{Rooted} “Restless” Study – Chapters 1 & 2: Dreams and Tangled Threads

Hello Rooted Ladies,
We recently officially kicked off the Winter Session of the (in)courage groups.Rooted reached the maximum number of women registrations and we even added a few more. God is good!

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This session we are going to explore Jennie Allen’s latest book, Restless. According to Allen, the book is a practical plan to identify the threads of your life and how to intentionally weave them together for God’s glory and purposes. Allen says, “We are called to dream but we’re afraid to. But because we are called, when we don’t act on it we become restless—restless to find purpose, to make a difference in the world, to matter.”

This book immediately made me feel like all of the things that I’ve gone through – good or bad – were somehow tied together to be used by and for God. It gave me hope that it all has meaning. Let’s jump into the chapters and the questions.

Chapter 1 – A Call to Dream

1. Can you identify with Allen’s feelings of restlessness? Why or why not?
2. Do you think of “calling” and “purpose” as two different things? Allen talks about motherhood as her calling but still wanted to know her purpose.
3. Allen says the book is about vision and obedience. She writes about discovering our purpose so we don’t waste our lives. Do you feel the same urgency?
4. Allen says that God would fill people with the Spirit and He promised that he would give people vision and dreams. She quotes Joel 2:28 from the Old Testament and Acts 2:16-17 from the New Testament. Quite beautifully Allen writes, “the Spirit of God has dreams for you.” Does knowing that your dreams and God’s plans are connected and evidenced by scripture change how you think about your life, your dreams, and your time left on Earth?
5. What do you think about the statement – “all lies in our control and about how nothing is in our control?”

Chapter 2 – Tangled Threads

1. Allen talks about chains which cause us to go through life completely shutdown by lies and fear. What chains do you see in your life?
2. Are there chains or threads holding you back that no longer need to?
3. Can you picture a life free of chains – with more dreams and more freedom?
4. I love how Allen says that “No unique purpose for your life will fill your soul. The only thing that will fulfill and settle your soul is God.” Does this statement ring true to you? Are you looking for outside satisfaction rather than purpose according to God’s will?

I love how Allen is getting us ready to turn our tattered lives over to Christ to be used for his purpose. It’s amazing that we are Spirit filled and that Spirit has a dream for my life and your life – and they are different and unique. Doesn’t that thought bring hope! Because as long as we are breathing God is still using us for His will.

I’m looking forward to your comments on chapters 1 & 2. And please share how God has or is showing you the threads in your life.

Wishing you much hope and purpose,
Hope (aka Brooke)

Marina Del Rey

Turning Disappointment into Thankfulness

Marina Del Rey

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)

Life has a way of disappointing. Yes, being downright disappointing at times. No matter how hard I work and try, I can becomed saddened by the state of things. I’m rarely melancholy but when I am, it can be a little hard to shake. So, today I am going straight to God for his comfort, understanding, and wisdom.

And because God knew that I was feeling down, in our prayer time He directed me to read my Jesus Calling devotional. {I absolutely love this book. I even have the bible.}

For February 23, it says

Be on guard against the pit of self-pity. When you are weary or unwell, this demonic trap is the greatest danger you face. Don’t even go near the edge of the pit. Its edges crumble easily, and before you know it, you are way down. It is ever so much harder to get out of the pit than to keep a safe distance from it. That is why I tell you to be on guard.

There are several ways to protect yourself from self-pity. When you are occupied with praising and thanking Me, it is impossible to feel sorry for yourself. Also, the closer you live to Me, the more distance there is between you and the pit. Live in the Light of My Presence by fixing your eyes on Me. Then you will be able to run with endurance the race that is set before you, without stumbling or falling.

Thank you God. I need to turn my thoughts to gratitude and thankfulness rather than focusing on things that I don’t have or don’t see in my life. I need to praise You for all that you have given me — all of my many blessings. I don’t fully understand some of the things in my life Lord, but I know that you will use everything for my good. 

And I remembered Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to Hispurpose. (NASB)

And because I knew it was God speaking to me, I decided to read The Message‘s version and found these words.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Wow! God always finds a way to comfort me, bless me, and speak to {exactly} where I am. And I am so thankful.

wishing you a day of gratitude and thankfulness in the Lord,

Hope

{Rooted} “Greater” Study – Week 1: Steve and Me

Hello Rooted Ladies,

I’m writing this post to you on the day of Love – Valentine’s Day!! Today must truly be God’s day. I’m super excited because we are kicking off our first set of discussion questions for “Greater: Dream Bigger. Start Smaller. Ignite God’s Vision for Your Life” by Steven Furtick. {And for those of you just finding out about our group, it’s not too late to join! Just leave me your Facebook info in the comments.}

I’m overjoyed to read this book because I’m a super planner. Extreme Type-A person who always wants to know what’s going to happen and works really hard to make things happen. And I’ve realized lately that maybe, just maybe, I’m not living the plan that God designed for me. And I know that the smallest thing that God could plan for me to do would be bigger, and much greater, than anything I could ever do on my own. That’s why I have to read this book. I want some of that God-greater wisdom, power, and relationship in my life. {Does anyone know what I’m saying?}

Greater book

So Furtick begins this book in such an awesome, honest, and relatable way. He talks about the power of Steve Jobs’ life and the introspection that it caused for him. Steve Jobs made Steve Furtick think about being greater in God.

1. Could you all relate to the impact of Steve Jobs story? Or is there someone else’s life that you’ve witnessed or read about that seems so impactful/life-changing? A life that really matters?

2. What was your immediate reaction to John 14:12?

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. he will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

What is Jesus asking or telling us to do? Did you honestly feel like He’s calling us to be greater with Him through His Spirit within us?

3. Discuss a time when you found yourself wishing you were accomplishing more in life that really matters. What caused your discontent?

4. As you think back over your Christian life, what has been your most grandiose (and unachievable) pipe dream about doing something great for God?

5. Steven says, “We wake up one day to find ourselves stuck in miserable mediocrity.” Is that true for your life right now? If so, describe how you are stuck in mediocrity.

6. What’s your reaction to this book’s concept of greater (as opposed to grandiose greatness and mediocre good enough)? Does greater still seem vague or unattainable? How does it affect your perspective on the future?

7. If you already have an idea of what greater thing God might have in mind for you, what is it?

8. Are you ready to open your imagination to the possibility that God has a vision for your life that is greater?

9. On pages 11-12, Furtick lists many ways in which God can make your life greater than the labels. How many can you relate to?

I love that Furtick asks us to pray the prayer about faith (p. 11) and later tells the small groups the following: As a group, decide that you’re going to be there for each other in your pursuit of greater. Begin by praying for one another, asking God to open your eyes to the greater things He has in store for each of you

The memory verse for this week: John 14:12

I’m super excited about praying this prayer of faith for God to show all of us the greater things He has in store for us. I’m looking forward to seeing how God moves in our lives as we draw closer to Him and his vision for our lives. And I can’t wait to hear your thoughts, prayers, questions, and reflections on this first chapter.

wishing you prayers full of faith, hope, and God’s vision for your lives,

Hope & Karina

P.S. If you are interested in more, check out Steven Furtick’s sermon 1.

Greater – Sermon 1

Happy New Year Pie

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Pie

Happy New Year Pie

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!

Many of you may have been wondering where I have been or what has happened? And I honestly don’t have a better answer than – I got a little scattered.

I’m not one for making excuses because I don’t believe in them. However, I do believe in explaining myself. Since the end of October, I started a new job. And with this new job came a new way of living. I now have an “imposed” working schedule, which I was somewhat unaccustomed to. For the past 5 years, I essentially set my own schedule. I was either in grad school and working on my journalism pieces or in law school and working around my classes. Yet, even with the set classes, I felt as though on most days I was in control of my day and most importantly my time.

And then I had this wondrous break between the bar exam completion and starting work. And although I wanted my job to start, mainly because I was looking forward to a paycheck, I relished my last days of true freedom. I cherished my last moments of controlling my schedule, which for me meant dedicating large chunks of time to being with the Lord. I would spend the entire morning reading the bible, doing bible study, journaling and blogging. And I honestly felt like I was experiencing heaven on earth. {I may have been!}

So, now I am struggling with having to be somewhere {work} at a certain time and my 40-45 minute commute. And I will be honest. It has been a struggle for me and I have been resisting…. the change. I have longed for my life before the job. But more than ever, I longed for my beautiful, sunny Los Angeles {especially when it rains here in Northern California}. I’ve been praying about all of this. Heck, I’m still praying about all of this.

My prayer has been that I need Jesus to come into my heart and soften it. I need the Holy Spirit’s energy within me to allow me to relax into my new rhythm. And I’ve been praying, asking, and affirming that it will be so. {And a couple of bible verses have helped me along the way.}

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV

And I believe that Jesus has heard and answered my prayers. No, I don’t now have a love affair with San Francisco, or rejoice when it rains. But God is now allowing me to see more beauty in the Bay Area, appreciate the rain, and slowly {very slowly} settle into my new routine and commute.

I don’t know how you all are with change, but I have an interesting relationship with it. I am one of the first people to make changes in my life because I am not scared of change. In fact, I’ve been told that I courageously take risks that others wouldn’t dare to take {that’s because I have God}. Yet, admittedly, the changes don’t always come easy.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5 ESV

Yet I realize that I don’t have to deal with any of these changes, and feeling scattered, and on my own. I have God. I can lean on Him. He will get me through this time of change. And these times of change have a point – to remind me that I need to lean into Jesus. I need to rely on God and the Holy Spirit who dwells in me.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I constantly need these reminders. And I constantly need prayer and alone time with God.

So, dear readers, please pray for me and with me. My prayer is that I beautifully and peacefully adjust to my new life rhythm. That the Lord wakes me up in the morning (even earlier) so that I can spend even more time with Him. And I pray that God continues to awaken me to the power of his love and grace, and the futility of worry and trying to do things on my own. I pray that God continues to use me as a servant to tell his message of hope, joy, peace, love, grace, and forgiveness on this site. And so it is done in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Meanwhile, I have started planning some exciting things for this blog for 2013. One of the upcoming things is a new (in)courage.me bible study, where we will be studying Greater by Steven Furtick. I’m so excited about it. Get your book now! There will be more details to come.

I’m looking forward to continuing to share my journey with God in 2013!

wishing you much hope, joy, and peace,

Hope

stitched up heart

God, Please Be My Shield

stitched up heart

stitched up heart

“If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil, cover your mouth in shame. As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels.” Proverbs 30:32-33 (NLT). 

The Amplified Bible further expands on verse 32 by stating, “If you have done foolishly in exalting yourself, or if you have thought evil, lay your hand upon your mouth.” 

As I am following the SheReadsTruth group with reading Proverbs, this verse really speaks to me.

I realized yesterday that I’m keeping score in my relationships. Instead of being appreciative for what others do, I’m comparing what I do for them to what they do for me. I want things to be “equal.” I want to be treated fairly. And I used to not think this way or be this way. In fact, I’ve been told time and time again, that I’m too giving and self-sacrificing…

I think… No, I know why and how I’ve become this person. I’ve been hurt — betrayed — abandoned — taken advantage of — manipulated — and not considered, especially emotionally.

I’m protecting myself from being hurt, used, or even abused, again.

And as much as all of this makes sense to my human mind, I realize that it is not the way to live. In essence, I’ve closed off my heart. Or where there was an opening, a vulnerability, there is now a little scar.

And over time, I’m sure that I’ve amassed several scars. That’s why the picture of the stitched up heart really struck me. I’m sure my heart really looks like this one – a bit beaten up.

I don’t think you can go through life, if you are really living and loving, without getting any scars or places that you need to protect. Places that we may think need shielding.

So, then I read back over Proverbs 30 and saw this verse.

“Every word of God is pure, He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” (NKJV)

Yeah, that’s right. I’m shielding my own heart. Taking score. Remembering past hurts so that people don’t hurt me again.

I’m supposed to let God shield me … be my shield. Protect my heart, my life, and my soul.

Once again I am reminded of the power of God and this relationship that I am building with Him. I’m reminded of my sin, my errors, and my human frailty. And frankly, I’m reminded of how much I need God.

Last night in my church’s community group, we discussed the power of confessing.

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].” James 5:16 (AMP)

So I am confessing this fault of mine to all that read my blog. Please pray for me. Please pray that my heart can be spiritually healed and restored. [It feels so strange asking, but I know I need to ask and pray anyway.] Please pray that I am able to build a new community where I live in spite of my shortcomings. God knows that I feel alone because I moved and had to leave behind my community.

Hopefully, some of you will share your struggles at this time so I can pray for you too.

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace in God,

Hope

SheReadsTruth

Linking up with my favorite online communities: Ann at The Holy Experience, Unwrapping His Promises (at Scribing the Journey), and Getting Down With Jesus!

Marley at 3 Months Old

Good people are good to their animals & God is simply good

Good people are good to their animals” Proverbs 12:10 [MSG]

Marley Home Safe

Marley is home safe!

Have you ever felt like you were living in “The Twilight Zone”? You remember that show, don’t you? Perhaps I’m telling my age. Well, growing up,  I used to watch the reruns on Nickelodeon.

Well, these past few days I had the craziest and scariest experience. A Twilight Zone worthy moment.  Late Thursday afternoon, during a normal walk to the park, I experienced the worst day of my life. You see, I took my two dogs for a “potty” walk. My little 6 pound Maltese, Marley, was on the leash, when a giant standard poodle, which was not on a leash, just ran into his lease. The poodle got stuck in the leash and kept running, which caused my little dog to be whipped around and flown through the air. He landed with a thud and didn’t move for minutes.

This image and moment is now permanently imprinted in my mind.

I honestly thought my little baby was dead. Although he finally opened his eyes minutes later, his body remained lifeless and I thought surely he was paralyzed. And strangely, Marley’s nose was bleeding and his eyes wouldn’t stay open. I gathered every ounce of courage and hope for his life I could muscle and picked him carefully to take him to the emergency veterinarian.

Thankfully my significant other was able to leave work immediately, send me the address of the closest veternarian, and meet me at the hospital.

I don’t know how I drove there with my doggie in my lap, but I did. I remember the vet technician taking my limp, lifeless dog from me to examine him, while I completed the paperwork.

Marley and Me - Marley only 3 Months Old

Marley and Me – Marley only 3 Months Old

I was in a haze and couldn’t even believe this was happening, and especially not now. Marley and I have been together the entire time I’ve lived in California. In fact, we’ve been everywhere together for almost 7 years. He has been with me through failed relationships, graduate school, law school, multiple houses, a summer associate position in Indianapolis, a law clerk position in Philadelphia, and trips to Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, and Ohio to name a few. He was my travel partner and my study buddy.

We’ve been everywhere and done everything together.

I was incredulous that a freak accident could take him away from me….. And leave me all alone… especially in a new city, San Francisco, with no two friends, no extended family, and little support [besides my significant other].

Marley has been my family, my unconditional support….

And then I realized that I had Jesus.

I know it sounds a bit cliche, yes, even to me. But it is the truth.

I had to lean on Jesus. I had to believe that he could make Marley all better. The veterinary doctors certainly did not want to give me false hope.

In fact, their first words involved choices regarding money and paying for the treatments that Marley would need to even assess whether he would be okay. Just to get him past this initial dark stage. IVs and medicine to reduce the swelling in his brain. Radiology. Overnight stays.

I was told that he may not see in his right eye – the side his little body landed on. I was warned that he may be permanently paralyzed on his left side of the body. And he might have irreversible brain damage. And of course, there was nothing they could know for sure. Of course…

So, faced with the possiblity of no life with Marley, I turned… no I ran to Jesus. And I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

I called on my family and friends to pray for him. And my prayer was specific. I wanted Marley to have a full health recovery!

The first night in the vet hospital, I received a call that he’d had a seizure and been administered valium. And I was told the next morning that seizures were not a good sign.

The next day, Friday, I visited him in the hospital and he was still limp and lifeless. And more importantly, he was not moving his arm and leg on the left side. Friday night, he had another seizure.

I couldn’t sleep most nights, so I just prayed. I prayed for his health. I prayed for no seizures. And I prayed that the image of the accident, and his little limp body, would leave my mind’s eye…even if just for a second.

I prayed to be a better protector of him in the future. And since there was no one really to blame [well besides the other dog that was not on a leash], I turned the blame on myself and started second guessing everything. If I’d just taken him out earlier… not taken him out at all… if I hadn’t been worried about my other dog having a chance to play… if I’d taken him off leash… If I… If I…

My mind went on like this for hours…

And then Jesus would hear my prayers, and allow me peace enough to go to sleep – even if for a few hours.

And then Saturday came. The day where my hope in Marley’s ability to walk was restored. During my visit, I was able to get him to stand on his own and walk 2 baby steps toward me.

I saw enough to believe… that Marley would be fully restored.

And that night, the phone did not ring with news of a seizure. And I really began to hope that Jesus had made him better.

And then Sunday came, and the dreaded meeting with the neurologist for his report. Poor Marley had seen specialists from almost every medical area. The neurologist was suprisingly upbeat and positive about Marley’s recovery. In fact, he said that he was shocked at his progress between Thursday evening and Sunday morning.

I wasn’t shocked…I was relieved and thankful that Jesus healed my little baby Marley. Only God could have restored him, and so quickly.

Although Marley is not out of the woods completely yet, he is now safely on the other side. And he is home.

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2. [NIV]

He is no longer on meds, attached to IVs, and under a seizure watch. He’s home with his family. And he’s walking around on all fours and seeing out of both eyes. He responds to his name. And he is almost like new.

I am so, so, so thankful.

I was very fortunate to have the financial support of my significant other, which enabled Marley to receive the best medical care possible. And unlike me, he was strong and rational and brave enough to ask the tough questions, while I was just a ball of tears. Thankfully, my significant other loves Marley too.

I am thankful to my love, and I am very thankful to Jesus.

“Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” Psalm 30: 11-12 [NIV].

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope

[I’m giving thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever! I’m just beginning to list my thousand gifts.]

  1. Thanks to the Lord,
  2. Prayers from family and friends
  3. Health of my doggie, Marley
  4. The love and support of my significant other
  5. Capable veterinarians
  6. More than enough of food, clothes, financial resources, and grace