus in these Old Testament songs and prayers, to inhale the wondrous realization of His love, His mercy, and His grace.

Did you know…?

The one hundred fifty psalms in this Old Testament book provide poetic expressions of praise, worship and confession.  Jewish tradition ascribes David as the author of 73 psalms, Asaph 12 psalms, the sons of Korah 9 psalms, Solomon 2 psalms, Herman (with the sons of Korah), Ethan, and Moses each wrote 1, and 51 psalms are anonymous. The time span over which the psalms were written is vast beginning about the time of Moses (around 1440 B.C.) and ending with the Babylonian captivity which was 586 B.C.

Join us!

Berta

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!

 

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