My Dressing Room

I love outfit posts and I think many other women do too!  But there is one part of dressing that has to come first, and that’s the preparing of our heart for the day before us.  It’s the most important part of my day and I thought I’d share a little glimpse of how I spend that time.

I may add that I often also read a devotional type book and review memory verses that I’m either learning or just keeping fresh in my mind.  What  a rich time this is each day, and oh, what I miss when I hurry past it!

Next week a post is coming that will answer the question, “How do I know what to read in the Bible each day?”

Do you have a Quiet time?  If so, what do you do?  

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Why We Must Be Serious About Spiritual Growth

This week I’ve shared posts about spiritual growth – how it happens and how to aid it’s development, but you may be wondering what the big deal is.  Some women have the thought that when they get older then they’ll work on it then.  Life is too busy right now to think about Bible study, prayer and a close walk with God.  After all, their life is going along pretty good, so what’s the fuss about?  Can I share a few reasons why it’s crucial that you’re a growing follower of Christ?

  1. Christ didn’t just die to save you from hell.  He died to have a relationship with you, and you with Him!  John 15:15 –Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. A believer is truly cheating themselves out on so many blessings when they don’t walk with the Lord each day.  He gives direction, guidance, help, conviction when we veer off the path, acceptance, joy the world cannot give, and a purpose for this life we live on the earth. People that get saved and then ignore Christ are missing the whole point and will be saved, “so as by fire.”
  2. Trials don’t come with a warning.  How can you be prepared for a crisis, then?
    When a woman in the public eye learned that her husband was having an affair, how could she wake up in the morning and not be absolutely overcome with so much grief that she wouldn’t be able to function?  How can parents endure the death of their infant?  How do you face a health crisis of your own?  Where do you turn for stability when a teen turns their back on everything they’ve been taught?  The only way we can prepare for any crisis is by filling our hearts and minds with God’s Word and His promises and having them in our heart.  It’s like having a room of ammunition  ready to shoot at the lies that come to our hearts.  Truth is in God’s Word.  If we have waited until “some other day” to grow spiritually, you can bank on it – when a crisis comes, the only way to manage is to find a way out through substance abuse or escape.  What a sad ending.  Rather than having an anchor for our soul, we would be totally unstable.  Now is the time to prepare for a storm.
  3. Your testimony is at stake.  The psalmist said in Psalm 119:74,  They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.  What do others see when they watch your life?  Are you a Christian in name, but you don’t know what God’s Word says?  Can you teach your children about the Bible, or is it a foreign book to you?  Do others question the validity of your life as a follower of Christ because you know more of the world than you do of Christ and His Word?  Our lives and words should match up, and that can only happen when we’re in the Word regularly, reading, studying, memorizing, making notes, and digging until we’ve heard from God.  When we do that, it will change us!  That’s a living testimony.  Here’s how it will look:
    1. You’ll step out in faith because you know you can trust God.
    2. You’ll be a Word-filled person who speaks God’s Word to yourself and others.
    3. You’ll be sharing the Gospel with the lost, conscious of those around you that have not heard the Good news.
    4. You won’t fall apart in storms.
    5. You’ll be consistent  – not perfect, but steady and sure, keeping your eyes on the goal of heaven and eternity.

Growing in Christ is for every one of us. If you struggle with a desire to grow, ask God to give you that longing.  He will, and then watch what happens over a period of time – it will be another act of God’s amazing grace!

Let’s keep growing, friends, it will refresh you like nothing else in this world!

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Sure and Steady Growth

 

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Isn’t it amazing what a little dose of Miracle Gro will do for a plant? This window box is nearly bursting at the seams with pansies, Lobelia, Creeping Jenny and a couple other annuals after a couple waterings with the fertilizer.

On the outside of my box of Miracle Gro it says, “Starts to work instantly – promotes quick, beautiful results.” I must say, it really does work well – if you remember to use it! Sometimes when I’ve neglected adding the plant food to my watering can I’ll be reminded just by the look of the plant. The blooms aren’t multiplying; instead it’s just maintaining its existence in my yard. Then the thought strikes my mind – “Add Miracle Gro!” Bingo! The plants take to it, and they’re off and blooming again.

I wonder if any one’s thought of creating a miracle grow for the Christian life; a neat little package that if applied weekly will guarantee “quick, beautiful results.” “That’s ridiculous!” you say. Of course it is, but I wonder how many would pick up the package and give it a good consideration? Growth in our spiritual life is gradual. It comes slowly, from day by day study of the Word, and that’s hard. We want to see sprouts of new growth overnight.

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Just as I neglect the needed addition to my plants occasionally, we’re prone to neglect what we know will bring growth in our spiritual lives. It takes too much effort. We may be very thirsty and know we need a drink from the Living Fountain of God’s Word, but it’s just easier to go talk to a friend about my issues. We’re content with a little splash of water – a quick prayer, a light reading of Scripture without a real longing to commune with our Savior.

Sometimes our loving “Gardener” will bring a trial that will force growth. We’re pushed to the Word every day because it becomes our very sustenance. We can’t survive without it and we are very aware of need. For weeks, perhaps months our lives sprout under the nourishment of God’s Word. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”

After the trial, have you ever found yourself feeling not so needy and falling back into your comfortable routine of neglect? We all have to guard our hearts so that we continue to grow by delighting in the Word. We are preparing for the next trial before it arrives.

Psalm 119:80 – Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. 

When the next trial comes, we will find that our heart is “sound” or secure in the Word. We have new blooms, so to speak. They’ve come gradually by the meditating of the word (Psalm 119:11) and we won’t be ashamed, in other words, we won’t fall apart and come unglued because we didn’t know how to apply the Scriptures to our situation.

The missionary Amy Carmichael said this about spiritual growth:

“Sometimes when we read the words of those who have been more than conquerors, we feel almost despondent. I feel that I shall never be like that. But they are won through step by step by little bits of wills, little denials of self, little inward victories by faithfulness in very little things. They became what they are. No one sees these little hidden steps. They only see the accomplishment, but even so, those small steps were taken. There is no sudden triumph to spiritual maturity. That is the work of the moment. “

We’ll never be done with growing until we reach heaven’s shores; it’s a slow yet deliberate process. There’s no Miracle Gro remedy for us as there is for my plants, but growth is certain if we just do what we know we need to do with our gracious Savior’s enabling.

What are you doing today to promote growth in your spiritual life? I’d love to hear about how you study the Word to keep it fresh!

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The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge:
but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
Proverbs 15:14

What parent is there that would want their child to remain an infant all their life? As cute as our babies are, we rejoice at each step of growth as they mature. In the same way, as we continue on this journey of walking with the Lord, we have must first have a relationship with God by receiving Christ as our personal Savior. After that, the natural outflow from our spiritual life should be growth.

We all experience dry spells, but for the most part, we should be making progress spiritually. It is aided by purposeful focus. We will purposefully seek knowledge if it is our desire to grow in the Lord more each day.

In order to go beyond just floating along in our Christian life, we need to dig deeper. The means that one woman, Elizabeth George used was:

  1. She never bought a skirt or pair of pants without pockets in it. At the beginning of the week she would write a new memory verse on a 3×5 card and would take it out all day long and read it and work on hiding that verse in her heart. What verse are you currently working on memorizing?
  2. She had “Five Fat Files.” She purchased five file folders in order to tuck away information on Biblical subject matters. She was to pick five areas in which she wanted to grow in expertise so that she was filling herself up with knowledge in these areas.

    In order for us to follow this advice we need to ask ourselves (and pray about) what we’d like to be known for. Do you want to be known as a woman of prayer? Mentoring? Soul winning? After you’ve chosen your five Biblical topics, seek knowledge in these areas. You’ll then know what subjects to be studying. We can’t read everything, but when we have chosen five areas, we have a better idea of what kind of books we should be looking for. We’ll know which workshops to attend when we go to a ladies’ retreat. We’ll clip articles from magazines on those subjects, or print off information we read on the Internet. We can talk with people who are excelling in those areas and ask them questions.

It really helps to funnel our attention to a much smaller focus, and then to seek knowledge especially in those five areas. How will this aid your spiritual growth? You’ll be anxious to get out of bed in the morning to jump up and get in God’s Word to learn more what He says about those five subjects.

Along with filling your five fat files, Elizabeth encourages us to code our Bibles. If you’re seeking knowledge about prayer, mark a P next to each verse you read about praying, a person who prayed, how to pray, Jesus’ prayers, etc. If you make a study of the Women of the Bible, role of women, older women, place a W beside each passage you find about them. Each day as you read your Bible, read it with a pen in hand; that is an act of faith, revealing that you’re certain the Lord is going to show you a nugget that you need to mark.

This kind of study is the main stream to ministry. As you fill yourself up in these five areas, you’ll be like a teapot jumping on the stove. You’ll be so filled with knowledge from God’s Word that you’ll be pouring out on other people. Like the woman that Elizabeth learned from, women will seek you out to get wisdom from the areas in which you have grown.

So, what kind of ministry will you have from the outflow of your spiritual growth? By His grace, let’s each choose those five areas and start growing!

Because of His grace,

Growing Spiritually In the Busy Years

She remembers the day when she could get up, pour coffee, grab her Bible and head out to some comfy, solitary place to read, journal and pray.  Now this busy mom’s alarm clock is a baby, a toddler and her school-aged children.  Their faces, their needs, their cries all come first.  There’s only apple juice, baby bottles, Cheerios and burned toast first thing after getting up.  Oh, the coffee is made, but has been sitting on the burner for far too long. Her time in God’s Word is a desire in her heart, but how will it happen when there are so many other demands on a young mom’s plate?  What is a young mom to do to grow spiritually?

Your demands as a woman might be different, but you’re busier than you’ve ever been, and find it difficult to cultivate time in God’s Word that is meaty and meaningful.  What is a busy woman to do to grow spiritually?

 

I believe there are several practical ways for every woman to spend time in God’s Word when life is busy.

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  1. Place devotional books, books of God’s Promises, or other short reads in places where you can stop for a minute and read something from God’s Word.  Put those kinds of books in a basket in the bathroom (if you’re fortunate enough to be in there alone!), in the laundry area, or in the car.  Read something that will encourage your heart for that minute or two.
  2. Listen to podcasts of preaching or other biblical broadcasts while you’re nursing the baby, folding clothes, making dinner, riding in the car, etc.  Screenshot_2015-03-23-08-50-41 (1)
  3. Listen to Scripture on your phone.  In the same times I listed in #2, when you can’t sit down and open your Bible, you can still listen to someone else read it!  I love the You Version.
  4. proverbs marked20150323_091209Read the Proverb for the day.  It probably only takes about five minutes to read a chapter.  Highlight the verse(s) that jump out and speak to your heart and needs.
  5. Don’t fill your mind with television and other “junk!”  Use every opportunity to fill your heart and mind with God’s Word instead!
  6. Write one verse that you want to memorize  on a 3×5 card .  Tuck that card into your pocket and keep it with you all day.  Pull it out and refresh your heart with the next sentence, and the next and the next.  In a couple of day’s time, you’ll have it memorized!  Scripture in your heart can feed you all day long!

As your life slows down, begin to add in more and more of the kind of Quiet time that will really nurture your heart.  These strategies are for a season, but not forever.  Eventually you’ll be able to be back in a regular routine of study, journaling and prayer, but in the meantime, you can still be fruitful and growing!

Don’t allow the busy times to make you stagnant.  This (busyness), too, shall pass – but you’ll never recapture what you could have gleaned if you don’t grab the spiritual nuggets when you can!

Are you a busy woman like I described?  Which of these tools will you try?

With love,

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Spiritual Check-Up

Being with family over Christmas was so much fun. It was interesting to me how much reminiscing we did! Isn’t it fun to “remember when?”

“What was your favorite childhood memory?”

“Remember when we all…”

“I’ll never forget the time…”

were phrases that were repeated over and over  – like a toddler with a question.

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At the close of 2015 and at the brink of 2016, I’m thinking quite a bit about the year that has passed. Paul reminds us to forget that which is behind and press toward the mark, but I think sometimes a reminder of accomplishments and failures alike can help motivate our future. I’m going to call it my Year-End Check Up. Here’s how I’ll check my spiritual health – I’ll ask a question and then find a practical way to analyze that area.

Check-Up List:

  • What Scripture have I memorized this year? Write down the references and recite the verses.
  • Has my prayer time improved or slacked off? Look into my prayer journal to see prayer requests added or checked off because they were answered.
  • What portion of Scripture have I read that has changed me? Look into my personal devotional journal and Bible studies completed. Was it meaningful? What did I learn and apply?
  • Was my church attendance regular? Was I serving faithfully in my church? The answer to this is simply to remember what I did or didn’t do.
  • Did I give faithfully to my local church? Look at the Tax return they give at the end of the year.
  • Did I pour into anyone else’s life for the Gospel’s sake? Write their name in my prayer journal.
  • Did I disciple anyone? Write their names in my prayer journal.
  • Am I closer to God today than I was this time last year? Ask the Lord in prayer.

Inspection of our spiritual lives is important if we desire to grow. I pray you’ll take time to have a check-up before the new year comes!

Do you have another question you’d ask during your check-up?

With love,

The Work of Gardening Our Hearts

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Last year when my dad suggested we add flower boxes to the front of our house, I knew it was just the addition we needed to set our house off beautifully.  With five front-facing windows, the foliage of flowers and greenery would add a pop of color and life!  A friend at church hung the boxes for me, then I proceeded to fill them with dirt, flowers, ivy and a spike plant.  All summer long, I nurtured and cared for those plants.

Because four of the windows are on the second floor of our house, I would

  1. Open the window
  2. Pop the lower glass inside
  3. Lift the screen
  4. Water, prune and dead head the flowers
  5. Pop the screen back into place
  6. Lower the window
  7. Lock it back into place

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I did this nearly every single day – sometimes twice a day when it was really hot.  The result?  Full, vibrant blooms and lots of beauty.  Neighbors and guests commented on the growth and the addition of the boxes.  I beamed.

When fall came the blooms began yellowing, so I added some fall plants – mums and a few pansies.  Mums don’t last long,so I just recently removed them at the root, and replaced it with more pansies of other colors.

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It’s been a bit messy at times, and a good deal of work, but I’m definitely glad we added the boxes. The addition it’s been to the house and the joy it brings my own heart has been well worth the effort!

Yesterday as I was adding Round #2 of the Pansies, I couldn’t help but think how often times we just assume that the growth and change in our spiritual lives will just “happen.”  That if we attend church, and maybe read a little Scriptural devotional from time to time and “say our prayers,” some kind of spiritual metamorphosis  will be the result.  If we know that it takes diligence and effort for a garden to flourish, why can we not apply that same type of energy to our spiritual growth?  It will require daily watering, weed pulling, fertilizing, changing, and yanking out some roots, but the end result will be worth all the effort.

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While some gardens, like mine, are visual from the front, and everyone can see it, there are others that are hidden, but still give joy to the person who lives there.  In other words, it doesn’t matter if your life is in the public eye or you’re in a place where no one sees, God knows each of our hearts, and longs to have fellowship with us, teaching us His Word and of Himself every single day.

When winter comes, I’m hoping my flower boxes will still stand out because of the efforts I’m putting into them right now.  So too, when “winter” comes to our lives – hard times or the cold winds of trial, if we’ve put in the effort in our spiritual lives, we’ll be a lovely Christian woman, for God’s glory!

What have you done today to care for the garden of your spiritual heart?

With love,

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