20 January 2012

Chills and “Aha Moments”

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and
chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes"
- Ephesians 1:4

This week I found myself spending time in the book of Deuteronomy – chapters 1 and 2 to be exact. It wasn’t part of my “reading plan,” but God drew me to those particular verses in a way I couldn’t refuse.

Three specific “aha moments.”

It started the other night when a friend, who had borrowed a copy of The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, asked if we could discuss some of the questions in the back of a chapter. (He had never read the book, and I had read it as part of a small group Bible study.) We had a wonderful discussion, but as the evening progressed, something my friend said triggered the first “aha moment.” His comment was that several of the “struggles” I had written about in one of my answers seem to be some of the same things I am still dealing with today. (Honestly, I forgot that I had even written answers in my book.) You might be thinking, “That’s no big deal.” The problem is that I had written my answers over 10 years ago, when I originally read the book.

Have you ever felt like you continue to do the same things over and over again, only to find that you end up with the same result over and over again. Duh!

Then yesterday I was sitting quietly reading through my Bible study when I came across the words of Deuteronomy 2:3, “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.”

I immediately got a chill (aka the 2nd “aha moment”). As I read those words, I felt like God was using them to once again tell me that indeed my life has been stuck in a vicious cycle for way too long.

WOW ... this can’t be a coincidence!

But God hadn’t finished making His point yet. This morning as I continued to read from the book of Deuteronomy, I stumbled across yet another message that I could tell was just written for this very moment.

“God, your God, has blessed you in everything you have done. He has guarded you in your travels through this immense wilderness. For forty years now, God, your god, has been right here with you. You haven’t lacked one thing” (Deuteronomy 2:7 MSG).

When I read the verse ... another chill, another “aha moment,” but this time it was different - ... God had connected the dots, so to speak.

You see, I turned 60 in the fall, and only today did that scripture take on a different meaning. I have let the same mountain of struggles keep me from an abundant life for not 10, 20, or even 30 years, but for the last 40 years of my life.

It was during my “aha moments” that I heard God telling me, “Donna, you’ve circled long enough. Trust me. It’s time to go to the Promised Land.”

I realize that God is after my own heart. He wants more for me than broken promises, health issues, discouragement, financial concerns, or insecurity. So I am accepting His invitation and focusing on our relationship. I am working on becoming radically disciplined in seeking his will for all of my decisions and actions. With God, I believe the cycle of “circling the mountain” can be broken!

Each of us faces some sort of “mountain” in our life. What mountain(s) are you facing?

Just like He wanted greater things for the people of Israel, God wants more for each one of us. He is willing to lead us, carry us, fight for us, bless us, and love us unconditionally. Maybe it’s time that we trust Him and instead of circling the mountain, let’s look “north” and follow God with our heart, mind and spirit.

Chillin’ in His “aha moments.”
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

Congratulations to Debbie Case

16 January 2012

DaySpring Cards (REVIEW & GIVEAWAY)

“Encourage one another and build each other up.”
–1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

In his book entitled, Short Meditations on the Bible and PEANUTS, author Robert L. Short had this to say about his dear friend, Charles M. Schulz - Cartoonist and Creator of the PEANUTS comic strip...

“As far as I know, he was the first to include actual quotes from the Bible in a comic strip. And Schulz knows the Bible very well – as well as any lay person I know and better than a lot of ministers. The study in his home could be a minister’s study, with its shelves of biblical commentaries.”

Mr. Schulz always considered his work more than a job, it was his calling. He once said, “If you do not say anything in a cartoon, you might as well not draw it at all. Humor which does not say anything is worthless humor. So I contend that a cartoonist must be given a chance to do his own preaching."  In one single comic strip Schulz could give us an overview of a short parable or recap main points of a scripture verse. Take this example where Lucy, in her usual quizzical manner asks: “Why do you think we’re put here on earth, Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown’s response was, “To make other’s happy.” Their interaction reminded me of the words found in Philemon 1:7, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.”

In an article from the San Francisco Chronicle entitled, Saying Goodbye, writer Pamela Podger said, “Peanuts' lively cast of characters -- with their tales of small woes, triumphs and resolve -- touched nerves and reached intimate spaces. Schulz often said all his fears, insecurities and experiences were reflected in those four boxes.”

Emotions such as fear, insecurity, pain, sadness, as well as triumphs, joy, and happiness are part of our everyday life.  Scripture tells us that in such times as these, we need to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and what better way to do just that than with a greeting card.  I don’t know about you but sometimes I struggle to find the perfect words to say.  Never fear, DaySpring has a card for any occasion, and any sentiment you may want to express.  They have even taken the mixture of Schulz’s comics and faith, and used it to create their new Peanuts – Encouragement & Friendship line.  

This assortment of ten premium greeting cards features inspiring messages, along with y
our favorite Peanuts characters.  I’ve already sent out several cards because as soon as I opened the package and read the messages, a list of special friends came to mind.  That happens to me a lot when I’m shopping for cards, especially when they are created by DaySpring.  So if you happen to be strolling down the card aisle of your favorite store and see someone in tears or laughing out loud, it’s either me or another “card lover.”  Give them a smile and a nod – they will understand!

Charles Schulz left us with a PEANUTS archive of nearly 20,000 comic strips ... his inspiration is endless. Other assortments in the DaySpring Peanuts line include: birthday, get well, thank-you, congratulations, all occasion assortment and holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Check out the DaySpring website for the cards mentioned in this post or to view many of their other products.
As part of this product review I am hosting a GIVEAWAY ...
Want a chance to win a $20 credit to the DaySpring Online Store?
Leave a comment below and tell me why card writing matters to you.

Giveaway ends midnight MDT Thursday, January 19, 2012.
The winner’s name will be draw at random
and announced January 20th right here on this site.

Charles Schulz died on February 12, 2000. His comics encouraged us to encourage each other and laugh a lot. With the upcoming anniversary of his death, I would like to dedicate this product review to his memory.

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also enjoy my post entitled “It only takes a stamp.” http://peace2sparkle.blogspot.com/2011/02/it-only-takes-stamp.html

*Disclaimer: The product reviewed in this post was made available free by DaySpring in exchange for my honest opinion. My post will be part of their January (In)Spired Deals Review on the (In)Courage website. All comments stated are my own and no other compensation was provided *

13 January 2012

Being an Obedient Bible Study Girl

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant
of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The New Year is a time when many people commit to reading a new daily devotional, spending more time digging in to God’s Word, or joining a new Bible study group. Been there, done that!

Week 1 ... so excited, anxious to dig in to our new study.

Week 2 ... read my assignment and looking forward to class tonight.

Week 3 ... it’s been a hard day at work (should I just go home tonight instead of going to Bible study?) I’ll miss the others in my class ... I guess I’ll go.

Week 4 ... I’m embarrassed because I haven’t finished my reading for this week (maybe I should just go home and get caught up before next week’s class).

Week 5 ... have a million errands to run after work (should I go to class late or just skip this week?)

Week 6 ... I missed class last week (maybe I’ll just join the next Bible study when they start up again next session).

Have you ever had any of the conversations above with yourself?

I have to admit ... more than one of those thoughts have swirled around in my head. Things happen, life get’s in the way, priorities change. Unfortunately, there have been times when I was unable to honor a commitment I made (even though at the time, it was with the best of intentions).

And so another new year and once again I am making a commitment, but starting a reading plan or a Bible study is only the beginning. The most important step is seeing our plan through to completion, and that takes obedience and self-discipline. I guess this will be one of the first challenges of digging deeper into my word for this year ... which is SELF-DISCIPLINE.

As Christians, the Bible is the foundation of our faith which means we not only need to read God’s word, but understand how to apply it to our daily life. I also realize that Bible study is an essential part of our Christian walk and good “intentions” won’t empower us, but obedience will. So it makes sense that if I follow through with my commitment, my relationship with God will grow deeper and deeper.

Easier said than done.

Seeking peace in all areas of my life is a constant challenge. One area has really been troubling me lately, so I have made a commitment to participate in a six-week Bible study which will begin this Sunday. I am praying that my commitment this time will be different. Two scriptures verses came to mind as I considered the challenge ahead of me:

“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched
by your completion of it, according to your means” - 2 Corinthians 8:11

“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed”
- Proverbs 16:3

I ask that you pray for me as I will for you - that God will give us obedience and discipline in our willingness to learn, listen and live out His will in all areas of our life. And that He will help us not to take our commitments lightly, so we can be all that He is calling us to be.

It’s Friday, Let’s “Sparkle” ... action required ... Accountability is key when making a commitment to change any area of our lives. The demands of everyday life can become temptations and work against us, but Satan tries to create even more ... and he knows our every weakness. Accountability becomes crucial in our battle to remain obedient.

This weekend why not pray about finding an accountability partner. The Bible tells us, “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

When was the last time you had a friend call you just to check up on you, to see how you were doing? Or, when was the last time you called a friend to do the same? Every Christian needs an accountability partner ... to pray together, talk with, and share words of encouragement.

Don’t be surprised if God puts someone on your heart that just happens to need a friend, mentor, or someone to walk with on their spiritual journey. After all we have been called to be in community with other believers ... it’s all part of His amazing plan!

Be sure to check back as I will be sharing some updates about my journey over the next six weeks.

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

Find out how knowledgeable you are relating to
the Biblical truths and obedience to God -
click here to take an OBEDIENCE QUIZ ...

09 January 2012

Life is Fragile, Handle with Prayer

 “Commit your actions to the LORD,
and your plans will succeed”
- Proverbs 16:3

The New Year is underway and hopefully we’ve all got our “one word,” resolutions, or goals defined. The easy part is done.

This weekend I read something and realized the long journey is just beginning. The revelation was “Deep prayer – real communication with God not only changes things, but it changes us from the inside out!”  Changing from the inside out is a slow process. It doesn’t just happen in the blink of an eye!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so excited about the possibility of something good happening, I forget that hard work and dedication are also involved. And once again I am reminded why my word for this year is self-discipline (ie. will-power, restraint, strength of mind, discipline, self-control). It’s amazing how one word, a simple change, or a new goal can affect every area of your life. I already know that my prayer life, Christian study, health, finances, relationships, my school work, my home, and the work the Lord has called me to, will be affected. I’m beginning to think this might end up being a five-year plan.

I can’t do this (alone) ... BUT with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

No matter what plans we have, or commitments we’ve made, we need to lay it all before the Lord. And that does not mean asking for a one-time blessing - it means communicating with Him daily.

Pray without ceasing.

We need to pour our heart out - asking God to reveal new things, to give us perseverance and steadfastness in our 2012 journey, AND we need to take time to listen.

Here are a few Tips for Praying, that will help us remain committed to our challenge for this year:

• As we continue reading and studying God’s word, we need to gain a deeper understanding of our commitment (word, resolution, goals) in relation to its context in the Bible. Pray for clarity. God gives understanding to those who seek Him (Psalm 53:2). “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

• Let God know how serious you are about your commitment.  Ask Him to search your heart, your thoughts, desires, and actions (Psalm 139:23). “Those who seek the Lord abide in Him” (Psalm 119:45).

• Use the promises found in God’s word, as prayers spoken back to Him. He loves nothing more than for us to meditate on His word, store it in our heart, and put our trust in Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

• God has a plan for us and whatever happens, He is in control. Pray that this year will be all about what He will do in and through you. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Three hundred and sixty five days is a long time to walk alone on any kind of journey. A lonely traveler could get discouraged, lost or harmed ... but we are blessed. We know the One who offers words of encouragement, the Shepherd who can guide us along the path, and the Protector who can keep us safe and remove obstacles. He has given us PROMISES for such times as this!

Seek Him Daily (and BELIEVE).
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

06 January 2012

A Bus Pass and a Smile

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who
put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.”  - John 12:46

I LOVE K-LOVE RADIO ... What a wonderful source of encouragement! Many times I hear a story or devotion that helps me put my life in perspective, and that is exactly what happened this week.

International Evangelist, Louis Palau had several brief devotional messages on K-Love this week about “Evangelism in Public Places.” What caught my attention was when he said that public transportation creates a perfect opportunity to be a witness. For the past month, I have been using the transit system (and taxi cabs) to get back and forth to work. When my car first died, I did a lot of complaining to God about the inconvenience, challenges and how untimely the whole matter was. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had a choice. I could continue to be negative and become miserable in the process, or I could change my attitude, stay strong in my faith, and ask God to make something good come out of this “untimely” occurrence.

I decided on the second choice.

Public Transportation: If you’ve taken the bus, the light rail or a commuter train lately, you probably realized how preoccupied riders are with their MP3 players and cell phones. It’s hard to communicate with anyone any more, let alone try to share our faith.  In his message on Tuesday, Palau suggested that it’s a good idea to always carry a book when using public transportation. He said, “It doesn’t have to be a Bible, it can be a book from one of your favorite Christian writers."  He spoke about how often can be a great conversation starter.” I thought to myself, “I love to read - I can do that!”

A Lesson Learned: I was riding the bus home from work, and the man sitting across the aisle from me was wearing 3 hooded sweatshirts layered one on top of the other… each one more ragged that the other. He was also carrying a worn sack filled with his belongings. I sensed that he was riding the bus not to get to anywhere in particular, but just because he wanted someone to talk to. Wednesday evening, I happened to be that person.

We struck up a conversation, or should I say – he talked and I gently nodded my head and offered an encouraging word every now and then. At one point in the conversation, a pile of papers fell through a hole in his pocket and scattered over the floor. As he gathered them up, he shared how most of the items were punch cards from local restaurants. He said that occasionally he would call a friend to see if they would take him out to dinner. Afterwards he would have his card punched for both of their meals. He did this because once the card was filled with 10 punches he could get a free meal. This complete stranger shared many other stories on our half hour trip, including the fact that he occasionally went to a “home church,” where about 5-6 different families met each week. Arriving at my final destination, I said good-bye and told him that I had enjoyed our conversation. His smile seemed a little brighter, and my heart was full of peace & joy!  Riding the bus isn't so bad after all.

I guess I didn’t really need my book this time, but maybe it will come in handy another day.

Restaurants: On Thursday morning, Louis Palau shared a message about how you can be a “light” even when you go out to eat. I loved his idea! He suggested that when the server brings out your meal, you have a perfect opportunity to witness by saying, “We are going to pray before our meal. How can we pray for you?” What a wonderful plan - whether that person is a Christian or not, they will know that someone cares about them.

It’s Friday, Let’s Sparkle … action required … I have been thinking about the man on the bus for a few days now, so this weekend when I am at the grocery store, I plan to purchase a gift card and carry it with me on my bus rides until I see the “weary traveler” once again. It is just a small way I can show him that I heard the concerns of his heart.

Next time you are out in public, whether it be at a restaurant or the library, on a bus ride or just walking down the street, remember that every day God puts people into our lives that may or may not know Christ. Don’t miss the chance to reach out and make a difference! For many people witnessing doesn’t come easily, but praying for God;a guidance will allow us to rely on His power rather than our own ability. When we become a “light to a dark” world, it pleases God and brings glory to His name.

I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to hear the song “Learning to be the Light,” by NewWorldSon. The guys in this group are committed to reaching people wherever they’re at. This morning as I listened to the lyrics, it seemed like a perfect benediction to this week’s life lesson. One of the verses says, “Oh God I just want to love on everyone, all I have is Yours to give, so let the people come.”

I am so thankful that all things can turn to good, as God offers to change our inconvenient situations in to “timely” opportunities. Looking forward to more lessons on the journey!

Have a blessed weekend...
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

01 January 2012

One Word Only

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
-John 15:7

For a writer, life becomes all about WORDS. So, for the past two years I have chosen a word to be my focus throughout the year, and have been excited to see where God has led me as I delved in to researching the meaning both biblically and academically.

In 2010 my word was BOLD. I don’t think it was actually my first choice, but it definitely was one that God kept nudging me with until I finally gave in. And I was so glad I did. At the end of the year I couldn’t believe how blessed I was by what God revealed to me about “holy boldness,” and the amazing lessons I learned as I dug deeper in to scripture verses such as Ephesians 3:12, “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence.”

For 2011, the word I chose was PEACE and God added on the word SPARKLE. As my journey to seek peace became a daily mission, “sparkle” became my response - the action for all I was learning.

Once again this year I started my search for a new word. I began early (actually right around Thanksgiving), but it wasn’t until yesterday that God helped me narrow down my list of possibilities. After much prayer and even a little tug of war with God, I am claiming my word for 2012 as SELF-DISCIPLINE. I’m not sure how I feel about it right now, but I know that God will use it to teach me so much if I just surrender to Him and stay out of his way!

Many years back, author Debbie Macomber decided to select a word to serve as her personal focus for the year. In her book One Perfect Word she had this to say, “When we choose one single word from His Word and spend a year with it, I’ve found that the Lord takes us by the hand and walks us through the year, teaching us about that word, about ourselves, and even more, about God Himself.”

According to the myoneword.org website, “My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond the past and look ahead. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD. This process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing.”

The “one word” challenge has definitely become the “buzz” with bloggers and Christian organizations such as K-Love Radio joining the project, but did you know that there is a biblical basis for choosing one word. Scripture describes how God selected individual words that needed to become the focus of many of his followers (in order for them to be prepared for the plans He had for them).

Moses’ word  =  HUMILITY (Exodus 3:12)
Joshua’s word  =  STRENGTH/ COURAGE (Joshua 1:6-7)
Solomon’s word  =  WISDOM (1 Kings 4:29-30)

On New Year’s Eve I posed a question on my blog readers, “Have you chosen “one word” to focus on in 2012?” If you have already determined what your word is going to be, please feel free to share it below. If not, keep reading because I have some information that may be helpful.

Today I listened to a sermon entitled, “The Word 2012.” Coincidence, I think not! The pastor answered two important questions you have probably been asking yourself ... Why choose one word?  His response was ... “sometimes our lives need a change or focus, and sometimes we just need to grow in sustenance.” And how do we select our word?  Pray first - then, “look for where God is doing work in your life and join Him there.”

Here are two things that we need to remember:

1. Don’t just listen to God’s prompting, but act on it. Ask yourself, What steps will I take to be obedient, to grow in the word that I have chosen?

2. Just because we focus on one word, we can’t dismiss the fact that other words may be intertwined. Don’t be surprised if your “word” brings other words with it (such as my example about “peace” and “sparkle”).

I want to assure you that my blog will not be changing just because I have chosen a new word for 2012. I will continue my journey to seek a life filled with peace, and to be an outward reflection of that inner peace (sparkle). The only change is that I will incorporate what God is revealing to me about self-discipline and how it interacts with peace, love, joy, trials, temptations and more, in my daily journey.

My prayer is that 2012 will be more than just changing the calendar. May it truly be a year of change for our new life (and stronger walk) with Christ.

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

It’s not too late to pick ONE WORD for 2012, check it out: