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

“Just” Finished Judges, Ruth, and 1st Samuel

I’ve gotten super behind on my book posts! So today I am playing “catch up”and going to go back through my devotional journals and try and explain what I’ve learned from reading Judges, Ruth, and 1st Samuel. It was actually SUPER encouraging to read the journaled observations I made from the text and it was a great reminder to myself that GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS WORD–but WE have to be IN IT to hear it. I’ve heard him both sweetly and sternly teach me through these pages, and it motivates me to read more!

Bible

This is a a little different from my other posts, but I’m just going to share one “take away” from each book that I journaled about.

Judges: It’s interesting how people dislike the Old Testament portion of the Bible because it is so gruesome and filled with wars. Conquests, slaughterings, a fat king knifed to death, and a woman taking a tent peg through the temple of her foe are all found even just in this one book. But me, I LOVE that this kind of stuff is in our Bible! It makes it such an interesting read, and helps me understand (and root for!) the Main Character all the more!

Can you imagine LOTR without the battle scenes, the bitten off finger, or the son nearly burnt alive? There’s heroism, true love, perseverance, friendship, and goodness. You need both elements of discomfort and beauty to make a captivating story.  We the audience get to experience SUCH JOY in the triumph precisely because of the gruesomeness the characters had to endure.

LOTR

This is what I think of as I reflect on Judges. Yes, there are scenes that make me grimace, my heart race, or my stomach churn. There are villains that are pure evil, that could give me nightmares. But that is reality, and it is what makes our Hero SO great and his victory SO EXCITING. Reading through the OT is painful and confusing at times. But I know that the New Testament is coming, and the battle will FINALLY be won, the enemy defeated, and the last boat out of Rivendell has a spot on it for me. 🙂

Ruth-My big take away from Ruth was the idea that GOD GRACIOUSLY REDEEMS SO MUCH; He is sovereign over even our hardest pains. Here’s a list of hard things in the book that he HAD A PERFECT PURPOSE FOR.

  • There is a famine in Naomi’s hometown, and they have to leave 😦 (So hard to say goodbye to everything and everyone you’ve ever known)
  • Naomi’s sons marry Moabite women 😦 (Iwonder if this BROKE Na’s heart?)
  • Naomi’s husband dies 😦
  • Ruth is childless 😦 (maybe she struggled with infertility? Who knows?)
  • Naomi’s oldest son dies 😦
  • Naomi’s youngest son dies 😦
  • Ruth and Na are seperated from Ruth’s sister in law
  • Boaz is single (I wonder if he ever struggled with that?)
  • Ruth can only get a job gleaming
  • The “other redeemer” had children and therefore could not buy the field from Naomi

We serve a redeemer my friends. A good God who is in control of ALL things.

1 Samuel-In this book God, through Samuel, establishes a monarchy in Israel–first with Saul, then with David. God’s obvious sovereign hand is beautifully all over these pages. 🙂 Though many are very familiar to those of us who have grown up in a church, the stories in this book are were surprisingly captivating to me during this read through! One of my takeaways (it was hard to pick just one!) was the grace of God in giving beautiful friendships. I love the story of Jonathan and David and it caused me to think about my friendships and praise God for the ways he has brought us together and sustained our love for each other.

I hope this post encourages you to be in the Word as much as it did for me! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

 

With love,

Betty

Just Finished A Book of Numbers

My honest first thought: With a title like “The Book of Numbers”- you know this chapter in the story of God is going to be a real nail biter 😉 But I know that every book in the Bible serves a great purpose in the metanarrative of who God is and what his purposes are. So it is with the book of Numbers.

In Numbers, we continue to see the gradual fulfillment of the promises that God gave to Abraham those many years ago. Let’s review those promises. According to my blog on Genesis, God promised little ol’ Abe 4 things:

  1. A land to live in
  2. A whole lot of descendants
  3. Success/blessings
  4. That the whole world would be blessed because of someone in his family.

In Numbers we see (finally in the very last chapter) each tribe has an inheritance of land as they are poised to enter the Promise Land! We see that though at one time Abraham’s descendants were just a blip on the world wide census (only 70 persons where they entered Egypt (Gen. 46:27)) they are now tallying over 600,000 men-that’s not including women and children. Woah. That’s awesome! Thirdly, God has not forsaken them and even has a real presence via the cloud of fire over the tabernacle. As far as how they are a blessing to the nations…I am not sure how I see that being fulfilled in the Book of Numbers…maybe it’ll come along later. Hopefully it’ll be super obvious (I don’t know-like maybe somehow salvation will be offered to all nations through this nation or something like that! ;))

While reading, I had a couple of thoughts. One,as I aim to read God’s word through with fresh eyes, I was surprised that Moses doesn’t get to enter the Promised Land! He plays such a huge role thus far! He is a friend of God, talks to him face to face, is the most humble man, and is a unique mediator. Yet because of oooone little incident-he can’t enter. I wondered a lot what that day was like. Was Moses mad? Dissapointed? Did he figure that would be the consequences for his actions and do it anyway? Did he ask God for mercy? I also wondered if God would maybe change His mind? Maybe Deuteronomy will come and God will say that Moe CAN enter the land! That would be make sense to me. Right? Moses isn’t really going to come ALL this way and do ALL those things and be SO close with God-to not enter the Land God promised…right? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see ;).

Secondly, even though God was VISIBLY PRESENT to the people of Israel, there is still so much unbelief and subsequently, so much disobedience! What should be seen as gloriously miraculously became oh-so mundane. The lackluster view of God’s presence and his glory led to doubt and sin. I’d say we do the very same thing with the Bible. What should be seen as an incredible gift to mankind–GOD HIMSELF breathe into people words to record so that we could know Him! We, at ANY time, can pick up this book and hear the Words of God, read of the goodness of God, be impressed/enthralled/enamored at the love, justice, and faithfulness of God-yet for so many it collects dust. It’s unimpressive, unimportant, and underused. This very same situation of the miraculous becoming the mundane is what leads US into disbelief and disobedience. We need to pray that God, in this grace, helps us to see the Bible for what it really is. The living, powerful, penetrating Word of God is a most precious gift not to be trivialized nor ignored.

So that’s my take on Numbers. I’m on to Deuteronomy tomorrow. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below with any questions, comments, or concerns! 😀

"A casual relationship with the Word of God reflects a casual relationship with the Son of God." (Anonymous):

~ J. C. Ryle on reading the Bible:

Truth.: