Friday, November 10, 2017

Purpose and Vison

What do you think of when you think of your purpose?


Do you think of it in terms of what you want to do or what makes you happy?  Or, do you think of it in terms of God's purpose for your life.  His vision uniquely created just for you?


Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)*

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Time and time again, I go on a "search" cycle for my vision...what am I to do next...what is wrong about what I am doing that I want to change into something that is "righter" (yes, not a word, but funny just the same). 


This morning I realized that I am looking at this the wrong way.  My vision doesn't matter at all.  It is God's vision that is most important.  Instead of looking for books and articles that will help me explore my future, I am going to let God tell me what he has planned for me. 


Will this be easy?
Will he be loud and tell me exactly what to do?


No and no...


1 Kings 19:11-13New International Version (NIV)*

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”


It will be His gentle whisper that will guide me.  We must work to hear the gentle whisper. 


Yesterday I was dialed in for a call and the sound quality was very poor.  Admittedly, I usually listen in on this call while multi-tasking with other things.  Yesterday I could not.  Yesterday I had to focus my ears specifically on the call so that I could hear every word.  If I turned my head, I missed all that was being said.  The information was important.  If I had been focused on other things, I would have missed some important information and been unable to share in the joy of a co-worker as she told her story of recent success. 


We must work to hear the gentle whisper.


The gentle whisper will tell me God's vision.  My vision doesn't matter.  Only the plans He has for me matter. 


This is not easy, but it is essential to honor my Master and Lord Adonai.


Lord, I pray to hear you through the wind and earthquakes and fires of this world.  I ask that you show me the next step.  The one that I can take to continue on Your path.  I trust You even though I don't understand.  Your Peace will guide me.  It passes all understanding.  Lord I thank You for the ability to focus on Your still small voice and wait expectantly for all of the wonderful things You will do next in my life.  Amen.


(*bible quotes sourced from www.biblegateway.com)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Trial with Inductive Bible Study

Have you heard of Inductive Bible Study?  I first heard about it in a group I am in for clergy spouses.
 
Inductive Bible Study is an "investigative approach to the Bible using three basic components:  Observation, Interpretation and Application" (http://precept.org/know-gods-word)





I was seeking a new way to study The Word that would bring me some further insight into the Bible itself v. just reading a story.  I had tried several times over the year to read the bible cover to cover.  I have several One Year Bibles and so many "plans" it is obnoxious.  The latest I ever got was to Psalms. 


Recently I realized that there were so many things I had read in the Old Testament but because I start at Genesis every time, I never got to Proverbs, the Prophets or anything in the New Testament.  And, although I have done studies that cover these areas of the Bible, I just didn't have anything really in depth.


This was troubling to me.  I wanted to know...God was giving me a hunger for His Word. 


I posted on Facebook if anyone used this method and got a few really good responses.  I was further intrigued. 


In looking at the website for Precept Ministries (http://precept.org) I found a really good resource on "getting started" and selected the book "Lord, Teach me to Study the Bible in 28 Days".  Note this is intended to Teach the method of studying in 28 days, not to study the entire bible in 28 days!!

I just finished Day 24 (21 days to form a habit right :))


I have learned that the Word is alive, it is relevant and it is the #1 way God speaks directly to me...


I can't wait to study more!


I remembered that as I was studying this book I had a book that I picked up from my Emmaus Walk in 2008 that, when we were moving, I kept knowing I wanted to do the study.  Incidentally it is a book in the same "Lord" series by Precept.  "Lord, I want to know You" and it teaches the different names of God used through the Bible. 
It is a 42 day study and I start it next week!!


Lord, I Want to Know You: A Devotional Study on the Names of God




Our Bible Study Group at Church is also doing an Inductive Study in the 40 Minute No Homework Series.  This series allows the group to get together once a week and study with no extra work in between!  Perfect for the busy ladies in our church for sure :)  And, with a variety of topics in the series, we are bound to have many months of topics to pick from!






You can find these books on Amazon or on the Precept store.


**I was not paid for this but I was convicted by God to share this opportunity for you to deepen your relationship with Him through this study method

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Chapter...One Month Later

Some things are the same...some things are drastically different.


Some days I roll with the punches and embrace the new....some days I feel like a fish out of water.


Some times I am confident...some times I am unsure if I have what it takes.


Some moments are all talk and no action...some moments are all action and not talk.


I try to think things through without getting overwhelmed.  I work to remember that God has this and that He has big plans for me that involve this path.  That He will equip the called and that I don't have to know everything to step ahead to the next stone in the path of life. 


I get attacked by the enemy... a lot!!  I see victory in this because it means that when I am doing things they are things that God has planned.  But it hurts...it is hard...some days I just fall short and succumb to the unfortunate nagging of the devil himself.  I rebuke him...cry out to God to put up a shield...


I must remain strong even when I don't feel like it.  I must move ahead even though I feel like I fall way short.  I must not listen to the enemy who may have power but no authority in my life.  It is my choice to respond to the sneaky ways of the enemy.  I must choose only God.


I make mistakes...I ask for forgiveness...I work to forgive myself. 


I listen to praise and worship songs.  I read the Word. 


I try to focus on that one tiny next step that God has placed before me.  I try not to look up and to the sides and all around and realize that I am walking on water.  I don't want to sink.  Just one step ahead...only one...the only one I need.


He is the only One I  need.


Jesus....just Jesus.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Life and Top Gun

A month ago I lost my father.  He battled a long time with a terrible disease called Multiple System Atrophy (MSA).  The loss has been hard even though I know that he is in Heaven and is no longer in pain.  Somehow, even knowing that he is no longer in pain and is with our Jesus in heaven, there is nothing that can prepare anyone for the individual experience of being left behind.

The other day I was having one of the down moments of the ups and downs I experience daily now as I work through the grieving process.  All I could think of was the part in Top Gun where Maverick is distraught after Goose dies.  All I can remember thinking is that I am desperate to get to the point in the movie where "Maverick is re-engaging...".

I am praying to re-engage....I have had some moments where I am firing on all cylinders, and then I hit a backfire.  I run out of energy.  I lose focus.  Nothing is important.

I guess even at the point where Maverick re-engaged, he still had to take a minute afterward to silently say goodbye to Goose when he threw his dog tags in the sea.  Maverick's re-engagement wasn't permanent...but it was a big step.

I think I need to find a way to re-engage intentionally knowing that at some point the habit of engagement will be established and I'll find that lovin' feeling again....

It's the little things...

Friday, May 27, 2016

100 Dreams

I recently read a blog post.  I think it was by Laura Vanderkam but I am not sure.  In it she was suggesting a book called Playing Big (I am reading now and am fascinated by it).  In addition to the book she talked about an exercise of doing a list of 100 Dreams.  I took her up on the challenge.

I was hard.

Harder than I thought.

I mean really, 100 things doesn't seem that much, but when you are trying to think of things you haven't done that you want to do, it can get a bit tougher.  I got through about 30 before I really had to think, but I re-read this list today.  A month later, a crazy month at that, and I just marveled about the things that I put in there.  Things that are fun and totally achievable.  Things that make me smile.

I suggest to anyone to make a list of 100 Dreams.  Write it out, refer to it when you need a smile or motivation and work to cross those babies off!

(I am working on one just now...Write at least one blog post per week!)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Controlling the Uncontrollable

How do you control that feeling when you feel like you want to control something that is not in your control?

Wow.  That is a loaded question when I read it written out like that.  I think that the key differentiation lies in the action around the word "control".

I know I can't control everything.  Primarily because that is not my God given purpose, but also because I shouldn't.  I have lived 38 years of experiences that are my own only.  I have expertise in some areas, I know enough to be dangerous in others and I am flat our ignorant on all the rest.  Me controlling everything would create too many problems and I would probably explode with anxiety resulting over what actions I did or did not take attempting to control things.

Controlling everything is not an option.

What can I control?  Well, really the only thing I can control when it comes down to it is myself.  My actions and emotions are mine alone.  My actions and emotions are impacted by others and experiences.  I seek to be guided by God.  He gave me free will to own my actions and emotions.  His teachings guide my decisions and create a foundation of morals and beliefs that make me who I am.

I am enough for me to control.

There are 168 hours in a week and every one of those (with the exception of when I am sleeping) gives me an opportunity to decide my action and emotions.  Wasting time in the wilderness of worry was a big time suck in my past and I have since improved greatly; however, sometimes the question that I first posed above taunts me and I find it hard to return to center.

Eventually to answer that question takes defining what it is that is causing me to be in the wilderness of worry and to lay out some choices.  How do I weed out the choices?  I first ask which ones require work by others to play out and throw those out or add actions that I can take to help (talking to someone, asking them to help, etc.).  Ultimately the choices have to consist of my next action, not someone else's.  Secondly, I think through the results of taking that action or proceeding with that emotional decision and determine that some are not workable or desirable to solving the problem (not just a band-aid) and throw them out.  Third, I take the top choices and ask what is the worst that could happen and ultimately make a choice from there.

Sometimes the best choice is to take a minute, take a deep breath (the action), smile (another action), write down my feelings on scrap paper and rip them up to say goodbye to them (the action mixes with emotion) and decide right then and there that I am going to be thankful and grateful (two awesome emotions) for the ability to even have a decision and make the choice to move forward in service to the world eager to help and use the gifts and talents that I have been given to make a difference for someone else.

It is not really about me anyway.  It really isn't even about the other person in the end either.  At the end of the day it is about serving others through the love and grace of Jesus Christ and that makes me smile.

Ashli

Monday, May 19, 2014

Creative Outlet

We all need a creative outlet.  Something, or in some cases a few things, that allow us to separate from the day to day of our job and even parenting or connect with our own creative nature.  Even if you are tasked to be creative for work or if you are creative as a homeschooling parent, there is still a need for a creative outlet.

Creative outlets can come in many forms.  They may be quickly accessed and only take a few minutes to tap into, or they may be planned longer term and take time away to fully experience.  I think that there is a need for both.  Some examples of my creative outlets are:


  1. When I have 5 minutes - I keep a coloring book and colored pencils at my desk at work and take it out sometimes when I have hit a block and need a quick escape into something totally unrelated to anything.
  2. When I need an hour - Every 2 weeks, a group of co-workers and I meet in a conference room to knit or crochet for charity or personal projects.  Sometimes work is a topic so it truly isn't a complete separation; however, it does allow my hands and eyes to escape from the computer and keyboard for an hour and to connect with some co-workers I don't see too often.
  3. As a daily reprieve - I crochet/knit at home on a nightly basis.  Each night I try to do a few rows and relax as I move from day to evening.  I like to crochet/knit for charity and being able to think of the opportunity to give something to someone I don't know puts a smile on my face as I hope it will do to theirs.  
  4. When I want to retreat - I have been known to lock myself up in my room with a day of Netflix and some yarn to just knit/crochet the day away.  I have a friend who recently visited Brown County, Indiana and rented a cabin there for a weekend.  I am  hopeful that I will find the time to perhaps explore this as a creative retreat overnight someday soon.  
A couple of "rules".  Although there are really no rules to creativity, there are a couple of helpful things that I have found to keep the "habit" of creativity active in my life.

  1. Portability - it is important that at least some the tools of creativity are portable to meet the needs of  life.  I am not always in the same place at the same time every day so having a portable option ensures that when I need a creative break, I have something that I can take along wherever I may be going.
  2. Accessibility - "Out of sight, Out of mind" definitely applies with creativity.  I need to be able to see and quickly get to my creative tools or I risk getting out of the habit.
  3. Form a Habit - at the risk of making it sound like a "job" or a "task", work at the beginning to form a habit of creativity so that you will be able to look forward to the moment and get in and out of it quickly.  This way, when you are in creative mode, you can truly enjoy the moment or moments that you get.

Writing this blog entry today was a creative outlet to me.  I now feel happy to return to work a more focused and productive person.

Enjoy your day!

Ashli