RESToration

 

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:12

It is May 1st!  Our month of April Spring Cleaning here at Refocused Bible Study has come to a close.  And guess what?  Me, your fierce leader has fallen short.  I still have not cleaned out under my couch, I missed scrubbing a few walls, and well, my house is still not immaculate like I was hoping it would be. I have made so much progress though, praise Jesus!  And I hope you have too!

 But…my heart is feeling very restored because I have chosen to do one thing, something I try to do daily:

FOCUS not on what I haven’t accomplished, but on what GOD has accomplished through me.  I depend on him, so when everything doesn’t get done, I can trust it wasn’t the most important good work that He had for me to do that day.

Sister friend, I encourage you to do the same thing:  when you get discouraged and think you are failing, look instead at what you have accomplished, and give God all the credit for it.  Seriously, I do this by like 10:00am everyday.  I try to think heart level, like things that will matter 10 years and 10,000 years from now in eternity. The dishes may be starting to pile up in the sink, but we may have had traded the chore for reading the Word together as a family.

I am going to keep on finishing the few spring cleaning projects that I didn’t get around to, as I pray the scriptures from the bible study. But the RESTORATION has already come!  Our  home is RESTORED because its inhabitants belong to Jesus.  I pray we are willing to obey the Lord with caring for our homes with diligence out of love through the power of his Holy Spirit.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to a clean heart and a clean home!

WHAT’S NEXT FOR REFOCUSED BIBLE STUDY?  

I don’t have a new study or bible reading/write it out plan for the month of May.  And I don’t have one on purpose.  Out of obedience to what the Lord has called and confirmed me to do, I am going to to focus solely  on editing, revising, and working with a publisher on my first bible study that I wrote for a fresh start for theNew Year,

Refocused, fixing our eyes on Jesus for the year ahead 

except now it’s

Refocused, fixing our eyes on Jesus for a fresh start!

Right here, every Sunday night, I will be encouraging you to do what the Psalms call SELAH,  to pause and reflect before the start of a new week.

To reflect on what God is doing in your life,

To REFOCUS on your relationship with God,

To REFOCUS  on your marriage,

To REFOCUS on your parenting,

To REFOCUS on your home

for the week ahead.

I have a handy dandy template available to download FREE right here to help:

CLICK HERE >>>—Sunday REFOCUS plan!—–<<<

Pray and set goals for the week ahead that will make your most abundant garden that bears fruit through your life be your garden at HOME!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram and like the

 CLICK HERE >>> REFOCUSED BIBLE STUDY >>>page on Facebook for some encouragement to stay focused during the week!

I’ll see you right here next Sunday to REFOCUS  on what’s really important.  ❤

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The Miracle Eraser

“Don’t keep looking at my sins.  Remove the stain of my guilt.” Psalm 51:9

Today I introduced my girls to the “Miracle Eraser.”  You know, sponges you can buy in the cleaning products aisle that get  the nasty grime off when a regular scrubber just can’t get the job done.  I gave them both one and let them have at it on the walls around the kitchen table.

“Gross.  You can find gross stuff in a house, Especially if you have kids,” I overheard my vanilla daughter, Arabella, talking to my chocolate daughter, Sharon from the laundry room.

I just hovered there I was and listened.

“I actually like doing this.  We should do this everyday,” Arabella continued chatting.

“Yes!” I was thinking.  Maybe they will really stay motivated and scrub all the walls in the house!

Well, that didn’t happen.  But a good conversation did.  We closed the blinds and I showed them all the splatters of food standing out against the white vinyl.

“This yucky spot is one of the mistakes you make, like when you get mad and pinch each other.” (Yep, they do that.)

But then, when you feel sorry for it in your heart, and you ask Jesus to forgive you, this happens; I said, as I sprayed the windex and scrubbed it with the miracle eraser.  See, it’s gone, sparkling white again.   We don’t have to keep looking at that nasty spot anymore.

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12

…and we have removed the stains around our kitchen table…finally!  Thank you Jesus!  It’s been a long time coming!!!

Only 2 more days left in this Spring Cleaning Series!  Stay tuned to hear what’s happening next right here at Refocused Bible Study!!!

Heart Cleansing 

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7


This is the last week of “Spring Cleaning for your Heart and Home” bible study!  This week has the potential to be a powerful week of cleansing, especially for the heart.  We will be studying one of the most well-known passages in scripture when it comes to confession and forgiveness of sin, Psalm 51.

This psalm was written by David, after he had stolen another man’s wife and then arranged to have her husband killed.  Wow.  That sounds really bad, doesn’t it?

Adultery and murder.  

Think about that for a few minutes.  David was had just really screwed up his life. And where did he turn?  To the Lord, where he knew he would receive mercy and cleansing.

Where do you turn when you know you have screwed up? Do you cry out to the Lord like David did here?  And when you do, do you really feel whiter than snow?

A friend and I were talking about our children’s behavior yesterday.  We were discussing our expectations, and I told her I was trying to let go of expecting them to

act perfectly.  

Am I going to have high expectations for them?  Yes.  But I am going to continue to shake down every behavior to the heart of the matter. This is how our heavenly father parents us.  He wants to get past the behavior, to our hearts.   The past can’t be changed.

But the heart can be cleansed.  

Our hearts can be cleansed.  We can come to The Cleanser and let the power of his word and his blood wash away the shame and the guilt of the biggest screw ups.

So this week, I invite you to do just that.  Come dirty.  Leave clean.  How you ask?  Commit to memorizing and meditating on this passage this week:

Monday:  7Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Tuesday:  8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
Wednesday:  9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Thursday:  10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Friday:  11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit  from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.

Make David’s words your own heart’s cry.  Commit to the house cleaning in the study book as well and by Friday we will be seeing and feeling RESTORATION! This is it ladies, the LAST week!

The study guide is available below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spring-Cleaning-Your-Heart-Home/dp/1530583446

Mary Gone Martha

 “It looks like a tornado hit in here!” Sam is so subtle, and he loves to point out when his sisters’ room looks worse than his.  Lately, the girls’  room was looking like a cyclone picked up all their clothes and spun them in the air to land all over the floor about once a week.  Here’s why:

They are girls.  Trying on outfits and finding just the right one is part of their daily life.  

They had an abundance of clothes (most girls do, right?)

They needed more storage.  

So, in my Martha mentality (which is getting kind of bad since doing this spring cleaning study if I am being honest), we set out on Friday to some thrift stores to find a dresser for their room.  (I refuse to buy nice furniture until they are older). I told Sharon, my African American princess about thrift shopping; how we might not find a “dress-up” at these stores, but that we were going to search through junk to see if we could find one.

Three thrift stores later, she was in tears and we had no prospects of a dresser.  (First world problems she is still not used to.) We returned home with a defeated feeling of a wasted afternoon and I started searching on Ikea’s website for something.

Monday morning it hit me, the Holy Spirit hit me upside the head that is! Lol!  “Pray and ask me to provide a dresser, Amy.”  So, I did.

“Lord, please provide a dresser, like today.” 

And guess what?  He did.  At our homeschool co-op that morning, a friend of mine poked her head into the classroom I was in and we talked about how our spring cleaning was going.  I told her about my predicament that had me at a standstill.  And she said:

“We have a dresser we were just going to set out by the road, you can have it.”

PRAYER ANSWERED.

 

(Tornado room on left, like that needed a caption!)

(New dresser on right)

 I had set out  in a “get things done” mentality, on a mission that wasted an afternoon I really needed to be at home, and came up empty.   I asked Jesus and came home with what I needed.  A dresser that matches my girls’ bunk beds almost perfectly.  Of course, Jesus has been teaching me through the passage in the study this week as I have learned this lesson, for the up-teenth time:

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.

I had tried to build my own home without the Lord’s help, wasted an afternoon, and given my girls a fierce hatred of thrift shopping.

2 It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.

I had worked hard and anxiously, when I should have prayed, trusted, and waited. It is not sinful to search and purchase things we need for our family, His word instructs us to do so. But He wants us to ask him to provide.  I had gone about my business, thinking I was being faithful, but taking away God’s opportunity to show himself to me as our Provider.  

So keep on praying ladies, and let’s not turn into Martha, anxiously getting our tasks done while our Provider sits there, waiting.  He sits there, calling.  He has all we need.  Yes, there is work to do.  But let’s go to him every morning and set our to do list and our needs at his feet, and then let’s wait in expectation.  Let’s allow his Spirit to lead this thing.

Luke 10:38-42

Mary and Martha

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

He is faithful.

He will give us the right heart to work and serve our families.

He will provide what we need to serve them well.

Don’t go off on your own working anxiously.  Remember the theme verse of this whole journey,

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:29-30 MSG

He is alive.  He is a very present help.  Praying for you sweet spring cleaning sisters!

to purchase the study, click here:

http://www.amazon.com/Spring-Cleaning-Your-Heart-Home/dp/1530583446/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461153453&sr=8-1&keywords=spring+cleaning+bible+study

If Jesus knocked on your door…

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

What if Jesus was really standing there knocking at your door.  Would you care about what your house looked like?  Or would you be more concerned with what your heart looked like?

Of course, if you know him, then you would answer that you would be much more concerned with the condition of your heart at that moment. If you don’t know him, have never studied his word, or haven’t talked to him in prayer lately,  you might have been misguided to the perception that he would care about the physical surroundings and judge your worthiness upon them.  But no sister, he wouldn’t.

He would look into your eyes, and see the depths of your soul.  He would love you right that second with a grace-filled love.  Then he would sit down without bothering to brush the crumbs the kids left in the chair from breakfast.  He would insist on helping you make a homemade meal from whatever was in the kitchen.  Then, as the verse above states, he would sit down as your friend and share the meal you prepared together.  His gaze would not wander to the food splashed on the baseboards at your feet that you haven’t gotten around to scrubbing yet.  He would be so intently focused on your conversation and hearing your heart expressed that he wouldn’t notice the dirty blinds on the window that need attention.  Oh, what an amazingly full and joyous visit that would  be!

I bring this visual to you, sweet sisters, because we are halfway through our 4 week spring cleaning bible study series.  I don’t know where you are on your journey.  You may be like me, right on track heart-wise in your study book, feeling cleansed and refreshed, but a little behind on the house cleaning.  Or you may be breezing through the house cleaning but having trouble getting in the habit of praying while cleaning, feeling kind of distant from Jesus.  Or maybe, you are right on track.  Your cleaning list is up to date and you’re in constant conversation with Jesus in the midst of a home that is sparkling.  Way to go!

Wherever you are on this journey to a clean heart and a clean home, remember that Jesus is most concerned with the cleanliness of your heart.  His blood has the power to wash off the deepest, set-in stains.  The ones that you thought were utterly hopeless so you placed a perfectly staged pillow to cover them.  Those are the ones he would touch and heal if you saw him face to face today.

This afternoon, with a “magic eraser” and nail polish remover, I scrubbed away nail polish splotches on my bathroom counter and floor from my little girls.  I banned them from any use of nail polish. Ever.  Now my bathroom floor is clean.  Like it never even happened. I prayed for them while the chemicals tore the skin on my fingertips.  Oh I could have been so mad.  But instead, it was an opportunity for God’s grace to cover my precious little mini-women.  This is what I love about this journey.  Every dirty, greasy, stain is an opportunity for prayer, thankfulness, and a fresh start; that you can actually see with your eyes as your hands make your house clean, and Jesus makes your heart clean!

So keep praying and scrubbing sisters!  We are halfway there.

Buy the study and join in >>>http://www.amazon.com/Spring-Cleaning-Your-Heart-Home/dp/1530583446/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460854158&sr=8-1&keywords=Spring+Cleaning+bible+study

 

 

The Walls Around Your Bedroom and Your Marriage 

“A wise woman builds her home,but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1

This week in “Spring Cleaning for Your Heart and Home” we are cleaning in our master bedroom and praying over our marriage as we go.

Today we prayed protection over our marriage as we scrub our walls and windows. Proactively praying for your marriage is a subject I am especially passionate about. We make sure that we protect so many other things in our lives, why shouldn’t we put as much effort int protecting our most important relationship on this earth?

Last year, my husband Nick & I spoke in a chapel service for the ministry he works for that serves Nascar about this topic.

You can hear the 20 minute recoding of it here: http://motorracingoutreach.podomatic.com/entry/2015-08-24T05_36_46-07_00

img_2405-1

You can build protective walls around your marriage, just as real and sheltering as the ones that enclose your home.

Here is a list of suggestions to plant protective a hedges to keep people and threats out of your sacred marriage relationship:
“Hedge 1: Choose wisely.

Avoid unnecessarily spending time with someone of the opposite sex. For instance, if you’re looking for a personal trainer at the local gym, choose someone of the same sex.
Hedge 2: Share carefully.

If you find yourself sharing things about yourself or your marriage that you haven’t or wouldn’t share with your spouse, that’s a red flag. Not all affairs are physical-an emotional affair is just as damaging.
Hedge 3: Stay in large, public settings.

Determine not to meet one-on-one with anyone of the opposite sex. If your coworker asks if he or she can join you for lunch, ask a third person to join you as well. If necessary, don’t hesitate to share the boundary you and your spouse have agreed upon in your marriage. You just might lead by example.
Hedge 4: Don’t be naïve.

Most people who end up in affairs don’t set out to have one. Infidelity usually begins with an innocent relationship that, in time, moves to an emotional depth that crosses a line of fidelity.
Hedge 5: Increase your investment at home.

Solid marriages are built by spending time together, laughing together, and playing together. If you aren’t dating your mate, set up dates for the coming months and make spending time together a priority.
Hedge 6: Pay attention to your thought-life.

When all you think about is your spouse’s faults, any other man or woman will look better. Make a list of the strengths that initially attracted you to your spouse. Increase encouragement and decrease criticism.
Hedge 7: Don’t play the comparison game.

We all make mistakes, have bad habits and annoying behaviors. When we compare a “new friend” to our spouse, it’s an unfair comparison because we aren’t seeing that person in a “living under the same roof, taking care of kids at 3 a.m., struggling to make ends meet” reality.
Hedge 8: Seek help.

Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. A Christian counselor can provide valuable perspective and help set new strategies for a marriage that can go the distance.”
This list of  hedges came directly from the book “Hedges: Loving your marriage enough to protect it,” by Jerry B Jenkins.

So sweet sisters, as you evaluate the cleanliness of the walls & windows  in your bedroom, pray hard considering how to protect your marriage! God is faithful & his promises will affect the future of your marriage as you pray them.

To buy the study and join in, click here >>> http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1530583446/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1460486307&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=spring+cleaning+bible+study

Clothed in Strength and Dignity

 “She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 NLT

“The strength and dignity of the Proverbs 31 woman is found in Jesus alone.  She doesn’t find it in the order and cleanliness of her drawers and closets…she laughs and lives freely and lightly because she trusts in Jesus to give her strength to serve her family and provide all their needs.”  

If you have been spring cleaning along with us this week, great job!  Week one is coming to a close.  I was so blessed and encouraged to hear from some of you this week about your experience thus far.  I was able to see some pictures and walk through one of my friend’s homes and see the progress!  God is so good and I praise him for what he is doing through this bible study.

 I would love for you to come through my home with me and see the transformations taking place in my spaces and hear about the renewing transformations God is doing in my heart through these focused times of prayer in my home. (And actually, I am going to invite you who live locally to do just that, so stay tuned :))

 I now have a hall closet where I prayed through a jumbled dream for this ministry to an organized vision and a tidy space:

My kids have been loving to play these board games they were once afraid to try to find and pull out!  It’s beautiful to see how organization spawns their creativity.  Here are my girls’ masterpieces created after they could easily access their acrylic paints:

And here is the before and after of the junk drawer featured in my last post:

I still have more to work on in my kids’ closets, which I am about to go finish after this blog post.  But I could not let the end of this first week go by without recapping the final day of study for the week.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 NLT

I have studied the Proverbs 31 woman a lot over the years.  I mean a lot.  I have compared myself, and felt under-qualified beside her every. single. time.  Except for one quality.

She loves Jesus.  And  her identity is found in him alone. She doesn’t find her success in how organized her closets are, or how many things she has marked off her to do list this week.  She is covered in a “splendid garment.”  It is the grace of her Jesus.

She laughs because she knows what her ultimate future holds.  A life forever seated with her Savior.  Contemplating in his beauty, studying at his feet.  She will be sure to trust in his strength to care for the home He has given her, but she will laugh joyfully, with glee about the home she will live in one day:

Psalm 84:

1-2 What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
3-4 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
How blessed they are to live and sing there!
5-7 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!
8-9 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen:
O God of Jacob, open your ears—I’m praying!
Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,
our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.
10-12 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies. MSG

So keep on moving through your earthly home sweet sister.  Make it a masterpiece for the present.  But keep your eyes and hearts fixed on your eternal home with your Jesus. Then you will be wearing his beautiful grace well.  ❤

>>>Want to join the Spring Cleaning with Jesus journey?  Buy the study here:  >>>

http://www.amazon.com/Spring-Cleaning-Your-Heart-Home/dp/1530583446/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460223096&sr=8-1&keywords=Spring+Cleaning+bible+study

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