Saturday, May 19, 2018

We've Moved


Moving happens for all kinds of reasons. You move for something bigger or maybe something smaller You move to be in a new location and to have new opportunities. It has been four years since we moved here so this post is not about that move. This is about my blog moving. My new blog address is www.asheleadsisjoy.com or click here.

I am excited about having my own space. I am excited about the things that I am going to do there. One of the things that I have for you is a free printable A-Z praying for Missionaries to all who subscribe.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Beth

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

3.21 World Down Syndrome Day


Today is World Down Syndrome Day.

It is time for some of my random thoughts about parenting and loving someone with Down Syndrome. World Down Syndrome Day and her birthday usually cause me to reflect a bit.

This year has brought new changes and challenges. Last year Miss K turned 13. Yes, that means she is a teenager. I don't really think of her as a teenager but she will tell you that she is 13. So I guess I need to face that reality. At times she does act like a teenager. The other week her room had things all over the floor. I sent a photo to my sister-in-law as proof of a teenager.

Thirteen and a half years of parenting a child with Down Syndrome, what have I learned?

Do not put limits on what they can do. Miss K loves dance and currently while I write this is at Tap class and after that is modern dance. She was scheduled to do her ballet exam but it was postponed due to snow. There are so many other ways that I know not to put limits on her. I want to give her the opportunity to try and see what she is able to do.

Children with Down Syndrome dream of what they will do in the future. Miss K is very specific with what she wants to do. She wants to be a doctor at Children's Hospital and help sick children. She ignores the fact that we tell her she needs to do lots of school work.

Each child with Down Syndrome is unique. Whether it is their abilities, their interests, or their skills, each one is unique. Their medical needs vary.

Living with Miss K for 13 years and a half years has kept us laughing, a few tears, some moments of frustration and praying. I think that is called parenting.

Miss K has an incredible memory for some things. She can remember the dessert she had at someone's house. She can remember the snack you bought her when traveling. Some things she just can't remember -- math facts, to wear her glasses, and a few other things. I guess if it is important to her she will remember it.

Miss K is very observant and does not want to be left out of things. She is jumps in and joins in to life. She wants to try anything and everything. In her mind it is easy. She wants to learn to knit and it is easy for her. Recently she has been copying stories. She has seen the things that other children at school write and so she copies and does what she can.

Life with Miss K has not always been what I might have dreamed but I am not sure I would change any bit of it. I know that God has a plan for her life. I know that God preserved her life in the beginning and he continues to do that.I look forward to the next year and all that God will do in and through her.

So on the World Down Syndrome Day, do you know anyone with Down Syndrome? Tell me about them in the comments.


Beth

Saturday, March 17, 2018

I no longer "Choose Joy"


I Choose Worship.

So why Choose Worship? Why do I no longer "Choose Joy"?

Choosing joy sounds like it is from within me that I am working to find joy. Choosing joy sounds like I am working to find joy in a struggle or situation that might not have joy.

Worship puts the focus on God. Worship focuses on who God is and his character. I am no longer dwelling on me but looking to God.

Worship takes my eyes away from my situations and struggles. It is easy to look at our situation and the struggles and not see God in the midst of it.

So a few months ago I was struggling. Things were difficult. I did not choose joy. In fact I did not have any joy. I was not even looking for joy. I was crying out to God to work in the situation, praying, reflecting on how God has worked in the past.

I love reflecting on Exodus and how God rescued his people in his time and in his way. He heard their cries and acted.

Anyway, my prayer turned to worship and worship gave way to joy. I had not planned to have joy. I was worshipping. The situation had not changed. It was still difficult but I had focused on God. I looked away from my struggle and saw God.

Paul and Silas where in prison as recorded in Acts 16. They found themselves in a difficult situation. They were active in worship though praying and signing hymns. This worship was directed to God. They did it not expecting an earthquake and to be released. The response to difficult situations was to worship. Joy came but as a result of worship.

David had this same understanding of praise and worship. In the beginning of Palm 69 David cries to God, "Save me." (verse 1) He further describes the situation with words like I sink, come into deep water, the flood sweeps over me, and many others words that describe a difficult situation and a struggle. But as we look at the end of the Psalm David is saying, "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving." (verse 30) David's response is one of praise and worship.

So worship does lead to joy but it comes from focusing on God, what he has done in the past and with confidence of who he is in the midst of our struggles.

How can you worship God in the difficult situations and struggles of life?

Begin by singing hymns and songs that focus on who God is and what he does. Hymns like "Amazing Grace", "How Great Thou Art," "It is Well," and so many others can begin to draw our focus away from our situation and focus on God.

The other aspect of worship is praise and prayer. Praise God for who he is and what he has done.  Recall through both in your own life and through the Bible the many wonderful things that God has done.

As you worship, you will find that you have joy.

How about you today, do you have a difficult situation, can you choose to worship.

Beth
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Saturday, March 3, 2018

February in Review



In some ways February can be a difficult month. The newness of the January is gone. February is still grey and cold. It is short and we are on to March. Last week we had signs of spring now we have views of winter.

My word for 2018 is Grow and my goals all relate to that.

1. Grow deeper in my relationship with God
I am really enjoying reading through the Bible in 90 days. Reading through in 90 days gives you an overview. I tend to remember things that I recently read and see things repeated like bits of the prophets are repeated in Chronicles.

The focus for A Fruitful Year was Love. I spent various times reflecting on God's love and thinking about how I love others. Having those thoughts helped me at times to ponder how I was acting and reacting. I tend to be thinking a month ahead so I did quite a bit of thinking about Joy in February. I will share some of those thoughts in the next few weeks.

We have been studying I Thessalonians in our small groups. I am going through my notes and putting them into a notebook to have for reference.


One resource that have been using a bit more this month is The Bible Project. I have found the book overviews helpful as we did our I Thessalonians study. The visual aspect just helps me to see and understand better. Yes, I am a visual learner.

2. Grow in health and strength
This has been a struggle. I was ready to quit but I know that for my health it is something that I need to keep working on. I know some of what needs to be done and it is hard. It requires self-discipline.

3. Grow in my relationships
This requires me to be intentional. My husband and I enjoyed lunch out at one of favourite places. The kids and I had some outings. I took time to write to friends. The bonus is I have also used a number of note cards and post cards.

Our hospitality time this month was a bit different. I am considering the single guy from church that was doing some work here and happened to be here at lunch so he joined us as hospitality. It was opening our home and sharing our meal. We also had two gals here for dinner and music.

4. Grow my blog
I will be honest I have struggled a bit in this area this month. I can't really pin down the struggle exactly. I knew what I needed to do but doing it is something new and moving into territory that will stretch me. In the past week I had a conversation with a friend that was encouraging me. So while I have struggled I had direction and a bit of excitement. I will say that it is still stretching but I am ready to do it.

Watch here for more details on what is happening.

5. Grow and Enjoy my hobbies
I caught up on scrapbooking. Well, scrapbooking with the photos that I have printed. I did place an order for more photos so there will be more scrapbooking to do.

I finished four books which when I looked at how many I read in February 2017 it is less. I have four that are in various points of the book. Yes, I have read multiple books at a time.

Overall it was a good month. I took some time the other day and reflected on the good and the struggles of February. The good list was longer than the struggle. The struggle list helps me know where I need to focus or adjust.

How was your February? What did you accomplish?

Beth

Thursday, March 1, 2018

But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy

A Fruitful Year

Just in case you didn't realise it already, it is March. January and February are gone. They went fast. Here at our house it looks a bit more like winter than like spring. We have been experiencing below freezing temperature and we have snow on the ground and more forecasted. That is unusual for here. So I am trying to wrap my head around the fact that it is March already.

As we continue with A Fruitful Year,  March will continue the focus on the Fruit of the Spirit and this month we will focus on joy.

I spent the past few weeks thinking, reading, pondering Biblical Joy. What is the joy that the Bible talks about? It is listed second as one of the Fruits of the Spirit. Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:16, "Rejoice always." (ESV) The whole book of Philippians speaks about joy.

What is joy? The dictionary is not the place to go for the answer. It just says it is happiness. No, that is not Biblical joy. That didn't help. I was still pondering, what is joy?

What is joy? As I read various passages of scripture, read some articles, and read The New International Dictionary of new Testament Theology, Joy is an emotion but one that is not just based on what is happening around us. I think the best way to describe joy is that joy is flows from where we have placed our hope and the confidence of our faith.

Fruit of the Spirit A Fruitful Year


So we need to ask the question where we have placed our hope and the confidence of our faith. When our hope is in God and what he has done and will continue to do, we can have joy. When we have confidence of who God is and what he will do, we can have joy. Based on that we can have joy even in difficult times. That is what makes joy more than just happiness.

What are some other words in the Bible that are related to joy? That was one of the questions that I pondered. Glad is one of those. I think of Psalm 100:2 "Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!" (ESV) Delight is another word that the Bible uses which is related to joy.

So what makes you glad? What do you delight in? That will give you a bit of insight into where you find joy.

Over the next few weeks, I will talk a bit more about joy with the goal of each of us understanding Biblical joy, looking at what steals our joy, and how we can regain joy in our lives.

What brings you joy? Leave a response in the comments.


Beth

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Wrong Kind of Love

"Wait a second, I thought love was a good thing. Can you really have the wrong kind of love?" It is easy to think that love is a good thing and therefore you can't have the wrong kind of love. Here are three ways that we can be loving the wrong thing.


1. We can be loving the wrong thing. We might love to have a nice tidy house but to get that we might be sacrificing relationships with our family. We might be picky and opinionated to those around us. So we are loving the neat house and hurting our relationships.

2. We can be loving and not willing to let go. As I pondered love and some of the things I love, one of the things I love is the location of where we live. For a week or two we had a discussion about moving to another part of the city. I struggled with that because it meant moving not the area where we are living. I realised that I was loving our location and holding it too tightly. I needed to be willing to give that up. It was a struggle but I realised my love was in the wrong place.

3. We can be loving with the wrong motives. Thing about the tidy house about. It might be that you look deep at that issue and look at the heart and realise that the reason for that love is so that it makes you look good. Your heart has pride. Your love has the wrong motives.

The things we love can become an idol. An idol is anything that takes the place of God. We can take a good thing and turn it into an idol.

How do we have the Right Kind of Love? In order to bear the fruit of love, we need to have the right kind of love.

1. Remember that we are commanded to love God and love others. Keep asking yourself the questions, "Am I loving God? Does this show love to others? Am I loving others?" Love God and people before loving things.

"We love because he first loved us." I John 4:19 (ESV)

2. Search your heart to see what is motivating your love. We need love from a pure heart. Our love can easily come from the wrong motivates. Our love should be motivated by God's love, to glorify God, and to reflect God's love.

Let us grow in love. Let us love God and those around us.

Do you have the wrong kind of love in your life?

Beth
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Monday, February 19, 2018

Pruning to Grow - John 15

There are hundreds of DIY projects on Pinterest, YouTube and numerous other places on the internet.

Have you ever done a DIY project that looked nothing like what you wanted?


I remember once I cut my bangs and they were cut on an angle so I had to have my part on the side. I think that might have been the last time I cut my own hair. That was a failed DIY project.

The vinedresser is not a DIY project. We are in the hands of a profession. He knows vines, he knows what branches to take away, he knows what to do to the branches all with the goal that they will bear more fruit.

Last month we began in John 15 and just got as far as the first five words.

Jesus says, "my Father is the vinedresser." John 15:1 (ESV) I love the choice of this word, vinedresser.  It has a depth of understanding of vines. It is more than just a hobby.

What does the vinedresser do? He takes away the branches that do not bear fruit. Those branches are drawing nutrients away from the branches that are bearing fruit.

"every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2 (ESV) Pruning is done to encourage growth and more fruit.

As I picture this, I see a loving Father looking carefully at the branches, analysing the branches, and then trimming away the dead bits, the parts that are draining the nutrients. I see love and gentleness displayed all the with the goal that we the branches will bear more fruit. That is God with us, gentle and loving. The purpose of the pruning is that we will bear more fruit.

This year as we go through A Fruitful Year, John 15 is a foundational passage. This passage sets the understanding of how we bear more fruit. It is through abiding, staying with the vine, and pruning.

What are some of the things that God is pruning out of your life? As I have been writing and working on A Fruitful Year, I have looked at my own heart. This month the focus has been love. I have looked at my own heart and seen selfishness, wrong motives, and a few other things. Those are the things that need to be pruned so I can bear more fruit.

So as you look in your own heart, what do you see that needs to be pruned?

Beth

Friday, February 16, 2018

That's it, I quit.

Just three weeks into the new year those were the words I said. "That's it, I quit. Three weeks of working on one of my goals for the year and I was ready to quit. It was not going the way I planned. I didn't see the results I wanted. It was not easy. It was restricting my life I was ready to quit.



But I knew I couldn't just quit. I took some time to just reflect on the goal I had set and what was happening.

Just because it is not going the way you want, doesn't mean you quit the goal.

Just because it is hard,  doesn't mean you quit the goal.

Just because you don't see the results you want, doesn't mean you quit the goal.

I looked at the goal that I was ready to quit. I wrote about why I had written that as a goal. What was the motivation in the first place? That helped me to see that I really didn't want to quit.

I really needed to look at the heart issues of why I wanted to quit. Heart issues are the things that are going on inside. That was not pretty.

When I looked at those heart issues, I saw that I wanted to quit because I didn't want to deny myself, this goal required a bit of extra planning, I was envious of others. I saw that I was lazy, I was envious, and I was self-indulgent. I told you it wasn't pretty. That is not a reason to quit.

I knew that I needed to change the heart. I need to be willing to deny myself. I needed to be diligent. I also realised that this was a goal that was bigger than just me doing it on my own. It was something that was going to require God's help.

After a bit of journaling and reflection, I was renewed and ready to work on that goal. I knew it would be hard and might take some extra planning. I was not going to quit.

What do you do when you are ready to quit?

Beth

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I am an alien.

I am an alien. No, I am not green and have antennas. I am a foreigner. I live in a country that is not my home country. I am a stranger. The dictionary defines alien as, "belonging to, characteristic of, or constituting another and very different place, society, or person; strange."


Foreigner is one of the identity boxes that I tick. When I need to fill out forms, my race is often one that I have to pause as it doesn't find the typical list given. Being a foreigner can be difficult at times.

My accent is not from here. I have words that I struggle to pronounce. I have to pause and think what is this called. I have a few words that I don't think my mouth was made to pronounce it the way it is said here -- aluminium and garage are two of those words. I will say that I have been told I have a good accent. I have had people tell me they like my accent. I had years to work on that accent but it is not an accent from where I live.

My thinking is different. It might not be noticed. I find it slight at times that I view things differently. I have had to adjust how I write the date. I am used to the week on a calendar beginning on Sunday and that recently got me in trouble as I looked at the calendar and scheduled something thinking it was the date for Saturday but it was Sunday. In the end it all worked out. I realised that even after years here I still think differently.

When I lived in Asia, I looked like a foreigner. My hair was a different colour. My skin was whiter and my nose was bigger. I was a foreigner. Here I blend in a bit more.

As I reflected on my foreigner identify, I was thinking about how I can make that positive. It felt like a negative which was more my feeling than the feelings of those around me. I have to say I have felt welcomed and loved here but at times it is tiring to be a foreigner. It is hard being different.

This can be my reminder that I am called to be a foreigner here on earth. I am to be living different. My accent should reflect God. My thinking should be eternal focused.

So while I might struggle with the foreigner identity, it is a reminder of how I should be living life. As a Christian, I am a foreigner. My citizenship is in heaven and someday I will be home.

Do you have an identity that you can view positively? Share that with me in the comments.

Beth
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

If you are not going to track your goal, why do it?


Track your progress. Know what you are doing toward reaching the goal.

We need to set goals. If we don't have a goal how do we know what we are working towards. I really do think you need to set a goal. Goals help to give us action. So you need to set goals.

What do you do after you set a goal? Hopefully you have created a plan of action on how you are going to work towards that goal. What about tracking the progress of the goal? Do you have a plan on how you are going to track progress?

Tracking progress can encourage us to keep working towards the goal. If we are focusing just on achieving the goal we might miss the progress which can be as important as the goal.

Tracking progress can give us an indication on how we are moving towards reaching that goal. If you have created a SMART goal, it is measurable and it has a time frame. Tracking the progress will help you to see if you need to work a bit harder, faster or maybe even that you can slow down a bit.

Tracking progress can help us to evaluate the goal. If we know the progress, we are making we will know how achievable the goal is. In some of the goals progress can be as important as completion.

So how do you track your goals?

It will depend on the goal. When I wrote my goals this year, next to the goal I wrote how I would track the goal. I prefer pen and paper and something that I will have easy access to and will keep through the year. Most of my goals are tracked in my planner. Some are shown on the calendar. Some are lists in the back of my planner. I also try to do a monthly wrap-up touching on some of the key goals here on my blog. You can read my January review here.

You need to find a way to track your goals that works for you and for your goals. I like pen and paper but that might not be the way you work. You might have a chart to goal as you progress through the goal. You might take photos of projects as they are finished. Find a way to track your goals that works for you.

Your goals are personal. Your tracking is personal.

Track your goals. Show your progress. Know your progress.

How do you track your goals? In the comments give me some of the creative ways you track them.



Beth

Monday, February 5, 2018

3 Reasons We are Commanded to Love

If you are following along with A Fruitful Year, you have already done your planning and preparation and now February is when we begin to look at specific fruits of the Spirit. Looking at what that means and how we can walk in the Spirit with that character quality. February's topic was introduced here.


As I pondered the character quality of love, I spent time reading I John, I Corinthians 13, and John 15:1-17. In John 15:12 Jesus commands us to "love one another". That is not the first time that has been commanded. Remember the lawyer that came to Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40. He asks which is the greatest commandment. Jesus' response is, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39 ESV)

Why are we commanded to love? God views our love as important and something that we need to do. He has commanded us to love.

1. Love does not come naturally. Naturally we are selfish, look out for ourselves, do it our way, defend ourselves, we don't love. We do not naturally love. We need to be commanded to love.

2. Love is something we can do. Just because it does not come naturally does not mean that it is not something that we can do. Love doesn't just happen. Love is an action. Love is something that we can learn. Love is sacrifice, thinking of others, and so much more. Love involves the mind and intellect it is not just an emotion. We can love.

3. Love is the basis for all other character qualities. Jesus said that this is the great and first commandment. I Corinthians 13:13 says that, "the great of these is love." Love is listed first in the Fruit of the Spirit. Love is the foundation for our character qualities. If we are loving, we will be kind. If we are loving, we will be honest.

These are just some of the reasons why God has commanded us to love him and to love others. Our love to God should be in response to his love to us. Our love to others should flow from God's love to us. Our obedience to God's commands show that we love him.

Are you obeying the command to love God and love your neighbour?

Beth

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January - End of the Month

In past years it has been helpful to me to just review what has happened in the month and how I worked towards my goals. I shared my goals here.

I have been following the 90 Day Bible reading program. It is fast paced but it gives me good overview and I see themes and things repeated. As I am reading, I have written down some verses that are just great to pray or use in worship. Yesterday as I was finishing reading I Chronicles this passage was just one to pause and use in a time of worship.


I use my planner both for planning, recording various things that happen during the day, and also for tracking my goals. I am a paper and person. This is my first year to really use PowerSheets. I had the six month last year but didn't use it. PowerSheets is helping me to track my goals.

I struggled this with the goal of losing weight. I won't bore you with all the struggles but I will say that it has given me an opportunity to look at the heart issues that were causing this struggles. I will share a bit more about that later. That goal was not as easy as I thought though I didn't think it would be that easy.

I want to grow in relationships. That takes a bit of planning and time. I was blessed to have a cup of coffee and time of prayer with one friend. We enjoyed dinner and games with other friends. I need to come up with some new meals for company. Any ideas?

I have been sorting through Home Educating things. I managed to get rid of quite a bit of it in January. I still have two boxes that I want to get rid of. I have a cleaning schedule and the weekly things are getting done but some of the things that are not weekly seem to get missed.

I read eight books in January. I am working to read a variety of things this year -- Christian living, Biblical counselling, classics, books from my shelves, current books, books about missions, productivity books, and more. I said it was a variety of reading.

One of the books that I read was Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. This book challenged me to focus a bit and also to think about what is distracting. I will share a bit more about this.

January was a good start to the year. I am looking forward to more of A Fruitful Year and trust that each you will grow this year.

How was your January? Have you made progress on your goals.

Beth

Monday, January 29, 2018

Focus for February

If you are following along with A Fruitful Year, here is the focus for February. January was preparing both in setting goals and just getting ready for the year. February begins taking some time to focus on the fruit of the spirit. We will start at the beginning.


The basis for our love is God. I John 4:8 states, "God is love." Before we can think about how we love God and others we need to think about how God loves us. What words would you use to describe God's love?

  • Sacrificial
  • Eternal
  • Unconditional
  • Generous
  • Giving
  • Forgiving
  • Active
  • Life giving
  • and so much more

The goal this month is that you will love God more and love other more. The first and greatest command is to love God. Why do you think that is the first and greatest command?

In the month of February there will be journaling prompts to help you think about how you love God and other. There will be some devotional thoughts about love.

Think about God's love shown to us, what words would you add to the list above. Leave me a message in the comments telling me that word.

Beth

Saturday, January 27, 2018

My Goals for 2018 and My Word for the Year

I had a number of thoughts of things I wanted to do this year. I had things I want to finish, things to try. I wrote them down and it looked like a big "to do" list. Then I started to group them together. I thought I had a goal but not quite. As I worked through this, I decided on my word for the year.

GROW

Somehow the Word of the Year came easier than the goals but then I began to look at my lists and my word for the year and it all came together.

My goals for 2018 are all based on growing. When I looked up the definition of grow, I realised that things need to be nurtured to grow. So I need to nurture and focus on these goals. These goals should help to determine what I do this year.

1. Grow deeper in my relationship with God
Why? God is my loving heavenly father. He desires a relationship with me and I want to grow in knowing and serving him.
  • Reading through the Bible
  • In Depth studies
  • Memorising passages of scripture
2. Grow in health and strength
Why? I need to do this so that I am a good steward of my body. I want to glorify God in this way.
  • Lose weight - getting to my target weight
  • Run another 10K and get a new Personal Best
  • Get more haircuts than 2017 (I only got my hair cut once and really I need to do it more often.)
3. Grow in my relationships with others
Why? God has called us to live in community. We are to serve one another, love one another, pray for one another. In order to do that I need to be develop and grow in my relationships. This is going to be a challenge because it includes so many people -- immediate family, extended family, local friends, friends far away, supporters, and more.
  • Outings with family
  • Text and Skype
  • Coffee/Tea with friends
  • Hospitality
  • Letters and email
4. Grow in efficient and effective use of our home
Why? I desire for our home to be easy to maintain so I have time for other things. I want it to be easy to practice hospitality. 
  • Declutter
  • Organize
  • Use and enjoy things
5. Grow my blog
Why? I want to use my experience and the truth of God's Word to encourage others. 
  • Write regularly
  • Create a workbook for A Fruitful Year
  • Create journaling prompts
6. Grow and enjoy my hobbies
Why? This can bless my family and others. This gives me a creative outlet. 
  • Read 60 books (I have categories of books and types of books broken out.)
  • Sew 4-6 quilts (this is going to stretch me
  • Keep scrapbooking caught up
  • Less Unfinished projects
I am sure some of the things under the goal might change but keeping the goal in mind will help know what are the important things to do to reach that goal.

2 Peter 3:18 fits with my goal for the year. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and to bring him glory in my life. I have been writing that in the margin of my planner each week so that I can keep the goal in front of me. 


What are your goals for 2018? Share some of them in the comments.

Beth

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Jesus, the Fulfilment of our Desires


There are two scripture passages that are foundational for A Fruitful Year. One is John 15:1-17; this is the passage where Jesus says, "I am the vine." The other passage is Galatians 5:16-25 which is the passage with the fruit of the spirit. My plan is that once a month I will just focus a bit on either one of these passages giving encouragement from there to keep going.

Let's start this month with John 15:1-17. We are jumping in the middle of a book and so let's quick get some context. The author, John, was one of Jesus' 12 disciples. He refers to himself as "the one Jesus loved." He is writing from his own experience with Jesus, listening to him teach, seeing the miracles, and writing so that people might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31).

This specific passage in John is part of a longer passage when Jesus knew he was about the die (John 13:1). This is part of that last teaching, the words that Jesus wants to leave with his disciples.

Jesus begins by saying, "I am the true vine." There are not many vines where I live in England but to the disciples listening to Jesus it was something that they understood. They walked through the country and saw vines. The disciples knew that vines were for growing fruit. That is the purpose of the vine. Even more then just that bit of gardening knowledge they had an understanding of the vine in the Old Testament. The desire of everyone in Israel was to have a house with a vine (I Kings 4:25). A bit like the house with a picket fence that we might dream of today. The disciple knew these references from the Old Testament.


When Jesus said those five words, he is telling the disciples that Jesus is the fulfilment of the desire for a vine. What they desire and long for can be found in Jesus. Jesus is the true vine.

What does a vine do? The vine is the source of life for the branches. Our source of life comes from Jesus. It is because of what Jesus has done that we have life. The nutrients for the branches come from the vine. The nutrients allow the branches to continue to grow.  The branches are nothing without the vine.

"I am the true vine," 

Do you see Jesus as the fulfilment of all your desires? Are you running and desiring other things? Can you find fulfilment in Jesus? As we begin this year, I challenge myself and you to find fulfilment in Jesus. Sent your priorities to finding fulfilment in Jesus and not in getting things done.

Beth

Monday, January 22, 2018

January Journaling


Journaling is the process of looking within and writing the feelings and emotions and then looking at those things from God's Word. This does require that you are being honest with yourself and that you are listening to God's Word and not all the voices around us. This type of journaling has been explained here.

January is a time of preparing. This is the time to set your goals but also and even more importantly a time to prepare yourself for the year ahead. This is a year of growth, a time to be and do all that God wants in your life.

With the thoughts of preparing here are some journaling questions for you for this month.

  • As you look at the new year and your goals, what fears do you have? What is causing those fears? How can you overcome your fears?
  • Looking at the fears you listed, what does God say about these fears? What truths of God can you cling to when those fears sneak in?
  • What do you think will tempt you or cause you to quit this year? If you have already written your goals you might want to think of this for each goal. 
  • What truth from God's Word can you claim to help you when you are tempted to quit?
  • What truths about God can you claim for this year? Why are those important to you at this time?

Take some time to think about these. These questions should help you to just think about some of the challenges that you will face this year and just be ready and prepared.

Each month I will give some journaling questions to just help you as you work through the focus of that month.

My desire is that you will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour this year.

What are some of the things that might cause you to quit this year?

Beth

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Slow and Steady

I have decided that Friday will be a bit of a more personal post just so you have an opportunity to get to know me more and know a bit about me. I want it to be a time that I just share so you know. My goal is that this will help you as you follow along with A Fruitful Year.

I know it is Saturday and this just didn't happen on Friday. This morning I delivered newspapers for my son. The past few days have been snow and a bit of freezing temperatures. That meant that I had to go a bit slow. I did not want to slide down the hill.


As I was out for a longer walk than normal, I had time to think. I thought about how going slow at times can be good and the safe thing to do.

I have had a slow start in writing my goals this year. I had a number of ideas but just did not really get the time to think through things. I was taking it slow. I need some extra time this year. I decided that is fine, take your time but there does come a time that it needs to be finished. You have until the 31 of January to finish your goals for this year.

I had time yesterday and a bit more today and I think I have my goals for the year. I will share them with you next week.

Beth

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Journaling, Writing for Growth

As you go through A Fruitful Year, a portion of each month's activities will be journaling. This is not just any journaling but rather spiritual journaling or journaling for growth. This means that you are looking within and writing to assist you in growing. You will be given prompts to help you think and learn about yourself. Let me define the type of journaling a bit with some examples to help you understand this. 

A diary is probably the simplest of the journals we are talking bout. This is where you write the events of the day. There is not much deep thinking. It is a statement of what happened that day. So, a simple diary entry might be: 


Journaling can include some of the elements of a diary but takes it further and begins to touch on feelings. Let’s look at the diary entry above and turn it a bit into a journal entry.


There is a bit of feeling in there, but it does not look at what is really happening or what God has to say about that. 

Journaling for Growth looks within looks at the heart and working to discover the deep roots of what we are doing. Journaling for Growth looks at what God says about the issue or might begin prayer asking for help. Let’s take the same example and look at it as a journaling for growth entry. What are the heart issues?


As we look within, we do see overspending but we see discontent, we see a love of pleasure. We see areas that God wants to change. 

Journaling for Growth requires:

1. Honesty with ourselves. You need to be willing to take the time to look at your own life and see what God sees.

2. Knowledge and God’s wisdom. Our thoughts and how we look at the things need to be done with God’s wisdom and God’s truths. We need to keep in line with God’s word.

3. That we be willing to change based on what we learn. You can be honest with yourself, you can know God’s truth but if you do not change you will not grow.

Journaling for Growth will take time to think, write, analyze what God says, and then change. This is not a quick fix. There might be layers that need to be worked through. As we work though this, our journal will help record growth and change.


I know journaling even in general can be hard. Take the time this year to grow and use a journal to help record that growth. 

Will you join me in Journaling for Growth this year? 

Beth

Monday, January 15, 2018

Necessary for Success - Accountability Partner

Why is it easier to do things with other people? Think about it for a minute. Do you find it easier to exercise with someone else? Maybe it is easier to have someone help you declutter. Why is it easier to do things with other people?


Last year I did a big walk. I did it with three friends. We began training in the cold, gray days of winter. Our long training walks were on Saturday morning. There were many mornings that I would have much rather stayed in my warm bed then get out and walk in the cold, rainy weather but I got up and went because I knew a someone else was expecting me to be there. I might have taken a shorter walk if I was alone but together we walked and talked. Doing it with friends was so much better.

An accountability partner is more than just someone to do things with. This is a person that knows you, can speak honestly, someone that you respect and will listen to, and someone that can point you to the truth.

An accountability partner that knows you will be able to help you look at yourself. They should be able to see the negative and the positives in your life. Sometimes we focus on the negative and need to be reminded of the positives. An accountability partner that knows you will also know your family, your house, and your schedule. You need someone that knows you.

A Fruitful Year is not just about getting things done. It is about abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. You need an accountability partner that can point you to God’s truth. There are so many voices around us but we need to be hearing God’s truth in our lives. Your accountability partner should be encouraging you to listen to God’s truth.

You need someone that you can be honest with. Someone that you trust will keep information confidential. As you work through the year, you might have difficult things to discuss and you need someone that you trust.

An accountability partner helps you to keep going. They speak encouraging words when you are ready to quit. An accountability partner might be able to come and help you get a project done.

Your accountability partner doesn’t need to be in the same location but it does need to be someone that you are communicating with regularly. Talk to that person about what you are doing. Give them information about A Fruitful Year. Share your goals. Let them know what you are expecting from them. Ask questions and get their input. Listen to them.

Daniel was faced with a difficult situation. He was taken as captive and then chosen to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Part of that learning time was following the king’s diet. Daniel knew that diet would defile himself and so he asked to be given a diet of vegetables. Daniel had friends joining him and following this with him. He also had God’s favour in his life. Daniel had others joining him in this.



Do you have an accountability partner? What is one thing that you will ask that person to help you with this coming year?

Beth

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