Life This Week

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Yesterday, I was rear ended in my car pretty hard while stopped at a red light.  I am generally fine, just a sore neck.  This experience reminded me, though, of my vulnerability, and how you could run out to the store for a taco dinner kit and never come home.  I’m taking an extra dose of life into this week.  My desire is to be open, loving, and alive.

I’m expecting to encounter God every day.  I have great expectation that I will encounter God if my heart, eyes, and hands are open, instead of grasping and scared.  I’m entering each day with a prayer for openness to whatever God might have for me to see, taste, feel, or experience good or bad so that I can encounter him.  I know he is able to do immeasurably more than I could ask or even imagine.  (Ephesians 3:20)

I’m being a peacemaker.  Last week, the verdict in the Zimmerman trial stirred up racial tension that constantly exists below the surface.  Many of the people on my Facebook feed made comments that were racist and claimed to know the truth about what happened though they had not been at the incident or the trial.  I don’t want to be someone who stirs up dissension and hatred.  I want to be a peacemaker, one who reaches across racial divides in Christ-like kindness, one who builds bridges, and one who seeks understanding.  Jesus called these blessed: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”  (Matt 5: 9)

I’m not buying into the “single story” about anyone.  Yesterday, I watched the TED Talk called The Danger of the Single Story, by a Nigerian novelist named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  She tells of the dangers of hearing a single story about a people – “People in Africa are poor and dying of AIDS” – and making it the only story.  The best illustration of her point was made when she described a time when a young American woman, who had read one of Adichie’s novels, expressed her sympathy that men in Nigeria beat their wives.  Adichie’s response was to express her sympathy, based on reading American Psycho, that American men are psychopath serial killers.  Every people group, every person has a multi-story narrative.  I know I do.  But we reduce people to a single story all the time, sometimes consciously, sometimes not.  In doing so, we demean them.  Jesus never bought into the single story about anyone; he saw the whole.  I want to be made aware this week of the ways I seek to impose a single story on people and then I want to reject it in favor of learning the full story.

I’m turning on my Spirit Fire App.  I need God’s word to infuse every aspect of my day or I forget who he is, what he is capable of, and who I am.  Really, I do.  I found this phone app called Spirit Fire and I can set it to send verses of Scripture to me throughout my day.  It has different  categories of verses: Faith & Hope, Finance, In Christ, Inspiration, and Relationships.  The first day I used it, it sent me:  1 Corin 3:16 at 8:44 a.m.; Gal 5:22-24 at 10:47 a.m.; Rom 5:17 at 1:17 p.m.; 1 Corin 12:27 at 3:31 p.m.; and 1 Cor 15:49 at 5:56 p.m.  I’m using it all week to keep me grounded in truth throughout the day.

What does your week look like?

Are your hands gripped tight?  Can you open them, maybe just a little?

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Life This Week

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This week feels heavy to me and even in the early morning hours, I am looking forward to the end of it.  It would be easy to put my head down and view this week as a series of tasks to mark off my list.  I want to do life a different way, though.  I want to carry with me all week the deep and unbreakable connection I felt with God yesterday during worship at church and again in prayer with my small group.  Here’s what I’m doing to help keep me connected with God and others so that my week is not just something to endure, but something that is holy.

I’m praying for patience.  I will have some late nights and long flights this week, which means great potential for exhaustion and irritation.  I am praying that God will help me clothe myself with patience and gentleness in every moment.  (Col. 3:12)

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I’m carrying around one of Jesus’ questions This week on my phone background, I will find the question Jesus asked his disciples: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”  (Matthew 16:15)  I cannot wait to see what God will do in me with this question.  I wonder if my life and my answer match.

I’m hanging onto one of God’s promises.  I’m believing this: Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

I’m praying and trusting.  There are so many people I would love to carry into the presence of God this week for encouragement and healing, in thankfulness and joy, and for guidance and protection.  This morning, my daughter and I each wrote down all the people and needs we will pray about on our own piece of blue paper.  We will carry our blue paper with us and in our prayer times or whenever we catch a glimpse of it, we will pray for those the names and needs.  But, if we forget one day or one person or one need, we are trusting God that he knows and he hears even without our help.  (Romans 8:26-27)

I’m thanking God I am thanking God for his amazing grace, for my daughter, and how he will transform something in me during this full week.

What does your to-do list look like this week?

Life This Week

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This weekend was so rich with life, the days could hardly contain it.  Did you notice how the grass is greener and longer and the trees are showing signs of life? I had dinner Saturday with my daughter and three of my spiritual mentors, each of whom has been Jesus to me and has walked with me through my highest and lowest moments of the last four years.   Then, Sunday, my daughter and I had ice cream for lunch and drove around signing songs at the top of our lungs with the windows of the car rolled down.  As I climbed into bed last night, I could not help but remember Jesus’ words: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10)  This week will be busy, but I would love for the fullness of the weekend to spill into the week.  Here’s what I’m planning:

I’m expecting to encounter God. I will encounter people this week and so I will encounter God.  I can’t wait!

I’m not letting Facebook entice me away from life.  I’m still working through why Facebook presents such a pull for me.  Am I the only one who has begun to have experiences and instead of being fully engaged or thankful, you wonder what to say about it on Facebook? Social media did not play any role in my rich weekend.  I’m going to do a little experiment this week and see if I can just be present in real life instead of on Facebook.

IMG_1392I’m carrying around one of Jesus’ questions.  This week on my phone background, I will find the question Jesus asked the blind man, Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?”  This one is going to have several levels, I suspect.  I may not get to the truest answer for a few days.

I’m reading Scripture out loud to myself.  Paul says something remarkable to the Philippians at then end of his letter to them, after thanking them for their support of him as he traveled around preaching the gospel.  He said: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 4:19)  I am letting these words speak over me today (in my voice) because I am amazed at God’s desire not just to make sure I barely get by, but rather, to meet my needs according to his glorious riches!

I’m praying a big prayer.  God stopped the sun and the moon in response to a prayer.  (Josh. 10:12-14) I’m praying big this week because I know God is able.

I’m thanking God.  I am thanking God for my daughter and for the people he has brought into my life.

What’s on your agenda this week?

What’s your big prayer?

Scripture to consider:

Joshua 10:12-14

Philippians 4:10-20

My To-Do List for this Week

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It’s Monday again.  This week has a ton of potential.  Yesterday at church, we started a three-week series called Celebration of Hope, during which we will learn about churches around the world, serve churches in Africa and South America by providing for community needs like seeds, medical supplies, and clean water, and help equip their pastors and youth leaders.  I could wait out the week and see what the teaching is next Sunday, but I can’t do it, I’m taking this last Sunday right into Monday.  Here’s my to-do list:

I’m expecting to encounter God today.

This tops my list again this week because there is just nothing better.  Psalm 89:14 (NLT) says that unfailing love and truth walk before God as attendants.  I’m looking for unfailing love and truth.  There, I’ll find God.

I’m reading Scripture out loud to myself.

This one from Acts 2:42-47 never gets old to me or fails to fire me up.  When the church operates this way, it is the hope of the world.  I’m reading it out loud.  I may even stand up!

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God, and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I’m inviting a friend for dinner.

It’s one thing to text and email love and encouragement.  It’s another to sit down, face-to-face and have a conversation over dinner.  One says love and one does love.  Both matter.

I’m carrying around one of Jesus’ questions.

Last week, I typed out Jesus’ question, “Do you believe I am able to do this?” and set it as the background picture on my phone.  My faith grew last week because I finally turned over to God a wound for healing.  I had not believed he could.  This week, the question I’m walking around with is from Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”  Every time I look at my phone, this question will be there.  Who knows what could happen as this one makes its way into my heart at the same time there is such need in the global community.

I’m writing letters, packing seeds, and praying.

I sponsor three precious, growing kids in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.  Today, I’m writing each of them a letter to encourage them and their families.  Every day this week, I’ll pray for them with their pictures in front of me.  On Friday, my daughter and I will join our church community and pack tomato and squash seeds into small white envelopes that will be sent to Africa to help communities there grow gardens.  I’m praying for each person in our world who is hungry.

I’m thanking God.

I am thanking God for my daughter and for the way he works through his church.

What’s on your to-do list this week?

Scripture to consider:

Psalm 89:14

Acts 2:42-47

Luke 6:46

My Monday To-Do List

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Mondays can be hard, getting back to work and all. But they hold such possibility, days stretched out ahead. I want my Sunday to roll right into my Monday and on into my Tuesday, and so forth. I don’t want to live for Friday, waiting out the long hours of the other days, just hoping to make it.  So, although I’ve got a to-do list for this week that could take me a month to work through, I’ve added these six things at the top of the list:

I’m expecting to encounter God today. Every time I have an encounter with God, whether it is through another person, in Scripture, in nature, or within my own heart, it surprises me. I cannot make God respond to me or answer a prayer, but somehow, when I walk in the world with my eyes up instead of buried in my thoughts or my smartphone, I can’t help but see him all around me. I expect to encounter him today.

I’m reading Scripture out loud to myself. There are some things I need to remember when I start a day (and a week) because each day seems to start with new insecurities about who I am and whose I am. Today and each morning this week, I’m reading Romans 8:1-2 out loud to myself because I need to hear it:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

I’m asking: “What would love do in this situation?”  I will probably see and talk to about 10-15 people today. In each encounter, I will ask myself: “What would love do in this situation?”  And, whatever the answer, I’m doing it.

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I’m carrying around one of Jesus’ questions. Jesus asked many questions of the people he encountered during his time on earth. I’m writing one down today and setting it as the background picture on my phone. It’s from Matthew 9:28: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Every time I look at my phone, this question will be there and pull me forward.

I’m praying for other people. So many people come to mind during a typical day. Each time one comes, I am acknowledging them before God: “I lift Amy up to you, Lord.”

I’m thanking God. I am thanking God for my daughter and for the smell of the air today.  How they have blessed me!

What’s at the top of your to-do list?

Scripture to consider:

Romans 8:1-2

Matthew 9:27-31

Psalm 37:3-7