She Laughs

“Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.”

Psalm 100:2 MSG

Our eyes were locked as we laughed hysterically. Nothing was really that funny, but when one person starting laughing, it was like a joy train nobody could stop, and in few seconds, everyone in the room was giggling. My son had drawn the “laughing” stick in the review game in his school class. I was standing in front of him listening to his answer as he threw his his head back and said the words in between snorts. Done for, I busted out hysterically myself.

I “got the giggles.”

It felt so good to see my son laughing with abandon. He looked so happy and carefree and it made my heart glad.

The Lord whispered to me, this is how I feel when I see you, trusting me so much, that you can laugh without care about present troubles and without fear of the future, because you know I’m good and I’ve got it. 

As I pondered on this the next few days, I worked through some things with him that were preventing me from busting out in laughter. I want to share them with you so that you can also bring the Lord a gift of laughter, and sing yourself into his presence with true joy instead of worry.

Verses to Help You Sing with Joy to the LORD

1) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

Trust in this verse means “to have confidence, to be bold, secure, and careless.”

Pray that God will help you trust Him with ALL things. Proclaim your confidence in Him.

Lord, help me trust you with all things. Hep me have confidence in you. I am confident Father, that you are working all things together for good. Help me be bold, so confident, I have no shame or worry. Amen.

This confident trust will release you to bring Him the gift of laughter of things to come.

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

Make a list, remembering things the Lord has faithfully done in your life.

I remember and thank you Lord, for…

From my list – the joyful face of my husband the day he was baptized, our son whom I once wondered if we would ever have. Going into ministry. Adoption. Laughter.

As I wrote out my list, I started laughing at myself for being worried about a few things and wondering if a few things were going to work out.  I wrote a note to myself in the margin:

Like your Father isn’t 

GOOD?!!

That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.

Laugh it out.

It’s really silly, sisters, when you take time to think about a lot of our worries. Our Father is so good, we should laugh about things to come.

No matter what you’re facing today, thank Him for what He has done, and find yourself carefree, bringing your Father a gift of laughter.

Amy

Want to join in Simply Thankful? Click the pic to download the plan:

How to Have a Pep Rally in Your Prayer Closet

“On your feet now – applaud God!” Psalm 100:1 MSG

It’s day one of Simply Thankful 2018 here at Refocused Bible Study! I don’t know about you, but I need to focus on giving thanks to the Giver between now and Thanksgiving Day. I already feel a huge weight lifted after the first morning coming to Him with a heart of praise. He definitely gave me praise instead of heaviness today.

I will be using different versions of the bible, but this week, I will be sticking with the Message paraphrase because the Lord is leading me straight where my heart needed to go with it…to have a PEP RALLY IN MY PRAYER CLOSET.

Yeah, it sounds kinda wacky. But when you get a little mopey and start dragging around like Eeyore from Winne the Pooh, sometimes you just need to go there. I didn’t even intend to get that into it, but, the Lord just set it up for me that way.

I turned on some worship music (I’ll link below) and the first thing the leader said was, “let’s rise to our feet to posture our hearts correctly.

On your feet now.

So I did, and then once I started applauding God and thanking Him for the many things he has done, my hands could not quit clapping to Him.

applaud God.

As the minutes went on, JOY was welling up inside and I felt like I was back on the cheerleading squad in high school, spirit fingers and all.

He’s so good, yall. So worthy of all our applause and thankfulness. He wells up joy – pure joy from our hearts when we enter His courts with radiant thanksgiving.

Try it, sisters. In your car, your kitchen while you cook, the rocker as you put your baby to sleep, or your bathroom as you hide from the children. Thank Him. Clap to Him.

I can’t wait to share about what The Lord is showing me about the gift of laughter to God tomorrow.

You can download the plan here:

Simply Thankful: Scripture Writing Plan

It’s almost November, ya’ll!!! I can hardly believe it. However, the fact that my kids were asking for candy at breakfast quickly confirmed, it’s true.

We will blink our eyes a few times, and it will be Thanksgiving day. Here’s the thing, I want to really be thankful. I want to really give thanks to the Giver. I want to give back.

Here’s what I don’t want to do: get stressed about things or miss out on the slow, simple gifts that he’s placed right at my feet.

I want my kids to know what this season of gratitude is all about, and to know the Giver.

So, I made this scripture writing plan:  Simply Thankful. (We did this 2 years ago here at Refocused and I want to do it again!I hope you join us!)

It’s a simple plan:

Write out the verse of the day.

Thank God for one thing.

Do one simple, slow activity a day to enjoy the Giver. (take a walk, pick flowers, gather leaves, bake muffins, etc.)

Give back from an overflow of God’s love & as an act of worship.

I’ll be sharing on the Facebook Group (Link here: Refocused Bible Study FB)

I’ll also be sharing on my Instagram account and twitter.

Download the simply-thankful plan and make gratitude intentional in your heart and home this month!  

Amy

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2 Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,

and his faithfulness to all generations.

How to See Jesus when You Serve at Home

“How do they have no clean socks again, Did I not just wash clothes yesterday?!” – I think to myself as we have T- minus five minutes to head out the door.

As a mom, it feels like my work is never done. I’m never caught up at home and never enough. With five people living in our home, something always needs to be prepared, washed, bought, unloaded, put away… etc.

I’m sure if you run a household, you can relate. There is so much to be done, always.

I know in my gut I am super – dooper blessed to have a full house. (And many of you have a much fuller house than me).

But sometimes- OK, a lot if times, my face doesn’t show it… because my heart isn’t feeling it.

It’s disconnected the fact that whatever task I’m doing is for somebody.

Jesus rocked my world this week by reminding me how we were made to serve.

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.”

‭‭John‬ ‭13:3-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“If I then, your LORD and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14

Jesus – King of Heaven – took off his entitlements along with His outer garments, and He tied a towel around His waist.

We, His heirs, take off our “rights” to have a lighter load, and we put on the character of Jesus.

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus served. He put on the “work apron, rolled up his sleeves, and did the work the servant would have done.

Jesus served in a way that touched the people intimately and tenderly. His example of washing the disciple’s feet is so beautiful. He could have made this example for us to follow by filling empty wine glasses, clearing the dishes, or sweeping the floor. Yet he chose, on purpose, to wash dirty feet. He made it so personal, cleansing their skin, touching their toes, and piercing their hearts by His humble love.

Jesus taught us to serve with the intention of touching the heart

The people in our homes have needs, spiritual and tangible, just as the disciples did. But Jesus, reached through to their hearts when he kneeled down before each of them.

I see him now, standing before one of them. Bending down, one knee, and then, another. Locking smiling eyes with them, knowing the cross was coming, but knowing three days later, their future in heaven with Him would be secured.

I see him taking his time. He knew this moment was special. He knew he had 24 feet, 120 toes, to wash. Yet I know he took his time. He didn’t rush. He knew the gravity of the moment with each of them.

I see us, looking to Jesus, and taking in these moments of serving in our homes. We are only given this moment. This plate handed to a hungry husband. This clean pair of socks handed to a child excited to play. This moment. This act of serving and loving is the only one we are surely given.

As you take hold of the work in your homes this week, see Him taking hold of another dirty foot. King of glory, bowed low, smiling eyes, tender touch.

Pray for the ones you’re serving. Thank Him for them. Call heaven down over them and cover their needs in prayer as you sweep, mop, fold, cook, and clean for them. He is with you as you do, smiling and cheering you on.

What chores do you feel behind on as you start this week? Ask Him to help you see Him beside you, and picture “washing feet” together with Him as you do them. He is with you and all you need.

The WAY they should go

This weekend I was in a “warrior III” yoga pose in a small motorhome with my 3 kids who had the Disney Channel blasting to hear their show over the extremely loud race cars that were buzzing around us. (My husband is a chaplain for the sport of NASCAR). Yes, I was being a warrior to even attempt to get a workout in at this point. I had asked the kids to just let me do this twenty minute workout and try not to trip each other if they had to walk by.

I couldn’t hear the instructions of the yoga instructor, I was merely copying her and trying to breathe deep. I was extending my leg and trying to balance when one of my daughters knocked into me, and to be honest, I was totally annoyed that occurred (grace for my honesty, here). I growled something at her and immediately felt bad and apologized.

My kids know I’m not perfect. They are my great grace lavishers. I’m glad, because for a while I think I had the misconception that if I wasn’t perfect, they wouldn’t turn into decent human beings. But the LORD showed me something in the mothering department that I’d like to share with you today.

“Train up a child in the WAY he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I used to think “training them up in the way they should go” meant putting a lot of road signs on their path like “listen the first time, don’t talk with your mouth full, always be nice, basically, don’t ever do anything wrong.”

But guys, that is just teaching them that they have the power within themselves to “be good.”

Which is not at all what the Bible teaches. In fact, Jesus tells us this:

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” Mark 10:18

The only true hope of our kids turning out to “be good” is the only ONE who is GOOD.

So to simplify our hopes of our kids being good, the LORD gave me an easy way to remember:

“to train up our kids, train them to fall down before Jesus.” 

How do we train them to do this?

We do it.

We stay totally dependent on Jesus at every turn.

They see us praying.

They hear us praying,

Asking God for help.

Asking God for forgiveness.

Asking them for forgiveness (when yoga doesn’t calm us;)

When they do something “bad” leading them humbly to the throne to ask for forgiveness or you asking for forgiveness on their behalf while sincerely thanking Jesus for taking the punishment they deserved. Lingering there, so thankful for His suffering on our behalf. (Maybe even giving them grace from a punishment to help them experience this)!

When they keep doing the same thing that needs correcting, keep bringing them back with you before the LORD in prayer.

Yes, consequences are important because they teach our children to remember and hopefully not repeat the same offense. They also teach our children the reality that when guidelines aren’t followed in life, there are real consequences.

But let’s remember The WAY we are directing them to. We are directing them to JESUS THE WAY, to walk hand in hand with Him. We are directing them to a relationship with their Savior who is waiting for them with eyes locked and an open hand for them to hold.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the WAY, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

When my children leave my nest, I don’t want them leaving with a list of rules to be a good Christian. I want them leaving with a grip on Jesus’ hand that’s so tight, I know when they stumble they won’t fall. They will make mistakes but the ONE whose hand they hold will receive glory for it all when he uses their lessons learned for good.

The only path I’m concerned about leading them on is straight to Him, at every turn. Makes it simple. Jesus brings freedom in every step.

I’m looking forward to sharing something next Monday on “Refocusing on Home.” I hope you’re enjoying this God – Marriage -Motherhood – Home cycle. I so appreciate you reading & pray it blesses you!

Sharing your Heart with your Husband

How has your week been, friends? This week’s post is on MARRIAGE and I want to share something the LORD has been growing in me and in my relationship with my husband – sharing my heart fully with him. I’ve been focused for a few years on hearing his heart, and really listening. But then the Lord pointed out to me that I’m not always sharing what’s going on in my heart – whether that be a dream he’s stirring in me, a hurt I’ve experienced, or a worry in my mind. I have been consistently but not perfectly sharing things with the Lord that are on my heart daily, but I don’t always get a chance or grasp the opportunity to share with my husband.

God is so good to grow us closer to Him and each other!

In this fallen world, it is easy to hide our true selves and what is really going on in our heads and hearts from those closest to us – even our husbands. Lots of things get in the way of sharing with each other – busy schedules, fear of response, or patterns of communication that aren’t the best.

I know I have had trouble processing through hurt or conflict openly and honestly with my husband at times. It may feel easier to phone a girlfriend, since she may be able to relate to your female state more easily, right?

Don’t get me wrong, girlfriends are a gift and so needed in our life! But I am afraid we are missing out on the Oneness or “echad” (in Hebrew) that God desires married couples to have if we don’t go to our husbands with what’s on our hearts.

In Genesis, we see the “Nakedness” and therefore total and full “transparency” between husband and wife before the fall:

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25

Naked.

They had no clothes on.

But also – they had nothing hidden in their hearts from each other either.

This was before the bite. Before the fall. Before clothes and secrets and lies. Can you just imagine, sister? THIS is the fullness of unashamed living God designed between husband and wife.

Am I saying we should be hasty with our words and bare our fleeting thoughts with our spouses as soon as they cross our minds? NO!

Here is what I am suggesting an see evidence of in scripture: God desires us to be continually growing towards Him and our spouses through the restoration Jesus’ cross offers us. Restoration that looks more and more like what we see in the garden in the beginning.

How do we move that direction?

 

  • First of all, we need Holy Spirit to help us process through things as we experience them. We process through prayer with Him about our feelings and he shows us truth. Instead of phoning a friend first thing, we seek our Father. Pray about whatever is going on in your life, your marriage, everything! Many times this will erase things from our hearts and minds before they even need to be discussed! But if not, move on to the next:
  • We bare our hearts before the Lord prior to bearing them before our man. If we have wronged our man in any way, we ask the Lord to forgive us first. Then we ask our man to forgive us. Kneel transparent before the your Savior and then stand humbly before your husband and apologize; nobody is perfect!
  • NO matter how our husband responds, we stand with a confident heart knowing we belong to the Lord. Your husband may respond super graciously the first time, but since he’s human, he may need grace and patience from you. Don’t go with expectations of how he will react. Go with confidence that you’ve sought the Lord about the situation and He’s shown you to talk with your husband about it. Have tons of grace for your man. Consider what’s going on in his life and don’t be offended if he doesn’t respond like your Closest girlfriend would. He is your uniquely created partner! Just be so thankful that you have the love of your life to share with while others are still praying for theirs.
  • An easy way to remember this pattern for communication in marriage is
  • “share before you bare.”
  • Share with the Lord what’s on your heart, and process it with Him before you share it with your husband. Of course, you won’t always run to your prayer closet before you talk to your guy; that would be dramatic. Just get in a habit of inviting Jesus into your conversations with your man.
  • Communication in marriage is so vital. We want The Lord’s help in this area, so our marriages can continue to grow into the design God originally had for us.
  • Reflective Questions:
  • Am I sharing my heart with God in prayer?
  • Am I sharing my heart with my husband in conversation?
  • Have a great week! I look forward to sharing a post on motherhood next week!
  • If you haven’t done Refocused Bible Study in the past, you can get your copy here:
  • https://www.amazon.com/Refocused-Fixing-Jesus-married-children/dp/1540656241

     

    Beauty in this Season

    “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”

    “A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.”

    ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    1) Look back at last season

    As the season changes from summer to fall, let us reflect on His faithfulness behind and gain greater faith in Him for the stretch of road ahead. As you read through the list above, which season do you feel like you just walked through with the Lord?

    “A time to laugh.”

    This was my season during the summer with my kids. We swam, we jumped, we traveled. We read funny books. We laughed together. I quit writing, as I usually do during the summer, and I just was with family and the LORD, soaking up the summer until I could not bear to untangle another knot from my chlorine-dry hair. I can truly say, it was a season of a lot of laughter and fun.

    But we can’t stop time. I heard someone explain eternity like this lately: today is one small dot on a never-ending line. We just have the dot. We have today. We can’t hold on to yesterday and expect today to be just like the day before; especially since they closed the pool down and now, it’s green 🙂

    Plus, what kind of life would it be to just laugh every day, every season? Sure, it would be fun, but what about reaching out to those who are suffering, and accomplishing work, and having purpose? Those are all meaningful things God has instilled in our hearts too.

    2) Look for Potential Beauty in this Season

    I think it is just beautiful the way God has arranged seasons in our years, and seasons in our lives. As the leaves turn into an array of sunset before they fall, so let us feel the changes taking place in our hearts and lives, declaring they are good and needed and ask the Lord what He wants us to focus on this season.

    Use this prayer or pray your own words and ask the Lord what he has for you to hold onto and focus on this season.

    Lord,

    I am seeking you first this fall season. Please, show me the priorities you have for me over the next weeks and months.

    What rhythms do I need to put into place to walk closer to you this fall?

    What rhythms do I need to put into place to grow closer to my husband this fall?

    What rhythms do I need to put into place to grow closer to my children this fall?

    What rhythms do I need to put into place to create more peace in my home this fall?

    3) Invest in this season for Beauty next season

    Look at your answers, and now re-read Eccelsiastes 3:1-8. What verse or part of a verse is the Lord highlighting to you after reflecting on this season of your life? What is it time for?

    Sisters, this can create so much peace, freedom, and room for Jesus. We have got to be intentional about asking the One who knows what He has for you and your family this season.

    For me,

    it is a time to plant.

    I took the summer off. I’m rested and ready. I want to plant more seeds of faith and goodness in my marriage though prayer. I desire to see God’s Word be heavily planted in my children’s hearts this school year. So it’s time to get to work.

    I’m clinging to this verse,

    “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”

    ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    And I’m trusting as I plant, others water, and most importantly God is going to bring growth.

    My husband and I growing closer to Him

    My children growing closer to Him

    My home reflecting a place in heaven where peace is growing.

    I’m expecting a beautiful season of planting here at Refocused Bible Study, too!

    I plan on sending out a weekly blog post on God, marriage, motherhood, or home every Sunday night to get the week started Refocusing on Him together where it matters most. I hope you are encouraged from my heart to yours.

    Which verse from Ecclesiastes 3 sums up what it feels like it’s time for in your life this season? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!