Ephesians Bible Study

Good morning and happy Saturday. I'm sharing with you a great bible study on the book of Ephesians that I found on a blog "Stone Soup for Five". It's in the side bar. You enter your email and it will be sent to you. This is a FREE study. I have a study book, as well, on the same thing, so I might try and incorporate it into the study. Check out my Facebook page as I also cross post there for bible study and doddling/journaling: Ladies Cafe and Bible Study.

*** I can't seem to get the links to activate, but if you google the stone soup blog, you'll find the bible study. For Facebook, just type in the name of my page.

These are some suggested resources to help you in your reading and understanding of the Book of Ephesians. (They come from the Stone Soup for Five bible study)

Grace to You--John MacArthur

Blue Letter Bible--Matthew Henry's Introduction

I am also using some of my resources from my Christian Counseling course as well as a study guide for Ephesians:
  • New Believers Compact New Testament (From Live Church)
  • Illustrated Bible Survey: An Introduction
  • Ephesians by Max Lucado
I hope you all will join me and others in exploring Scripture, growing our faith and a chance to be creative. 

Bible Journaling 101

Good morning lovelies! I'm trying a new project. I have seen such great ideas on how people journal in their bible, keeping track in a beautiful way their prayers or what they are learning. However, I don't have the money to buy a new bible. But recently I received lots of scrap booking materials. So, I decided I would try using a scrap book as a way to journal. Here is the beginning:

I've been checking out some online resources and videos because I'm not sure where or how to begin. It can seem rather daunting because so many people seem to be so artistic. I'm lucky if I can draw a stick figure!! I also don't have money for fancy supplies. I have gotten some basic supplies to get started. I know I can pick up more stuff at the dollar store. That's a great way to accumulate a variety of supplies without going broke.

My biggest stumbling block is what verses to start with. There are websites to help with that. Or you can start with a favorite passage. You might want to use a verse from a daily devotional. Or just pray about it. God will tell you where you need to start. I found a really nice video on how to get started. This is one from a very bubbly college student. You can check it out here: **How to Start Bible Journaling + My First Entries.

There are also resources to do an online bible journal. Those of you who are familiar with various photo editing programs might find these a little easier than those of us who really don't know! I found some ideas in this blog: ** http://www.biblejournalingdigitally.com/3-ways-to-bible-journal-digitally/. It offers some images and a workbook you can download and print. You can also download and print images just from a google search.

There is no one wrong or right way to do this. This is for you. To follow your progress in your faith. Or get you through a tough time. Or a way to express your creativity that God gave you. I hope you will try this out and maybe share some photos of your journals!

** If the links don't work, then just copy and paste it into your browser. **

Have fun and God Bless!

Not My Usual

I guess you can guess by the picture that this is going to be a different kind of post. Well I'm going to warn you right now, dear reader, that this is not one of my encouraging, pray to God kind of post. Nope. Not this time. I don't pretend to be some perfect kind of Christian wife. I don't just sit here with a smile on my face saying "Give it to God". I am me. I am subject to random mood changes, I get bitchy and irritable. I suffer from depression and anxiety, which often influences my perception of my life. And at this point, it's about my only outlook on life at the moment.
So, ready or not, here it goes.....
I’m about to explode. I need to find a therapist before I loose what is left of my mind or I do or say something I’m gonna regret. So here’s the long and short of it. Don’t answer the door because Rent-A-Center wants to come take the sofa. Don’t answer the door because the utility company wants to shut us off. We don’t have the money for this months’ rent. Car ins is due on the 14th or else the policy cancels. $134/mo is supposedly the lowest plan hubby could get for cable/internet. He owes everyone he’s borrowed money from to get us through the week. BUT, on the bright side, the van is fixed so he won’t have to take the bus to work! (He’s too good for that.) So if we don’t have a place to live we don’t need the sofa or the cable. We just can’t drive the van passed the 14th, but hey, he can probably park it at work and we’ll live there.

Hubby and daughter are like oil and water. For the most part he's ok with her, but there's always some kind of complaint and it lands on my daughter. He’s always saying she doesn’t pay rent. Why should she? She wasn’t here a whole lot. Plus she pays for all her stuff. Now she is here more because her boyfriend broke up with her. But she works sometimes 10 days straight before she gets a day off. And a lot of times she’ll go out with her friends at night. The only irritating thing is she has money to buy clothes, make up, get her nails done, get her hair colored. I can’t even buy a friggen bra that’s not from the dollar store. Granted, she takes 3 buses each way to work without complaint. She’ll give hubby $10 for gas to pick her up from work on a Sunday (it was $10/trip).

I've always busted my ass working. I never complained when hubby didn’t work. I just did the best I could do. To hell with my mental health. To hell with the fact that I would have an anxiety meltdown at least once a week. It didn't matter that my boss was a bitch who lived to make my life a living hell. We needed the money. Too bad I had to take 2 buses to work every morning. Suck it up and do what you have to. When we lived in our first apartment a few towns from here, I was taking 2 buses each way to work. I would have to walk a mile or so from the bus stop to our apartment, at least until they changed the bus routes and I could catch the bus in front of our apartment. I never have money just for me. My wallet wouldn’t know what money is.

Hubby was out yesterday all day trying to finish working on the van (he hit an animal last weekend that seriously messed up the cooling system in the van.) So, he comes home and rather than hi I missed you. Or oh it’s good to be home or whatever the hell… I get “Oh you really DIDN’T do anything today, did you?” How many times have I had to tip toe around him in the morning because he can be a real bastard in the mornings. How many times have I just sat quietly so I wouldn’t bug him? How many Fridays have I sat here waiting for dinner because he had to have a “few beers”, because after all he worked his ass off all week standing on his feet in a hot warehouse so he deserves it. Fortunately, he doesn’t really get drunk. He’s been drinking for so long that beer doesn’t really get to him (except when he gets passed 8 or 9, then he gets mouthy and usually directs it at me). We don’t eat dinner till 7 or later most nights so he can “relax and a have a few beers” before making dinner. (This has only started since he went back to work. He hasn’t done this in a very long time.)

Our one luxury is ordering out on Friday nights (because by then there’s no food in the house and he doesn’t want to have to cook). We'll sit here together on a Friday night and drink. He'll go through a 6-pack while I indulge in alcohol. I don't always drink. But sometimes I will. And by the time he orders the food when I do drink, I'll be just too damn drunk to eat. By the time the food gets here, I’m already passed out in bed. Oh, and you know what he got me for my birthday? Booze. 1 small bottle of Raspberry Vodka, 2 shot bottles of raspberry vodka and a shot bottle of Fireball (a hot cinnamon whiskey).

I am covered head to toe with bites, blisters, scabs and scars because we somehow got bedbugs, I don’t even like leaving the house because I look like some leper. My hands and arms are the worst. But since they’ve run out of real estate there, they’ve decided that my back and my legs are just as tasty. I must have over 100 bites/scabs all over. We can’t afford an exterminator. He wants to wait till my tax money comes in Feb. But I don’t think I’m going to get a whole lot because I can’t claim my daughter anymore on my taxes (when I did for 2015 she wound up owing on her taxes because I claimed her as a dependent). Which then means I can’t claim head of household. I have to claim as single. And so far, I’ve only worked 6 months out of this year (and oh yeah, my former boss already sent me my 2016 W-2).

You’d think that by now I’d have become much smarter, stronger and independent. Most of life’s trials show us that we can survive and even grow from it all. But, then you get to a point where there is no end to the struggle. It breaks you down and leaves you hopeless. And that's where I am at this point. My anxiety was so bad when I was working, so at least that has gotten somewhat better with being home. But I have to deal with the damn depression in exchange. My unemployment has gotten hung up, so I've been out of work since May 27 and have yet to receive a single unemployment payment, which hopefully will be the week.

I won't stop praying. There's precious little I have left to hold on to. My faith is the only thing holding me up. I know, at some point, God will answer. I just have to hold on and wait. It's all in His time, not ours. 

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this rant and hopefully understand that life CAN bring you down. I know sometimes it's all in your outlook. We all have our own coping mechanisms. Learn, grow, keep your faith. And hold on.....

Be Blessed.

When There Are No Answers

There comes a time or many times in our lives when we wonder where God is. We pray, we fast, we meditate. We go to church. We ask others to pray for us. And still..... God is silent. That's where I'm at. We are dealing with so many problems that are all overwhelming. I know God will provide. He already showed me that. But it's hard to keep trusting day in and day out that He will come through when there's no where left to go. But, there is beauty in hitting rock bottom. It is at that point that we can only go up. And we need to look up.

Remember the story of Thomas when Jesus appeared to him after the Crucifixion? Thomas had a hard time believing that this was, indeed, Jesus standing in front of him. How could that be? Jesus died on a cross. They all saw it. Jesus did not scold Thomas. He did not walk away. He said to simply touch His wounds. "He [Jesus] said to Thomas 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe"..... Then Jesus told him [Thomas] "Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed." (John 20: 27, 29. NIV) That's where our saying comes from "doubting Thomas" Sometimes we don't see don't Jesus. We don't hear Jesus. We need to see living proof that He's at work in our lives. The thing about that is that we may not see the answer or hear the answer in the time we want. After all, NOW is when we need it the most. Situations are dire. There seems to be no way out. As frustrating as that is, Jesus is teaching us a lesson in patience. Remember "good things come to those who wait." The apostles waited. And waited. They began to wonder if Jesus really was coming back. I mean, how could that be? They all saw Him die on that cross.

If we look back to John 14, we see that Jesus left them with a rather puzzling statement "You heard me say 'I am going away and I am coming back to you....'" (John 14:28. NIV). If that were us in this day and age, we would be standing there scratching our heads trying to make sense of that. Is Jesus leaving on some mission trip? Is He going to another town? Where's He going? Well at least He's coming back. It's kind of like when babies learn. If they drop something it's gone. But wait, mom gives it back. Drop again. Again mom gives it back. So, if I drop something it's not gone forever. Someone will give it back. We've all played that game. It's rather amusing to see the perplexed look on the child's face after they drop the item and then mom shows it to her. This is the same point that Jesus was trying to make. He KNEW He was to die on that cross. But he gave reassurance to the apostles that He would come back. However, He didn't give them a time frame. How long will He be gone? When will He come back? Is He really coming back?

And this brings us back to our problems today. How do we know Jesus is going to answer us? We sort of get our answer back in the Old Testament. God reassures us "before you call I will answer; while you are still speaking, I will hear." (Isaiah 65:24. NIV). Umm... ok. So then why do we need to pray? We do we need to beseech our heavenly Father and ask for help if He knows what we need before we speak? It seems the bible is filled with these riddles. None of it ever seems to make any sense.

Alas, dear reader, we are assured that Jesus is going to intervene. Yes, He knows what you need, but He waits to hear it from you. It is at that point that you have decided to stop trying to do it yourself. Try asking for some help. But, He doesn't answer right away. He wants to be sure that the answer you seek is really what you want or what you need. We all want something. But is that something needed? You need a place to live, but you want that beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bath craftsman style home you saw on tv. However, God may present you with an opportunity for a smaller house in a different neighborhood. Maybe a "fixer-upper". It's not what you wanted, but hey, it's a roof over your head. Do you see where I am going with this my dear readers? Keep praying. Keep waiting. It will happen. And when it does, you will see the fingerprints of God all over it.

Be Blessed Today.

Scripture verse: "For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11. NIV)

Let's Try This Again

They say third time's a charm, so let's see if it holds true. I keep starting this blog but can't seem to keep with it. Maybe now that I'm not working, I can keep up with this. We'll see........

I'm trying to tie in my blog and one of the groups I have on Facebook. There needs to be resources and ideas that will be accessible for people to use. I have a number of books and workbooks that I'd like to share. I'll add the link to my Facebook group in the page description, as well as adding the link here to my Facebook group. I hope you will take advantage of some of these ideas to help you out.

Are We Forsaken?

This will be brief because I'm on my lunch at work. As I was reading my book, this whole thought jumped out at me. It has been a recurrent theme of my blog posts. And maybe there is a reason for that. It reminds me of how I am having such a bad day, but consider Jesus' worst day...the day He died on the Cross. Talk about really bad days! 

It's funny, because my devotional this morning was on this same topic. And the words I wrote to go with it is somewhat similar to what I am writing here: "We have all had times when we have felt alone despite all busyness in our lives and the people in our lives. It's often hard to remember that Jesus is always with us. I'm just as guilty as the rest of us for not remembering this. We need to find ways to remember this in the times of our darkness. We can lift each other up in times of despair & loneliness." (I will post the link to the devotional at the end of this post.)

As Jesus slowly died on the Cross, He cried out to God, His Father "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me". Wow... Jesus, the perfect image of peace and love. The One who says that He will be with us always. And here He is wondering where God is in all this. Jesus KNEW He would die on the cross. He knew who would betray Him. He knew the reason for His crucifixion and death, so that we may have new life. And yet, knowing all this, at the last hour He wondered why He had to go through this. Why doesn't His father hear Him? Can you just imagine how alone He must have felt at that moment? 

It is the same thing in our own lives. Where is God when we need Him? Why doesn't He answer our prayers? Why is there so much pain and suffering in this world? Isn't that the reason WHY Jesus died for us? It's so hard to not feel alone in the middle of our anguish. When we're in the midst of chaos, it's hard to remember that Jesus is right there with us.God uses us in a myriad of ways. I also believe that God uses women to raise others up and encourage them so that they can then past that encouragement on to others. Women are born nurturers. So who better to inspire and encourage others than a woman? 

That's why us women need to stick together. For support and encouragement. For someone to remind us that indeed Jesus is watching out for us. He's helping us by making us reliant on Him. When we are broken down is the time when we need to really reach out to God to get us through. I think it is a reminder that God has not forsaken us. 

God Bless.

Here is the link to my devotional this morning: http://odb.org/2015/06/04/my-father-is-with-me/

A New Creation

When my husband and I got together, we had to get used to each others' ways of doing things. We were both in our 40's with baggage from previous marriage and relationships. I had one way of doing things, and it seemed like the way I did things just didn't gel to his ways. As my husband explained to me, he was "set in his ways". This caused no end of friction and arguments in the beginning. It made me feel like a failure because it hit a nerve with me. I had come from one failed marriage and failed relationships. I had scars from verbal and psychological abuse. My husband was a "druggie" who also liked to drink....A LOT (however, I didn't find this out until AFTER we had had an argument and he disappeared for a few days with what little money we had in the bank). So, more stress was added to the relationship. But we knew we loved each other, so we'd get through this together. It wasn't easy. There were relapses and drunken nights. There were fights and secrets. This was not going to be an easy road, I thought to myself.

It took a lot of compromise, a lot of understanding and patience to make it work. There were still more fights. Still more secrets. I still felt like a failure. All the "I love you"s didn't mean a thing to either of us. It took another major drug relapse for things to change between us.

We had been together just over three years. My ex-husband had passed away and we now had my teenage daughter living with us, which caused even more stress. I had been debating on walking away. No amount of work and prayer were going to change this situation. He saw the rolling down hill of our relationship as well. But we kept trying. Just a few nights before he left, we were at bible study and somehow got on the topic of relationships and other things. My husband had admitted in front of everyone that he was a recovering drug addict, but with all the damage that was done to our relationship, he wouldn't risk ruining everything by going back to drugs and drinking. He promised.

I came home from work that Friday evening to an empty house. No husband, no daughter. Just my cat and my dog. I began getting that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I'd been down this road before. But I chose to think that maybe he was just out drinking with his buddy. Which just served to make me angry. I sat looking at the clock. The hours passed by. Still nothing. My daughter called and told me she was spending the night at a friends' house, but if I wanted, she would come home. I told her that it wasn't necessary. I didn't want her to be witness to yet another drunken argument.

The next day I started calling around. I tried everyone I could think of. I posted stuff on facebook, hoping that someone knew something. One of my sons' came down to stay with me. My step-daughter came to spend some time with me. We had a full house and yet I was a miserable wreck. My neighbor across the hall came over to listen to me cry and offer some motherly advice. She'd been down this same road with her ex-husband so she knew what I was going through all too well.

By the time I went back to work, I was an emotional wreck. I couldn't concentrate. It took all my energy just to make it through. I had vowed that when I got home I was going to the police station to file a missing persons' report. I knew he was out on a drug binge. But I started to become really scared. What about his asthma? What about his high blood pressure? What if he were dead somewhere from an overdose? My mind went into a whirlwind of negativity.

About mid-way during my day, he had messaged me on facebook. He was home. I was frantic! I wanted to leave right then. But I couldn't. I had written him a letter and left it on the coffee table in hopes he would finally come home and read it. I poured out my soul. When he messaged me, I asked him to please read the letter and to not move. I would be home in a few hours.

When I got home, I dropped everything in front of the door and just threw my arms around him. We were both in tears. I was so afraid. I was so disappointed. I don't remember much from that night. I know at some point my daughter came home. I remember one of her pastors' coming over because they felt she was in danger. He talked a few minutes with my husband, and then left. I don't remember if my daughter went with him or not.

I told my husband that the only way I would let him stay is if he went to drug rehab. I promised I would support him every step of the way. The next day we went down to outpatient rehab center together. As I sat listening as the counsellor interviewed him, I got shaky and that fear went right into the pit of my stomach. I didn't want to hear what he had done. I didn't want to know. But it was important that I did so I could understand the extent of his addiction and what triggered this latest relapse. We went through the whole process together. Even my husbands' father was extremely supportive. And I believe that between prayer, support from family and friends, and a lot of deal making with God turned it all around.

Today, my husband has been clean for 14 months. He no longer drinks to get drunk. My trust still isn't all there, but he makes sure to reassure me whenever I run into panic mode. He understands. I think it took that horror to reaffirm our relationship. I knew that I loved him with all my being. I knew I still wanted to spend my life with him. He worked hard to change. He's still working hard to change. But we're in a better place now. Things are still tough. Money is tight. Now we have two of my children living with us and we are grandparents. My husband loves being a grandpa. We love spending time together and with  the whole family.

The point to this story is this.... no relationship is perfect. It takes a lot of work to overcome what seems like insurmountable obstacles. It takes love and commitment. It also takes change. It's not good enough if it's one person changing while the other one doesn't. AND... you need to leave it with God. He comforts the sorrows and hurts. He restores hope and love. He guides and supports.

When I set out writing this I was going to talk about our differences in habits, home life, etc. How the little things drove us up a wall. About all the petty arguments and disagreements. The whole shebang. But God stepped in and told me to write about this..a painful memory that brought about growth and change and love.

Our relationship with God is much like this. We can run. We can forget. We can turn our backs. But God is right there, waiting for us to come back to Him. He waits patiently like I waited for my husband to come home. He helped us mend and heal and grow.

When we become new believers, we have to change our old ways. As my husband likes to say "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep get what you get" In other words, if we keep living in the past, if we keep doing the same things, we're still going to get the same result. A life away from Christ. An emptiness that we seek to fill with damaged relationships, drugs, alcohol. You have to be willing to change. You have to allow God to lead you into this new life. As we do this, we'll see a change. A better, more fulfilling life. A path to the future. Hope.

We are reminded of this change in our lives and ways in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (nlt). We've changed. We're not our old self with the same old ways that just got us further and further from God. He has given us a new beginning. He gives us a clean slate in which to write our new history. It doesn't mean we've forgotten the lessons we learned as our old selves. We use those lessons on which to build our new selves.

If any of you are on this path to destruction, I urge you to seek help. Seek change. Seek hope. It's not an easy process. You have to be WILLING to want to change or else it will never work. And families, if you have this kind of person in your lives, I can tell you that they will need all the support and love from all of you to get it together. Don't keep reminding them of the wrong they did. Encourage them in this path. As painful as it can be, it will be worth it. And they will succeed and thrive. 

I pray for all of you. 
God Bless.