Monday, January 27, 2014

Scripture Memorization Week One {Philippians 4:4-5}

I’m so excited to be starting my weekly scripture memorization, and I’m so happy you are a part of my journey. My plan for the first week was to do Philippians 4:4-9. I decided I wanted it to be my scripture memorization when I was reading in my Jesus Calling the other day. After reading it and thinking on it, I couldn’t help but to break it up in my mind. Each verse was so powerful in itself, that to memorize it as a whole was taking away from the individual parts of it. However, I know there is a reason that all of the verses are organized in that particular order.  I love this passage so much, and perhaps after breaking the all up into parts and understanding them more, I can better understand it as a whole. So, with that being said, the next three weeks of scripture memorization will be as follow: this week: Philippians 4:4-5, week two: Philippians 4:6-7 and week three: Philippians 4:8-9. If this works for you, I encourage you to do this a long with me, I would love to hear what others have learned from this particular piece of scripture.

To be honest, after the first verse though (verse 4), I had a hard time understanding what these verses were supposed to mean. What was I supposed to take from this? How does it fit together? Why were these verses written one after another as if they had some sort of connection? They in fact do, but I needed to do some research* of my own about the book of Philippians to truly appreciate these couple of verses, and subsequently, the

To understand these two verses, we really need to have an understanding of the background of this particular book of the Bible. This book is an epistle (or letter) from Paul to the Philippians. The “Philippians” he refers to are members of a church that Paul started in Philippi 10 years prior on his second missionary journey.  At the time this letter was written, Paul was under house arrest in Rome after a conflict in Jerusalem and was facing his trial. The Philippians, Paul’s friends and great supporters sent one of their people, Epaphroditus, to go to Rome to visit Paul and to give him a gift (probably money). There, Epaphroditus stayed and helped Paul with his missions and became ill. After he became ill, he went back to Philippi, and with him, he brought this epistle (the book of Philippians) written by Paul. Philippians 4:4-9 is most certainly not the beginning of the letter, but in these specific verse, I believe it clearly illustrates Paul’s attitude towards his situation, and the attitude that we as Christians are called to have, should we face tumultuous experiences. After finishing the book, I may just pick more out from it for scripture memory J

What really attracted me to this verse was those very first sentences: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” It seems so cheerful and so encouraging. In fact, this isn’t the only verse in Philippians that has the word “rejoice”. The book of Philippians has the word “rejoice” or “joy” 16 times! Yeah, 16 times is a lot! It seems that this is the general attitude of Paul. Surprising, huh? The man was a prisoner in Rome, and he talks so much about having an attitude of joy and rejoicing in the Lord. I looked up the word “joy” on theopedia. This is what it had to say:

“Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.” 

If anyone illustrates this perfectly, it’s Paul. But he is calling his church and anyone else who is a believer to REJOICE (have joy) in the Lord. This is saying that we should be content, confident, and hopeful in Christ. This isn’t just a command to do when we have what we need, or when there isn’t anything going terribly wrong. No, it says “Rejoice in the lord always” This is through any and every circumstance. This is a right we should fight for as Christians, to be able to have a joy that comes only from the Lord. A joy and peace that passes understanding.  

Okay so here’s the part of the passage that stumped me. Verse 5 says “let your forbearing spirit be known to all men for the Lord is near”. What the heck? How is that even related to the first verse? This command seems foreign compared to the first.  However, after reading several different versions of the Bible, it became a little bit clearer to me what Paul is saying in verse 5. I began to understand that these two commands are right there, side by side because they are such strong commands, needing to be emphasized for a single purpose. Here’s the NLT version: “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do”. Here’s the NIV version: “Let your gentleness be evident to all”. And here’s the WNT & RSV version: “let your forbearing spirit be known to all men”. These are all different words, but getting a better definition of the word “forbearance” will help us understand how to comprehend this.  

EPIEKES is the Greek word which can be loosely translated as forbearing. Take Teknia’s definition for instance: “Sweet reasonableness, generosity, goodwill, friendliness, magnanimity, charity toward the faults of others, mercy toward the failures of others, indulgence of the failures of others, leniency, bigheartedness, moderation, forbearance, and gentleness”

In other words, graciousness. Now we can relate all of the different versions. We are called to be gracious towards, showing humility, and a forbearing or patient bearing of those who oppose or abuse us. This certainly does not mean physical abuse. No, this is talking about the personal offenses we take every day by others. This is talking about the little annoyances that make up our everyday lives, the little things that push us to the point of exploding after we get cut off by someone in a line, or someone can’t read our minds and agendas. I don’t know about y’all, but I am a complete hot head. I’m stubborn, and I am so very vengeful if we’re being honest. But that doesn’t mean I can’t ask for God’s grace to give me a gentle and forbearing spirit towards those who I have felt have wronged me in some way, or simply just annoyed me.  So at the beginning of verse 5, Paul is speaking to his peeps, telling them what God commands them to do. Why? Because they had earlier faced opposition by those who did not agree with their church (Philippians 1:27-30).

So we have a choice. We can choose vengeance against those who “do us wrong”. Or we can have a forbearing spirit, patiently bearing the injustices done to us by others, showing that we are Christians who have chosen to follow God’s command to us.

I long to be person who rejoices in all circumstances. I long to be a person with a forbearing spirit, having a patient attitude with those who abuse, annoy, or wrong me. I hope you long for the same thing. I hope we can work as Christians together to show others that God can give you the grace to manifest a spirit of forbearing and joy. For the day of the Lord is near and through my actions, I want to bring as many people to Christ that I can!

What did you get out of these verses? How is your scripture memorization going?

*I was really helped to understand this scripture by a sermon I saw here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Journey into Weekly Scripture Memorization

In light of the New Year, my new surroundings, a new place in my role as a parent, I cannot deny any longer how important it is to memorize scripture. I feel as though I cannot go any longer teaching my son about God and discussing it with my husband without the proper knowledge of what the Bible really has to say. I cannot “live on bread alone”. After stumbling upon a quote one day recently, I was compelled to start on this journey of memorizing the Word:

“Repetition expands our capability of recall. Recovering spiritual truth demands repetition and use. The more you hear, think through, and apply spiritual truth, the more it begins to dominate your thinking. Eventually you will react involuntarily in the proper spiritual manner to any situation because a particular spiritual principle has become so much a part of you.” – John Macarthur
I don’t know about you, but that quote got me completely pumped; pumped to start focusing on each individual word, really understanding it, memorizing it, and praying that those words would completely transform my way of thinking, making it easier for me to live the life that God has called me to live. In other words, I want to live and breathe the very words of my Father.

I want to memorize scripture so that I may use it in teaching, correction, and for training in righteousness

2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, correction, and for training in righteousness. I’m gunna be honest here: this is one of my main reasons for my journey into memorizing scripture. I want to be a mom who can use the Bible to correct any unwanted behavior or to reward any good behavior. The day will come when Bear asks me why he should or should not do something, and I will be able to say “because this is what the Lord says about that”. But I can’t just talk the talk, I have to walk the walk. I want to back up what I teach to my son. I want to use it in my teaching, in my correcting, and to train him with righteousness. I want the words said by God through me to light the path of my son, that he would then be able to go out into the world and teach those same words that were breathed out by God to bring others to Christ. How powerful that is! My prayer is that by memorizing scripture, I will bring others to the Kingdom of God through any teaching and training.

I want to memorize scripture to keep pure and keep my child pure

I look at my son and constantly think how innocent he is. He has not yet been tainted by the bad and awful things of this world. I want to keep him protected from those things. I want to keep him innocent and pure. In Psalm 119:9 it says the only way a young man can keep his way pure is by guarding according to God’s word. How important that is to do, not just for your children but for yourself as well. By living according to His word and to his precepts, the Holy Spirit gives us the grace to be able to live a pure life for Him, for the word of God is a light for us!

I want to memorize scripture so that I can present myself to be blameless in God's eyes and to please Him

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in thelaw of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” I don’t know about you, but I want to be blameless in the eyes of the Lord. The word blameless means innocent of any wrongdoing. I want to come to the Lord knowing I tried with everything to read his word, memorize, it, hide it away in my heart, and subsequently try to live according to it.  I would love to do my best to present myself to God, as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. How I long to do what’s right by the Lord, to know that I can come to Him as a sinner, but knowing I did my best to be like Him- holy and blameless.

I want to memorize scripture with joy and delight!

Jeremiah 15:16 says “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became a joy and delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts”. My hope and prayer for this journey of memorizing scripture is not to do it only because I feel like that is what a good Christian should do, but because I want to know what it’s like to live a life according to the will of God, because he has called me to do it, and to do it in the way HE intended: with delight and joy! In Philippians, Paul, who was in prison wrote to the church with joy- the man had joy in prison because he was living a life according to God’s word. He said to the people make myjoy complete by being like-minded…being one in spirit and purpose. (Philippians 2:1) I envy those around me who live with such joy. It is always my prayer, and in this journey of really knowing God’s scripture, I can only hope to attain that true joy that wise men and women around me have from being in God’s word. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart (Psalm 40:8)

My Strategy for Scripture Memorization

- An accountability partner: aka, le husband! Accountability partners are so important in any goal we wish to achieve. We do them with diets, with exercise, why not do it with scripture memorization? Houston will not only be reminding me to memorize my verses, but he will also be memorizing along with me. I think this will be so great for both us; for our marriage, for our parenting, and of course, in building a better relationship with the Lord.
- I’ll be writing each verse on a flashcard. They’ll be labeled week 1, week 2, week 3, etc. By having it written and on a flashcard, I can physically hold it and bring it with my anywhere as a reminder. After each week, I will still go back and start from the beginning and recite each verse so that I won’t forget them.
- I use the app Scripture Typer for the iPhone. I’m going to strongly encourage this app. It’s so great because of all of the tools that it gives you while you’re trying to memorize scripture. You first pick which scripture you want to memorize. You can type in whatever scripture you want, or pick from 55 different categories they have and pick individual scripture from there. You can record and playback the verse any time, draw illustrations, or review with flashcards. The app will also remind you when you need to review your verses. It’s seriously so great. I love all of the options that it gives you and that it teaches you in so many different ways.
- I don’t have any certain order or list that I’m going to use to memorize. For example, my first verse came from my daily devotional. It really jumped out of the page at me, and I just felt that it was an important scripture to memorize. There are tons of tools online in helping you with this part of scripture memorization if that’s where you’re getting hung up. I’ve had past attempts at scripture memorization and used this list  of the 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize on To Love Honour and Vacuum’s blog! A lot of the verses I use will probably be on this list because it’s a fantastic list.
- SEEK OUT RESOURCES! There are tons of blog articles and resources to help you accomplish your goals in memorizing scripture. I love reading what others have to say about it, and it’s exciting to know that we are all on this journey at accomplishing this goal to bring glory to the Kingdom.

So, there is my plan to memorize scripture! I strongly encourage you to join this journey of scripture memorization with me. Document your progress, let me know how it’s going for you!

Do you have any different reasons for starting to memorize scriptures? Any strategies that have really worked for you? I’d love to hear about them!

If I can still sing all of the lyrics to every N’SYNC song on their debut album, then I’m sure I can do this J

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

About Me & My Story

Welcome! My name is Maggie and I'm so glad you've stopped by! I'm a 23 year old stay at home mom who is a Christ follower, loves cooking, crafting, outdoors (camping), and most importantly, loving on my two guys! If you're here, expect to witness a far from perfect life, a young mom and new wife who is still learning everything, pixelated pictures taken from my iPhone, and posts about anything from the dinners I made to venting about my struggles with life. I understand this makes me completely vulnerable, but hopefully by sharing my story, there are others like me who will encouraged by my story and who will encourage me through theirs. As not just wives and mothers, but as women, we are to encourage each other (1 Thesselonians 5:11) and come together in community to do so (Hebrews 10:24-25).  So read my story, look around my blog in the making, and let me know what you think!  Let me first introduce you to the main peeps in my life:

Houston:  my best friend and my absolute rock. He is a hot environmental scientist who is the most amazing provider. He loves me, encourages me, makes me laugh, and makes me feel so beautiful. I'll talk about him a lot!

"Buddy": my two and a half year old pride and joy. He's my first love and that's where my story gets interesting! He's a strong-willed, intelligent, hilarious boy who constantly keeps me on my toes and is always teaching me new things! He's the love of my life, and I cannot imagine loving anybody as much as I love him.

Here's our story:

Let's start with my background! I have an amazing family. My parents brought us (my two sibs and I) up in a fun, loud, Christian home and raised us to believe in relationships. I could go and lay on my mom's bed and tell her anything, and still can. My siblings and I are always still at my parents more than a lot of others because we love being there, sitting around talking, playing games, and just getting to be with each other. We went to church every weekend, and I had proclaimed Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was eight years old. Like many Christians, throughout my adolescence, and most of my teenage years, I had a relationship with the Lord, had my mountaintop experiences at church camps and had deep conversations about the Word on Wednesday nights at Bible Studies, but wasn't adequately prepared for going to college and learning what true freedom was.

Throughout my college years, I ended up at three different colleges, changing my major countless times, completely lost, and ignoring God's call to me to be drop my lifestyle and completely surrender to Him. I finally ended up switching to a college in Texas where I focused more on a boyfriend and partying that I did my studies. I ended up pregnant at 20 years old completely scared and feeling alone. My on-and-off again boyfriend had no intention of the keeping the baby. As quickly as the thought of abortion entered my mind, it left just as quick. (I am pro-choice, so I am not condemning any woman for having an abortion!) This is the moment I started praying again. Seems like something a lot of us do all of the time. I call on God now? When I need him, only to have neglected Him and His plan for me for so long? My boyfriend and I even made an appointment with an adoption agent who came to my house. I remember me cleaning my nasty college house for her, on a rainy day, completely dreading the conversation. After she left, I cried, and knew it wasn't the decision for me. I was going to keep the baby. What did my parents have to say about all of this you ask? When I called them to tell them, they handled it calmly, but were both very saddened by the news. After sharing with everyone that I was keeping the baby, it continued to be on-and-off and very dysfunctional between me and the father, and I moved home to my parents as soon as the fall semester was over.

After giving birth to "Buddy"

Let's fast forward to when my son was born. Bear was born on May 16, 2011. My mother had been going to my Bradley classes with me for twelve weeks. She was so great to go with me, practice with me, and be my Bradley coach. It brought us even closer than we were before. Bear's father went to one class and we were back together pretty close before the birth. A month after Bear was born, the father and I broke up and that was the last time we were together. Not having someone there in the form of a stable partner and father to my child was very difficult. I would rock Bear to sleep at night and and cry and cry thinking that I was now unlovable. I couldn't understand how anybody would want to date "damaged goods"- that's how I felt- that no man in their right mind would want to date me when I had a child, I had not finished college, and lived with my parents. I would take Bear to do things around other moms and felt completely ashamed of being a single mother. I felt inadequate to other women because I was not only unwed, but because I was a younger mother. I wasn't trusting in the Lord and His plan for me. In His word he says He has plans for welfare, and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope! Wow, so much better than relying on myself and any capability I thought I had in controlling the things happening in my life. Although I still struggled at times with this, the Lord continued to surround me by people who loved me tremendously and wanted to show God's love to me. I got involved in a mother's Bible Study at my church, was able to teach a music class to preschoolers, and was taking classes. It might have seemed at the time that my life was in shambles, but the Lord provided for me for sure.

Houston and I after dating for 3 months

In December of 2011, a guy I met in college text me just to catch up and say hey. He asked me on a date, and it was the most awkward date ever. Regardless of that fact (I even told him I wanted five children!), he asked me on a second date, and since then we dated. This man was Houston. Houston would come to my parents to visit me every weekend, sacrificing alone time with me, and his college life to get to spend time with me and get to know Bear better. As we began to date longer, I realized that this man was the man that would be my husband. He was exactly what I needed. He was patient with me, loved me like crazy, was starting to love my son as his own, was a man that I knew I could spend the rest of my life with. Here, God had this man for me, he provided for me once again. He also provided for my future husband, in giving him a job opportunity in Houston.

Through this job, Houston was able to save money and propose to me after a year and a half of dating. We were wed only two months ago on November 2, 2013 after being engaged for five months. In this time, I have since moved from my parents house after living with them and raising my child there with their help after three years, become a stay at home mother, and a new wife. Even though I am married now, I still have a hard time trusting in God's plan for me life. I have not finished college, and in this simple fact, I have managed to compare myself to many, feeling as though I have nothing to give society. Though Satan constantly uses this against me, (as it is harder on our finances, with my patience at home with Buddy, and not feeling like I am truly accomplished in life), I have a daily reminder in my son and my loving husband that I am loved and I have been provided for. Rather than pursuing nursing school, I have chosen to be a full-time stay at home mother and try to maintain a loving home that will serve the Lord, and I can thank Him for giving me these wonderful opportunities.

There you have it- my backwards life! I became a mom first, then a wife. I will continue to share my story through this blog as I navigate through life, and hopefully through it, I will see that the Lord has and is showing me his wonderful grace by providing me with everything that I have. Through this blog, I hope that I can share with others my beliefs, and through that, gain a stronger relationship with Christ. A relationship that has proven that my God is a God of mercy, a God of compassion, and a God full of love for anybody who will accept it! If the Lord can love, forgive, and accept me and my backwards life, there's no doubt in my mind, he will do the same for you!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Blog

(My New Years chalkboard above my couch, inspired by this

It only seems appropriate that since I am starting in the new year that I start some resolutions- for my blog! Here are some of the resolutions I want to keep when it comes to this blog, and hopefully encourage you to start some of your own for your blog:2014 is here! With the new year, I decided to start a blog because, why not?! I've always started blogs and posted about once, only to be discouraged by who would or would not be reading it, got caught up in other endeavors, or just simply didn't want to do it anymore. As a newly married woman and staying at home with my child, I thought what a perfect time to start a new blog! 
  • I do not want to become intimidated by other blogs, whether from their professionalism, their lifestyle, or the number of followers they have
  • I do not want to lose sight of myself in the process, I want to always remember why I am doing this: to share with others my life's story, encourage other mothers and wives, and to glorify the Lord through my blog
  • I do not want to pay attention to numbers
  • Get connected with others in the blogging community, make new friends, and learn from others
My blog will be a mess at times. I will not know what to do, I will post to much, or too little, I will be confused with the website, but my main goal is to keep blogging :)  Here's to a new year, a new blog, and new experiences!
What are some of your new years resolutions for your blog?