Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks

Welcome, friends! If you’re visiting for the first time today from my Encouragement for Today devotion, I’m so glad you came. Subscribers, thank you so much for being on this journey with me! (If you’re a visitor, I’d love to invite you to subscribe by simply entering your email to the right and then responding to the confirmation email.)

I don’t think I’m the only student enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks ;), so I’m betting that’s why you’re here today. I’ve made a resource that I hope will be a delight for both your eyes and your soul. I’ve printed one and put it on my bathroom mirror to remind myself to study God’s Word for solutions before I run into snags.

Click here to print wisdom & teaching, and enjoy!

 

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Free Goodies

If  you’ve hung around me at all either in real life or on the blog, you already know I’m a resource junkie. At one point in a phone conversation with a poor friend of mine last night, I actually said, “Are you writing down all these book recommendations? I’ve got a bunch more!” Obnoxious, I know. She really should have hung up on me.

My church staff are the other blessed recipients of my resource-full-ness. I send links to the latest Barna survey or viral video. I’m sure they roll their eyes as they press delete, but it’s like I can’t help myself. (It’s just because I love them so much!)

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Well, guess what? I’m giving everybody else a break today, and YOU are the lucky recipient of some of my favorite latest and greatest resources. 🙂 The best part… they’re all FREE!

I hope you’re ready to have your mind filled with lots of wonderfulness. Click away! (But come back at the end to tell me your favorites and leave your own.)

If you need a laugh, click here to watch this hilarious church count down.

If you are a teen girl, have a teen girl, or lead teen girls, you really can’t miss this. Seriously. My friend Lynn Cowell has the most amazing free resource called “What Do Guys Really Want?” along with a discussion guide. It’s sure to open great conversation, and it’s time-appropriate with Valentine’s coming up. Click here to see the video along with her other fantastic free resources.

Do you long to write a book, but you’re not sure you can? Jeff Goins felt the same way, but now he’s writing books for writers. Click here to demystify the process. (Subscribe while you’re there. I love all his stuff!)

My fabulous friend Wendy Schultz is doing a year of Jewish feasts with her family this year and blogging about each one on her blog The Celebrated Family. It’s a fun way to bring Old Testament scripture to life for your kids, so click here if you want to see the schedule and follow along. I want to be a fly on the wall and learn all the stuff they’re learning!

Have you been afraid to talk to somebody about Jesus because you think you’ll get it wrong? You’ve got to read my friend Suzie Eller’s story. Click here to change the way you think forever.

Too frazzled for one more night out at a Bible study but wishing you could be part of one? My friend Karen Ehman has written a book on my most needed topic with the cutest title and cover ever–Keep. It. Shut.  You can find out all the information about joining the Online Bible Studying by clicking here.

I know. I know. You’re thrilled. 🙂 Tell me which ones you like best, and please share your own favorite resources. If you play, this will be fun!

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Remembering a Warrior

Back in 2008, I wrote a devotion about a woman who began impacting my life in the quietest way week after week as I went through her checkout line. Lucia passed away last month, and her loss is felt deeply by all those who love her. Her legacy of living brave in the midst of hard circumstances lives on, so I wanted to honor her and share with you.

There’s a woman who works at our local grocery store that just makes my day. She is ALWAYS positive and cheerful. I know that it isn’t easy working with the public and spending long hours on her feet, so today I asked her for her secret. “My secret for bagging?” she asked in surprise.

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“No,” I explained. “I want to know your secret for staying so positive.” She just gave a big smile and explained that God is her secret. She followed by telling me that she had to be at work at 6:00 am today, so she got up at 3:30 am to spend time with Him.

Tears filled my eyes as I thought of this precious sister in the Lord rising in the dark to spend time with the Lord so that she could minister to all the people that will pass her at the cash register today. She shares her enthusiasm, energy and smile equally with each customer. She is a beautiful woman, but she doesn’t have the advantage of youth that many of her co-workers have. This woman had gotten up in the middle of the night, spent time with Jesus, and worked an 8 hour shift. She said that it isn’t always easy. “By the 40th hour of my work-week, I’m very tired,” she said. “But He is my secret.”

Our youth pastor sent out a quote this week that has followed me through my days.

“The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came…Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory.” ~ R.A. Torrey

Lucia, the checker at the grocery store, is living proof of this quote. She prepares herself with prayer for the battle of each day. She’s an ordinary woman just like me, but she has taken the ordinary and made it beautiful beyond measure.

I’m a “doer”, and prayer does not come easily for me. I want to start attacking my checklist about the time I open my eyes in the morning. Lucia reminds me, though, of this truth that I’ve heard. Prayer isn’t preparation for the work. It IS the work. One tool that has helped me tremendously is a prayer journal. Writing out my prayers helps me to focus and not get distracted so easily. It is also a wonderful record when I want to look back and remind myself of what the Lord has done and how He has answered prayer.

Like you, I’ve got several battles that I’m facing. I needed Lucia to remind me today that time with God is invaluable. The only time I lose is when I miss the time in prayer doing the work before the day starts.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to be ready for the battle each day. Help me to remember that nothing arms me like time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If you’re inspired and want to read more stories about living brave today, please visit my friend Suzie Eller’s blog. She has a wonderful post and others are linking their stories as well.

Announcement: Janice (10/29/14 10:52 am) is the winner of the Thanksgiving place cards! Thanks to each of you who left comments.

If you didn’t win, and you’d still like to use the place cards for your holiday dinner, you can find them at Little Brown Cards.

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When You Really Aren’t Good Enough

I’m so excited to be a newbie in a vibrant blogging community of men and women called Life Notes!

My post is over there today, so click here to read about the angst and joy of not being good enough. I would be so honored with comments to let me know my friends visited! It would really encourage David Miller, the founder and wonderful “pastor”, of that little community too.

Also, congratulations to Renee who left a comment on April 16 at 4:11 pm. You are the winner of the Red Hot Faith giveaway!

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Prepare to Be Aware

Today I’m taking a little break from our Revelation study to introduce you to my friend Wendy Blight. Wendy and I serve on the Proverbs 31 speaker team together, and I love and respect her immensely. Her passion for God’s Word is contagious, and I wanted you to have the chance to “catch” it.

When you finish reading Wendy’s post, please leave a comment or just write the word “Inscribe” in the comments to enter to win a free copy of her new study Living So That: Making Faith-Filled Choices in the Midst of Messy Life.

Does God ever give you “opportunities”? A situation where you know exactly what He wants you to do, but you don’t’ want to do it?

To be honest, I don’t like these “opportunities” because they often have a cost. A cost I’m either afraid or unwilling to pay.

Years ago, God brought one of these “opportunities” to me.

Really, God. Are you really asking me to do this? This is a big school. Isn’t there another mom better to step up to the plate on this?

[Excerpt from Chapter Two, “God Spoke So That” of Living So That]

When Lauren [my daughter] was in elementary school, she brought home a book that contained content unsuitable for elementary-age children. It was a book more appropriate for middle or even high school students. When I asked the librarian why it was in our library, she provided no explanation. I asked for it to be removed. She said that she would not. In fact, she had no problem with the book and suggested that I simply forbid my daughter from checking it out and reading it.

It became clear that if I wanted it removed, I would have to go over her head. That choice was hard for me, as I liked her very much. I often volunteered in the library, and I feared my actions might affect our relationship. Plus, I knew any action to proceed on my part would require a great investment of my time and energy. I would have to put myself out there not only in our school but also with higher-level administrators in the school system.

The question I had to ask myself was, how would my actions affect Lauren’s reputation and mine? Was it worth it for one book that I could just forbid my daughter from reading?

I knew my life would be easier and much more comfortable if I just dropped it.

I prayed and sensed the Lord wanted me to proceed. The world does not make it easy to stand up for Christian values! I followed the instructions given to make this type of request. I read the entire book, noting every page on which I found inappropriate content and why I felt it was unsuitable. It took hours and hours to document. Then I sent it to the appropriate people.

It took weeks to hear back. When I did, it required more paperwork and conversations. But in the end, praise God, my efforts prevailed. They removed the book from the library!

Was it worth it? Yes. But had I listened to the world and my flesh, I would not have taken on the challenge. The world told me to just keep my problem to myself and take care of it within my family. But my heart and my faith led me otherwise so that I could protect all children in Lauren’s school form this inappropriate content.

How did my heart get to this place…to willingly take on this God “opportunity”?

By being in God’s Word…by spending time allowing it to seep deep into the marrow of my bones.

I had Colossians 2:4 hidden in my heart, “I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” (NIV)

In this verse, Paul warns that we must be able to recognize the world’s persuasive words. “Fine-sounding arguments.” (NIV) “Enticing words.” (KJV). How do we define these words so that we can know and recognize them? They are words that use logical but false arguments. In other words, they sound good, but if we look beyond the surface, they are dangerous and lead us down the way of the world…the wide road…the way that will not honor God and His Kingdom. Take care of this within your own family. Simply forbid your daughter from reading it. Will people think me a judgmental Christian?

God calls us to be on the alert for such words. To have discerning eyes and ears to recognize the lies.

But, friend, we cannot recognize the persuasive words, the fine-sounding arguments, the lies if we do not know the Truth…God’s Truth!

We must prepare to be aware. Let me say that again. Prepare to be aware!

The key to preparing comes with these four easy steps:

  • Spend time each day with God’ Word, hiding it in your heart.

  • Believe that what you read is truth spoken directly from the mouth of God.

  • Invite God to grant you discernment so that you can understand what you read.

  • Ask God for the wisdom needed to practically apply what you learn.

  • Pray for the courage to take what you learn and live it out in your everyday life

Making faith-filled choices is the key to faith-full living. And what fills our hearts and minds determines the choices we make! (Click here to Tweet)

Wendy Blight – In addition to being the author of InScribed’s Living “So That” : Making Faith-Filled Choices in the Midst of a Messy Life, Wendy is a national speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries, a Bible teacher, an attorney, and author of Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story. Wendy most enjoys helping women, through Bible study, gain confidence so that they can tackle any problem life presents through God’s Word. Wendy’s favorite place to be is at home in Charlotte, North Carolina writing and enjoying life with her husband, Monty, and her two children, Lauren and Bo. Living So That is available now.

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Heart Check

Oh, our fickle hearts! They run hot and cold, wise and foolish, passionate and apathetic. Who can control their heart?

According to scripture, none of us should fully trust our heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV)

In my Encouragement for Today devotion running this morning, I talked about how my mixed motives, the true desires of my heart, can get me in trouble lickity split. My heart so often wants and loves the wrong things, and very those wrong motives are almost always centered around SELF.

I listed strong personal preferences as one of the motives that often gets us in trouble. It’s in the list because I know this particular fault very, very well. You might say my opinions were my personal pets. I fed them. I nurtured them. I walked them around the neighborhood. I adored their beauty, and I prized them above most others’ pets…I mean opinions.

I had opinions about anything and everything. All you had to do was ask (and sometimes they flowed freely without asking)!

One day, my friend Anne shared something God had whispered in her heart during her quiet time. “Anne,” God said, “your opinion blocks My revelation.”

Oh my. Let’s try that one on for size again.

Your opinion blocks My Revelation. ~God (Click here to Tweet)

Let’s unpack a little by looking at definition of two key words:

Opinion= a belief or judgment based on grounds insufficient to produce certainty, a personal appraisal

Revelation=God’s revealing or disclosing of something not before realized

In the selfish motives of my heart, I can cling to my much beloved, shaky personal appraisal, OR I can let my opinion go  in order to have God Himself reveal or disclose something to me I’ve never seen before.

Anne’s sharing of what God had spoken to her rocked my world. Each time I opened my mouth to share an opinion, the words rang personalized through my mind, “Amy, your opinion blocks My revelation.” Suddenly, that phrase began to be a check for the motives of my heart. Did I love my thoughts more than God’s thoughts even though scripture is clear that His are higher than mine? Did I prefer to spout my preferences rather than humbling myself to embrace someone else’s? Did I value my choice of rug color, music, fashion (fill in the blank with your strongly held preference) more than peace with those around me?

In the process of learning to un-mix my motives, I’m learning to release my opinions so I can receive the blessing of grasping God’s lessons as He turns up the heat to purify my deceitful heart.

 

 

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You’re Here

The twinkle of my Christmas tree in the dark hours of the morning…

The promise of Christmas Eve with my church family…

The anticipation of watching the boys’ eyes light up when opening their gifts…

The music…

There are so many things that reach into the recesses of my heart this time of year and prime the pump for joy. JOY. Full, abundant and delightful!

This is the time of year that we get to center on the gift of Jesus, and we take time to savor all the gifts we’ve been given. I’m too overcome for many words this morning, but my heart is overflowing. Here’s a new song I heard this year that expresses it all through the eyes of Mary, Jesus’ mother.

Close your eyes. Center your heart and mind, and savor the beauty.  Merry Christmas to you, my friends!


(Subscribers, you can click on the title to go to the website to watch and listen.)

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