Bible Study Benefits

Bible4We are all so busy.  There’s always some place we need to be, someone we need to see, or something we need to do in our daily life.  We stretch ourselves thin while pursuing the wants and needs we all have.  But what if we are neglecting one of our greatest needs during our busyness?   How do we keep it all together while at the same time increasing our faith?

 

I wish I had all the answers and could say I follow them daily.  But I will be the first to admit I fail to some extent each and every day.  For me, my faith is probably the most important aspect of my life I want to hold onto, and yet I am guilty of setting it aside at times.  I started off missing church because of illness, then it became a habit, and then a practice of not attending Sunday service.  Sometimes I’m uncomfortable in larger groups of people, but I haven’t even tried lately.  True, I’m at the church normally six days a week working, but it’s not quite the same.  Yet, if you were to ask me, I would probably tell you I go to church all the time.  And I do, but I’m not worshiping in a way that God deserves.

A few weeks ago, I began attending a new Bible Study on Wednesday evenings.  I thought maybe if I could do this a few times it will “make up” for missing Sunday mornings.  Well, it has not served that purpose; it has not given me a good out that clears my conscience of not attending Sunday morning worship, but it has given me a few unexpected benefits.

  1. Reading the Bible.  I wonder how many of us could honestly say we read the Bible every day, and be very honest about it.  I imagine not many of us.  It’s so easy to put the Bible on the backburner.  We’ll get to that later and then later never gets here.  Not only has a weekly Bible Study given me more Bible reading time at home, I’ve begun exploring different versions online.  I’ve even become very fond of a couple versions I had never heard of before.  It helps me have a clearer understanding, and it keeps me reading.
  2. Friendships.  Meeting in a small group, reading and studying the Bible together, sharing thoughts…it has created a bond amongst us I wasn’t really expecting.  It has brought together folks who were friendly, and made them friends.  When the pastor was out of town and we had no leader for the group, we went out to dinner together.  We prayed, we ate, we laughed.  We chose to spend that time together rather than go our separate ways.  That is God working a plan in our lives.
  3. Socializing.  I could very easily become a hermit.  Rather than force myself to go out with friends, I would much rather stay at home with my pets and watch a movie or read a book.  I’d rather make a To-Do List in my notebook than have conversations with people I enjoy.  It doesn’t make much sense, but it is what it is and that’s how I am.  Being an introvert isn’t a terrible thing, but there is much about life I sometimes miss because of my tendency to seclude myself.  Bible Study forces me out of the house and among friends.  The group is small enough I feel comfortable.  Granted, if it was a group larger than ten, I might not feel the same way.  Our group is cozy, but not overwhelming.
  4. Laughter.  With most small groups, there is going to be laughter at some point. And you may have heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  If it doesn’t cure you, it’s bound to make you feel a whole lot better!13938387_1114010325302730_9169913728093619050_n
  5. A stronger relationship with God.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Studying God’s word, sharing thoughts, supporting each other.  It all adds together to bring us closer to each other and to God.  At the end of every study session, we pray.  We can pray silently or out loud, however the Spirit moves us.  It is a peaceful time, and I usually feel God’s presence in a strong way.

I would encourage everyone to join a small group for Bible Study.  Not only has it strengthened my relationship with God, it is time well invested in making my life more balanced, more meaningful.  And maybe, just maybe, I will be a better person for it.

Blessings

 

An Introvert’s Saturday Night

13092171_1049850765052020_9125567350055287945_nIt’s another Saturday, the last Saturday of April 2016.  It’s Spring time and many people are celebrating better weather (though it’s a bit chilly and dreary today here) and spending time outdoors with family, cookouts, and picnics.  Or maybe going out to a club or having dinner at a nice restaurant with a group of friends.

And then there’s another group of people, each of us celebrating our Saturday night’s alone, apart from the crowds and noise, and in our own ways.  Welcome to my Saturday night; an Introvert’s Saturday Night.

  • 6:00pm have nightshirt on.
  • 6:05pm let Maggie outside.  Stay inside the garage so neighbors don’t see me in nightshirt.  Feed Jonnie Katt so he can eat in peace without Maggie.  Hold and pet the boy while he purrs.
  • 6:20pm or thereabouts, Maggie comes back inside, tongue hanging out, hot from running all around the yard, feet wet and cold.  Jumps on me so I can get the full effect of the cold, wet feet.
  • 6:23pm give Maggie her supper.
  • 6:30pm Google what shows are on the three channels I get on TV tonight.  Notice there’s nothing worth watching.
  • 6:32pm check Facebook.
  • 6:35pm drag out my Art Journal and colored pencils or pens and doodle.
  • 7:30pm notice my doodling is not improving and looks like child’s play but don’t care.  I’m OK with never being an artist.   It’s my doodle.
  • 7:35pm pick out a DVD to watch.  Tonight, it will be Spenser for Hire, Season 1, Episode 2.  After all these years, Spenser and Hawk are still cool dudes.  Maggie snuggles up close and goes to sleep.
  • 7:37pm check Facebook.
  • 8:30pm let Episode 3 play of Spenser for Hire while reading a chapter of Unstuffed, by13139192_1049850411718722_8024304825355673105_n Ruth Soukup.  I make notes and highlight text.   Maggie snuggles against me and snores.
  • 9:30pm hope is renewed that I can get rid of “stuff.”
  • 9:31pm check Facebook.
  • 9:35pm feeling hungry and open the bag of White Cheddar Popcorn I brought home, accompanied by some ice cold Diet Coke.
  • 11:35pm wake up after having fallen asleep with my hand in the popcorn.  It’s sticky.  At the same time I notice my nose itches and wipe my sticky fingers across my nose.
  • 11:40pm turn the TV on to see who’s on Saturday Night Live.  Watch for a few minutes.  If nothing they say makes me angry, I’ll watch for maybe half an hour.  If they make me mad, like making a joke about God, then I’ll turn it off.
  • Midnight turn off the TV and start reading whatever book I’m reading from my Kindle.
  • 12:15am check Facebook.
  • 12:17am resume reading.
  • 12:30am out of popcorn and fall asleep, if I’m lucky.

And there you have it.  My wild and crazy Saturday night.  And I like it like that.

If you’re single and alone, how do you spend your Saturday night?

 

Blessings.

My Favorite Book

Bible2From the earliest of my memories, books have been a fascination to me.  It first puzzled me how adults could sit for hours reading a book without pictures.  How could anyone enjoy something that didn’t have pictures?  I mean, in my four or five year old mind, pictures told the entire story.

My grandmother would read to me quite often.  Storybooks.  Faerie tales.  Books about Spot the dog and Harriet the goat, or something along those lines.  Thin books full of pictures I loved to look at.  Puppies, farm animals, kittens…books about animals were my favorite then.

Like all children, I started school and began to learn to read the words that went with the pictures in my books.  I learned a lot of words simply because I knew the stories by heart by then and I could put them both together.  I’m not sure how long at a time I would read, but the time was increasing.  Reading out loud was one of my favorite things to do.

One night, and I remember it clearly, my grandmother was reading her book silently to herself, but I was reading my book out loud, and it annoyed her.  She told me I was a big girl and I no longer had to read the words out loud, I could say them to myself.  This felt pretty odd at first, but I soon got the hang of it.  Grandma was a lot happier then and we could sit side by side for hours reading silently to ourselves.

I think I was about 12 when Grandma gave me my first Bible.  It was white, with gold lettering on the front.  I thought it was the most beautiful book I had ever seen and I dived right in reading it.  It was King James Version, so it wasn’t always the easiest to understand, but it seemed to have a poetry about it.  The words were beautiful even before I started paying attention to the meaning.  That Bible was the first of several over the years.  It’s the one that started it all.

When I was 13, my mother and I attended a little country church, nestled in the woods, for a little while.  It was during our Sunday School lessons at Joppa Methodist Church that I became aware that there were other versions of the Bible, versions I could understand better.  Who knew?

For Christmas when I was about 15, I asked my mother for a Bible called The Way, The 9780842378208-us-300Living Bible.  Amazingly enough, she got it for me.  I loved it!  It opened up a whole new world for me.  The words in the Bible took on more meaning.  My mind was reaching more understanding of God’s Word.  How could anyone not read the Bible?  It was a fantastic book, full of hope, war, hate, faith, and love.  There was sex, scandals, miracles, and sadness.   It had everything any bestseller on the market had, and a whole lot more.

As happens with many young people, I began drifting away some from reading the Bible.  There was the dating thing, the marriage thing, the working and going to college thing.  I worked most Sundays, or at least tried to, for the extra pay.  In my mind, I was way too busy to go to church.  But during those years, I kept my Bibles on the floor under my side of the bed.  When my husband was out of town during the week, I would read a little, at least a few verses.  There was just something about reading God’s Word that made me feel better.  It got me through some pretty rough times by giving me hope.  And it was through those words in those Bibles that made me want to pray, and I prayed a lot.  I felt like God and I were getting to know each other a little better.

Bible4Fast forward a few decades and I have collected several Bibles.  I like exploring different versions.  Some I can read like a novel, some take more time, like the King James Version.  Sometimes, I’m just in the mood for one version or the other.  Do I read my Bibles as often as I should?  No.  And I’m not proud of that.  But to this day, it is still my favorite book of all time.  It’s the one book that can give me hope, comfort my grief, celebrate my happiness, and make me believe in miracles.  It was that first white Bible my grandmother gave me that put me on the path to become a Christian later in life.  It helped plant a seed.

If you don’t have a Bible, I urge you to get one.  If you cannot afford one, stop in a church and ask them for one.  They will gladly give you a Bible of your own.  If you live in my neck of the woods, stop in at Rockland Church and I will make sure you have a Bible.  It’s an amazing story you don’t want to miss.

 

Blessings

The Power of Nothing

  
It’s a busy world we live in. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the time we lay down to sleep at night, we’re constantly moving, doing, and thinking. And that can be a good thing. But I’m also an advocate of doing nothing, and doing it often.
I was raised on a small, 32 acre dairy farm in the 60’s and 70’s. Our family of six consisted of mom and dad, two older brothers, myself, and a younger brother who was born severely handicapped. My grandmother lived in a mobile home beside of our farmhouse. Besides the hay fields, corn fields, and cattle, there were always two large gardens being taken care of in the summer, with freezing and canning in late summer. Dad also worked a construction job most of the time. So there was always work to be done somewhere, doing something.
This was my problem…I was born a dreamer. My mind was always someplace else or wishing I was someplace else. I would escape into fairy tale worlds, or dream of riding away from everything on a beautiful black stallion, fading into the sunset. I loved the animals and taking care of feeding the baby calves. But to be honest, there was nothing I hated more than scraping cow poop in the barn or hoeing weeds in the corn fields or gardens. I didn’t mind terribly much carrying pails of milk to the cooler in the milk house, but I hated getting hay out of the haymow for fear of a big black snake being curled up on a bale. I loved spending time with mom and grandma during canning season, and didn’t mind shelling peas and shell beans, but shelling Lima beans made my thumbs so sore I could cry. Sometimes I grumbled and complained and tried, unsuccessfully, to dream myself away.
Taking care of my little brother, Joey, was a task I never fussed about. I loved him. And I would often read to him and he would listen to my voice. He may not have known what I was saying, but I think it brought both of us joy to hear a rousing tale of Three Little Pigs, or a poem from my little book of verses.
Now, Dad always said I was lazy. And I was when it came to all the chores I didn’t like to do, which are the ones he always made me do. I was blessed with two older brothers who mostly got to do all the heavy work. A good work ethic is a wonderful thing to have in life, and I appreciate having been given one from a young age.
With so much work to be done, my dad hated to see me doing nothing. Reading was my passion and what I tried to do every chance I could get, and later it included writing, too. And nothing made my dad angrier than to see me reading or writing because to him, I was doing nothing. Yet, even the sting of the hickory switch and the burn of his belt couldn’t stop me from trying to do “nothing.”
Fifty years later and I’m still hearing voices yelling at me for doing nothing. Until the last few years, vacations of any kind were nonexistent. I would have to plan chores or work to be done around the house or on a project. Guilt would engulf every fiber of my being every time I picked up a book to read. Every time I would pick up paper and pen to write, fear of being found writing would grasp my chest in a stronghold.
  
Oh, those voices of the past can still be heard. Slowly, I’m learning to silence them somewhat, or at least turn down the volume. I cannot change the fact I was born with this instilled need to dream, read, and write about fact and fiction. Some will still call me lazy. I accept that. But I also now accept this, that doing what I love to do, what some call “nothing,” is exactly what I need to do to survive. When I succumb to the voices, I begin to die inside. When I resist them and follow my passions, I am renewed.
Some of my favorite times of doing nothing are when Maggie and I escape for a stay at a cabin. We’re going back there soon, and I am looking forward to turning the volume off on all the voices from the past and doing absolutely nothing but dreaming, reading, and writing. Doing nothing brings me joy, and I’m no longer apologizing for it. I know when I return home, I will be renewed in body and spirit.

My prayer today is that you find some kind of “nothing” that brings you joy.
Blessings

The Gift

  While at work this morning, someone stopped in the office and handed me this book.  She said she was going to put it in with items for the upcoming Holiday Bazaar, but she thought maybe I might enjoy reading it.  Well…YES!
This may seem like nothing to a lot of people, but it meant a lot to me.  For one thing, it was given to me by someone who doesn’t know me well, but it happened to be the perfect gesture.  I love books.  I love reading them and I love writing them.  I haven’t read this particular title, but I’ve read others by this author and thoroughly enjoyed them.

What a thoughtful gesture, to pass on hours of enjoyment to someone else.  With some books, it goes even beyond a few hours because the impact of the book can last for days, months, or even years.  It could be a gift filled with knowledge or wisdom.  It may be a book that provides entertainment and laughter.  It may be a book that takes me on a tour of the world, or just over the backyard fence.  To me, it’s just the perfect gift.

Even better than the gift is being thought of, considered, taking a moment out of their day to show that I matter.  It’s nice to matter.

I will be reading the book this weekend, and it will end up in the Holiday Bazaar.  Someone else will find enjoyment in this book, too.  And any money made off it goes to charity, so another person or two will reap benefits from this book as well.  

Maybe it will end up being a gift to someone else who matters.  What a blessing that would be!

Blessings.
Please feel free to share this post with another book lover who matters to you.

Autumn Comforts

20120717 Patchwork quilt-2Autumn is becoming a little crisper as October progresses.  We’re having beautiful sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s now, with a frost advisory in effect for this weekend.  It’s time to bring out the Autumn Comforts.

I love autumn.  It’s my favorite time of year and I could go on and on about it.  It’s probably the only time of year I get a little domesticated and bring out all those things that make this time of year a little comfier, a little more homey.

A quilt is the first thing that gets brought out of storage when the leaves begin turning colors.  Growing up, there was always a quilt on my bed made by my grandmother or mother.  The oldest ones were all done by hand, from the first seam to the final quilting, and were mostly made from leftover scraps of material of clothing they had worn or made.  It was not uncommon to find a mix of textures within the quilt, like denim, flannel, and cotton.  I remember one in particular that was made all in flannel.  Wrapping myself in that quilt made me feel so warm and safe.  I felt like I was the luckiest girl on earth to have it gracing my bed.

hot-chocolateChilly nights sitting around watching TV call for a cup of hot chocolate.  And if marshmallows are in it, even better!  When I was a kid, we made it from scratch with a mixture of cocoa and sugar, but now I gravitate toward the sugar-free instant variety.  It’s still good.  Hot and chocolatey, it warms the belly and feels like a comfort.

While I’m wrapped up in a quilt, drinking hot chocolate, and watching TV, I’ve usually got my hands busy with something, and a lot of times that is crochet or knitting.  Scarves are my specialty (they’re easy).  My preference is to make something without a pattern, all one kind of stitch so I don’t have to think about it.  I’ve lost count of the scarves I’ve made over the years.  Some I’ve sold, but knitting-blogmost I gave away.  There are many acrylic yarns I like for their softness and ease of washing, but there’s also nothing like having a scarf made of alpaca yarn wrapped around my neck.  And it keeps the chill from sneaking inside my coat on a windy day.

When I’m thinking of Autumn Comfort, nothing speaks to me more about that than food.  Cold air outside and a warm kitchen inside is one of the ultimate comforts.  The blend of spices from pumpkin pie filling every crevice and corner of the house.  The aroma of beef stew with carrots, potatoes, and onions simmering quietly in the slow cooker.  It is so soothing to the senses.  And who wouldn’t feel comforted by the decadent scent of banana bread with walnuts, freshly baked and cooling on the rack.

No home would be complete without a stack of books waiting to be read while image-2-817x10241the wind blows through the drying leaves outside.  Many an hour I’ve spent lost in another time and place through words on a page.  Whether it be romance, mystery, or a little chick lit, it’s all good to me.  I would put on my thickest, softest socks, snuggle under the quilt, and escape within the pages.  Comfort at its most luxurious.

Autumn is the time I treasure for surrounding myself with all things that bring me comfort.  What brings you comfort during autumn?