Lovin’ Summer

“So, what did you do on your summer vacation?”  There was a time I didn’t like thIMG_0353is question.  This year, I’m eager to answer!  What did I do?  Well …

My Word for 2014 is Focus; my summer was spent developing my focus.  My focus commitment is 4-fold:

  • God
  • my family
  • what’s important
  • my health

 

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Excerpts from Unglued, Believing God, The Carpenter, AHA, Gods at War, Love Does, & Not a Fan

My heart’s desire is to be Jesus’ hands & feet to those around me.  I’ve been devouring a lot of books this year which focus on being a strong follower (as opposed to a fan) of Jesus.

I’m so thankful for this time in the mornings and evenings to read and marinate in the Word … time without constraints to read and study passages of Scripture and glean truth.  Time to read … just read.

I’m not sure if it’s my desire or if it’s Holy Spirit inspired, but I believe I should be sharing this knowledge instead of hoarding it.

Time to move into the application phase!

How will I do this?  Lead a Bible study? Minister to my neighbors? Head out on a mission trip over Spring Break next year or next summer? All of these, none of these … I have no idea.  What I do know is I am committed to focusing on the important.

Digging into the Word is important.  So is my family.

Hub and I continue to believe we are called to be parents and are praying about plans to expand our family.  Will we be more than a family of two humans and three dogs next summer?  Again, no idea.  We’ve been waiting for almost 30 years to be parents, so our answer is: we both hope so!  In the meantime …

IMG_1261Hub and I were able to coordinate our schedules and head out of town for a couple trips this summer.  These were places we were able to head to and return from on a tank of gas.  We had a great time together, even when things didn’t go exactly as planned.  The important fact was we were spending time together which is something we’re not really able to do during our “normal” life.

I got to spend time with my family and even managed to squeak out a win over my intelligent & talented niece when we played this:

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To her credit, she did win one game

 

 

I couldn’t resist laughing when she commented, “I can’t believe I’m actually playing this against a TEACHER!”

 

 

Hub & I have lived in this house for over a decade and there are things we’ve dreamed of doing in the home-improvement department for quite a while now.  I decided to surprise him and begin working on one of those projects on the 4th of July.

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“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6 (NIV)

It’s not done but “in progress.”  I still have a few things I’d like to do before I can call the project complete.  And I like it that way for now because it’s a tangible illustration of how I am in His hands.  I was overgrown with lots of mess in my life before God began working on me.  He’s had to cut a lot of dead wood and overgrowth out of me and I can say with confidence He won’t be done pruning and shaping me until I cross that finish line at the end of my life.  My joy is anticipating the moment I’ll hear Him proclaim, “Well done!”

 

 

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Sunflowers in Gruene

Summer vacations for educators aren’t ever complete without the requisite doctor appointments we schedule so we don’t miss time from our students and staff.  I found a field of these outside my doctor’s office on a recent visit.  It was a nice opportunity to take the time and snap some pictures before heading home.

What did I do on my summer vacation?  A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

And a whole lot of focusing on what is important: God, family, faith

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Planted by streams of water

Once upon a time, I had a student in my first period class.  Okay, I had several students in that particular first period class; thankfully, there was only one Bud (not his real name).  I had a habit of locking my classroom door in the mornings I didn’t tutor before school in order to grab a few last moments to “prep” for the day without any interruptions.  I forgot to unlock my door one day and began presenting that day’s lesson.  Bud, a high school senior, attempted to unobtrusively sneak into class but was stopped by the locked door.  What happened next not only disrupted every classroom on my hallway, but created a memory I don’t think I’ll ever forget:

He banged on the door with both fists shouting, “LET ME IN!  I WANT TO LEARN!”

I shared my heart with my Lifegroup sisters recently about my desire to not just exist, but to Live. I don’t believe I, or anyone, is called to live a lifeless routine of working and sleeping. And yet, this is exactly what I’ve been doing.

My heart’s desire is to move beyond existing to living.  We talked about what it means to live and then discussed Casting Crowns’ song, “Thrive” and what it means to thrive.  I don’t know why, but I didn’t have a clear grasp of what the word, thrive, meant.  After arriving home, I cracked open my digital dictionary and noted the definition: to prosper and flourish; to grow; to develop well.

While the dictionary definition shed some insight, I knew … just KNEW … there was more so I checked out the “story behind the song” to dig deeper to find it’s scriptural foundation.  I am thankful I did!

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for it’s leaves remain green, and it is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. – Psalm 1 (NIV)

[emphasis mine]

I want to be like that!  To be like a tree planted by streams of water, my roots digging deep and drinking continually from the everlasting water of God’s Word!

The result of all this digging and drinking? Reaching out!  That’s the other desire of my heart: to share Christ with my community … my neighborhood, my colleagues.  To “be there,” to be an encourager. I believe the Lord is confirming some things for me and I’m excited!  For now, I’ll keep drinking deeply from the Word.  I can’t wait to see what He’s got in store for me!

Bud has long since graduated and moved on with his life.  His declaration, altered slightly, is now my fervent plea:

I WANT TO THRIVE!

It’s a “Heart” thing

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For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. ~ Rom 10:10

Isn’t it amazing how, when you buy a new car, suddenly everywhere you look you see your make and model?  That’s what this past week has been like for me.

My Lifegroup has begun a Rick Warren Bible study and, in the midst of our conversations and emails amongst ourselves, the matter of the “heart” has come up.  I, quite interestingly, have noticed I’ve become hypersensitive to anything relating to the heart while I’ve been in the Word these past several days.

Below are a few “heart sightings” I’ve had:

  • the goal of instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5)
  • when asked what He believed the greatest commandment to be, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
  • set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

Today’s Quiet Time has me shouting from the rooftops because, in the midst of my scribbling out today’s PRONOUNCE IT verse, this is where the Spirit has led me:

From this: “be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 1:6

To this: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19, 20

Yes, this is the “Great Commission.”  No, neither verse speaks directly about the heart.

But it is the desire of my heart.  (Ps. 37:4)

He’s called me to share my heart and His Word with other women.

It’s amazing how He has taken a wistful prayer to go to seminary to study His Word and transformed it into a burning desire to be in the midst of a group of women as we pour our hearts into learning from the Word.

To be very truthful, I’m anxious.  I have been happily content working with the junior high girls this year and am looking forward to another awesome year with them when we start back in September.

No sooner do I start feeling anxious than He brings me to passages like Philippians 1:6 and Matthew 28:20.  Breaking it down to the brass tacks of it, it’s like He’s wrapping Himself around me speaking straight to my heart, “No worries, Lisa.  I got this.”

My gracious, God is good.

A Walk & The Word

There a was time in the not-too-distant past (read January/February timeframe) that I felt a “tug” beginning to pull at my heart.

I remember a conversation I had with a sweet friend after Bible study that evening.  She and I both volunteer with the youth at our church: she with the senior high girls, I am blessed with the junior high girls.

Our conversation shifted from the topic of our Bible study to our girls and how much of the studies and lessons that are taught to children and youths center on Bible stories more than focusing on the Word as a whole.  We talked about how many Christians are good at recalling stories from the Bible but how many of us truly study the Word to study the Word in its entirety, book by book?

I think that’s where the “tug” truly began.  I shared with the sweet ladies I was volunteering with on Sunday evenings that I was sensing the Lord’s leading for us to focus on a book of the Bible, not topical studies as we had been doing for most of the year.  So then began the quandary: are there book studies written for junior high school-age girls?  We never found one.  If you find one, please share!

What began as a tug to focus on a book study with my girls then progressed to a genuine need for me to find one for my own spiritual growth.  To my dismay, there aren’t any offerings in the area.

To my astonishment, Hub and two of my friends looked at me and said, “Why don’t you lead one?”

Talk about  a jolt … a whiplash moment … you name it.  I was shocked, humbled, scared.

You mean … me? I should lead a Bible study?  For women?

Surely the Lord was toying with me.

After all, I’ve never been to seminary.  I had only recently begun walking again with the Lord and my limited knowledge of the Word is still rusty … shaky at best.  I’m not biblically scholarly in any way, shape, or form!

So I did what most Christians do: I politely told my husband and my friends that I’d “pray about it.”  For most, that’s code for “Ain’t no way!”

Truthfully, I did pray about it.  I prayed that He would provide a study for me to go to at one of the churches in my area;  I prayed that one of my friends would be called to lead a study.

And the more I prayed about it, the more I realized that He wasn’t going to let it go.  He was slowly, surely, persistently fulfilling the desire of my heart: to bask and dwell in His Word and to share that time with other women.

My prayers have changed over the past couple of months.  From begging Him for a study to go to, where I could “sit & soak,” to asking Him to use this cracked and messy vessel and share His Good News with the women in my community.

So then I asked my friends to pray for clarity on the details of the study.  Where was I supposed to do this?  At my house? If it was at my house, oh boy I’m going to need to do some serious deep cleaning!  At church?  If it’s at church, do I need to get pastor’s blessing?  Will I have to turn in a syllabus, sign a contract?  And when was this going to take place?  What book was I going to study?  Oh gosh, what about snacks????

As soon as I asked for clarity, the Lord revealed to me that I was overthinking this.  Go figure! 😀  Once I managed to kick myself off the throne and let Him take over the planning, I was in awe.  He is so amazing that way!

It combines two of my loves: walking and the Word.

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know that I’m a walker.  I may attempt running every now and then and who doesn’t love a good bike ride or hard session in the pool swimming laps to decompress? My favorite cardio workout of choice, however, is walking.  Just slip on a pair of running shoes, harness up the poochies, head out the door!

A few women have asked what book we are going to study.  That, amazingly, took absolutely no thought at all: our senior pastor and youth pastor on several occasions had stated that if you’re going to start somewhere, start with John.

So there it is:  A Walk & The Word

Our journey begins on August 3rd.  I hope you’ll join me.