Blessings these Weeks: 07.22.16 and 07.29.16

"Gratitude puts anger in it's place every time... My problems don't go away, but my perspective changes." --Melanie Dale, (affiliate link) It's Not Fair

These past two weeks, there have been lots of reasons to be angry. My job is demanding and people are inconsiderate and sometimes just plain mean. I'm not getting enough sleep. I'm not finding enough rest. I'm worn and tired and just plain crabby.

Today, before I got in the car to go to work, I stood on my porch and listened to the stillness and the neighbor's cattle mooing in the distance. About two seconds.

Thank You for the mooing cows, the dew on the grass, this morning. 

Two seconds.

And the perspective changes and God is good and He's got this.

This is why I count blessings. 


The Important Thing

I try not to pick favorites... but... I have a couple favorites. (Don't tell all the others.)

I stood at the check-in desk in the warm summer sunshine, and watched with a big smile as she got out of the vehicle.

She is one of my favorite campers.

Vibrant, kind, laid-back, and just a fun-to-be-around person. Her family's first summer at the Family Camp where I work was also my first summer, and somehow, that made us instant friends. The week when they come to the Bible Camp where I work is always my favorite week of the summer.

We greeted each other with a big hug, just like we've done for four summers, now.

And then she said it.

"We thought you might be pregnant..." 

I didn't expect it, honestly.

It's been years that we've been on this journey, and I'm coming to terms with our misfortune (slowly). It doesn't hurt as sharply as it used to, most of the time. But this one surprised me.

It wasn't really the infertility that hurt this time-- it was something else.

She was affirming a whisper, a voice in the vulnerable parts of my soul. A voice that I've been rejecting as strongly as I can.

See. hidden beneath her question, I heard the unspoken comment she was making.

Children are the important thing. 

It's a common narrative, especially in Christian circles. And I think we're mistaken. 

Read the Rest of the Post over at Amateur Nester-->

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16 Tips for Making the Bible A Priority

consistently read bible tips to help prioritize

This past... well, more than a month... I've been sharing with you some thoughts about how we can (and should) make the Bible a priority in our lives.

I have to admit, I'm kind of a terrible failure when it comes to consistent time in the Word. I've preached these past few months to myself as I've typed my thoughts out to you.

I know that I don't know everything (or even a lot) about this topic-- the more voices joining together to bring inspiration, tips, tricks, and encouragement, the better. 

So I asked my fellow Christian blogger friends to chime in and give us their tips for a more consistent Bible reading practice. Here you have it! 


Stubborn Independence

There is a row of  rag-tag "pots" lining the porch, containing what my husband calls my "ten year tree plan."

I use the term "pots" loosely because, well, they're really industrial-sized aluminum cans that once held excessive amounts of green beans. Because we work at a Bible Camp.

I've talked about my little trees here, before (when they sprouted and also a week later when they grew little leaves), and then I really didn't say much else.

My venture into tree growing isn't really that much of a story to tell, actually.

I decided that I wanted some fruit trees around our little acreage. So when my in-laws gave us apples from their trees, I kept several seeds. We got a couple pears from the grocery store, and I kept a couple seeds from those, too.

The seeds, folded into a wet paper towel, spent the winter in our fridge in zip-lock baggies until they started to sprout.. and then I planted them in a little potting soil. Someday soon, we'll plant them in the ground around our place, and hopefully, they'll grow.

It's not a ground-breaking story. But my little ten year tree plan reminds me of something about myself:

I am stubborn. 


Just Read It.


"I just can't find the time."

Her excuse sounded just like mine, and I nodded my head in agreement and solidarity. Time. It's a huge killer of consistent Bible reading.

"I mean," she continued, "if I don't have at least an hour to read and cross-reference, highlight and make notes, and then consult a commentary, then what's the point of reading my Bible?"

I glanced at her from the corner of my eye. I don't think I've ever done all that in one sitting.

I struggle to just get the glided pages open in front me. Throw multiple colored pens into the mix and I'm totally out.

And it got me thinking-- is my Bible time insignificant because I don't do all that? Does simply reading the Bible pale in comparison to really studying it?


Blessings this Week: 07.15.2016

After another busy week, I feel like I'm grasping for blessings.

It's not a matter of God not giving them-- the problem is that I'm so busy looking at issues and focusing on tasks that I just don't see them.

I have to gasp, sometimes.

And I think that's okay.

...   ...   ...   ...   ...


Have a Plan for Reading the Bible

have a plan for reading the bible tips

I've been working on this... well, I don't want to call it a diet, because it's not a diet. It's more like a "healthier lifestyle" that means less sugar and more vegetables.

Of course, sugar is way easier to grab than vegetables are. Cookies, donuts, even the wrong type of granola bar fit into the "probably shouldn't have it" category. Quick and easy is usually quick and...  bad for me.

I've found that the most important part of this new lifestyle change is being prepared.

If I know I've got half an avocado in the fridge at work, I'm less likely to grab a bag of pretzels from the dining hall. Planning out meals for the week means that I don't succumb to ordering a pizza (again).

And, I can also plan my "cheats."

A friend of mine says, "Never have an unintentional donut."

I love that.

If I'm going to splurge and eat some sugar, it should be an intentional decision- something I've thought about. So, if I know there are going to be cookies at work, I can make a decision to have one, instead of grabbing one out of a lack of self-control or habit.


Blessings this Week: 07.08.2016 Edition

Talking about blessings in the face of all the evil going on seems... trite. It seems naive. It seems like denying the truth and putting on a happy face and ignoring the gritty realities of this past week.

People are dying, justice is missing, and anger courses through our country this week.

And here I am, talking about blessings. 

It's not because I don't see what's going on. It's not because I live in rural Iowa, and most of my neighbors are white. It's not because I'm in denial.

I'm counting blessings because I believe in a good God. Because I know that fighting for happiness, even in the face of such pain, is the only way to keep rejoicing in Him, and I refuse to let fear or despair win. I'm counting blessings because I don't grieve as one who has no hope. I count because the counting brings the hope, and shows me a small piece of the character of our God who also grieves the events of this past week.

I count blessings because I believe that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

...   ...   ...   ...   ...   


How Accountability Affects my Bible Reading

bible studies reading the bible consistently

There are about twelve ladies out there to whom I attribute most of my Bible reading practice.

You know who you are.

Honestly, before I joined a small group, my Bible study was limited to Sunday mornings and going to chapel services at the camp where I work.

I had no kind of a consistent Bible reading habit, and my time in Scripture was only at the direction of other people.

I'm a social person, and left to my own devices, my Bible sits unopened for weeks at a time. Really. It's happened.


Blessings These Weeks: 06.24.2016 and 07.01.2016

Man alive, it's July already.

I don't know about you, but I feel like this summer has flown on by. I blinked, and it's nearly half over (or, if you're a glass-half-full person, we only have half of it left).

All of the sudden, the seeds I sprinkled over pots are blooming, and I wonder where the time went, anyway.

In taking a moment to notice the flower, though, in taking a a breath and giving thanks for each little thing, I find my days slowing. Becoming intentional, meaningful, filled with purpose.

That's the beauty of finding the blessing.