Give Journaling a Try!

I met with a dear friend this morning who’s husband is overseas in Germany and they have been separated for FAR TOO LONG! She mentioned how during the stints of time they have to go without ANY communication, she clings to memories, voicemails, old texts, and video messages gone back and forth.

Don’t we all do that? Our hearts love to treasure memories, and our minds need to recount learned truths to ourselves over and over again in times of doubt.

This premise is one of the reasons I advocate SO strongly for journaling about or to God! It allows you the opportunity to look back at your relationship with God and see the times where he was especially sweet, and also the times he felt distant–only to be followed again by a time of nearness.  It shows you the lessons you’ve had to learn time and time again, the prayers he has graciously answered, and the power of being in the Word.

Try writing out your prayers to him, or outlining your prayers each day. Or try journaling ONE take away each time you read the word. Write a poem, or doodle the lyrics or images relating to your favorite song or hymn. There are a million ways to do it; figure out what works for you! Let me know what journaling does in you, and let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns!

(Also, journaling should not trump or replace your time in the Word, but supplement and fortify it :))

Lastly, here’s a little video about my journaling history and habits 🙂

Much Love,

Betty

Tips for your Time in the Word

Writing yesterday’s post about my time in the word, inspired me to provide ya’ll with a few more details and helpful tips about my morning routine with God!

I definitely don’t get to do it this thoroughly everyday, or even most days, BUT when I do follow my structure that I talk about below, it is always SO GOOD!

  1. Wake Up Early
    1. I love waking up with enough time to get ready and have breakfast and feel squared away for the day before jumping into time with the Lord. If I feel rushed or preoccupied about whatever-my time with Him in the word is significantly effected.
  2. Start the Process Sooner
    1. It’s helpful when you don’t just all of a sudden sit down and expect to have a beautiful deep communion with the Lord! Work your way into it! Just like if you and I were to meet for coffee, I wouldn’t just ask “So what is the biggest thing you are burdened by right now?” the minute we sat down (well maybe I would-but not usually!). Typically, we would have some “small talk” and preliminary conversation before getting in deep. I like to do the same with the Lord. I often will pray (I have daily prayers posted on my bathroom mirror) or listen to Christian podcasts (Mortification of Spin, Ask Pastor John, The Gospel Coalition, or The Briefing) while I do my hair and make-up to be preparing my heart for time with the Lord. Also (guilty of not doing this)-go to bed at a decent hour so that mornings aren’t so hard 🙂
  3. Pray-before and after
    1. The ONLY way we have any understanding or blessing from being in the Word, is if the Holy Spirit works in us to understand and love it’s pages. We need to remember our dependence on him and thank him for his grace in helping us! If your mind wanders a lot when praying-trying journaling!
  4. REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECT!
    1. How many times have I read something one day, and the next day have NO MEMORY of reading ANYTHING? Toooo many times! The best way I’ve found to prevent that is to always take time to meditate on what I just read. I have to land on a takeaway or an action step or a thing to praise God for anew! This quote is SOOOOO TRUE!

So maybe just try and implement one of these if they are new to you! Don’t overcomplicate it! Just know that spending time with God everyday is going to make you more like him-and that is a WONDERFUL thing! Just aim to get to know him and love him more each time you are in the Word, and remember that it’s not something to dread, but something to delight in!

What are some of your tips/best practices?  What kind of questions do you have about time with the Lord?

How I Work Through a Psalm

Do you ever wake up, and just NEED to read a psalm? I felt that way this morning. I have a few “go to” ones-and among my favorites is Psalm 62.

I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I am in a season of waiting for something. Waiting for God to show me the next step, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for an answer- trying to peacefully and joyfully wait on God’s perfect timing for something. So, I love the truths found in this particular Psalm.

To give you a glimpse into how I spend my time in the Word, I tried to “mark up” the below digital version the same I would mark up the paper version. Typically, after reading the chapter, I go through and journal about 1.) what the passage tells me about WHO God is, and 2.) what difference the passage should make in my life. Then I try to pray through the passage and my observations-praising God for his attributes I see on display in the chapter, and praying for what was revealed about my need for change.

So let’s have a look!

Psalm 62-English Standard Version (ESV)

My Soul Waits for God Alone

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

62 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation. ❤ 
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken. !!!
On God rests my salvation and my glory; ❤
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God. ❤

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah

Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12     and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work. (faith)

Again, when I finish reading I write down what the Psalm tells me about God and about mankind/me. Here is what I saw:

  • My “waiting” is not for OTHER people or things…I’m actually waiting on God’s perfect timing to orchestrate the next thing-a reminder of his sovereignty (v.1, 5)
  • He is my rock- he is the stable, immovable, foundation for all things-including my life, he never changes (v. 2,6)
  • He is my salvation-it’s only by his grace that I am his–and this is the biggest gift of all (v. 2,6)
  • He is my fortress-he protects me from EVERYTHING he wants me to not have in my life, and allows only what he knows is best for me (v. 2,6)
  • He is my only hope-he is the only one who can do anything about anything-and he will do what is perfect (v. 5)
  • I shall not be shaken-knowing these truths gives me an otherworldly sort of peace and confidence no matter what comes my way (v. 6)
  • I can trust him with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING (v. 8)
  • He wants me to pour out my cares, concerns, heartache, fears, worries, joys, blessings, gratitudes–everything to him through prayer (v. 8)
  • I shouldn’t set my heart on anything temporary, anything of this world (v. 10)
  • God is all-powerful. That means there is nothing he can’t do, and if he chooses not to do something-then that is best, because I know that he is also trustworthy and good (v.11)
  • God’s love is steady, consistent, and unconditional (v.12)

And then I’ll pray through these things! 🙂 That usually takes up my time in the morning, and I don’t often get through more than a chapter (unless I’m in genealogies–then I’m FLYING ;)) Let me know if you have any follow up questions about this simple routine!

Blessings on your day!

Love ,

Betty

Before You Go to Church-Do These 3 Things!

My thought for today is simply that prepping our hearts and minds for church is an important part of a Sunday morning routine.

You’re going to dress up, be greeted by strangers and friends, sing songs, pray, listen to a sermon, maybe take communion, and a few other things specific to your congregation. Sometimes we go into this beautiful opportunity tired, unengaged, irritated, or distracted. But WOW-Sunday morning church is so much more fulfilling and spirit-stirring when we take the time to think about what we are doing and why. 

#1-Remember that you sing to declare who God is. We often need to remember how BIG he is, or how KIND, or how POWERFUL. We need to sing to remind ourselves of truth about him and thusly our circumstances. Worship music also allows us to respond to his AMAZING characteristics by praising him and thanking him. Through song, we elevate him to where he should always be in our hearts & minds-supreme.

#2- Remember that you listen to the sermon to know God by his word. When you’re in love, you want to know every single detail about that person. You want to know what makes them laugh until they cry, what they are like when they are mad, what they were like as a kid, and anything else you can learn about them! Let’s pray for that sort of eagerness in knowing our Savior, King, and Good Father.

#3- Remember that when you talk to people at church-it’s not because it’s a social gathering or some kind of club where you’re just supposed to be nice-but because you’re a family. You are supposed to know each others victories and defeats. You’re supposed to do life together so that we can rally around in the good times and bad and point each other to Christ.

I am more quickly able to worship with true reverence, awe, and without distraction when I’ve already prepped my heart and mind to be thinking about WHO God is. I delight in and retain the message better when I’ve engaged my mind with the truth that knowing God is the greatest gift and privilege known to man, and I am receiving part of that gift this morning. I am able to engage with my church family with the proper motivation, mindset, and vulnerability when I see them as brothers and sisters that I am supposed to invest in and be loved by.

So before you set foot inside your church this morning–maybe in the van ride there, or over your breakfast cereal bowl–pray. Pray that God will help you in these three areas this morning–that he will give you a mind that understands him and a heart that loves him and his people. Oh, and feel free to let me know if it makes any sort of difference in your Sunday morn! 🙂

With Love,
Betty

 

 

When You Don’t Use Your Bachelors Degree

Recently, I started doing “writing prompts” with someone, and the one for this week is “Write about a passage of Scripture that was influential to you and why”.  Here is what came to mind: 

musician

I have Bachelors of Arts in Vocal Performance. Many of my undergrad years were spent studying music theory, faking my way through sight-reading, rehearsing endless hours in a piano room, and entertaining/annoying my friends with “Shower Time with Betty” when-no lie-I’d sing Disney songs while in the shower, and they’d gather in the common area to listen & sing-along.

And then I graduated, and 100% of my jobs since graduation have not required nor even preferred a degree in music. How do I feel about all of those hours on stage, in rehearsals, and in a green room? How do I feel about the random information stored in my head about picardy thirds, Porgy & Bess, and how to find and secure the ideal practice room?

I discovered how I feel about all that while reading through the book of 1 Samuel a few years ago. Matt Chandler (a pastor/speaker/author I wish was my friend) said this to summarize where we’re at in Israel’s history:

And then Israel began to grumble again. It’s weird. They started to complain again. Here’s what they were whining about. ”We’re tired of hearing directly from You, God. We want a king. Give us a king, not just a leader. Because the other nations have kings.“ And so God gives them a king, a man named Saul. People Magazine 930 B.C. voted him ”Sexiest Man Alive.“ Saul is a foot taller than everyone else, he’s the best hunter they have and other men feel like lesser men in his presence. He is made king, and it does not take him long to believe the hype about himself. He falls out of favor with God, and God anoints another to be king, David. Now David plays the harp, but you’re not going to jack with him. When he goes and hears Goliath talking noise, he goes to fight him and the rest of the soldiers start mocking him a bit. He says to them, ”God gave me the lion, He gave me the bear; He’ll give me the head of this dog.“ So David’s going, ”I’ve killed a lion and a bear, and both of those were by God’s power and God’s might. God will give me this fool’s head.“ So he plays the harp, but you’re not going to go, ”Hey, harp boy!“ Because you’ll lose your teeth. So in the end, David plays the harp, but he’s a man after God’s own heart.

Doesn’t he have such a way with words? 🙂 So I’m reading 1 Samuel 16 and it gets to verse 18 and it says, “One of the young men answered [Saul], “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” So Saul says that sounds great! Bring him here! He ends up loving David as a musician and thusly allows David to stay in the King’s court.

That is what was so incredibly impactful to me.

Let me explain, we all know the rest of David’s story. He didn’t stay a full-time musician, he didn’t become a world renowned harpist. God continued using his gift of musicianship and artistry in many ways (cough cough entire book of Psalms), but God’s purpose and plan for David’s life was far greater than his musical aptitude. God used David’s musicianship as the ship that sailed him into the port that was to develop him into the man God called him to be. The man that would lead Israel. The man that would defeat Goliath. The man that would repent deeply after sinning grievously. The man that would, through the power of the Holy Spirit, compose scripture. The man that was after God’s own heart. The man from whose lineage came the True and Better Adam.

God used music as the vehicle that took David into the palace. There God developed a beautiful relationship between Johnathon and David, the likes of which has never been seen on any other page of Scripture. God used David’s musicianship as a vehicle to get him into the palace to show him the inter-workings of the kingdom, of affairs of war, and how to interact with other countries’ noble man. Music is what God used, but it wasn’t the end goal.

Pretentious as this may sound, though humble I long to be, I feel like my life in a very small way parallels that of David’s. Hardship as a child, a skill and love for music that took me to a place that transformed me, namely my college, and a life marked by both failure and a heart for God. At LBC I was developed and sought after as a musician. However, God used my time there on such a grander scale. He developed friendships with Emerald and with Amy that have transformed me forever. He gave me an opportunity to observe, experience, and execute intentional & righteous leadership that has prepared me for the role in which I am currently serving. I learned perseverance. I developed passions. My mind’s eyes were transformed in how I see myself, others, and God himself.

The point wasn’t the palace, the point wasn’t the harp, the point was who God was creating in the palace because of the harp. Likewise for me, the point wasn’t Lancaster Bible College, the point wasn’t vocal performance, the point was the person in me God was creating at Lancaster Bible College because of vocal performance.