With All My … Impossibilities

Do Not Be Afraid - Bible Journaling Line Art

This morning as I was listening to my audible devotional, I felt God impress upon me a certain truth:

He is God of the impossible.

What does this mean?

It means that while we are not to walk blindly into trouble, we can face trouble without fear because HE is our God.

It means that when faced with seemingly impossible odds, we need not lose hope, because HE is our God.

It means that He is not bound by the laws of this world. He can make the dead rise. He can feed a multitude with less than it takes to feed a few. He can turn water into wine. He can heal the gravely sick. He can bless our efforts with abundance beyond expectation. He can protect us from evil. He can forgive even the darkest of sins.

Whatever we are facing. Whatever we have been through. Whatever we are striving for. He is with us through it all. His love is there to comfort us. His strength is there to support us. His wisdom is there to guide us. His grace is there to bless us.

We are not alone. We are with the God of the impossible.

Just a small part of the scriptures that help bring this point home:

Exodus – Chapter 14

Daniel – Chapter 3

Daniel – Chapter 6

Matthew – Chapter 14

Mark – Chapters 15 & 16

Luke – Chapter 5 verses 1-26

John – Chapter 11 verses 1-44

 

If you know someone who needs this reminder right now, please share this post.

TWEETABLE:

We are not alone. We are with the God of the impossible.

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With All My … Mind

Blog Header - With All My

In today’s world of technology and accessibility, there is no shortage of ways people are forever trying to claim our time and attention. Whether it is through the ringing of our smartphones, the ping of an app notification, the reminder announced by the artificial intelligence devices we install in our homes, commercials between our favorite television shows, or the pounding of another delivery person at our door, the demand for our attention seems constant.

When I first bought a cell phone it stayed in the living room overnight to charge. Then my husband started traveling more and it made sense to keep the phone next to my bed in case of emergency. It wasn’t long before my nightstand became the usual place my phone charged at night.

Did you know your cell phone screen lights up every time it gets a notification? Mine does, anyway. In a dark room this can seem like a very bright light.

It wasn’t too long before curiosity would have me picking up my phone in the middle of the night to see what had caused the flash. The next thing I knew, I’d be checking my email for that reply I’ve been waiting for, responding to a Facebook post I had missed earlier, and … what in the world? How have I been awake for thirty minutes?

I learned to turn my phone face down on the nightstand.

But it was still on my nightstand.

So when the alarm went off every morning, rather than yank myself from the warm covers into the cold morning air, it became my routine to snag my phone and start my day by scrolling through my various social media feeds and email inboxes. This got me started thinking of my to-do list and everything I needed to accomplish that day.  I’d get out of bed, brush my teeth, dress, and eat breakfast – all with my phone in my hand.

In the back of my mind was this idea that I needed to read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. But that was something I had plenty of time to do. There was no deadline for speaking to God. No one would know or care if I didn’t squeeze in those verses I meant to read today. I could catch up tomorrow. God didn’t have a closing time. He was always there and always would be. But I had things that needed to be accomplished NOW or there would be consequences.

God could wait.

Until one day, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spent more than five minutes studying God’s Word. For too long, I’d let Him get squeezed into the spare moments left after everything else — everything more urgent — had been taken care of. God was getting those moments when I was so worn down and worn out I couldn’t think well enough to “be productive.” I was giving God the crumbs of my leftovers.

And I was starving.

I was worn out, stretched thin, weak, and breaking. I was overwhelmed and wanting to give up on everything. I couldn’t do it. What was the point?

Well, the point was that I was never meant to do any of this alone. The point was that I had my perception and my priorities completely backward.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

If God is my source of truth and I haven’t spent time with Him, from where am I getting my wisdom?

If God is my source of purpose and I haven’t spent time with Him, on what am I basing my plans?

If God is my source of hope and I haven’t spent time with Him, how do I expect to find peace in life’s trials?

It was like a light bulb suddenly shining bright on all the corners of my mind — one that had once shown brightly but grown dim from dust and neglect.

God can’t wait.

God MUST come first in our lives. He is THE reason we are alive. Without Him it doesn’t matter what else we accomplish or fail to achieve. It will all mean nothing if He isn’t at the heart of it.

Bible on Laptop

So I’m trying something new. I’ve moved my phone across the room — close enough for emergencies, but far enough to discourage temptation —  and I’ve begun the habit of setting my bible ON TOP OF MY LAPTOP every night before I go to bed. That way I am forced to physically move it each and every morning. It has become a tangible reminder that I need to pay attention to God before I pay attention to anyone or anything else.

Let’s chat!

What distractions have kept you from spending time in God’s Word? What methods have you found to help keep you accountable to maintaining your relationship with the Lord?

TWEETABLE:

Pay attention to God before you pay attention to anyone or anything else.

God is more important than my to-do list.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

 

 

 

First Line Friday – 12.1.17

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

This week I am elbows and knees deep in holiday madness, so I am literally picking up the book closest to me and sharing the first line:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

So there you go. The first line of the book closest to me in more ways than one. I’m sure you’ve read it before, but if you haven’t opened it lately, here is this pot telling you (kettle) to do so soon. Very soon. It helps, trust me. Even when you don’t think you have a single second to spare. Find that second even if it’s while you’re peeing. I’ve never known anyone to regret it. (Reading the Bible, that is, not peeing.) I know I needed it. (Again, reading the Bible, not the other thing. Hopefully you knew that.) Okay. Off my soap box. (And done talking potty things. How did pee get into this post? I’ve clearly been spending too much time alone with young boys.)

Now, I’d love it if you shared your first line with me before you click away to go see all the other first lines you probably haven’t already read 500 times.

 

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

Method to My Madness – Historical Research Note Tracking

Method to My Madness Graphic

One of the most time consuming, rewarding, and frustrating parts of writing historical fiction is doing the historical research.

It’s time consuming because, well, as an avid history fan I can easily find myself playing the role of Alice following the white rabbit down the proverbial hole and somehow find myself hours later reading about some random part of history which, while absolutely fascinating, has nothing to do with my work in progress or the purpose for which I first consulted the text.

It’s rewarding because I get to learn fascinating new parts of history that they don’t have time to teach about in school. Like how one of our local gold rush towns got its name and that the man it was named after moved away about 2 years later and never moved back. In fact, he didn’t even return for a visit for 18 years and he wound up running a hotel on the California coast 26 years later, and did you know there was a horse named after him and….. Yes, you caught me. None of that has anything to do with my current works in progress. This is a tidbit I picked up in one of those rabbit holes.

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Where was I? Oh, right….

Historical research can also be very frustrating. Not only because of those pesky rabbit holes, but because it can be rather difficult keeping track of everything you read and where you read it. Picture me scratching my head trying to remember which library, which section of that library, which book title, which chapter, and on which page I found that particular fact about Julian’s jail once housing the only public toilet months after I actually read about it. (In this case it wasn’t even a book, it was a website.)

In response, I’ve begun collecting pages and pages of copies of books and articles and websites in addition to an increasing number of books for my personal reference shelf. Now, I do have a particular system for keeping track of all of those items…. no really, I do…. okay so it’s not exactly perfected but…. that’s not what I want to talk about right now. Right now what I want to share with you is how I track the relevant information within those items.

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When I reference a note, I’m usually looking for something in particular, so if all I did was highlight everything interesting in yellow, I’d never be able to find anything. I have many different categories of notes including things like notes about food resources, people born/married/died, places built/destroyed/expanded, important events, etc.  So if I were instead to give every category of notes a different color, you can imagine that I would run out of highlighter colors rather quickly. Ask me how I know.

Then it hit me. This was a familiar problem.

If you are familiar with the method of inductive bible study, then you may be familiar with the concept of creating a unique symbol for each important word or recurring theme. These symbols are used to mark up the text with the idea being to slow your reading down and help you engage with the text as you extrapolate its meaning. I have been using this off and on for years in my personal study of the Bible.  However, I can’t stand the idea of actually marking up my Bible, so instead I print out sections at a time and work with that. It also allows me to create really wide margins which provide room for a little creative journaling while I’m at it.

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So what does this have to do with my historical research? Well, I’ve developed similar symbols for each of the categories I want to easily find in my notes. Now as I am reading, I just highlight in yellow all the stuff I think I might want to refer back to later and add the category symbol in the outer margins.  This way I’m not constantly searching for and switching out different colored highlighters, and when I want to find notes in a particular category, I just flip through and scan the edges of the pages. Oh, and I keep a key to my symbols at the front of any texts. If it’s a copy of a library book page, I’ll staple a blank page to the front and make my key there. That way if I forget what symbol I used for a particular category, I have a quick cheat sheet. I also keep a photograph on my cell phone showing all my most frequently used symbols so that I can be as consistent as possible from text to text.

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I still cringe when marking in a book and it’s not perfect, but it works for me.

Your Turn!

A lot of people do research for their work or school. What do you think of my technique? I’d love to hear if you have any other tips or techniques you use to do research!