Week 1: Trust is a Choice

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Are you excited! I am! It’s Day 1, Week 1 of our first Online Bible Study of the year! There is something so refreshing about the feeling of “New.” The new year, a new Bible Study (where I am not falling behind yet), a new journal, some new pens…. all of it makes this nerdy gal happy. As we get started, I want to share with you some things that will help you be successful with an online Bible study. If this is an old hat for you, then please share some of your tips in the comments. If this is your first time, then I just want to help you avoid some of the pitfalls I have fallen into in the past.

Use a real Bible.  

I know that this is the age of digital everything, but there is something so sacred about getting into the Word, physically. It’s not to say that I have never heard from the Lord using my Bible App. But…. I can’t remember the last time that was. More often than not, when I am physically using my Bible, highlighting, underlining, cross referencing, it’s those moments that the Holy Spirit chooses to speak to me. Developing the discipline of getting in the Word on a regular basis, is one of the reasons I lead online Bible Studies. Not only for you, but for me. It helps keep me accountable. Not sure if you need that, but I do. I also think this sets such a good example for our children. (or friends, etc) Seeing you with Bible in hand, instead of your phone, portrays such a powerful example.

Set aside a specific time

(This is the part where your phone comes in really handy). I set a repeat alarm on my phone at a specific time each day, like an appointment. I would love to say that I just automatically get up early and start my day with Jesus. It’s not that I wouldn’t love for my life to be like that, but it isn’t. I fill alot of roles during the day. If I am not intentional about my time, it will be taken from me. That’s part of the reason I do online Bible studies instead of in person ones. I am super busy. In this season of my life, this is what works. But that doesn’t mean it’s automatic.

Worship

At least once a week (I do it on Saturdays) set aside some time for Worship. I like to take some time after I have done the study for the week, and just worship God and think about what He has been teaching me that week. It’s often in those moments that He impresses on my heart the things He wants me to take away in my own life. This can be really powerful. Remember that we are not studying for the sake of acquiring knowledge. (Although that will happen….) We are studying in order to learn from the Word and allow it to change us…… so we can then go change our world.

Get engaged

One of the dangers of online interaction is, well, lack of interaction. It becomes really easy to sit back and remain quiet. In a live Bible study, you are forced to make eye contact and engage, at least somewhat. I am a social butterfly, so for me, that’s never an issue. But for some, it can be really isolating or allow you to fall away quickly without accountability. Don’t let that happen! Stay connected on the facebook page.

(You can do that here  SHE HEARS FACEBOOK PAGE) Comment on the questions. Reply to others. Connection, real connection, can happen online, if you only let it!

Okay, now for the fun stuff!

This week we are going to be studying Kings David, Saul, and Solomon. Have you ever studied them before? They are the most common kings that people recognize, so chances are, you are familiar with them. But let’s commit to taking a look at them with fresh eyes and fresh hearts.

Are you ready?

Here is the Week 1 Intro Session Video from author Lysa Terkeurst: Week 1   There will be another teaching video at the end of the week.

Still waiting on your book?  Here is the download for the first week that you can use while you are waiting for yours to arrive: Book download

Need to order a book still?  You can do that here, and get it super quick:
Trustworthy – Bible Study Book

Make sure you have watched the intro video.  I sent that out yesterday and it’s on the facebook page.  But here is a link, in case you missed it: Trustworthy Intro Video

I will be praying for you this week, especially today as you get started.  Don’t forget to join the conversation, I can’t wait to hear what God is teaching you!

 

Be Blessed!

 

Rach

No Rival, No Equal

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My husband tells a joke to almost all of his patients. They usually ask him if he is married.  After replying that we happily celebrated our tenth anniversary this past year, he tells them that I am Italian and Irish so divorce is not on the table. Murder, however, might be an option.

Although he is joking, he does speak to an important part of my identity. Raised by first generation immigrants, my grandparents, I often refer to my Italian heritage, many times speaking some Italian words as I parent my children. Italians seem to have a sense of pride, much more so than my Irish side of the family. Even though I have blonde hair, burn easily, and had a maiden name that reflected the sheep herding side of my family, it was the Italian side that I identified with the most.

When the ancestry.com package arrived, I was anxious to read about the parts of Europe my family was from. We knew the village from Italy that papa was from, but the Irish side was a little more unclear. As I started to read over my genetic results, I realized quickly that I was unprepared for what I was reading. The surprise wasn’t from the Irish side. Instead it was from the Italian side. Rather, the lack of Italian side. There as only 1% Italian blood running through my veins. I had no idea how this could be possible, as I had a pot of pasta sauce simmering on the stove. What I realized through the results of my DNA testing was that my Italian side of the family were actually wanderers. They were Croatian, Russian, and Greek. Yet several generations lived in the southern part of Italy before coming to America. Very little Italian blood coursed through my veins. As silly as it may sound, this concept rocked my identity. I had grown up visiting the Italian bakery every day for fresh Italian bread. There was an Italian deli that was the only place in town to get the special Italian sausage that we ate every Sunday. We started making pizzelles at the beginning of December in order to pass out to waiting friends and family at Christmas time. Yet, here it was in black and white. The majority of my heritage was not actually Italian.

Any other week, I probably would have responded differently. But this week was one filled with discouragement and I sank into feeling defeated. As I turned off the pasta sauce that was simmering on the stove, I went to the bathroom to cry. I had so much of my identity wrapped up in being Italian, that I didn’t know what it meant to NOT be Italian. Maybe this is not something you can easily relate to, but I bet there have been times in your life that you felt insignificant. Times where your worth was wrapped up in something external. For me, I find myself in this place often. There are times that I feel like I don’t measure up, and the enemy uses those moments to whisper, “just give up.”
This was the place I was in when I began to worship. I was afraid to even say out loud what I was feeling, instead I started to just offer my hurting heart to the one who made it. As I started to sing along to a familiar song, there was a phrase that caught my heart.

You have no rival, no equal.

As I felt the Holy Spirit press these words into my heart, I repeated them back.
Yes, Lord. You have no rival, No equal.

As I did, I was met with the familiar voice of the Father.

You misunderstand, beloved. YOU have no rival, no equal.

Immediately my eyes burned with the tears that overflowed. In a moment, the Lord had spoken to the hurting parts of my heart. He brought to mind several places in the Word that explain what He meant. I sense that He wants you to know this too.
You are made in God’s image.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

As I looked at my daughter, she was sitting on her bed, reading a book and twirling her hair. It’s something I do often. In fact, all my daughters do. My daughters look like me. Do your children look like you? Or do you know people who have children that look like them? Children look like their parents because they have their parents blood running through their veins. The Lord reminded me that as His daughter, I was made in His image.

No rival.

2 The Lord God tolerates no rivals; Nahum 1:2a

I know this. I know that God has no rivals. But I had never considered the fact that because He had no rivals, it also meant I had no rivals. Neither do you.

No equal.

I often teach on a verse from Ephesians 2:10.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

You are His workmanship, there is no one equal to you. He created you uniquely and on purpose.

As I pondered how these words spoke to my aching heart, I realized that these words are not just for me. They are also for you.

You are not what you THINK you are….. defeated….. discouraged.

You are made in God’s image because HE is the one who gave you life. That’s your genetic makeup.

If He has no rival or no equal, then YOU have no rival, no equal.

In a world where we compare and we feel like we don’t measure up, walk in confidence that, you were CREATED, by the very nature of who your creator is, as precious in His sight.

You have No Rival, and No Equal.

Be Blessed.

Rachael

 

I originally wrote this post for Warner Press but decided to share it here with you.  If you would like to read it on the WP blog, you can find that here: WP Blog

On Fridays, I cry.

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On Fridays, I cry.

Saturday through Thursday, I pretend nothing is wrong. I put a smile on my face, I go about my day, I keep it together.

But on Fridays, after my husband goes to work and the kids are at school, I’m all alone. I start out thinking that this Friday might be different, that I won’t need to cry. But then I realize that there is this place in my heart that has been swelling all week. There’s a bit of a guard there, so if anything pricks it, the guard doesn’t let it in. That surfaces sometimes as disinterest or busyness. Or withdrawal. Don’t let that fool you, that’s to cover up what’s really going on. Inside, my mind is overwhelmed with just sadness. But if it’s not Friday, I don’t pause long enough to think about it.

But on Fridays, I think about it. I think about how much I miss her. I smell her sweatshirt that I have hidden in my closet in my bedroom. I look at her picture, and I hold it tight. I think about all the lost moments and the unsaid words. And I cry.

It’s been a little over three months since I lost my Nana. For all intents and purposes, my mother. She raised me when my own mother wouldn’t. She took me and loved me and called me her own. And now she’s gone.

So on Fridays, I cry.

So many people expect you to quickly pick up the broken pieces of your heart after you lose someone. There seems to be an acceptable time of grieving, to be sad, and then it’s time to move on. Except that’s not how grief works. It’s like being at the ocean, only you have no idea when the next wave is coming. At first, they are quick and crashing and close together. Until they aren’t. Then, when you think the water is calm, and you can breathe a little, you get slammed with a wave so huge you get knocked down. And it takes you a couple minutes to catch your breath.

So on Fridays, I cry.

I wish there was a timeline. Some way to mark my calendar and plan ahead so I knew to be alone, or carry tissues, or to at least prepare myself. But instead there are faint warnings that come in the form of my daughter giving me a look that reminds me so much of her. Or a box that had been unopened but holds something of hers. Or a piece of clothing that I forgot she gave me. Or a book, unread, that was a birthday gift from her. Some days, those things don’t bother me. In fact, they remind me of her and they make me happy to have those memories to hold close to my heart. In those moments I love to share stories or recipes or habits that I picked up over the years. But then there are the other days. The days that, out of nowhere, there is a feeling of being pressed down so hard and so quick that you feel the wind being sucked right out of you.

So on Fridays, I cry.

I don’t think it will be like this forever. I think eventually, Fridays will be happy again. Eventually I will be able to think about her and smile instead of cry. Just not today. Today is Friday. And today, I’m going to cry.

I will NEVER not see you

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This past week, I saw my dad at the gas station. I looked up and locked eyes with him, but he ignored me, pretended not to see me. As he pulled away, I felt a drop of pain added to the pile that I hid deep in my heart. Quickly pushing the thoughts of rejection away, I resigned to not think about it. But it spoke to that place in my heart that is raw from years of rejection by my father. As I went throughout the week, when that rawness would surface, I would quickly bury it under a pile of ice cream or social media.

Saturday morning came. It was my one day a week to sleep in. The kids had already been prepped….. there were breakfast bars on the counter and the tv remote was on the couch. No one was to wake mommy up before 7. Yet at 6AM, I woke up with a song on my heart. As I snuggled under my warm comforter, I heard the Lord whisper, “come away with me.” I thought about how tired I was and how comfortable I was. “Come away with me, ” I heard again. As I heard that beckoning, the still small voice was too loud to ignore.

Still sleepy, I meandered out to the couch and tiredly fell down onto it. As I sleepily laid there, half awake, I still had the same song on my heart. So, I pulled up the song on youtube and sang along. I found myself wondering if the song was based off of scripture.

The Lord prompted me to look up what that song was based on, and I found out it was Psalm 103. So I started to read Psalm 103. As I read, I suddenly was waken right up with a portion of that word. It was this verse that hit me:

Vs. 13 “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” Psalms 103:13-14 NLT

Wow. It says the Lord is like a father. Immediately my mind went to the gas station. Then I heard the whisper,

                                                        ”I will NEVER not see you.”

Tears immediately came to my eyes. God woke me up early to tell me that He sees me. Even when my earthly father doesn’t.

As I kept reading through the Psalm, with blurry eyes and a softened heart, I came to this one:

“But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children” Psalms 103:17 NLT

                                                    “I love my grandchildren.”

God spoke directly that place I have as a mother…. a momma bears heart. The kind of love that God gives is one that knows you intimately, as He is the one who knows your innermost thoughts.

Even the ones you don’t want to speak out loud.