My Top 3 By Melanie!

Hello All!

I am registered to participate in the Made to Crave online Bible Studies presented by Proverbs 31 Ministries which starts January 19  and ends March 1st 2014.  I am so excited about this study because this is the fourth online Bible Study that I will have attended with Proverbs 31 Ministers.  How were the first three bible studies, you ask?

THEY WERE ALL AWESOME!!!!!!!

I started off with “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” based on the book by Lysa Terkeurst.  In this first Bible Study, I learned that we all need to spend quiet time with God daily and I learned how to know when God is speaking back to me.  This study had over 23,000 women from over 120 countries!!  It was great sharing comments and Blog hops with all of those wonderful women from all over the world!!

I followed that study with “A Confident Heart” based on a book by Renee Swope, where I learned to tackle all of the lies that I have been living with regarding who I am.  Here’s one “I don’t have anything special to offer’.   I learned that the real answer is #YesIDo!!!  and  #WhyWorry!! and to Pray God’s Promises!

The last Bible Study was one with Wendy Blight at wendyblight.com called “Who Is God and Why Should I Care?”.  I was alerted to this online bible study from a Proverbs 31 Encouragement Today post and signed up just in time.  This online study was only 4 weeks held between Thanksgiving and Christmas and was based on materials that Wendy pulled directly from the bible to help us study four of the names of God.  Together, we walked through stories in the Old and New Testament, answering two questions critical to the Christian faith:

Who Is God?

Why Should I Care?

  • Elohim – God our Creator
  • El Roi – The God Who Sees
  • Jehovah Nissi – God Our Banner
  • Jehovah Rapha: God our Healer

I thoroughly enjoyed all three online bible studies and I continue to learn much from them all.  I would have to say that all three studies have helped me to believe more in myself as I rely more on God in my everyday life.

Please join us for Made to Crave, I am sure you will too!!!

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The Real Me – Melanie

Hello All

I am participating in the 6th week of an online Bible Study called A Confident Heart.  This study is presented by Proverbs 31 Ministries and is based on a book written by Renee Swope.  Although, I have been involved in this study for 6 weeks now, this is the first week that I felt that that I had something good to blog about.  The first 5 weeks were rough going and I have learned a lot about myself but I felt that I had only skimmed the surface on the work that I need to do to fully embrace the concepts presented there.  I feel I need more time to digest and internalize what I have learned so far.

However, the concepts of week 6 are so uplifting that I felt I had to speak.  Chapter 8 of this book is entitled ‘When doubt Whispers “I don’t have anything special to offer”.  After reading this chapter, our response is #YESIDO!!!  Renee led us through a unique self assessment that allowed us to research ourselves in order to determine exactly what it is we have to offer.

During my assessment, I remembered an Emotional Intelligence class that I attended a year ago.  Prior to attending the class, we were asked to invite several co-workers, friends and family to anonymously participate by providing feedback on a questionnaire that was sent to them.  When we arrived at the class, the feedback was given to us in a workbook that the class presenters developed.

We were rated in several areas of emotional Intelligence – Emotional Connection, Emotional Management and Self-Awareness.  The workbook provided feedback on how we rated ourselves in comparison to how the people we asked to participate rated us.  Since the people we invited represented all areas of our lives, it was a way to get several views on each emotional aspect – work, personal friends and family.

At first I was scared to open the work book.  All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed with feelings – afraid of what they might have said.  Wow!!  I thought when I read the results for Authenticity, Personal Drive and Self Regard – They really like me!  There were some responses that were neutral but the majority of the input was favorable.  This helped me to believe and understand that I was on the right track.  I did notice that in all areas, I had a far higher regard for myself.  I guess prior to taking the class, I was really puffed up and totally confident about what I had to offer.

If the print below is too small, click/stretch the pictures to get a better view.

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However, as you can see below, not all of the results were all rosy.  Apparently, there are areas like Empathy and communication, where my score was dismal.  I was totally off base here in what I thought verses how I am perceived.   I was very sad for a quite a few moments – how could I have missed this?   Where have I been the last years?  Am I blind?

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Then I realized that I could not wally in this result.  I have studied the additional improvement techniques below my score and the input from my boss, family and peers to help improve the low scores during the past year.  I hope and believe that if I take this assessment again, I would have better results.  I know what you are thinking…. Yes, I will pick the same participants and not totally different people in order to raise my score!

I must admit, though, that taking this class and getting the results above, helped push me in my decision to get closer to God.   I have attended four Bible studies on-line this year.  I have chosen a church -but have not actually attended yet.  I am still working up to that.  I am improving day by day.  I truly hope and pray that I am a better person today than I was a year ago.

I have also taken the personality type and spiritual assessments in Chapter 8.  I believe my personality type is Choleric with a bit of Melancholy thrown in.  I am still working on unwrapping my spiritual gifts but I am leaning toward Leadership and Service.

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Keep Calm and Study On – 2 Samuel 5:19

“So David asked the LORD, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines?  Will you hand them over to me?”  2 Samuel 5:19 (NIV)

I have just finished reading the 10/10/2013 Devotional from the Life Application Study Bible verses 2 Samuel 5:17-25.  It so resonates with me today as I feel the Lord has helped me through a major accomplishment.   In August and September 2013, I  participated in the “When Women Say Yes to God” Bible Study,  based on the book by Lisa Terkeurst and presented by -Proverbs 31 Ministries.  During the study I learned that if you don’t stay in the Lord’s word and pray to God steadily, you can only really blame yourself and not God for how your life turns out.

In reading this devotional today and seeing how David kept going back to the Lord every step of the way in order to conquer the Philistines, I realized this strategy can and will work for us in our everyday life.  In my case, I started out on an adventure prior to participating in the prior Bible Study.

My old garage was in major disrepair/falling down and I needed to rebuild it.  This was my first major construction project – I did not know any better so I plowed in with both feet. This began in May 2013.  I found my contractor online via a Google search and I thought, wow, this is easy.  Then as time went on and everything that could popped up to delay the project, I kept thinking – What am I doing wrong?  Then in August, I started the “Yes to God” bible study and learned what I was doing wrong.  I did not involve the Lord in my project.  I had not prayed to him every step of the way.

As I picked up more during this study, I started praying daily to the Lord.  I would describe the details of what was planned the next day and ask Him to just be with me and watch over me and help me in any way that He could.  I would praise Him for everything that He had helped with so far.  I started out hoping that this was the missing piece of this project, but was not really sure.

In hindsight, I now know that the missing piece was definitely the lack of prayer because boy did the the project take off after that!   Prior to the study, on July 3rd I had a contract signed and deposit paid but nothing was moving.  First they told me that I needed to get a new land survey.   I asked “What’s wrong with the old one I just used it to build a fence in April?”  My contractor set me up with a surveyor who he said would call me.  One month later, no one had called.  By then, I had started the bible study and was praying daily.

Then it came to me, I found my contractor via Google why not do the same for a land surveyor?  The first person I contacted was too busy to help me as he was booked months in advance.  I started to feel discouraged but I kept praying.  I remembered one thing the first surveyor told me – he said I needed to look locally. He said the surveyors locally in my town would know the area and would charge less.  On my next Google search, I found someone locally who was able to come to my house that very day.  It took him three weeks to do the work but I had a land survey in hand that I could now send to the contractors. Next, there were permit issues – there were questions as to if we could keep the existing slab or if we needed to build a new one.  I kept praying and did not lose hope.  Finally, the word came, we were able to build on the existing slab.  Good thing too, a new one would have added an additional $4,000 to the project!

I was given the green light to build by the city on 9/3/2013  and we were able to move forward.  My old garage was destroyed on 10/3/2013 with the contractors out there right now building my new garage.  Every day, I prayed my simple prayer and every day something wonderful happened.  We have the electrician scheduled for Friday and this project will finally come to a close after five months!

I have no idea, how long this would have taken or how many other problems would have continued to creep into this project, had I not prayed daily on it.  Now, I find that I don’t need to have a reason or problem to fix.  Spending time in prayer and with the Lord’s word is just part of my day along with the air I breath and the food I eat.

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Still Unglued

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”  Philippians 3:16 (NIV)

I just finished reading the 9/19/2013 Devotional on the Proverbs 31 Ministries web site. http://proverbs31.org/   The name of it is I Had the Perfect Comeback by Lisa Terkeurst.  In it, she tells a story of how a couple became unglued recently on a Plane ride because Lysa and her friend were talking on the plane.

I have a confession to make, this devotional was definitely meant for me to read today.  I have had a heavy heart all week.  Why?  I became unglued while on a phone call with a representative from one of my credit cards.  Here’s the story but it is not pretty.  Two months ago, I paid off the final balance owed on a credit card.  I then forgot about it.  Thirty seven days later, I started receiving toll free calls.  My hubby asked me what were they about.  He said that they were leaving messages and thought I had better follow up.

I called the number left on the answering machine and found that  in between my paying off the balance and the next bill – a $30 charge appeared on the card.  Since I was of the impression I had paid off this card, I was ignoring mail from them.  According to the credit card company, I was 37 days late in payment.  It seems that the $30 charge had accumulated two $35 penalty charges and was now $91.  When I found this out, I was ticked off but I  electronically paid the $91 due.

The next day, the calls continued.  When my hubby informed me that I had another message, I called them back but this time I took the option to speak with a representative.  I informed him that I had paid the bill just the day before and wanted to know why they were still calling.  He gave me the same information as the message received on my answering machine before I paid the bill – I was 37 days late in payment.  I asked him if he had checked the account before calling?  I then starting screaming at him about how I had paid this card off and wanted to know where the $30 charge had come from.  As I went on and on with my voice continuing to rise, I heard a distinct click as the representative hung up on me.

I feel really bad about this because there was no reason for the blow up.  I had already paid the bill.  I knew this when I called and asked to speak to a representative.  Once he confirmed that yes they had received the payment but it had not processed through their system and would post that very day, I should have ended the call.  Instead, I let him have it with all of the frustration surrounding the fact that I had to pay an additional $91 and I did not know why.

Now, I am still out of the $91 but I also feel as if I have fallen off track.  I have just completed a bible study “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” on 9/14/2013 and here it was barely a week later and I was backsliding!  Just as Lysa describes, I feel I put my Christianity on a shelf.  I had no excuse, the guy on the phone was just doing his job and I had the perfect opportunity to be gentle or kind but I chose to be mean.  I chose Satan and I know he is very happy about that!

By the same token it seems the representative chose God by hanging up on me.  It was enough to bring me back to myself but I keep berating myself – how did I let that happen?  I did not do what Philippians 3:16 reminds me of, instead I chose to let my raw emotions win.  Now, I am sitting in that big pile of regret…..  I need to stop and reflect.  What is it that drove me to that reaction?  What kind of stored up misery am I carrying around to react like that?

The phone call was two days ago.  Since then the only excuse I can come up with is perhaps the pressure at work is getting to me but I cannot accept that excuse.  I plan to open up the Unglued book by Lysa Terkeurst and try to regain my perspective.  How did I let Satan in so quickly?

The good part is I know what I should have done.  I should have just ignored the call since I knew I had paid the bill.  If I had though, I would have missed this lesson from God.  While writing this, I am listening to the gospel song “It ain’t over, until God says it is”  – boy don’t I know it!

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The Great Life – Psalms 81:10

Hello – we are in the sixth and final week of the Online Bible Study – “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa Terkeurst, presented by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

At this point, we are all looking back through the six weeks to discover the gems that we have picked up from this study. One of the discussion points to choose from was our interpretation of the verse Psalms 81:10.  We were asked a series of questions to help us dig into this verse and see what it meant to us.  I would like to share with you both the questions and my answers to them:

Psalm 81:10

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

There are three key points from this verse.  First, a reminder of the fact that the Lord is our God.  Why is it important for us to keep that in the forefront of our minds?

  • I believe it is important for us to keep the fact that the Lord is our God in the forefront of our minds, because he is our savior in this world.  We must believe in him and      obey his word.  We need to live in his word daily.  Reading verses from the Bible seems to envelope a person so that God’s spirit can work inside and out.

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Second, He is our God, who has been faithful throughout our journey and delivered us.  What does that mean to you personally?

  • He has been faithful to me and has loved me all my life. He has been with me through good times and bad.  During this bible study, I have learned that the bad times where really times where God was working on me.  If I had an experience in my past, I can      now look back, with what I have learned, and pick out all of the lessons that I have learned by going through those hard times.  I can now look forward and feel good about surrendering my future to Him by obeying Him and saying yes when he asks/needs me.

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Third, if we open ourselves up to Him fully, He will fill us.  What does opening ourselves up to Him fully mean?

  • Opening ourselves up to Him fully means to live in his word everyday, praising him and  obeying him.  We must be available like a sponge to soak up whatever he wants to show us.  We must know that we  cannot hide from God.  He sees all.  We should be able to bring him with us knowingly into everything we do.   Each word we speak should bring questions – Will what I say do good or bad?  Will what I say bring pain to someone?  Would the Lord bless me for saying this, doing this or being this way?

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What will God fill us with?

  • God will fill us with His glory and the power to stay within his word.  He will provide us with whatever it is we are seeking at the moment.  If we are down, he will fill us with hope.  If we are happy, He will be the reason why we are so happy.  He has, no doubt, probably just fulfilled something else that we needed.  If we need someone to talk to, He is there.  He fills our every need.

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#FreshVision – James 4:7

Hello – we are in week 5 of the Online Bible Study – “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa Terkeurst, presented by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Our theme this week is #FreshVision  where we learned that we must dream with God so that we might have a Clear Vision and understanding of His vision for our lives.

Our memory verse this week is “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  – James 4:7.

I am excited this week because I had an experience where I believe I heard God speak to me.  I was sitting on the sofa watching a program on TV.  My mind drifted for a moment back to the work I had just been doing on this Bible Study.  I had a clear vision that my immediate goals were to go back and study my week one post.  That post was about Loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul and might – Deuteronomy 6:5.   A question popped into my mind – Do I even know what love is?  Do I love myself?  I had these word reverberating in my mind – you cannot love others until you learn to love yourself.

I remembered stopping and saying to myself – where did that thought come from.  Then I relived a moment back in my youth where I passed this group of kids that I did not know. These kids were chanting – Clarence, Clarence and looking at me.  I was maybe seven.  I wondered what does Clarence have to do with me?  Then later a friend told me that they were calling me Clarence the cross-eyed lion.   I can still feel the pain that I felt then.   It seems that all my life, that experience has stuck with me and I have been carrying the pain I felt.  I have been seeing myself through the eyes of those children.  I allowed that moment to define me.  I still feel  like I am that lion.  It comes to mind that when I walk down the street today, I don’t look people in the eye, I look down.  I don’t want strangers to have that first impression of me just based on my eyes. I don’t want them to see my eyes.  But if they don’t look me in the eyes, do they see me at all?

I believe that I have allowed this feeling/moment to flavor my relationships with everyone I meet.  There are times when I look across the way at someone for the first time or speak in a group setting.  I look at the person and I see them looking behind themselves as if wondering “who is she looking at – is she looking at me?”.  I am always shouting in my head “Why are you doing that –  I am looking at you…”.  Just another reminder that people (even adults) still see me in that way, which keeps that hurt little child in me wary and defensive.

So, that feeling that overwhelmed me while I was watching TV said -“You need to get over it.  You had no control over your eyes at birth nor can you change them at this late date.  Baby, you were born that way!  What you need to do is realize that you must love yourself before you can love others.  Please start with yourself today – work on you and then you will be able to love others as you should.”

Now, I have a fresh vision with a fresh start, with fresh passion and a fresh focus.

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Life Interrupted – Romans 5:3-4

Hello – we are in week 4 of the Online Bible Study – “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa Terkeurst, presented by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  This is our #stickwithit week  as we only have two weeks after this week to go in this study.

Our memory verse this week is “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4

Last October at my routine visit with my doctor, he noticed an abnormality in my blood test and referred me to a Hematologist.  On my first visit to her office, she asked me if I drank alcohol and how often.  I told her that I had a drink daily when I got home from work to relax.  I do not know why I felt that I needed to drink daily.  I believe I had just gotten into a habit that was hard to break. She asked me to stop drinking completely until she could see what could be causing the abnormality.

As I look back, the only time I did not drink was during my one and only pregnancy with my daughter 15 years ago.  So, I followed her advice.  Lets fast forward to March of this year.  The doctor ran more blood test twice leading up to the March appointment with no change  in the results.  At this point, she was thinking that I had the beginning of a cancer and wanted to draw some bone marrow.

As you may guess, I was getting scared now.  I had been healthy all my life.  All kinds of thoughts were going through my head.  What will I do if I have cancer?  I started doing all of this research on it.  Each bit of information I picked up seemed to be scarier than the last.  The day of the Bone marrow procedure arrived.  The procedure was just as the doctor described it.  It did not really hurt, it was just awkward having to lie on my stomach and listening to those suction sounds.  My doctor wanted me to return the next day for the results.

Sleep what’s that? I just stayed up all night reading the bible and praying as I could not get any sleep.  When I went in for the results I has nervous and could barely wait to get this over with.  Well, I waited 2 hours past my appointment before I had to ask if they had forgotten me.  Apparently there was some mix up but I was finally called in.  The doctor told me that the bone marrow test results were clean.  There was no cancer.  She felt that it was the daily drinking that caused the abnormality.  She wanted me to permanently stop drinking.

I have two months to go before it will have been a year since I had my last drink.  I believe now that the purpose of this exercise with my doctor was for me to realize how damaging the drinking was to me.  I believe that I needed to go through the scare in order to really think about the drinking.  I have tried on my own to stop drinking before.  I would say, I won’t buy any alcohol this week at the store but I would not stick by it.  Or I would have it in the house and say, I won’t drink any today.  Still that night, I would come home and have that drink.  But the minute the doctor told me I had to stop, I was able to do it cold turkey.

At the time, I did not attribute it to God because I was a new believer.  I started down my path with God in August of last year.  By October, I was still reading the beginnings of the bible.  I had not participated in any Bible Study as I was learning on my own.  Now, over a year later and with the help of Proverbs 31 Ministries, I can now put this in perspective.  I now believe that God helped me through this and is the reason I am alcohol free today.

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