"The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength" . Amen to that. I am going to make this short today, but at least the "bad blogger" in me showed up. :) When I think of this verse, I am reminded of a complement someone once gave me.
I love to study God's word. Even though I battle with the time to (or time management), like everyone else. I've been told I'm a good Bible Study teacher. I don't see it. I feel it's more like me discovering stuff for myself and then going "hey, did you know ___________? I didn't!!" Apparently, that works.
Once I was at church, studying for a women's retreat I was leading on "joy". I had been there all day. It was a Wednesday and I was coming downstairs to join my church family for dinner. (That might be a Southern thing, but we like it.) I passed a friend in the stairwell. He said "Hey Kristy, you look.........." and he stopped, looked at me (okay...he starred) and took a dramatic pause. Alright, more like a long, uncomfortable pause. I was beginning to wonder what he was going to say. Did I look tired, sick, awful, beautiful, deadly, what? How did a look? And then he said with a smile..."Why, you look joyful!" (He seemed surprised.) Then he turned and left me there all by myself, in the stairwell of my church, pondering what a "joyful" person looked like. I'm still not sure I know.
I took it as a complement. Actually, it's one of my favorite complements ever! Psalm 16:11 says "you will fill me with JOY in your presence". Being in the presence of God can and does make one joyful. I had spent all day with God. I guess it showed in my face. (I envision Charlton Heston in the "10 Commandments" coming down from the mountain with his face all aglow...I know I can be a bit dramatic.)
And God's joy is our strength. Even for a "bad blogger" like me.
Friday, May 23, 2014
"The Power of Encouragement", what a topic!!!! This is the topic for our (in)courage link up today. (in)Courage has already encouraged me to not be “a bad blogger”. I've done more blogs this year than in the last two—combined. (Read below if you can’t relate to the "bad blogger" image.)
Can I just say that I have never thought of myself as an encourager or even a “positive” thinker. I know the power of God and the power of trusting in His word, but God did not make me a natural born encourager.
As a matter of fact, I’m the girl that can find that cloud with a rainstorm that will turn into a hurricane before I’m the girl that finds the silver lining any day. Some may call that “negative thinking” but I call it reality.
That’s just the way I roll.
I have that snarky, curt, quick, in your face sense of humor and as a comedian, it has served me well. As an encourager, not so much!
But I struggle with the positives. I struggle with encouragement.
It is not my spiritual gift.
Yet I find myself in middle of “encouragement”. Lately others have been so encouraging to me. Encouraging me about things I never thought I was very good at. And I have tried to encourage others. If I see something I like, such as a purse, a book, a haircut, or accessory; I have been complementing people. I found myself in the emergency room last week and I found myself “encouraging” every nurse that stuck me with a needle and didn't make me cry. (I have “bad” veins, the kind the roll, hide and collapse and I don’t cry easily so the “snarky” in me resisted that a bit.) But one nurse told me, “Thanks, I’m kind of new at this. I try not to hurt people.” I replied, “Well, you are in the right job sister”. It was nice to see her smile, even if it was 4:30 in the am.
There is power in encouragement.
Something I am learning to do better. Don’t worry, I’m sure there will still be a part of the snarky, in your face, bad blogger in me from time to time. But hopefully it will be followed by an encouraging word or two.
Romans 12:8a in the NIV says “if it is to encourage, then give encouragement…” I say, if it’s not your gift, and it is SO NOT MINE, try anyway. It is powerful just the same.
Monday, May 19, 2014
About 18 months ago, I joined an on-line community called (in)courage. http://www.incourage.me/
I’m not sure how I found them or how I actually got involved. I just know that I did and that I am so glad that I did. At first, I just received their blogs by email. Now, you may know, I am a bad blogger. I completely envy those who can seem to accomplish this task with ease and grace. To be honest, after reading their blogs, I know that there is nothing easy about accomplishing this task and that it is only because of God’s grace that they (or we or I) ever get anything worthwhile done. Being part of this community has been a wonderful experience.
Last year I was an “emergency host” for their (in)Real Life Conference and this year I was a “real” host. (I guess if I were to stick with the theme, I would be an (in)Real Host.) I so enjoyed hearing the stories from the keynote leaders and from the ladies that attended this year’s retreat at my host site. http://www.incourage.me/inrl-conference
I also have done the (in)Bloom Book club http://www.incourage.me/channel/bloom and two sessions ago joined a community group for single women. What an amazing and unexpected blessing these ladies have become to me. That group has done a book study and a “single” topics study. But I found a safe, encouraging, joyful, community of women that love to laugh and cry with each other no matter how far across the globe.
I am supper excited to be leading a community group for the summer session of 2014. I can’t wait. My co-leader is Michelle Krajecki and you are going to love her. Our group is called (in)Word. (See I can stick with a theme.) http://www.incourage.me/inword
(in)Word is a group for women who love words. A group for women who love The Word and love the words that make up other’s story. The word “inward” means in the mind or soul; mentally or spiritually. This group will be reading a book that help us look inward so that we can make a difference in our outward world. For the summer session 2014 the (in)Word group will be looking at the words of Holley Gerth in her book “You’re Already Amazing”. http://www.dayspring.com/holley_gerth_you_re_already_amazing/
Registration for these groups begins today.
Michelle and I would love to have you join us. So click on this link and register today. http://www.incourage.me/inword
Friday, May 2, 2014
Confessions of a Bad Blogger (Part 2)
I am a bad blogger. There, I said it, yet again. (See post from July 2013, it shouldn’t be hard to find, there were only two in 2013. I told you I was a bad blogger.) I started 2014 off well, with my January blog being done by January 7th. February 28th rolled around and no blog. I blamed it on having three less days that month to accomplish this task. Then March 31st rolled around. I blamed that one on the pollen. It’s April 30th and I still haven’t written that creative, funny, entertaining, life changing blog. Well, let’s be honest, there is still a lot of pollen in the air.
I have even recommended to several of my artist friends (comedians, musicians, photographers, actresses -okay more like “Drama Queens”) to do one simple thing. Take a weekend and write twelve blogs, one for each month. All those ideas you have, just run with it, do nothing else and all you have to do from there is copy, paste and post. Done!!!
I am a bad blogger.
To be honest, I have a hard time journaling. Whatever made me think I could do a blog?
I used to journal all the time. From age 16 to age 26, I was faithful to write in my journal daily. At 26 years of age life changed for me. And I mean changed. Life had just gotten so hard the last thing I wanted to do was remember every single last detail. So I made the decisions to stop writing in my journal. When I was a child we called it a diary. I guess journal sounds a little more spiritual and mature but for me it was allowing me to hang onto anger and resentment and hurt and distrust. I had to walk away from my journal. That was over 23 years ago. I haven’t picked one up since then. Well, not in the traditional meaning of the word. I have a journal that has all my comedy routines in them. (It’s always a good to write that down.) I have a journal that I use for sermon notes. I have a scripture and quotes journal, where I write down verses and sayings that mean a lot to me and encourage me. (I have a LOT of the same scripture written down repeatedly by the way.) And I have a journal that I write in when I do a book study or a word study in scripture and I have a prayer journal. I guess my prayer journal is more like a daily journal than the others I use. The prayer journal has more personal prayers and maybe some events, but not like it used to.
Not writing in a daily journal made me wonder, have a lost part of my story? I don’t think so. I help host and (in)Real Women’s Conference last weekend and I loved hearing everyone stories. Our stories do matter, but my take away from the weekend is that “God wants to be the hero of our story.” And I believe he has done just that for me. By my not “writing” down all those things that have happening, I don’t have a clear memory of them, but the memory of that time period will always be clear to me. Why? Because I don’t remember EVERY detail, but I remember what God did. I remember what He held me through, how He turned something I never thought I would get over into 20 years of laughter. I remember that God my hero. I don’t have to try and be my own. I don’t need to journal that to know that. He has proven it over and over. He also wants to be the author of my story. Hebrews says is the “author and finisher of our faith.” We need to let him write and BE the hero of our story.
Scripture also say in Habakkuk 2:2-“Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald my run with it.” Deuteronomy 3:19 also says “Now down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them.”
Our stories are worth re-telling. They are designed to be a witness and to teach.
So, now I am convicted…I can’ t promise that I can undo this “bad blogger” thing, but I can promise that I can share about my Hero. The one who died on the cross so I didn’t have to. The one who loved me to the point of death and the one whose story is the thread that ties all our stories together.
May this bad blogger always remember that.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
January 6, 2014
In 2012 I didn’t get my New Year’s goal put up until March 29th and in 2013 they didn’t go up until July 24th. At least in 2014, I’m doing them in January. It was one of two blog post in 2012 and one of three blog post in 2013, my last one being “Confessions of a Bad Blogger”, which I am. 2013 was an interesting year. I had three surgical procedures in 2012 but none in 2013. PTL! However, my life seems to always be changing and I don’t mean wall color or carpet cleaning, I mean changing. And it’s usually something I don’t want to happen. This past year has had some unbelievable changes, heart breaking and yet needed. With these came a freedom and a peace like never before.
The last six days have so changed what my “goals” for 2014 where going to be. I have used the same list and updated it for a few years. Mainly because I can’t seem to complete (and sometimes) start any of my goals.
So like many people, I am choosing a ONE WORD this year. (http://www.portcitychurch.org/article/my-one-word-by-mike-ashcraft/). It has become a “movement”, for lack of a better word. The word that keeps coming up in my mind and in my devotions and in my devotional emails and on-line communities has been MORE. I know that is usually not a “Christian” friendly word. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not believe in the “name it and claim it” theology, but I do believe that God can direct us in the way we need to go.
So my word for this year is MORE. My goals for 2014 are…
- MORE of Christ
- MORE love
- MORE blessing
- MORE ministry
- MORE serving
- MORE joy
- MORE praise
- MORE of trusting God
- MORE giving
- MORE receiving
- MORE laughter
- MORE of God
Mathew 6:25-26-“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; for about your body, what you will wear. Is not life MORE than food, and the body MORE than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much MORE valuable than they?”
I have lived so much of the last seven years in LESS. Less of life, I have worried over food and housing and income and clothes and ministry and so many things. Some of the less, I had no control of; some of it was all me. So I step out on faith for MORE, mainly more of Christ and getting closer to God. And, as the first six days of 2014, has already shown me my life has been MORE than I had realized.
Having said that, I am still trying to finish one or MORE of those Beth Moore Bible Studies that I have started over the last 20 years, after all my word for the year is MORE. (See what I did there MORE/ MOORE. I know puns are a no-no in stand-up comedy but I just saw that.) Two years ago, I had 15 to finish; now it’s just 14. Shocked! Remember I told you I’m bad at goals. Maybe I can handle ONE WORD.
Whatever your goals or your “word” may be for 2014, remember this, you are MORE valuable to God than that anything that makes you feel “less” in your life. Praying that 2014 will be MORE than you, or I, can even imagine. Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably MORE than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us.”
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I am a bad blogger. I have been to blogging seminars and they have taught me the importance of blogging on a regular basis. Twice a year on random dates is not what they have in mind. So I have decided to be more faithful to this, if nothing else but for my own creative purposes. I have one person subscribed to this blog and no comments. It’s okay!
Sadly this post is about my 2013 goals. Well, at least 2013 is not over yet. I actually, I thought that last year was a pretty good year until I went to my eye doctor last December. She asked me about my year and I told her about surgery, being sick ½ of last year, a few family things and she said to me “my goodness, you have had a rough year.” I thought “compared to the previous five, this year was a walk in the park”. Her comment took me by surprise.
I guess everything in life is a matter of perspective…where you’re coming from, where you’ve been and where you’re going. 2013 didn’t start to well either; I had EVERY bug and was basically sick for the first two and a half months, but thankful that wasn’t as serious as last year.
My goals for this year haven’t changed much. #3 is new and #2 is updated. (Sometimes a good list is a just a good list.) So here they are:
10. Walk four times a week-(Apparently I forgot about this one so far.)
9. Prayer Art- (basically a creative prayer party with friends.)
8. A.R.K.-Acts of Random Kindness (anyone know what movie this is from?)
7. Laugh More- (Duh?)
6. No clothes on floor (I am so good at this now. I hate to bend over and pick stuff up.)
5. Spend time with friends. (Have done more of this.)
4. Spend time with God in creative ways. (Been doing more of this as well. But that is a different blog post.)
3. JOY- (It’s my word this year.)
2. Finish 1 of the 14 Beth Moore Bible Studies I started. (Last year it was one of 15. (I am only 2 days away from finishing one of the original 15 so I am counting it.)
1. Praise Him Anyway
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Do you have a favorite 4th of July memory? I have several. In 1999 I spent a summer running a children’s camp in intercity Philadelphia. There is nothing like a 4th of July Celebration in the city where our nations forefathers debated, toiled and set up the documents that established our country as a place of freedom. There was lots of fanfare. Things like a retelling of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, actors dressed in the time period costumes and patriotic music played next to the Liberty Bell. Not to mention fireworks. It was an exciting and memorable place to be on the 4th of July.
However, this is not my most memorable 4th of July. Mine was in Omaha, Nebraska in 1986. I was a summer missionary for the Kansas/Nebraska Baptist Convention. My partner, Zoe Stroman Trip and I, spent the summer moving around a lot. But during the week of July 4th we were at a church in Omaha. We arrived on Saturday to be told that VBS was on Monday. NOTHING had been done. No teachers, no crafts, nothing. To be honest I was a little concerned, so much so I forgot that the next day was July 4th.
So on the 4th of July, our host family took us to church. We were, well I was, completely absorb with getting VBS together. As we walked into the service, I was wishing I could have skipped it and work on VBS. We had about 50 kids coming the next day and so much to do.
As the service began, I was drawn into it. I don’t remember every detail, I just remember the choir. There were more men than women, which is so unusual. They began to sing patriotic songs. I was mesmerized. Not so much by the music as by the emotion.
You see, this town was a military town. Most of the people in this area worked or were in the service at Offutt Air Force Base. Most of the men in the choir were in the Air Force. As this choir began to sing, I watched grown men cry. They sang “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner”. I really don’t remember if the signing was good. But I do remember it was wonderful.
The church had decided to let service men give a word of “testimony” for the service. Men and women, one after the other, talked about what it meant to them to serve our country. It’s been almost 30 years and I don’t remember one single word. I just remember the commitment. The love for our country. The clear calling on their life to protect freedom, to protect America, to protect me.
I think of that day, at least for a fleeting second, every Independence Day. One of the reasons I remember this is a gift the friends we made there gave us. We had to be very flexible that summer. So many of the churches that were supposed to “host” us failed to plan accordingly and Zoe and I would end up in that same town outside of Omaha for most of the summer. Each time we would arrive back our friends would say we were “winging” it. Going with the flow. Taking a change of orders and plans in stride. The called it “earning our wings.” So as the summer came to a close, we were awarded our “wings”. (Pictured below.) And may I say “undeservedly so”. These are Air Force wings. I cherish them, but I know that those men and women, who wear them daily, deserve them way more than me.
I currently live in a military community. Fort Jackson, an Army base, is just on the other side of town. To see men and women in uniform, and since Fort Jackson does a lot of basic training, to see such young men and women is not uncommon. So much so, that it is just the norm for us. How I take them for granted. If only I could remember to say thank you or to say a prayer for them as they pass by.
So this Independence Day, as you eat your hamburgers and hot dogs and go to incredible fireworks display, remember those who have “earned their wings”. Remember those who have given and are currently giving their lives in service so that we might be free. And when you hear the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” may is sound wonderful to you.