It doesn't matter whether you're one or one hundred, having a life verse is a powerful asset to living a life according to God's will. Simply put, a life verse is a favorite verse from the Bible that you commit to memory and strive to live by day to day. I learned about this idea a couple years ago and eagerly chose one for each of my children, but never thought about choosing one for myself. This month, I'm challenging myself (and you!) to find a life verse, commit it to memory and make a conscious effort to embrace that Bible verse on a daily basis--all in an effort to look more and more like Christ with each passing day.
Do you have a seemingly impossible situation in your life? I do. And I'd venture to say most of you do, too. When my "impossible" problem first began, I tried everything I could think of to fix it; strategy after strategy failed, and continues to fail. I have learned through this process that God is the ONLY one who can make a difference in this particular situation.
Although I wholly trust God's purpose, plan, and power, it came to my attention that maybe my prayers don't fully reflect that belief. In a video Bible study I watched this weekend, the speaker used Ephesians 3:20 to teach us that God is ABLE. We know it, we say it, we trust it, but do we really believe it? The speaker noted that "If you don't believe God is able, it will alter the way you pray." With this in mind, I wondered if my prayers demonstrated my trust in God's ability.
If you find yourself in rote prayer to God, like myself, I challenge you to infuse your prayers with wishes that are far beyond the "fix." Understand the power of God, and pray with His might in mind!
As God tells us in the above verse, it's imperative to support the orphans and widows in our communities. I believe, knowing God's heart, that we should apply this to the single parent as well. Welcoming our second child last month, I have a newfound appreciation for single mothers. Whether she's a widow, divorced, or single, this woman (despite the blessings of her children) carries a desperately heavy burden as the sole caregiver.
This month, I challenge you to accept God's charge found in James 1:27. Let's work together to support the single mother (or father), showing them the love of Christ. Consider preparing a meal, surprising her with flowers, booking a one time maid service for her home, offering babysitting, taking her out for an evening, or coming up with something unique to her specific needs. Enjoy serving these precious women, and please share your ideas and stories!
Every once in awhile God sends me constant reminders about an area of life that requires my attention, in order to align with His Word. Unfortunately, I don't always choose to listen and follow His guidance. After hearing the same message in several places, I'm convinced that God is calling out to me. Now, I have to decide if I'm going to keep pushing that message aside or if I'll have the guts to finally say, "Yes!"
Since my salvation several years ago, I've understood the purpose and vitalness of memorizing scripture (to cease Satan's lies, to help and lead others, and to engrave the Truth on my heart). Yet, I've failed to make it a habit. I've had a couple good runs, lasting months at a time, and then life happens and Scripture memory falls to the side.
If I claim that Christ is the highest priority in my life, my actions need to match my intentions. As soon as I publish this post, I'll head straight to my bathroom mirror to record my weekly verse, Philippians 4:8. Since I spend several minutes in front of the mirror every day anyway, it's the perfect place for me to memorize His Word. If I can make time to watch recorded episodes of Project Runway, then I can certainly make time to sear God's heart onto my own. I encourage you to join me this month in making scripture memory a weekly habit, and prayerfully, a permanent part of your life.
We all have our weaknesses, despite our seemingly flawless lives on Facebook. Social media isn't typically the place we broadcast our illnesses, failures, and hurts. It's an outlet that most of us use to share our successes, exciting news, and idyllic pictures--myself included.
I've often heard that people think Tim and I have "the perfect, all-American life," from what they see online and hear via others. My husband serves our country, I had a successful (albeit short) career as a teacher, we have a beautiful daughter, I have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom, and we are rooted in our faith. Yet, we endure the same trials, and dare I say more, as every other family. Our closest friends and family know about illnesses, near-death experiences, and our struggles to live like Christ. We are real people that deal with real problems, but thank the Lord, we have His Word to strengthen us in our trials.
I've been praying for years for God to work in a certain area of my life that lacks a resemblance to Christ.
I know He is faithful and I am waiting for His answer. Recently, I began wondering if the answer I seek hasn't yet come because I'm not willing to do the necessary work. Maybe God has been speaking, but I haven't been listening. This thought came last week when I encountered Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." In these fiercely wise words I find my answer. Now that I can finally see it, am I willing to do the work? When my thoughts turn from what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, will I choose to live Philippians 4:8 instead?
This month (and for the rest of my life), I pray for the strength and desire to live out the above verse. How much more glorious, fulfilling, and rewarding life promises to be if I keep Philippians 4:8 written on my heart. Despite our inevitable immersion in a world of sin and dissatisfaction, I hope you join me in September's challenge to be enveloped by this AWEsome spirit of Christ.
This past weekend I found myself deeply upset over several issues. After a fitful night of sleep, I knew I needed some alone time to be with God and sort out my feelings, convicted that I was upset for reasons of the flesh and speaking with too much distance between God's Word and my attitude.
I decided to take a walk by myself through a serene park that I knew would provide me the right environment to be at peace and tuned in to God's voice. I prayed for His guidance on my tumultuous (raging pregnancy hormone enhanced) feelings, asking Him to speak to me and show me how to respond as Christ would.
As always, I felt His presence in the quiet. He lead me to understand that I determine my attitude, not the actions of others. It is my responsibility to respond in a Godly manner and to be thankful in all circumstances.
This month, I challenge you to take a "prayer walk." Go to a place that brings you peace and spend time walking with the Lord. Ask Him to lead you, showing you how to achieve Christ-likeness in your life.
I know, it's basically August and I'm just now getting around to the July faith challenge. But, packing up our home in El Paso and moving to Tucson pretty much put everything else on the back burner. Now that we're semi-settled, I have a chance to think about how I need to focus my faith. One thing I learned in moving with a toddler is that you can't get anything done when you want to get it done or how you want to get it done. Her schedule becomes my schedule, unless I can pop in a movie that transfixes her or work like a crazy person during her nap time. Even then, this pregnancy and it's complications haven't allowed me to work as diligently as I'd like to, even during my few rare opportunities. And being a type-A person, this becomes rather frustrating!
But through all this, I think God is trying to teach me a lesson: it's not the to-do list that matters, it's the people. Being a woman, a wife, a mother, and list-loving person often leads me to complete a task before meeting the needs of my family. I don't know why, but I HAVE to hang that curtain, or wash the dishes, or vacuum the floor, or organize the shelf, or move the furniture around for the fifth time before I can allow myself to intentionally focus on my husband or my daughter. I feel like I can't give my full attention without having completed my checklist. During this seventh military related move in the last five years, I've learned that the list will never be checked off for good. There promises to always be more that has to get done, but I'm not promised forevermore with my family. I wonder how I can ever forget this message after my husband experienced two near-death deployments in Afghanistan, yet it's something I need to constantly remind myself when we're back in the humdrum of everyday life. I must cherish this time I have with them, and put the chores aside. When my days come to an end, I'll not wish that I'd spent more time making and crossing off lists, but that I'd fully embraced every opportunity to love on my loved ones.
It's all too easy for us to get stuck in the humdrum that everyday life brings upon us. I tend to focus on the tasks: wake up early, care for a toddler, make breakfast, clean up, eat lunch, clean up, prepare dinner, clean up, and start all over the next day. To live the life I desire, I must instead intentionally focus on the day's gifts from God: a snuggly dog, my daughter's early morning smile, a full pantry, a loving husband, watching the wonder of discovery through a toddler's eyes, hearing Addie say "amen" after prayer time, her request for kisses, and Christ's unfailing love.
I received this message of gratitude while reading 1000 Gifts, but once I completed the book, life went on and I forgot how imperative it is to be thankful in all circumstances. Last night I began reading Prayer Warrior Mom and was convicted of the need to be grateful once more. The author states that the wife is the heart of the home and her attitude controls the "temperature" inside. Nothing is more of an indicator of our attitude than our level of gratitude. I must learn to be thankful at all times, to model this Biblical command for my daughter and to create a loving environment in my home. This starts with being thankful. Each time I begin to feel frustrated, angry, or hurt I hope to thank God, knowing that He is working purposefully in my life, for my benefit.
I find that women, in particular, are phenomenal judges. We scrutinize each other (especially other women) without even realizing it's happening, an innate quality. In reading The True Measure of a Woman, the author asks her audience to make a list of people to release from judgment. It shamed me as I wrote my list to know that I was wrongfully analyzing these people, despite God's Word commanding me not to judge. I do not know each person's story. I do not know each person's heart. And even if I did, I'm still called to take the plank out my own eye first.
This week, God took the opportunity to teach me this lesson the hard way after Adeline's 18 month check-up appointment. After seeing the doctor, we walked to the vaccine clinic where we waited next to another mom and her child. The mother was busy on her phone for quite some time while her baby sat alone in his stroller. I found myself judging her for not interacting with her son. (Seeing parents ignore a child to spend time on the phone is a major pet peeve of mine.) Moments later, we got to talking and she apologized for being on her phone, explaining that her husband was boarding a plane for Korea, where he will be stationed for the next year...without his family. Military wife to military wife, I was mortified for assuming she'd rather dillydally on her phone than talk to her son, when in reality, she was saying goodbye to her husband and assuming sole responsibility of her family. Note to self: you never know someone's situation, so reserve your opinions. Got it, God!
Instead of worrying about how to fix someone else's life, I must focus on my own. What do I need to work on in order to better myself in the name of Christ? Let me tell you, I have PLENTY of areas of improvement that require my attention before I spend energy judging others. So, here's to a May filled with releasing others from my analysis and assumptions and praying for God to reveal my "planks."
I don't why it is that I can be ever so kind to strangers, friends, and peers, but my inner Madonna takes over when it comes to my family. Please say you can relate! I often take out my frustrations, warranted or not, on those I love the most. I feel the battle inside me every time I start to get annoyed or upset, and I can't seem to stop the Diva from making an appearance, that I inevitably regret. This past weekend, Tim and I got in a little spat; I prayed that I would handle the situation in a Christ-like manner. Well, let's just say I didn't. I let my anger be known, over a really silly incident. Isn't that how it usually happens though?!
For the month of April, I plan to make a conscious effort to be gentle, in all circumstances, despite my impatience and OCD tendencies. Titus 3:2 tells us to " ...always be gentle toward everyone," (emphasis added). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gentle as "having or showing a kind and quiet nature; not harsh or violent." In order to achieve a gentle spirit, I will pray each morning for God to guide me in exhibiting gentleness, especially toward my family. When I feel that all-too-familiar bubbling tension rising inside of me, I'll pray for God to help me maintain my composure and handle the situation with kindness. That's my intention, anyway =). May April shower us with an overabundance of gentleness!
Weekly Challenge: Spend quiet time with the Lord each day this week.
One of our 40 day Lent challenges was to spend quiet time with the Lord, listening for His voice and direction. I found this practice to be deeply calming and refreshing. I usually spend my devotional time thinking and blabbing the entire time, and it was eye-opening to spend part of that time in silence, listening, as you would in any other conversation. I'm looking forward to the refreshing silence this week, and perhaps, His voice.
Weekly Faith Challenge: Prepare your heart for Christ.
Earlier this week I was inspired to start a 40 day challenge to prepare my heart for Christ this Lent season. Each day I will post a new challenge on our home page that I pray grow's you in His love. I hope you choose to join me in this quest to honor Jesus and learn to become more like him. You can start at any point along the way!
Weekly Challenge: Research what God says about the fruit of the Spirit.
This week's memory verse is Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These characteristics may seem obvious, but in order to better understand God's view on each of these qualities, let's head to the concordance section of the Bible, an index of subjects, and read a few verses on each. That way we can further comprehend the vitalness of the fruit and HOW to emulate these qualities our daily life.
Weekly Challenge: Let my speech be pleasing in God's sight.
From my daily devotional, by Billy Graham:
The problems of the world could be solved overnight if men could get victory over their tongues. Suppose there was no anger, no profanity, no lying, no grumbling or complaining; suppose there were no dirty stories told, no unjust criticism-what a different world this would be! The Bible teaches that a man who can control his tongue can control his whole personality. We should ask ourselves three questions before we speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Does it glorify Christ? If we would always think before we speak, there would be much less evil speaking, and there would soon be a spiritual awakening that would sweep the church in America.
Weekly Challenge: Only use God's name in a positive context.
It wasn't until Tim and I began dating that it was brought to my attention that I was using the Lord's name in vein, a lot. I would say things like, "Honest to God" and "Oh my God." I wasn't doing it in a malicious way, but I was still using His name in a way that was not reverential. Exodus 20:7 says, "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." When I use God's name it should be in blessing others, crying out to Him in prayer or praise, and expressing His majesty. I thought I was doing pretty well in this department, but then last night Tim caught me saying, "Oh my Lord" when the stench from Wilma's farted hit me. Definitely not using God's name in the right way on that one! I'm glad it happened though, as it show me that I still need to make a conscious effort to use His holy name properly.
Now that I've learned the order of the books of the Bible, it's time to memorize the authors of each of these books. In doing so, I hope to gain more understanding about the Word as I learn about these historic men. Since some of the books are named after the authors themselves, it shouldn't be as challenging as memorizing the book order (which I really struggled with!). I feel like I'm back in school with all this memorizing =).
Weekly Challenge: Memorize the order of the New Testament books.
Last week I attempted to memorize the order of all the books in the Bible, but I only succeeded in memorizing those of the Old Testament. Some of the names are so strange, especially at the end of the Old Testament, making the challenge more difficult than I anticipated. So this week, I'll work on memorizing the order of the New Testament books. Wish me luck!
Weekly Challenge: Memorize the order of the books of the Bible.
As a new Christian (and still today), opening my Bible at church or in small group brings on a pink flush to my cheeks and a nervous panic. This is because I don't know where I'm going. Thank God for the abbreviated name tabs on the side, otherwise I would never find my destination. After a few years of reading the Bible, I have a general idea...sometimes. Whenever the pastor says, "Turn to..." I quickly scan the tabs and sneak a look at those around me to see where they're at and (hopefully) find the right verse. I know people in church aren't judging me for not knowing, but I feel embarrassed all the same. It's time to get memorizing!
Weekly Challenge: Begin prayer in thanksgiving.
This week I encountered an acronym for the word "pray" that gave me further insight into praying in a way that pleases the Lord. What struck me the most was the first word in the acronym. "P" stands for praise. The author of this, Jeanne Zornes, describes praise in this way: "We're to enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). Sit quietly and thank God for who He is and what He has done." Ah-ha! I should begin my prayers in thanksgiving. If something profound has happened in my life or a prayer request has been answered, my prayers begin in a shower of thanks, but if it's just another day, then my prayers open with requests. IF I remember to thank Him, that comes at the end. For the last three days, I have practiced adding thanks to the beginning of my prayers. It's been quite challenging for me to remember this step, but it's made a huge difference for me. When I thank God for His blessings first, it's easier to trust His will with my prayer requests. If you don't already start your prayers in thanksgiving, give it a try this week. Psalm 100:4 tells us to do just that.
I'm Ashley Ashcraft,
a military wife and
stay-at-home mama, earnestly seeking the Christ-like life. I invite you to walk alongside me in my quest to raise our children and join the antics of our unpredictable military lifestyle. I pray your heart feels rejuvenated and inspired each time you visit OFH!