L.E.A.P. – simply (August 29)

simple –

  • uncomplicated
  • pure
  • single minded
  • single purposed
  • easy to understand
  • easy to deal with, use, …
  • not elaborate
  • free of guile or deceit
  • clear
  • natural
  • neat
  • essentials

When I get down to it, I don’t need much.

"The LORD is my Shepherd, I have everything I need."  Psalm 23

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I have a new journal for this month.  My calendar is in order, and I plan to keep my schedule simple.  I’ve marked down the must-do appointments and assigned large blocks of time for the important responsibilities that I need to slow down and enjoy.  I’m guarding those precious windows of “scheduled-unscheduled time”.  And, I’m open to how the LORD wants to rearrange my days with surprises.

"...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life; minding your own business and working with your hands..." 1 Thes.4:11

I plan to drink water, go for walks, read books, look at art, journal, and absolutely savor the simple things, those precious priceless gifts from God.

Whatever I do this month, I will do it with the LORD.  Unhurried, taking each day moment by moment, letting Him lead me.

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So far, every month of this LEAP Year has been a divine appointment, paralleling perfectly with the surprises the LORD had for me on His calendar.   So, in keeping with this month’s theme, I’m not over planning.   I have no particular “personal challenge” except to LIVE, ENJOY, ADD, and PRAY simply.

It’s back to the basics for me.

I want to travel light, have an uncluttered mind, uncomplicate my relationships,… just live and enjoy each day, add something, and pray simple child-like/faith-filled prayers as I love the LORD and love my neighbor.

Everything I’ve learned so far this year, all the healthy heart and mind habits the LORD has impressed upon me, I want to apply with out over thinking things.

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I will be asking questions like these:

  • How can I simplify this day?
  • What can I do to make things easier/less of a burden for my family/friends/myself?
  • How can I add margin to my schedule?
  • What can I do to make it possible to be less busy, less hurried

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It’s time to L.E.A.P. simply.

(I am so ready for this month!)

Here I go…

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Follow this link to check out the complete L.E.A.P. year challenge. 

 

the trying of my patience (29 verses / 29 tests)

29 Verses / 29 Tests

I gave myself two assignments this month when I enrolled in the school of patience:

  1. choose 29 verses relating to patience
  2. list 29 things that test my patience

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I’ve started writing List 1 (a verse for each day of this month’s L.E.A.P. year challenge) in my calendar, and I LOVE IT!!!  It’s such a blessing to choose a short verse or passage to mediate on for the day.

(I’m thinking want to do this from now on for whatever theme I’m focusing on, or even just for accountability to pull out a key verse from my daily reading or current Bible study that applies to my life.)

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You’re trying my patience!

(One of these two lists was surprisingly easy to write!  Can you guess which one?  — Hint:  it wasn’t the verses.)

I kept the second list, the list of things that tested my patience, in on my iPhone.  Pretty handy, as long as my phone was charged.  (I could add items to the list on the spot while waiting in line at the grocery, when I was locked out of the car while Handsome was in Lowes, slow internet or no internet service, when I was wide awake at 2 am, while waiting on hold on the phone, when there was no hot water for my shower, …   I really better stop. )

What a great exercise this was!  Before too many days had passed, when I’d go to add to my list, I’d see what I had written previously and realized the power control over my mood that I gave little minor irritations.   It was as if I had a “pause button” on life, and for a moment I could see clearly,…  THESE ARE OPPORTUNITIES to build and display CHARACTER!!!

“This is a test.”

From then on, before I added another item to my list, I would thinking to myself, “Remember how you reacted to these other tests?  (Some I passed heroically, some I failed miserably!)   What will you do now?  This person (thing, situation) is a gift from God chosen especially for me.  Choose your attitude, Deborah.  You can choose how you will respond.  ”

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29 things that try my patience:

(I’m talking more than just “pet peeves”.  I’m moving further down the scale, closer to frustrations and on to major sorrows.)

I had so much material, and to keep from offending or embarrassing anyone (especially myself), I decided to leave out the ugly specifics and group them into broader categories.  See if any of these resonate with you.

  1. misplaced items
  2. broken items
  3. items/goals just out of reach
  4. physical pain/discomfort
  5. repetition
  6. unappreciated service
  7. rudeness
  8. disrespect
  9. dishonesty
  10. worry/fear/anxious thoughts
  11. interruptions/delays
  12. thwarted plans
  13. sleeplessness
  14. dependence on others
  15. consequences from others’ choices
  16. acts of God (ex. weather)
  17. “not-so-convenient” conveniences
  18. forgetfulness/carelessness
  19. laziness/sloppiness
  20. manipulation
  21. whining/negative attitudes
  22. the law of thermodynamics
  23. waste
  24. cultural/political/media issues
  25. injustice
  26. noise
  27. miscommunication
  28. unmet expectation/disappointment
  29. accidents/failure/mistakes

I found that the more precious or treasured the item was or the closer and more intimate the person involved is to me, the more intense the testing of my patience, the greater the temptation to become anger or quit or despair.

Handsome and I have frequently said to our kids,

  • “If you’re not embarrassed, it’s not embarrassing.
  • If you’re not offended, it’s not offensive.
  • If you’re not irritated, it’s not irritating.”

In other words, don’t be so sensitive.

Rule your own spirit.  Take your thoughts captive and control your feels, your emotion, moods, and especially your anger!!!

Still, not all tests of our patience are equal.   But, the same scriptures apply to handling trivial irritations without being hyper sensitivity as it does to standing firm and not being swept away with more intense trials.

  • Whether it’s a misplacing phone or a lost wedding ring…
  • Whether it’s burnt garlic bread under the broiler or a burning barn…
  • Whether it is a misunderstanding or a ruthless betrayal…
  • Whether it’s a sleepless night from an aching joint or a long and rather scary night in the ER with a child…

My response must be CLING to the LORD

and STAND on the TRUTH of Scripture.

I always have a choice.

Whatever the crisis, I must remember I always have a choice

  1. to LIVE the moment well… or even to “just live”, just keep breathing, survive by depending on God to get me through the darkest and most trying moment or season;
  2. to ENJOY something… to quiet my heart, to see that there is a blessing somewhere and hope for the future, to find some good, something to be thankful for… and there is always something;
  3. to ADD something, to bless someone, to do something positive to the lighten and brighten the situation, to bring beauty to the grey;
  4. and to PRAY… if nothing else, I can always pray.

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” …the trying (KJV), testing (NAS, NIV, ESV) of your faith worketh patience” (KJV), endurance (NAS, Living), perseverance (NIV), steadfastness (ESV)

I wonder if the communitive property applies here?

a+b = b+a

If “the trying of my faith produced patience”,

then does “the trying of my patience produce faith”?

All I know that while I’ve intentionally done my best to pass the tests that have tried my patience this month, I have been all the more humbled and dependent upon the LORD.  I do believe my faith has been strengthened.  I am living out James 1:2-4.  Though I see I still have soooo far to go, I know that I am being made complete, and the LORD is conforming me to the image of Christ Jesus.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.   But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” 

29 Verses to pass the tests of my patience:

As promised, here are brief quotes from the 29 verses I’ve collected as they applied to my own circumstance, but I’d encourage you to look up your own.  There are 100’s.

Besides verse that use the actual word “patience” (or perseverance, endurance, or self-control), there are countless verses about anger, trust, peace, bearing with others, forgiving, overlooking an offense, and much more that could apply to your specific trial or frustration or disappointment or whatever it is you are facing today.

  1. “Love is patience…” 1 Cor. 13:4
  2. “The LORD is not slow about His promises… but is patient toward you…” 2 Pt. 3:9
  3. The LORD’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome… patient when wronged…”  2 Tim. 2:24
  4. “The fruit of the Spirit is… patience…”  Gal. 5:22
  5. “…when you do what is right and suffer… patiently endure it…” 1 Pt. 2:20
  6. “… preach the word; be ready in season and out of season… with great patience…”  2 Tim. 4:2
  7. “…working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain … in everything… in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love…”  2 Cor. 6 (v.6)
  8. “… you will try the patience of my God as well?” Is. 7:13
  9. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap…”  Gal. 6:9
  10. “You need patience so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”  Heb. 10:36
  11. “Rest in the LORD, wait patiently for Him; do not fret…” Ps. 37:7
  12. “…count it all joy… but let patience perfect its work…” James 1:2-4
  13. “…be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promise.” Heb. 6:12
  14.  Be patient… notice how the farmer waits… Establish your hearts…”  James 5:7-8
  15. “…be patient toward everyone…”  1 Thes. 5:14-15
  16. “If it is possible, as much it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  Rms. 12:18
  17. “For He is our peace who has made both groups one and has broken down the barrier of the dividing wall.”  Eph. 2:14
  18. “…God gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  2 Cor. 5:17-18
  19. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us…”  2 Cor. 5:20
  20. “…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  …you shall be sons and daughters to Me…” 2 Cor. 5:21, 6:18 (remember who you are and Who you represent)
  21. “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Jn. 13:17
  22. “…My help comes from the LORD…”  Ps. 121:1-2
  23. “…to him who know to do good and does not do it, it is sin.”  James 4:17
  24. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22
  25. “He who is quick tempered deals foolishly…” Pr. 14:17
  26. “He who is slow to anger (wrath) is of great understanding, but he who is hasty of spirit exalts folly.”  Pr. 14:29
  27. “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger appeases strife.”  Pr. 15:18
  28. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”  Pr. 16:32
  29. “Do not be quick in your spirit to be angry for irritation settles in the bosom of fools.”  Eccl.  7:9

To find more verses, look up a key word in the back of your Bible or in a Concordance, check out BibleHub or BibleGateway, use a Promise Book or a book with verses by topic, or Google “verses about patience”.)

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Dear Seeker,

Look to Jesus, our example.  Look to the Scriptures, our guide book.  Listen to the Holy Spirit, our Guide, Counselor, and Teacher.

Don’t be afraid to ask the LORD for patience.  You’re going to face challenged in this life, but oh, how much better it is to approach everything with a calm and steady composure that comes from being filled with the Spirit and bearing the fruit of patience!

If you’re reading this post, I am praying for YOU!

Restore and Remodel your Temple (Tea Party)

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I am blessed to have a fellowship group made up of a seven amazing gals (and an occasional special guest) that meets for tea and prayer.   Seven months out of the year, we take turns hosting a night of fellowship and prayer in honor of one of the other ladies.

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We celebrate our friend with her favorite foods and a unique theme in her favorite colors and styles (many  ideas often coming from checking out her Pinterest boards), but what is most precious to all of us is that we write down prayer requests and pray for each other regularly.

With seven ladies, and each of us praying for a different person on each of the seven days of the week, we all know that we are being prayed for everyday.  Additionally, because we’ve given each other little gifts over the years, we have prayer reminders all around our homes (books, lotions,  shower gels, teacups, jewelry, lip sticks, notes and cards, …). 

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tea party 02This month it was my turn to host.

The tea-girls chipped in to buy the a gift card from a major hardware store for our “unbirthday-girl”, and this inspired the night’s theme…

“Home Improvement” (and, a.k.a., in keeping with our Bible study in preparation for our Spring retreat,  “Temple Improvement”).

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If you’re anything like my tea-party ladies, you love daydreaming about home-improvement projects (remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, chalk painting or refinishing a dresser or coffee table, furniture, or decorating a room in a fresh style or color), but we know that what our house (our home, our body, our temple) really needs to improve the atmosphere is a different type of restoration.

What follows is what I shared for the devotional/prayer activity for the night.

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I chose brochures from the paint section of the hardware store to match each individual’s personality, style, and colors.

When the ladies arrived, I had instrumental music playing, and I challenged them to use the items specifically chosen for them as prayer prompts.   I told them to pay attention to the swatches of color with their descriptive names, the images, and the headings and use them as starters for prayers about their Home and their Bodies (both being temples/dwelling places for themselves and the Holy Spirit).

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With a black fine tip Sharpie, they could write in single words (Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Verbs) or phrases that represented needs, longings, desires, dreams, or anything they wanted to pray about concerning their life.

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Though the layouts were all pretty much the same, because the images (and our hearts) were so different, each trifold prayer pamphlet was unique to each individual.

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Dear Seeker,

The LORD is everything you need Him to be and more.  His is the great Creator, Designer, Architect of the Universe.  He made YOU!   His is a Marriage Counselor, a Mentor, a Life Coach, a Teacher, a Fitness Trainer, and Friend.   Who could you hire that knows you as well as He does?

Let me ask you a question, and I want you to answer.  How long has it been a while since you went out on a “date” with the LORD? 

Here’s a suggestion, take a drive with the LORD up to a city with a Lowes or Home Depot, pick out a few paint swatches with Him.  Buy a fine-tip Sharpie, and then hang out with God for an hour or two at a Coffee Shop as you fill in your sample booklets.    (This is exactly the kind of thing I do with the LORD on my prayer days.  And, I’m addicted to hanging out with Him!  — Try this, and I think you’ll begin to see why once a year, once a month, and once a week is never enough time with the LORD!!!!)

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One more thing.  Are you lonely?  Even attending church can be lonely without deep authentic fellowship (vulnerably sharing in a safe place what God is teaching us, where we are struggling, and what God is doing in our lives, in our ministries, and in our families).

Consider starting a fellowship/prayer/encouragement group of your own.  (You don’t even need to have tea!)  Fellowship is a gift from the LORD!  We all need others to inspire, challenge, and encourage us in the trials of life and in our walk of faith.

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May you chose your confidants wisely.  May the LORD lead you to a handful of like-minded women that will become some of your dearest friends and your greatest intercessors.

Though no one is “perfect” (not even you), I pray you will know the blessing of a safe and loyal group of prayer warriors that you can grow with.  May you take the risk with a chosen few to share your darkest struggles, your highest joys, and deepest sorrows.  May you be a blessing them, and may you be mutually encouraged as you see the answers to your prayers for each other.

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Keep on Seeking!   — If you’re reading this, I’m praying for YOU!

Live Like You are Loved … because you are.

Every star in the sky, every misty rainbow, every breathtaking sunset, every turning of the tide and splash of every ocean wave, every sleepy rainy day, every snuggly winter night, every shiny bright new morning, every bird’s song, every turning leaf, the buzz of every busy honeybee, every panoramic perfect mountain view, every drop of dew, the scent and color of every unique flower, …

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Everything

was made for the glory of God (Romans 11:36),

for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11),

and

for you (1 Timothy 6:17)

to enjoy!

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You are loved.  Do you believe it?

Every trial, every trying person, every delay, every single thing that the LORD brings and allows into your life is coupled with promises, hidden treasures, and blessings to come.

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The LORD loves YOU.

Deep, deep down, do you know this?

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Do you trust Him?

You can.  You should.  Because it’s true.  Regardless of how you feel right now, YOU ARE LOVED.  This truth doesn’t become “less true” because you don’t believe it,

… but a lot will change if you don’t.

For example:  how you pray, how you worship, how you make decisions, how you read the Scriptures,  how you view the world, how you relate to other people, how you imagine the future, how you dream, how you trust,…

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And, a lot will change if you do believe it!

What would change if you lived like you were loved?   What if you lived like you were special to God, …chosen, gifted, forgiven?   What if you lived like a conqueror, like a treasured child of a King, like a new creation,…

What if you believed all that is already true about you?

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If you’re reading this, I am praying for YOU.  That you would remember, if you have forgotten, who you are in Christ.  That you would remember all that the LORD has done to show you that He loves you.  And, then that you will live knowing, remembering the truth!

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Lift up your head, open your eyes, and ask the LORD to show you…

“LORD, show me that You love me!  Remind me.  Help me to see all the ways you’ve blessed me, rescued me, protected me, help me, strengthened me, comforted me,…  Reassure me, LORD.  Help me to remember.”

Pay attention, expect His answer.  Be patient, but get ready to thank Him.  If you call out to Him, He will hear you.  If you seek Him, you will find Him to be everything you need.  Then, pray, work, sleep, wake, live differently, confidently!!!

YOU ARE LOVED!

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Handsome gave me these flowers, a beautiful way for him to say, “I love you.”  But, they were really a gift from the One who made them.

God made them for me!

My Omniscient Heavenly Father saw each of these blooms when they we tiny seeds.  He watched them sprout and blossom.  He guided the artistic eye of the florist, and He put it in my husband’s heart to purchase and deliver them to me.

— I hope you see it, too.  Every thing you have, your health, your friends, your family, your life, and every material thing you have on loan, is really from the LORD who loves you.  —

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And just incase you’re wishing you could trade places with someone and taste their blessings…  Knock it off!!!  Get your eyes on the LORD and see your life differently.  Quit comparing your life, your blessings or hardship, to anyone else’s (You really have no idea what all comes with their package.  As Jesus said to Peter when he was distracted with thoughts about John, “What is that to you?  You follow me.”)

Don’t let anything or anyone distract you from the abundant life the LORD wants you to experience.  His plans for you are good, and YOU are LOVED!